BA 2-4-1: when things go wrong / lets hope BA cares about their customers...

Discussion in 'British Airways | Executive Club' started by spaced2, Jun 12, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. spaced2
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    spaced2 Silver Member

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    Hi All. Just wanted to share this story:

    Was booked using 2-4-1 in F JFK-LHR-TLV, TLV-LHR ::eek:vernight:: LHR-JFK and had planned this trip at the end of last year.

    We arrived at the airport after having checked in online and presented our passports. The agent looked at my companion's expiration date and informed him he would not be able to fly given Israel requires 6 months validity from date of entry, and his was to expire in October. Fault aside (he should have known, though usually it's a 3-month requirement he didn't think it would be an issue and airline had our information including passport validity since October) at this point I'd hope the airline would work with us to get us both across the atlantic.

    After a couple calls, the following was established by executive club agents:
    1) 2-4-1 requires him travel with me on all legs, so if i traveled he would not be able to join the next day after getting a same-day extension on his passport
    2) Despite this issue being a out of the norm and despite the airport agents indicating that they would work with us to rebook, voucher ticket / mileage rules required no changes be made within 24 hours.
    3) After a 2nd call to the center, i was able to get them to refund taxes but they would not reinstate my voucher
    4) because all changes had to be made in advance, i couldn't even adjust my trip to optimize a vacation for one.

    End result: i'm in isarel alone. things are more expensive. 30k of spend -->voucher for nothing.

    Side note, new first product is excellent, though service on LHR-TLV was quite lax (...the crew ate my chocolate!!!! :( ).

    I've e-mailed in a description of what happened and noted my status is Gold in...every other alliance...and that i am already planning two business class round trips between nyc and lhr over the next 6 months. I'd like my voucher reinstated...I'd be very ok with that...i guess we'll see if there's organizational flexibility at BA to do good for their customers.

    Oh well.
     
  2. secretsea18
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    secretsea18 Gold Member

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    Sorry to hear of the trouble you had with the passports, and hope that you are able to still enjoy your trip.

    As you mentioned, it is your responsibility to know and obtain if needed proper travel documents and passport eligibility to countries visited. It is unfortunate but I know of no country that will waive their rules, particularly for expiration dates.

    And I have observed airline check in counters deny boarding passes to people that do not have the proper amount of time still on their passports.... they guy in the counter was begging NW at EWR to let him fly to Europe, and they simply refused. The reason is that then the airline is required to return the passenger back at the airline's expense. So they follow the rules and deny boarding in these situations.

    So, you really can't blame the airline for actually following the rules, can you?
     
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  3. spaced2
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    spaced2 Silver Member

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    I don't think I ever faulted ba for denying him boarding in my post. I think it's questionable that an airline isnt more proactive in this case given they had all the information available, but thats not the point of my post. My issue was around not allowing us to rebook him for the next day and forcing me to forfeit my voucher. And yes, there was space available so high probability seat woudlve been unfilled. Thanks for your comment though.
     
  4. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Sorry to hear of your trouble. Did you consider delaying your travel one day so you could both go together? While this would have broken the 24 hour rule, perhaps the flat tire (tyre) rule could have been invoked to allow you to both punt a day and travel on a space available basis?

    These companion deals are usually quite strict.

    While I am sure there are some, I can't think of a time that I've been advised of a country that allows only 3 month passport validity. 6 months is far more the norm. What is your basis for thinking Israel would be 3 months?
     
  5. spaced2
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    spaced2 Silver Member

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    we did consider it, but he was afraid he wouldn't get the renewal in time/didn't want to risk me not going at all.

    regarding your other question, i have an israeli passport so i didn't even think about it nor did i realize his passport was that close to term in advance of us arriving at the airport. he had just traveled to costa rica and their rule is 3 months. i think he assumed it was the same and didn't bother to bring it up.
     
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  6. spaced2
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    spaced2 Silver Member

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    whats the flat tyre rule you mention btw? "oh no we missed our flight, so can we go tomorrow?"
     
  7. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    If you show up late for a flight (perhaps you had a flat tyre on the way to the airport), most, if not all, legacy carriers will try their best to reaccommodate you on a later flight, regardless of your ticket type.

    In 20 years, though I've had numerous close calls, I've only missed one flight (my now former car service cancelled on me on a rainy Friday night). I was on a paid f ticket and had a companion on an f award ticket. I called DL from my replacement car, and they put us on a later flight - confirmed in f - no questions asked.

