British Airways: The Worst in Customer Service?

Read My Story and Decide

Author: The Traveling Professor/Saturday, May 27, 2017/Categories: General Travel

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Airlines are gaining a reputation of having some of the worst customer service in any industry.  In this story, let's look at the bad customer service displayed by British Airways.

This story starts with an incident I had on British Airways in the Spring of 2016.   On a flight from London to New York, my seat was broken and reclined into the lap of the passenger behind me.  The seat back would not stay up.  The British Airways customer service rep on the plane took my information and promised me a £50 voucher for my trouble.  I only received a usable £25 voucher.  I wrote to British Airways customer service in Jamaica, New York.  No response.

I used the £25 voucher and credit card to purchase a ticket for my wife Linda in February of 2017.  It was a British Airways flight, operated by Aer Lingus, from Paris to Dublin.  Printed out was a document with flight details including the words "CONFIRMED" printed on it along with a record locator.  The document also indicated that no on-line check-in was available, it could only be done at the airport, so no need to call in earlier.

Linda appeared at the airport about 2 1/2 hours before flight time.  She presented her document and was told that there was no ticket for her despite her having a document with the words "CONFIRMED" printed on it, her flight details, and a record locator. Aer Lingus called British Airways.  No record of a ticket.  They would not permit her to board the plane because British Airways had no record of a ticket, despite the documents in hand.  She had to purchase a ticket on the spot for 277 euros, a much higher price than what had been paid for the confirmation in her hand.

She was told to resolve the issue at a later date.  Do you think British Airways contacted her regarding the problem? No.

On Linda's behalf, I phoned British Air customer service.  After being shuffled to 3 different agents over 30 minutes, no one was qualified to help.  Mind you, it is not that they didn't give me the answers I wanted, all 3 agents simply said they did not know how to handle the issue.

I called back later.  An agent promised to transfer me to someone who knew how to solve the problem.  After 50 minutes on hold, I gave up.   I sent an email to British Airways CEO Alex Cruz at, copying other British Airways customer service executives.   No response.

I tried the Twitter route.  With that I got a reply.  They asked me to send in my documents (confirmed flight document with record locator, proof of purchase of new ticket).   British Airways claim was that no ticket was ever paid for with a credit card in February of 2017.  I claimed that I did indeed pay with a credit card, plus, they accepted payment for the flight with my voucher.   I have a copy of the email indicating the voucher was redeemed.  They asked me to send the documents again.   At this point, British Airways has 3 copies of my documents, a copy sent to the CEO and two copies sent to customer service.

British Airways did claim they sent me an email a few days after the original ticket was purchased saying the ticket was no longer good.  However, I scoured all my email accounts and my British Airways Executive Club account where I purchased the ticket.  No evidence of an email.  Besides, how am I to believe they would send me an email after ignoring US mail letters and previous correspondence?

At this point, all customer service is being done through Twitter.  They promise to send me, within 10 business days,  the difference between the airfare of the original time of purchase (how did they know the airfare if they had no record of the ticket?) and the 277 euros paid for the on-the-spot ticket.  Guess what?   After 11 business days, I did not get the payment.

So, I go the Twitter route again.  I finally get paid.

Can you imagine showing up at the airport with a paid, confirmed reservation and being denied boarding?  That's what British Airways did.   So, when we see examples of the arrogance of the customer service practices formulated by airlines like British Airways, who do they blame as the problem?  The customer.   Is it really the customer?

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