By simonri on Feb 23, 2008
Last week was really busy. I flew to Istanbul on Monday for our developer day on Tuesday. We had to leave promptly on Tuesday afternoon to catch a flight to Bucharest for the developer day on Wednesday. In the evening it was back to the airport to fly to Athens ready to present again on Thursday. All this with one of the worst colds I've had in a long time. I'm surprised anyone could understand what I was saying. I cut my trip short by a day due to everyone being sick at home as well and booked myself on the 7.25 BA flight back to Heathrow. Will I never learn? There was an Olympic flight ten minutes earlier; I really, really should have taken that.
On arriving at the airport I discovered that the flight was delayed by two hours. This actually translated into over two and a half hours and we finally took off at 10pm local time. The pilot issued the obligatory, glib apology whilst setting us up for potentially further bad news. Since we were leaving so late there was a chance we wouldn't get to Heathrow before the night flight curfew started, in which case we'd get diverted to Gatwick.
We made good enough time to get to Heathrow before the curfew (one which doesn't actually seem to have any effect, since I live near Heathrow and have heard aircraft departing and arriving at all times of night). Off the plane and as usual we were as far from the main building as possible. No real queue for passport control and I thought I'd actually be back home before midnight. Ha! How wrong I was. When I came down to the baggage hall I was met by a scene of complete pandemonium. Literally hundreds of people all waiting for their baggage, only two carousels in use and the display that tells you which carousel to get your bags from out of order. I'd heard that the luggage handling system in terminal four had failed a couple of days previously, but thought that coming through terminal one I would have been unaffected.
I sidled over to the baggage inquiries desk and, since there wasn't a long queue, asked what was happening. I got a pretty short reply that an announcement had been made and that staff were trying to get baggage out as quickly as possible. I found a seat and waited. And waited. And Waited. Forty five minutes later there had been two announcements. One to apologise for the delay and one to announce (to cheers from some parts of the crowd) that the bags from Morroco would be on belt two. It was now half past midnight and I'd had enough. I joined the now lengthy queue for baggage inquiries. When I finally got to the front of the queue I registered a missing bag claim and headed for the exit. Of course, the fun wasn't over. Try getting a taxi at one in the morning from Heathrow. Not one to be seen, especially since the road outside terminal one was closed for construction work. I had to walk all the way over to terminal two and wait another 20 minutes before finally getting a taxi home.
I'm willing to accept that problems happen, but BA's customer service is decidedly less than impressive. At one point while I was queuing for the baggage inquiries desk the BA supervisor came out to talk to passengers, presumably to make them feel like something was actually being done. What made me laugh was that he had two armed policemen standing behind him, since he clearly didn't feel safe with so many irate passengers around. Even if there are problems what people want is information. Why not make regular announcements so at least people would know how things were progressing?
That was Thursday night. It's now Saturday afternoon. No sign of my bag. No information via the website, and as usual the phone line is so busy I can't even get in the queue.
Needless to say, this is doing nothing to improve my view of BA.