I want to personally thank everyone who took the time to read and spread the word on my post “Indians comfort and loss of time is of no value to British Airways“. I appreciate and I am glad that everyone shared their own experiences also. When I first decided to write this post, it was meant to be a letter to the CEO of British Airways highlighting my experience while flying BA. But your overwhelming support helped this feedback reach them and to get a response. I am glad to update you that BA has sent across their views on this case and an apology for their staff’s behavior at the Heathrow Airport. I am pasting this response for all of you below.
On my post I had also received numerous comments – some “good” some “bad” and some “ugly” but, in all, I think we received some good solutions, answers and suggestions from travelers across the world. This post was a feedback to BA, that they are in a service industry and their customer service should be equivalent for every passenger. They have assured us that they will take this matter seriously and I sincerely hope that they do. I have titled this post “A start..” as I hope that BA and all the other airlines (where people have had similar experiences) don’t wait for someone to complain, but proactively work on their customer service and improve.
Thanks and regards
“Apology from BA”
Dear Ms Jain
Thank you very much for your quick response. I had sent an email apology yesterday and have copied this below. Although I never received your follow up email on Tuesday, I was aware from your blog that you had requested a written response too. I hope my reply is useful, and am happy to call you later if required.
Thank you for contacting our Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Keith Williams about the difficulties you experienced following your flight from New York on 19 May 2014 in our World Traveller cabin. As a member of the Customer Relations team, Mr Williams has asked me to respond on his behalf. Thank you for also taking the time to discuss the issues you had raised on the telephone yesterday. It was very helpful to talk to you.
I was sorry to learn you missed your connecting flight to Mumbai, due to the delayed departure of another aircraft vacating the stand which your flight was due to occupy. I am afraid the delay was caused by the late arrival of cabin crew following two traffic accidents in the vicinity of the airport. These incidents affected a significant number of departures at Heathrow, and I am afraid the delay in removing a trolley left by the Airport Authority’s ground staff added to the problem. Please accept my apologies for the inconvenience caused and for the impact this had on your journey.
Thank you for also highlighting the additional problems you experienced due to your missed connection. I appreciate you had a sixty-minute connection, which is within minimum connection times. However, there are a number of external factors that can affect the arrival time of an aircraft such as weather disruption and Air Traffic Control restrictions. I travel regularly for example and visit family in New Zealand every other year. This involves taking multiple flights and 24 hours of flying time. As a precaution, I always leave at least two hours connection time between each flight to allow for any unforeseen delays.
Regrettably, sometimes circumstances arise which are beyond the control of an airline. When this happens, we try to minimise the impact this has on our passengers. It is also vital for our customers and for our business that we operate our services on time, so the departure of your Mumbai flight would not have been delayed to accommodate passengers transferring from another aircraft. I realise this must have added to your frustration and I do apologise.
I was concerned to hear about the way the situation was handled when you were rebooked on a later flight. I appreciate you had a twelve-hour wait at Heathrow, and this must have been extremely distressing. Unfortunately lounge access is only provided for passengers travelling in our premium cabins, Silver and Gold Executive Club members and Emerald and Sapphire level Members of any oneworld airline frequent flyer programme. Other loyalty programmes linked to credit cards do indeed offer lounge access, but I am afraid this does not cover our lounges at Heathrow Terminal 5. I do acknowledge this will come as a disappointment to you.
During our telephone conversation, I explained in more detail about an airline’s obligations when a passenger is delayed. I have included a link to the Civil Aviation Authority fact sheet giving more information for flights departing from an EU airport, and flights arriving at an EU airport which are operated by an EU airline. The duty of care includes reimbursing the cost of two telephone calls and providing accommodation if delayed overnight, usually at a nearby hotel. Please bear in mind if passengers from some nationalities do not hold a visa allowing them to go “landside”, they would have to remain “airside” and would not be allowed to depart the airport due to their visa restrictions. In this situation, I appreciate through no fault of your own, you were not to know that you might require hotel accommodation.
British Airways take pride in our standards of service, and this certainly includes courteous, polite and helpful staff. The behaviour you describe is both disappointing and unacceptable, and fell short of the standards our passengers expect. I have passed your comments to the duty managers at Heathrow so the actions and behaviour you were subject to can be addressed internally. We do take incidents such as the one you describe very seriously, but I am afraid we would not disclose the outcome of any subsequent investigation to you. I realise this will come as a disappointment to you. However, please be assured that discrimination on ethnic, or any other grounds, is not tolerated by British Airways. The widely differing origins of our customers and our colleagues are a matter of pride rather than otherwise, and we take a very grave view of any report of discriminatory attitudes or behaviour.
All colleagues including myself undertake Diversity and Inclusion training, which covers the impact of stereotyping and the need to adapt behaviours to different people and situations. Our brand promise of treating everyone as an individual is embedded into our service to our customers. I regret we let you down on this occasion and I am genuinely sorry for the distress caused.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact us and for giving me the opportunity to address your concerns. We value your support as a Blue member of the Executive Club and I hope despite your reservations that you will choose to fly with British Airways again in the future.
British Airways Customer Relations
Your case reference is:12278590