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British Airways / bad treatment/no refund

1 Ireland Review updated:

Its been an exhausting week. Part of me honestly wants to forget it quietly, but that silence will allow the possibility of it happening again to somebody else, and that thought is hard to bear. Even though I have been planning a holiday to cape town since july, when I eventually made it all the way to heathrow, they refused me entry onto the plane, even though they have known my medical situation for months. BA are blaming aer lingus, and my travel agent for not fully notifying them of my medical needs,even though I had to send medical certs and undergo a phone check by a BA rep before the tickets were issued.
For the healthiest of specimens, enduring 2 airports in the same day would be taxing, but for me to push myself around the airports of 2 countries in the space of one day, and innumerable security checks, was an uphill struggle, which had a conclusion, which left me shell shocked and speechless.
It was the look of shock by the stewardess which lingered. The first thing she said to me was that “you’re not going to make this flight darlin” and I could see her worried look as she saw me balance on the airline wheelchair which had no armrests . Yes I did topple to my left, trying to turn around to answer a question from the man with my wheelchair, but I am very strong, and quickly salvaged the situation. It doesn’t look like homework was done by BA on the fact that I have friedreich’s ataxia (even though all certs were provided), and all that implies. It looks as if investigations were left at “wheelchair user”!
Issues of safety are paramount of course, but everything has its own context, and if again you put forward the legal reasons, then maybe it is an idea for passengers who need assistance to sign a liability waiver. I know I would have gladly signed one, rather than waiting outside the plane door on a cold evening, in a foreign country when I should have been in a plane bound for a long dreamed of, and planned for holiday!

I am not a litigious person, but have to speak up, in order to stop this happening to someone else. Why was my money taken so readily? Doctor’s certs not examined, and questions asked at the front of a departing plane which I had answered ad nauseum before? Indeed I was so shocked to be asked these questions again, with fresh faced inquisitiveness, in combination with my speech impediment, that no words would form, and I knew that they had made up their minds. They told me that my luggage was being taken off. I truly was beaten down, and was torn between what had just happened, and the fact that I hadn’t eaten since 3.
We finished talking at 11.30, after which I had to wait outside for half an hour, with my bus and hotel voucher. At midnight the dinner voucher is pretty redundant. I thought the hotel was a nice touch, but what was the alternative? Have me sleep in my chair? I listend in shock, as the BA duty manager suggested sending me back to Ireland to have a colostomy bag fitted, after which time my flights would be rescheduled, was a non runner. Invasive surgery doesn’t happen overnight, and I only have 2 weeks leave. It didn’t seem like a great holiday to me to spend half the time (at best) in hospital, and a short revised week in cape town.
I am aware of the reluctance and hesitance which lawsuits have brought, but again I needed assistance only getting to, and not using the toilet.
It is impossible to manually push the onboard chair, so even if the person can briefly stand, they still need help getting from a to b, but any sort of assistance seemed to be out of the question for the crew of this particular flight.
My bowels were empty. I have no bowel problems, and was certainly not going to overeat during a long flight, so that was not going to be an issue. 3 years ago, during my BA flight to Johannesburg, the guy merely wheeled me to the loo, put a blanket up behind me (as I could not fit in totally), and ….. Was I really that blessed with the extraordinary helping efforts of that particular crew? Compared to Sunday’s crew maybe…………..
Which leads me to ask if it was known since july that a passenger using a wheelchair because of friedreich’s ataxia, was going to be onboard, could there not have been one or two strong helpful guys on the rosta? The crew seemed to be mostly female. I feel very let down by BA. I don’t know if I will physically be able to make a trip like this in the future, and now I feel so mentally battered, that I sincerely don’t know if all the preparation and effort would be worth it.
ericdoran@hotmail.com
BA59. Sept 17/9/06
Wednsday 20/9/06
I just said to my boss in work today (went back in, otherwise I’d just be at home mulling over all that has happened). I said “isn’t it ironic that in this age of hyper caution and extreme safety measures, that I am refused entry on safety threats. He bluntly said “You weren’t a concern just an inconvenience” I thought that was a perfect word. My dignity was of no concern as I was at the airplane door cold and isolated, and having to talk about toilet issues and colostomy bags with complete strangers.
I was never personally addressed by the captain, he just gave me an indifferent look, at this person before him with inward facing feet and a floppy posture who was clinging onto this onboard chair with no armrests. I wonder just on face value, did the captain think I was on drugs or drunk?
My safety was of no concern as I was put on a bus at midnight alone and shocked, trying to find a bed for a few hours with no toiletries or change of clothes That is no way to treat people!
I told the BA rep in july, that the help I needed was for someone to hold the chair steady to allow for a safe transfer. They refused to do even this. I know they don’t have to, but people come with different needs, and as the men pushing me off told me “that it all comes down to the attitudes of the crew and captain on the day. We have seen many cases worse than you, and sometimes even other passengers are more than happy to help” I know hindsight is 20/20 but I should have asked one of the hundreds of fellow passengers if they’d mind helping me down toward the loo. I’m sure they would have had a better attitude. I don’t need, and can’t justify somebody to hold my hand on the plane, much to BA’s incomprehension.
So all the planning has been for nothing and I fear this disaster will have lasting effects. I am still missing luggage, need a break, but now know even holidays can drain you;. I hope this episode has a redeeming conclusion. This was a major holiday, with a lot of time and planning invested in it.
Update Thursday 21/9/06: You will not believe it ( I had to phone up twice to make sure. Apparently my luggage was taken off, but they were put onto a cape town bound flight the next morning. It seems outrageous to me that I was refused entry out of safety concerns, but my luggage ( a suitcase, one big and one small sportsbag) was overlooked! Someone has their priorities mixed up! My insulin and everything bar the kitchen sink are in those bags, so I hope they get returned soon.
Update:24/9/06 2 bag arrived last night and the smaller bag was back on Sunday 24/9/06 minus my digital camera and broken shaver. This bag had all my insulin, an was firmly attached to my lap all day. I thought I would be swiftly reunited with it, but apparently my bags were put on 2 separate cape town bound flights the next day. I am loathe to keep going over this nightmare, but BA are digging their heels in, and even though its very much david v goliath, I have to try and get my story out. I should be relishing all the sights and marvels of this unique country after my months of saving, planning and preparation. Instead I am back, sooner than expected in rainy Ireland, with the batteries on low and uncertain about future travel plans. If all this hassle comes from a “holiday”…………I was in Egypt this may, and this was meant to be the year that I would travel, but events have conspired against me.
What should I do next? I am alone and voiceless and at the moment, nearly a grand down.

