Dave Snowden

Your privilege to fly with them

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Ironically given my earlier blog about Graciousness, I was the recepient of the opposite this morning on arrival at Heathrow.   I had fly out to Singapore for three days using air miles.  The oddity of booking air miles saw me fly out via Tokyo and back via Frankfurt.  The air crew were fine on all flights, as were the lounge staff in both transit airports.  The problem was BA lounge staff at Terminal 5.  

Now I had a previous bad experience here.  I flew back from French West Africa via Brussels in a nightmare flight last year.  I had really bad food poisoning and to be honest if I had been too sick to care would have had some sympathy of anyone else using the facilities on the flight to Brussels.   What I really needed was a shower so I went to the arrivals lounge thinking that having the highest status would allow use given I arrived on BA.   I got a flat refusal and a deeply patronising one at that.  The lounge was only for people coming in on intercontinental flights and no exceptions would be made.  A lecture was delivered about my temerity in even turing up and I had to slink away and deliver a keynote in the worse of all possible physical states at KMUK. 

So I half suspected I might have a problem and used the facilities in Frankfurt for a shower.   I was on a BA ticket but the Singapore-Frankfurt leg was on Qantas.  When I got to Heathrow I had an hour before I needed to drive north for a meeting in Sheffield.  I also had a batch of email to send so I popped up to the lounge and got the same line.   It included the classic Its not me, but here are the rules.  I gather Qantas and BA have had some falling out.  However on this occasion I was firm and stood there repeating the mantra that my overall ticket was with BA and they had chosen to use Qantas on a code share flight.  I was also awake and not feeling the need to dash for the nearest loo every half hour or less so I stood my ground.   Finally, just before I did the Bring on your supervisor and Do you want me to tweet this now lines I was let in just this once.  BA do patronising with great fluency, its obviously an attempt to give people the experience of being in the servants hall of a BBC drama.

One wonders why?   I had bad experiences at the end of December when they lost my daughters luggage.   It came in same flight next day.  This is the classic example of laziness.   There were more flights that afternoon, but its a lot easier just to leave the same baggage tag and assume it will get picked up.  We were on a one night trip so we ended up collecting the bag at the airport – and had to break our holiday early and pay the cost of overseas calls to make that work.   No apology and when I raised it with BA online after a very long time they finally told me my daughter would have to phone them directly due to the data protection act.  She doesn't have my experience of complaining as I suspect they worked out.

It all leaves a bad taste in your mouth.   I've always used American Airlines as my main One World Loyalty card.  They look after you and are not petty.  Things like upgrades come as of right, not because the person on checkin thinks you have the right accent.  I was half thinking about switching to BA when all my Star Alliance points moved over to them, but no longer.  When Napoleon said the English were a nation of shop keepers be had no idea how BA would continue the tradition of petty minded bureaucracy.  I suspect Douglas Adams had them in mind when he created the Vogons.

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