To British Airways
I am writing to you as a BA passenger - flight BA530 - departed LHR on 9th Sept. Out names are Anthony Tansley and Laura Mitchell. We have experienced the worst customer service i have ever experienced and the issues are on going. In order to reveal the depth of this service failure i am going to detail step by step the loops your company has made us jump through and the repeated failures to provide us with any clarity on our on going situation.
First, a little context. Myself and my new wife (married 24 hours at point of departure) are flying out on our honeymoon - a special occasion for most people - but even more so for us. Without the frankly depressing and heart breaking detail, the last 18 months have been the worst of mine, my new wife’s and my family’s lives. Firstly my mother was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, under going brutal chemo and radiotherapy. Days after she was given the all clear (after 6 months of treatment) my father was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer - 2 types. He underwent chemo, an operation which had multiple complications and from which he very nearly left us. Whilst he was in recovery from this almost fatal operation, my younger brother was in a serious motorbike accident and has been in intensive care eve since (12 months in total to date) with little chance of any real recovery. This context is important as my wife and i have been looking forward to this holiday even more so that we ever could have imagined in order to relax, enjoy time just the 2 of us, and try, just for a moment, to forget the realities of our lives at home. This holiday was not just an investment financially but for our emotional well being.
Your airline has systematically destroyed any chance of enjoyment, relaxation or respite, racking up £100’s of un-budgeted costs and eating into our precious holiday time through necessary and multiple phone calls, emails and shopping trips.
On Sept 9th (also my birthday - passport to prove it!) we arrived at LHR. On checking in we were told the baggage belts were not working and we were instructed to leave our bags in a un-secure, cordoned off area in the central area at T5. We were very hesitant to do so - not only did this represent a security risk to our (and everyone else’s) baggage but also to the airport itself. There were max. 2 BA staff watching the baggage and no security to protect it. Either way we were reassured all would be fine and proceeded through security and onto our flight. Failure #1.
Once seated the pilot came on the tanoy and casually mentioned there was no baggage on the plane. At first we thought it was a very dry joke. It soon became apparent that it was indeed not a joke and the pilot was under the impression we had already been made aware of this fact. Failure #2. Cue panic on the plane as we are given minutes to decide whether to get off or carry on without our baggage. We were advised the best option was to fly and our baggage would follow in 24 hours. A couple of people left but everyone else on the flight believed the right thing to do would be to fly.
After much discussion doors were closed and we set off to the runway. After taxi-ing for a minute the plane came to what can only be described as an emergency stop, jolting all of the crew who were in the middle of an emergency presentation off their feet. We sat stationary for minutes until the pilot came on the tanoy again to ‘reassure’ us that the reason for the jolt was that one of the ground staff had tried to ram the plane with the pushing off equipment. Failure #3. Now, my wife is a nervous flier at the best of time sand this plus the baggage situation pushed her over the edge. She became very upset and was crying into my arms. At no point did a member of BA crew come to check on us, offer a sugary drink, a glass of water. We were ignored as a distraction - one caused by your airline. Failure #4.
On arrival at our destination airpot - Split in Croatia - there was chaos as no one knew what was happening. We were fortunate to get to lost luggage quickly after the flight but still had to almost an hour to log a report and there were at least 100 people behind us for whom it must have taken hours. At this point no one could give us any confirmation that our bags were safe (a massive concern as they were full of honeymoon clothes bought especially for the occasion - unworn and costly), neither could we be told when the situation may be resolved or whether we would ever see our bags again. Failure #5.
To add to this we were not staying in Split but on the island of Hvar - not a simple journey - and therefore were not able to go back to Split airport with ease as this was a 5 hour round trip.
We heard nothing at all on Sept 9th and in logging in to your bag tracing system were told repeatedly that there was no update and to check back later (that is still the case now as i write this email 48 hours later.)
The next morning, Sept 10th, we called the BA helpline. After 30 mins on hold we got to a call centre which was most definitely in india or similar and not local to the issue. We were told our bags had been found a LHR, a small mercy, but that no more information could be provided as the luggage had been reported lost in Croatia and therefore was Croatia’s problem, even though our baggage is still in LHR and was lost at LHR! Failure #6. When I asked to be put through to Split airport I was told this was not possible and that BA customer service did not have a number they could give me. Failure #7.