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Comments

  • Va
      12th of Dec, 2006
    0 Votes

    I love the USA and visited friends again this summer throughout the USA. For reasons best known to British Airways, I had problems securing the return flight home, and ended up being stranded in the USA. I had to buy another ticket, and duly did so with another airline for $300.

    As I result of my experience, please avoid the expense that I incurred and avoid British Airways. (The staff are treated just as ruff by the management anyway, hence why they down tools and go on strike whenever they feel like it).

  • Mi
      27th of Jan, 2007
    0 Votes

    Dear Nikhil Phalsamkar - British Airways Customer Relations,

    Thank you for your e-mail dated the 2nd of January 2007.

    Here are the details for our claim for delayed/damaged baggage and the series of events that occurred. I am copying this to Amos Phillips, our MPs, the Consumer Association and the media.

    Mr Phillips and I made a trip to India for both work and holiday.

    We left the UK on 18th December 2006 on flight BA199. We had one item of checked luggage between the two of us - this contained all our necessary luggage. On arrival in Bombay we were left awaiting our luggage at the carousel. Our luggage did not arrive.

    We went to the baggage desk where it was already known that our luggage was not on the plane ! We were given a form that had been filled in before arrival at Mumbai airport. We gave our address in Mumbai and our address in Cochin where we were going from 21-24 December (written on the form - a copy is enclosed with this letter).

    We were initially offered £35 to cover the expenses for two people as the luggage in the bags was for both Amos Phillips and Michelle Baharier. We were eventually given two lots of £35 cards to release from an ATM within 24 hours. The exact amount we could withdraw in rupees was in fact less than £35. In fact what we really got was 2800 rupees each, which on that day’s exchange rate amounted to only £32.

