I recently flew to the UK on British Airways (BA), and it was a frustrating experience. I cannot figure out the airline and it is unlikely that I will ever fly them again due to their terrible customer service. Here is a summary of the issues that I experienced.
- Booking the flight — Something came up and I had to re-schedule my flight. I would expect to pay a fee for this and get credit for the original ticket. I was surprised to hear to that BA’s ticket policy indicates that they provide no refunds and so I had to eat the original ticket cost. That is super annoying, and I am not accustomed to that in the US. This was not a deal breaker though.
- Seat Assignments — This was the weirdest. When I booked my flights about 2 months before the trip, I asked for a seat assignment. When flying in the US, you always get seat assignments unless you are flying at the last minute. BA refused to give me one. They indicated that they only offer a very small number of seat assignments before the flight and the rest are given at the day of departure! Huh, what is up with that? What makes this even more odd is that the flight was that I later found that the flight was empty. Why would they make it so difficult to get a seat assignment? They claim so BS about allowing special seats, but what it really means is that frequent fliers get their seat assignments while the rest of us have to wait.
- Online Check-in — I fly domestically all the time and am comfortable with online check in and booking. I tried to check in online with BA and the system never worked. It eventually locked me out and so I called BA to ask them to unlock me. Guess what, they can’t do that. I asked them why it did not recognize my valid flight information and they said that they were having problems and that it was my problem. Nice! I later found out that the problem was that my name was spelled incorrectly and only after I complained from the UK did they figure it out.
- Frequent Flier — This is where it gets really weird. I realized that I will be flying back and forth between the UK and the US a few times in the coming year and thought that it would make sense to join the BA frequent flier program. I applied for the program and the online application did not work. I could not figure out why and when speaking with them on another matter asked them about it. They said “Your airfare is too inexpensive and so you cannot join the program.” Huh??? I told them about my plans for frequent trips to the UK and their answer was the same as above! Their justification was that it was too expensive to create accounts. Now come on, how expensive van it be to enter a new frequent flier number in the system? They would probably argue that the account summary mailings are too expensive. Here is a crazy idea, how about provide only online access to infrequent BA fliers? Guess what, the cost of that would effectively be zero.
- Check-in — I was trying to check-in for the return flight. The good news is that I finally had my login information as mentioned above and so expected things to go smoothly this time. Yeah right. When I logged into BA’s website with my new information, I provided them all the required passport information. Once I logged on for check-in, BA verified that it had my passport information. Great! Once I hit check-in, it said “please input your passport information”. Huh? I already gave it to them. Okay, so I go ahead and re-enter it. I hit check-in and guess it says “please input your passport information” again. It did this infinitely. I called BA and they said, “Oh, you are caught in a loop. This happens sometimes and there is nothing we can do to help. You are out of luck with online check-in!” Why did this not surprise me. Yet again, they are unable to provide any reasonable customer assistance.
- Frequently Flier Update: I just called them to verify the frequent flier situation. They indicated that they don’t care whether I fly frequently or whether they lose my business. Their policy is not to allow entrance into their frequent flier program unless you have expensive airfare! Can you believe that? To me, this is the icing on the cake. I am done with BA and will only fly American Airlines to London.
As you can see from this lengthy post, I had serious problems with BA. They provided terrible customer service and have completely bizarre customer policies. I still cannot figure out the frequent flier issues, and it is beyond me while they would be so draconian in their account creation policy. It seems to stupid to lose a customer and all future revenue from that customer just because the first flight was too inexpensive. I also cannot figure out the seat assignment thing.
Oh well, if they want to crap on their customers, that this their problem. From my perspective it is goodbye BA and hello American Airlines!