We located a number online to call ourselves speaking to Split airport after a further 3 attempts to get through (we had now spent at least 2 hours on 2nd day of our honeymoon trying to get answers over the phone.) They advised there was a plane coming in that day with baggage but ours was not on it. To add insult to injury my bag was scheduled to be delivered on 13th Sept (4 days after arrival) and my wife’s bag (and the more important!) on the 16th Sept (1 week after arrival and by this date we would have left Croatia to go to Italy for the 2nd half of our trip so a pointless enterprise.) Failure #8.
As you may imagine this really was the final nail in the proverbial coffin for my wife and she broke down in tears on the floor. I don’t know if you can imagine how helpless and upset it can make a man to see his new wife in a crumpled heap on the floor weeping and being unable to do anything about it. An hour later and once calmer we re-dialled the BA luggage line. A further 30 minute wait to speak to someone and we were not going to take ‘we don’t know’ for an answer. After a lot of back and forth and strong instance from my wife we were eventually put through to the supervisor (after waiting on hold for a further 10 mins for him to be located.) He told us nothing we had not been told before however did now reveal that there was a BA office here in Croatia we could talk to. however, he only had an internal number and no external customer number we could dial. Helpful. He tried to call this office but to no avail and left us with a vague reassurance that he had sent an email to this office to call us ASAP. Failure #9
At last, we received a phone call from Igor from the Zagreb BA office. It had taken us 24 hours, multiple phone calls and some seriously stroppy behaviour to get us here but at least we were speaking to some one in the same country who at least seemed to have some clue as to what was happening. The bad news was he also could not guarantee that our luggage would be with us before we left for Italy on Sunday 13th Sept. He did however say he would call prior to this to update us either way. As much as we appreciated the call, we were left none the wiser, with no guarantees as to whether we would be reunited with our luggage and no confirmation as to what ‘reasonable costs’ BA would cover during our time without bags. Failure #10
Whilst all of this was happening my wife had been repeatedly tweeting @british_airways to little more response that what we had got over the phone. She asked directly what ‘reasonable essentials’ entitled us to as this is relative to every person and their situation. To no response. Failure #11
And now we are on day 3 of our supposed honeymoon - still bag-less, £100’s spent on what we deem ‘reasonable essentials’ (underwear, swimwear, shorts, t-shirts, dresses, shoes, toiletries, make up, a bag to put new belongings in, contacts (for vision), mosquito spray, sun lotion…) You would not realise how dependant you are on things until you have nothing. My wife is very short-sighted to an almost debilitating effect and had just one pair of contacts with her. We have had to spend an entire day sourcing some contacts for her and have also had to pay some family and friends to DHL some to our next destination. I don’t know whether you have ever been to Hvar but it is not known for its shopping. There are what can only be described as holiday tat shops and at the other end lovely boutiques. There are no sports shops, no ‘reasonable’ clothes shops to buy so called essentials from. Our only other option would be to waste an entire day of our honeymoon going back to Split on the ferry where there are a few more shops on offer but we were loathe to lose any more time than we already have.
So to tally up… to date we have lost 2 days of our honeymoon on shopping and phone calls with your useless customer service team. The investment in this for us is 4 days (combined) holiday days from work, 4 days of relaxation lost, at least 4 hours phone call time to various call centres, airports and family, purchase of all ‘reasonable essentials’ as noted previously. These costs only increase by the hour and the impact gets worse the longer the time that passes.
I therefore PLEAD with you to contact us immediately, with a solution to get both my wife and my baggage to us in Hvar, in the next 2 days, so we can take to Italy with us and salvage the second half of our honeymoon.
I am not one to resort to such base measures usually however if I do not here back from you in the next few hours I shall publish this letter on every news website, blog, social media site etc that is physically possible. This is no idle threat - we have close contacts in the media but would rather handle off line if possible. I know for certain there are 1000s of other BA customers who are in exactly the same situation and this is not acceptable in so many ways. You have take physical, emotional and financial time and investment from all of these people and seem to have no regard for the impact this has on people’s lives.
You should be ashamed.