    We arrived at our hotel without essential items which included medication called DERMATIX which had cost me £34.50 on that morning (needed for a scar as I had not long had an operation) Vitamin-E cream which I need to rub into the affected scarring area, Mosquito killer to plug into the rooms whilst sleeping, Mosquito repellent to spray on to body, Mosquito repellent to wash into cloths, suntan lotion factor 40 and 50 and water resistant, vitamins, moisturiser, tea tree oil, insect sucker that sucks out the poison from any animal bite, toothpicks, cotton wool, witch hazel, pencil case, paint box, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, padlock, rucksack cage, knife, rucksack lock, 2 forks and spoons, mixed fruit, toilet rolls, Bombay map, soap, sanitary towels, homeopathic remedies, creams, rescue remedy, Tea tree cream, Rough guide to India book, vitamin-E oil, money belts, names and details of people, rechargeable batteries, battery re-charger, camera memory cards, torch hairbrush, hair ties mobile phone charger, towels, sandals, sellotape, water purification tablets, Vaseline Mosquito bands, swimming costumes, holiday and business clothes.

    On arrival at our hotel we were unable to shower or rest as we had neither essential items to do so nor any clothes to change into that were suitable for the heat of Mumbai nor did we have mosquito repellent.

    This was not a good way to begin our holiday. We went out shopping when we were supposed to be setting up meetings regarding my work. I had to cancel a meeting on the 19th as I had nothing to wear or wash with, nor did I have sun screen or mosquito repellent and the strong kind we buy in the UK is not available to buy in India.

    It took us 5 hours to find some clothes, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoos, soap and towels, however, sun screen was unavailable so were bras and pants. We brought washing powder and mosquito coils to burn in the room, We were suffering badly with the heat as our London clothes were far too hot.

    We were also suffering from being bitten badly by mosquitoes.

    Michelle Baharier suffers from eczema and various other skin sensitivities so all products she uses need to be tested.

    I have listed all our expenses on a separate sheet

    We were attempting to buy only essential items as we were hoping that our luggage would appear as we had been told our luggage would be on the night flight at midnight and be delivered to our hotel in the early hours of the morning.

    On the morning of 20/12/06 we called Mumbai airport luggage section. We called the airport at least 20 times - we did not get through as the number was constantly engaged. We decided we needed to try to follow our plans. We had only our winter shoes which were extremely uncomfortable and made us sweat and made our feet get blisters if we tried wearing them without socks.

    It was also really difficult to find batteries and a camera card for Michelle Baharier who is a professional artist and needed a battery charger and memory cards. This completely stressed her out and she was feeling unable to use her camera and it really disturbed her pleasure of the entire trip.

    We had to spend more time shopping for essential items not knowing where to look, One of Michelle Baharier's work colleagues had to take us to a place where she could buy toilet rolls, sanitary towels more shampoo and other essential toiletries. We returned to our hotel to find that BA had not called and we were extremely concerned as we were leaving the next morning (21/12/07).

    Michelle Baharier phoned her sister and asked her if she could intervene on our behalf and actually speak to a human being in the UK at BA as Mumbai numbers were just constantly engaged.

    On the 21st December we flew to Cochin and after our arrival at our hotel at about 9.30pm BA baggage section in Mumbai called to tell us our bag had not arrived and they did not know when it would arrive as there was now fog in London and lots of flights were being delayed. They also said they would only deliver the luggage to an airport and not to our hotel; they gave no reason for this. It would have taken half a day to a day to collect this luggage and would have cost 1000 rupees for us to do this.

    On the evening of 21/12/06 we had had to replace more items including sandals as our feet were hurting and cut to pieces, we were bitten endlessly even though we brought Odomas the local cream insect repellent.

    This time we brought decent sizes of toothpaste, shampoo, soap and towels, as opposed to the little sachets as we kept anticipating the arrival of our luggage. My sister called at midnight and said that BA in the UK had shut down its phone lines and was refusing to talk to people.

    We were totally exasperated. The next day (22/12/06) we called BA in Mumbai – permanently engaged, we decided we needed to replace more things and that we needed a bag. We also realised we had to modify our holiday plans what should have been a much more adventurous holiday had to be modified as we did not have the essential items to do what we had planned - namely medical supplies water tablets and protective clothing.

