Subject: Horrific experience for bereaved customer returning to work in Doha.
I had been off work for several weeks due to my mothers terminal cancer and witnessed her death at the end of February. Because my father was very unwell and also grieving I stayed with him for a couple more weeks.
I went to Heathrow airport T5 on 12th March to get the BA 125 leaving at 1020 for Doha. I was with my 2 older children who checked me in and drove me to the airport. I dropped off my bag and was given the boarding card with a 1000 closing time, plus verbal reminder for the gate cut-off time only. We were all still grieving, so we spent time with each other on the check in side. I spent some time hugging my children before the departure gate.
When I went to the gate to enter security I was turned back, with no explanation and went to the BA desk. They told me I was put on standby and go to the ticket desk. At the ticket desk they told me that they would not put me on the flight. They then told me that there is a rule about 35 minutes. I asked to speak to the manager who told me that BA had told me about this via its contracts and various notices. I pointed out that I am a bereaved person and that none of this would mean anything to me, and even then I would not know this would be done in such a harsh way, especially when according to them, I had gone over time for a matter of seconds. Actually the duration I was hugging my children. They offered to rebook the flight but, I would have to pay additional charges. I asked the manager, if due to my circumstances she would waive these charges, she said she could waive the charges, but she would not do so. She even implied that this harsh regime is designed to train the passengers. I was left feeling a distinct lack of compassion and also a failure to acknowledge that I genuinely didn't understand about this rule.
I contacted the Customer Services representative to whom I spoke for over an hour, my main point being to get BA to understand what a horrible experience they were giving me, for someone in my circumstances. Rather than get this basic point, she re-iterated that I had been "told" about the 35 minute rule - which was not true. She referred me to the Boarding pass, and I read out to her exactly, what it said especially the "important notes" on the back of the document. Then she just referred to the part which says, "Subject to conditions of carriage, copies available on request". She gave me the complaint reference number 8059201 to follow up with yourselves.
I think at this difficult time in my life if BA had shown some compassion and consideration due to my circumstances, they would have gained my respect and loyalty. Instead they compounded the tragedy of someone already in difficult circumstances, being bereaved, missing your flight, wasting your money, being told indirectly that you are stupid etc. I felt literally heartbroken at the end of this encounter. I decided to go and rebook, on another airline, even though this cost me more money.
In any case, the BA staff should have taken into account my personal circumstances, realised that this contributed to what happened and waived the rebooking fee. Showing that little bit of compassion and consideration would have won my favour, instead of leaving me doubly heartbroken at this difficult time in my life. Had they shown more compassion, they would have created a positive experience for me and not made me determined never to fly with British Airways ever again. Furthermore, I will give this message to all my family, friends, community and staff at work. At work, I will not endorse any future travel with BA in my job capacity at Qtel. I will also, let the EXPEDIA travel agent know, that this is the way that BA treated me, and according to BA they are also to blame for not making the 35 minute rule explicit to me.
Kindly note that I belong to a family of 7 making about 6 to 7 trips to UK a year, in addition to business travel for myself and staff. Prior to this incident I had made a commitment to travel to BA in future as, advance bookings. I want to now cancel these flights, please process this ahead of the 12 week period.