Sunday, March 04, 2007


Travels and travails with BA

Just back from Copenhagen, where Dina and I have been in workshops with the architects. The trip did not start well. I had had two hours' sleep the previous night before getting up at 0430 to get to the airport. We then sat in a very smelly British Airways plane to London via Beirut. The smell was an overpowering mix of BO and perfume, much of both coming from a lady directly behind us. The cabin crew spent much of their time (and our snoozing opportunity) chatting loudly in the rear galley. The plane also had on it one of the fattest men I have seen. At Heathrow, of course, we were parked miles away from the terminal, waited ages for buses to arrive to unload the plane, then waited ages for the fat passenger to get off, then another age for the bus to reach the terminal as it had to cross spaces on which planes were taxiing. At T4 we then stood for more ages in a security check queue during transit, while time to our next flight ticked away, and a graceless (rude) young airport staffer (no doubt with Customer Service somewhere in his job title) told people that if they had more than one bag they would not be allowed through security. Quite what transit passengers (whose checked luggage was elsewhere by now, and who could easily have picked up a second bag of duty-free at the start of their trip) were to do with this information was not clear. Astonishingly, it was impossible to find a simple pair of gent's trousers in T4 - only jeans, chinos, or evening dress! Somewhere during this security check I also managed to lose my boarding pass, but we did manage to get on the plane to Copenhagen...

..where we found that our luggage had not arrived with us. It had been misdirected by BA to the wrong terminal (1) at Heathrow, and turned up in Copenhagen the following night. Dina and I had to do some quick shopping for basics for day one, and we will be sending BA the bill. All in all it was a trip that revealed jut how far BA has sunk as a service provider. Given that it effectively monopolises T4 at Heathrow, there is just no excuse for its passengers to be put through the sort of Dr Zhivago experience that is now evidently the routine there. BA should work with BAA (the frankly appalling airport operator) to get proper levels of staffing on security desks to speed things through. They should have their own service staff on hand to make passengers feel loved and wanted, and answer distressed questions. As it is, the experience makes one say "never again!" So I have decreed that from now on the project will no longer fly BA, and will not reimburse any suppliers that do so either. There are plenty of alternatives. At a rough calculation, based only on the number of flights taken in the last two years, I reckon that means BA will lose about 90 flights at an minimum of £600 a time over the next three years. Wherever possible I will be avoiding Heathrow too. I like to support UK plc, but this third-world experience, badly-organised, rude, slow, dirty, with large parts of its mechanicals not working, and staff chatting loudly to each other rather than actually serving the public, is just bad for the spirit. Heathrow no longer deserves to succeed. It is the pits, and a new terminal will not solve the deep-seated malaise of inefficiency and slackness that pervades it.

Labels: ,

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]