    The stress caused by BA's lack of information or contact point really damaged our ability to enjoy our holiday. We tried phoning Mumbai BA baggage section every day but to no avail. It was impossible to get through.

    Not only did BA not contact us when our bag arrived but when we eventually got through to Mumbai BA baggage section on 26/12/06 we found our bag had been sitting in Mumbai airport since 21/12/06.

    Staff at Mumbai lied and said they had no address for us in Cochin – if this was so how did they manage to call us there on the 21/12/06? After we had explained that BA did have our address details and we had been contacted there the story then changed and we were told that they phoned every day from 21/12/06 – 25/12/06 we did not believe this and we would like to mention Ravi as a particularly inept BA worker with non-existent customer care skills who should not be employed by your company, he kept cutting us off and it took about 40-50 times to get through to the baggage section each time we phoned up. Lisa Marie and Melissa were slightly better and eventually Lisa-Marie agreed to return the baggage to UK. However, she would not sort out sending the baggage to Michelle’s sister’s address and were quite adamant about this. We pleaded with them because we no longer had an address in India as we going to be on the road and taking night trains, and it was their fault that our baggage not been delivered and now could not be reunited to us in India, the least they could do was return it to an address convenient for us. They said they did not have that sort of power. We think this is ridiculous - a massive global company unable to act sensitively and efficiently with a baggage problem.

    The non-delivery of our luggage before 26/12/06 meant we had to replace all our items.

    The staff were unhelpful and rude and it took from 8 am in the morning till 1.30pm on 26/12/06 to sort out redirecting our luggage to my sister in the UK, there were perishable fruits inside our luggage that needed to be removed before everything was ruined. The morning calls cost 250 rupees on our mobile and then even more on the family's landline we were staying with, in all our 500 rupee sim card was used up by calling BA and my sister regarding our baggage.

    The staff hung up on us numerous times, cut us off and lied. None of this is helpful and BA should introduce customer training for its entire staff, this is extremely uninspiring and makes us not want to travel with you again.

    The staff in Mumbai also gave us an invalid file number, as it had no letters on it. My sister, Linda Baharier, had to search for some time to find the correct file number.

    Linda provided us with an international call line for BA customer services which we rung everyday and a message said that this line is closed. We were very unimpressed with BAs customer services by this stage.

    How much would it have cost BA to e-mail all customers with an apology at the first sign of trouble? This could have reassured many customers.

    On the 28/12/06 after discussing the issues with Linda we had to send a fax to give her the authority to discuss our luggage problems with BA in the UK, but to make certain we sent three - one to her and two to BA, this again took up valuable time when we should have been relaxing and enjoying ourselves, rather than calling the UK and getting stressed out.

    To get to the damage. Our luggage had to be washed and the bags cleaned. With one of the bags the smell of the fruit cannot be got rid of (it cost £109.00 3 years ago) and a book costing £12.99 titled “The World Travellers Manual of Homeopathy” has been severely damaged.

    In addition Linda incurred numerous costs due to the time it took assisting us. She had to take one and a half days off work trying to contact BA customer services on our behalf. She incurred large telephone costs and it cost her money to wash and dry our luggage after she received it. We would be grateful if you could reimburse Linda Baharier for her costs. If you require a greater breakdown of her costs please let us know.

    Our pleasure and our holiday was completely ruined by worry and stress caused trying to locate our luggage and redirect it so that everything was not ruined and it was not stolen from Mumbai airport.

    Also what we did not have access to were items of a far higher quality in our original luggage and far greater cost we lost pleasure of by not being able to use, just for example the sun screens and mosquito killer cost in the region of £60 - they would have given us peace of mind instead of which we were bitten constantly.

    We were unable to swim as we had no costumes and could not find a place that sold such items, this spoilt our enjoyment no end. We would like to know what is BA's compensation for wasted time and effort.

    We are also shocked that a multinational company such as BA takes seven days to send a reply to people it has placed in distress. BA needs to get some customer care skills and do some work If we are ever to fly with them again.

