Thursday, June 19, 2014

No Way BA v We Care Ryanair

French Village Diaries Ryanain British Airways customer service issues France
Customer service issues with British Airways

Blog update - I am delighted to report that following this blog post we were asked to contact Customer Services at BA again and they have now issued Ade with an evoucher for the full amount of the booking. Thank you BA.

This is a travel rant inspired by watching a TV documentary this week about British Airways #AVeryBritishAirline which started off with them wondering how to retain customers as many of their routes are now matched by the budget airlines. Well, two words BA – Customer Service and here is why we will always choose Ryanair or EasyJet over British Airways for our travel requirements.

On a recent work trip to the UK Ade experienced a travel nightmare when Ryanair were forced to make a last minute flight cancellation due to circumstances beyond their control (a light aircraft in flames on the runway prevented them landing in Poitiers). Despite the bad press Ryanair often get, I’m happy to report that a full refund on his return ticket was paid into our bank account within 24hrs, which was two days before the date of travel on the return part of his ticket. Thank you Ryanair.

However, when British Airways’ booking system lets their customer down we have found them to be generous with their excuses but not so generous with their refunds.

Ade is a seasoned pro when it comes to hopping on and off flights around Europe. With approximately sixty flights a year over the last ten years he has plenty of experience on many different airlines booking systems and knows the layout of many airport arrival and departure halls. But even for an experienced pro, if the travel gods and online booking systems conspire against you it is all too easy to make a costly mistake in a stressful situation.

When a client is expecting him to be in a location to run a course we will do everything possible to get him there. When the Ryanair flight from Poitiers to Stansted was cancelled we were desperate to get him back to London and spent a frantic hour on the Internet (me at home with our slow connection and Ade in a hypermarket in Poitiers) with many phone calls to-ing and fro-ing between us. I found a BA flight from Bordeaux to Gatwick at 22h15 giving him plenty of time to make the three-hour trip from Poitiers. However, when he tried to book it on the mobile app the BA site advised him the transaction could not be completed and no booking reference was given. We were back to searching again and I found an EasyJet flight from Bordeaux at 21h40 – tight, but still doable. I bought it, checked him in, printed off the boarding pass and jumped in the car to meet him halfway with the documents, a banana, a muesli bar and a bottle of water. It was stressful, but he made it and didn’t have to let down our client.

It was only when I was back home over an hour later I found a sly email from BA showing him his booking reservation number! I forwarded all the details to his Mum as phoning an 0844 number from France doesn’t work and my tired brain was no longer up to attempting to phone the French speaking call centre.

Excuse number one
The person Sandra spoke to (a few hours before the flight departure time) was friendly enough, assured her it was a fully flexible ticket that could be refunded, however, nothing could be done there and then as she was not the person who booked the ticket. She was assured that so long as Ade called within 24hrs of the booking the ticket would be refunded. It was looking good so far.

Excuse number two
Despite not reaching his bed in UK until 1.00am after over 12 hours travelling and being on the 6.30am train that morning to run a course in London, Ade phoned back within the 24hrs. Another operative for BA said that unfortunately the ticket was purchased too close to the departure time, so despite the assurances of the previous day, no refund could be made. Great!

Excuse number three
Not happy with this response Ade logged a complaint online. An email informed us they would be happy to make a refund, however, regrettably the service fee BA applies for processing a refund application was more than the refund due. Seriously, you couldn’t make it up!

Excuse number four
Ade then logged a complaint about the mobile app that had failed by incorrectly informing him that the transaction had not been completed. Another email response informed us that they were sorry, appreciated our frustration but unfortunately as we didn’t contact them before the flight departure time BA could do no more. Er, hello – please see excuse number one. I think we are going around in circles here.

We do not expect to see our hard earned 338.69€ ever again, but we would like to make other travellers aware that BA customer service is really lacking in comparison to Ryanair. One problem, four excuses, no solution. We tried to do our best for our client, Ryanair did their best for us but BA’s customer service has left us disappointed. Since this incident Ade has flown to Leeds, London and Belfast and funnily enough none of these flights were with BA.

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