    I look forward to reimbursement in full and compensation for wasted time lack of holiday and stress. The table of costs shows some of the items we were able to replace, it also shows the cost of our time spent replacing these items when we should have been enjoying our holiday. BA needs to note that we wasted well over £100 on items we brought in the UK that will not be used unless we return to India. I note that in 2000 BA paid Victoria Beckham £100,000 in compensation for lost luggage and BA has not answered if she and her family have received free first class flights for life?

    Due to need we brought items where we saw them this included small market stalls and some people were not able to provide receipts - we do have the items and can produce them if necessary. We were also unaware that the situation would escalate and that we would need receipts. We kept a daily record of all our spending. In addition to the above we feel we are entitled to a full refund on the price paid for our airline tickets because we did not have the holiday we planned due to BAs inefficiency and through no fault of our own.

    Economy passengers are the bread and butter of any company it is time we were treated with dignity because if we leave BA will go under which almost happened when it tried to delete its economy class a few years back.

    We not able to collect our baggage from my sisters house until 15th January 2007 so we are using the time limits set out in the Montreal Convention, from the day we received our baggage.

    BA HAVE WRITTEN BCAK AND OUR NOT PAYING US COMPENSATION NOR HAVE THEY COVERED MY SISTERS EXPENCESS

  • Ak
      17th of Jul, 2007
    0 Votes

    Actually, what a horrible horrible service!!! Never Ever again with BA. i am one poor man tried to save 450 dollars to buy a ticket and took me a little bit more than a 8 month to buy a ticket. Well i finally got the ticket BUT guess what they misplaced my bad.

    I had two suit which i wear at work but unfortunately had to take with for the weeding. BUT guess what ? Didn't come home with me because of the horrible service i got. I called to the BA customer service and been told several times that i should get a refund. I didn't ask once, twice , ... but more 7 times and i got the same answer from all of them.

    After i bought a suit my bag came 13 days later. And i ask a refund my expense i have BA said " since you are resident we know that you have a close so we can't give you the money" after i spend all i had otherwise i couldn't go to work without suit because it's not allowed. What a service...

  • Je
      17th of Jun, 2008
    0 Votes

    I have been flying weekly with British Airways now for over 14 years and in all this time I have never has a single piece of luggage go missing neither have I experienced bad customer service.

    The comments made my this lady (actually the letter was rather confusing as she keeps refering to herself in the third person, which I find incredibly annoying and it is also a terrible use of the English language.) Her claims for compensation are a little excessive, she should have checked BA's policy on compensation (which is the same for every major airline) beford she booked.

    Talk about a whinger...get a life Madam!

  • Ne
      8th of Nov, 2009
    0 Votes

    I remember in the 70’s when luggage manufacture Samsonite used to throw a large piece of there luggage into a cage of a large angry gorilla who failed to damage it, it was a true testament to how durable this stuff was, I suppose that being the case British Air Lines have decided to hire Two Gorillas in there ground staff at Heathrow as my luggage have returned to me twice looking like they were through the Blitz. I am a frequent traveler as I work abroad all through Europe and central Asia so I have the opportunity first hand to rate Air Lines and see how they are servicing there clients. I have been very disappointed with British Air the last few years and this incident just solidified my opinion. This is the second time this has happened to me with British Air and after giving them the benefit of the doubt the first time this has happened I have decided to never use there Airline again. Both times this has occurred I was traveling from Dubai to London with in the same year and have had both pieces of luggage destroyed. I have yet to be reimbursed for any of it. The last time this happened the luggage in question was brand new just bought in Dubai literally hours before the flight, when I sent my complaint and received my verification and complaint number in Customer Service at the Air Port I was asked for receipts for the luggage they destroyed. The first time this happened the case in question was over 6 years old so I no longer had a receipt but the second time it happened I was prepared as it was still in my wallet. It has been over two years since and have yet to receive 1 cent back from them and have had numerous eyes rolled at the air port when I inquired along with a host of unanswered Emails. I was talking to my fellow Engineers at my firm and was surprised to discover that they had the same problems. We now have a “No British Air Policy” in our firm. We are not that big as we have about 25 consultants and engineers abroad at any given time but in time I am certain there will be more who do the same thing. There service is truly horrible and there general attitude is poor, I expected more from them, , , Regards’

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