    This also works at hotels too. The evening of that DL flight (JFK-lax), I was planning to drive back to psp, where we had a room booked. I was rebooked on that old DL 10pm flight to lax, and I didn't feel like driving to psp at 130am when my new flight was landing. I called the hotel - explained the circumstances - and they deleted the first night from my booking without issue, question or penalty - despite being past the cancellation period for the night. We simply stayed near lax that night and drove out the next morning.
     
  8. spaced2
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    spaced2 Silver Member

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    good to know. would've been hard to argue a flat tire from the check-in counter though :)
     
  9. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    The rule name is figurative. It applies to more than just flats and could have been used by a friendly agent as a way to document the delay your travel a day.
     
  10. ukgooner
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    ukgooner Silver Member

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    Im afraid I wouldn't count on that idea NYBanker.

    Margins are now so thin that you cant count on goodwill to circumnavigate ticket class rules. My experience with BA has been:
    1) Turn up early on a non-flex ticket (GLA - LHR), in time for an earlier flight - BA wanted an extra £250 to change. I waited the extra hour and took my original booking

    2) Missed my weekend flight from LHR to DUS by 2 minutes thanks to heavy traffic (you cant enter T5 security less than 35 mins before departure - no exceptions). They wanted £350 to move me to the later flight (last flight of the day). So I went home and abandoned my weekend away. (I got the taxes and surcharges refunded so lost only £50 of my £120 ticket)

    Oh - and unlike SPACED2 "my status is Gold in...every other alliance" - I've had a BA gold card for 10 years...
     
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  11. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Well not to sound insensitive but it's not the airline's responsibility to make sure you (or your friend in this case) get their paperwork in order.

    I'm sure there are plenty of disclaimers to be read about how you should make sure all your stuff is in order. After all, the airline doesn't know if you've already applied to renew and you'll have the proper paperwork at hand when you get to the airport.

    With that said, I can agree that the technology is probably in place to alert you when this sort of stuff might happen, although people might not be too receptive of it. Maybe displaying a "what you should know" type of warning when booking to make sure you are aware of the entry rules at your destination, etc. But again, chances are the airline is going to say they're no more responsible than if you booked your flight with a debit card and forgot you had a few bills outstanding and got hit with overdraft fees.

    I'd hope they sympathize and maybe give you some sort of compensation for the disruption, but I think it's highly unlikely.
     
  12. ukgooner
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    ukgooner Silver Member

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    I dont think the OP was suggesting it was the airlines fault, or that they should take responsibility - only they should have shown some flexibility and allowed the party to travel on the next day's flight once the passport issue had been solved. Why would compensation be due?

    I think its a real shame that airlines increasingly wont 'bend the rules', but sadly rule bending is what costs them money, as well as losing them revenue. The goodwill question is interesting, but in this case what goodwill has the OP built up with BA? nothing at all apart from signing up for a credit card...
     
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  13. al613
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    al613 Silver Member

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    Spending 30k on 1 cc a a pretty big goodwill in our day and age. Also, BA charges like $1k in fees for this free ticket, so they get something for it.
     
  14. ukgooner
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    ukgooner Silver Member

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    Is it that much goodwill? how much have you paid out of your own money? You've only concentrated the spend you'd have made through other means to one card.

    Moreover, think of the actual revenue generated by those transactions. There is - at best - a 2% fee (interchange) on that 30K charged to the retailers who accepted it. That is shared by Visa and the bank that handles the card transactions for the retailer. Leaving perhaps 0.75% for your credit card company. ie: $225. HOw much of that does BA get? Its hardly a revenue bonanza for them is it?

    Sorry, I stand by what I said earlier. While they are not going to be mean to you, they wont be looking to extend special favours for non-existant loyalty.
     
  15. al613
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    al613 Silver Member

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    As a BA Gold, what did you do for BA? You've only concentrated the flying you'd have made through other means to one airline. :)
    Either way, for some reason they are ready to give a seat in F for $1k in fees and $225 in credit card kick back. I guess, its worth it for BA.
     
  16. penumpang
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    penumpang Gold Member

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    Even without loyalty, with that much added fees for what is supposed to be free/reward tickets, they'd better care about the customers.
     
  17. Mountain Trader
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    Mountain Trader Silver Member

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    I've gone back and forth since reading this post. Sometimes I think the OP and his pal are to blame (which they are); other times ask myself why BA wouldn't just give him another cert, since whoever filled his pal's seat meant a benefit of some kind to BA, plus to use the cert, the OP will have to cash in another big pile of miles. I've decided that BA giving him another cert wouldn't be out of line.

    As for fixing this on the fly at JFK, that may be asking a little too much of ground ops and the folks you reach on the phone. BA likely didn't have any F seats to give away the next day even if policy let them. And even if they did, who knows if the pal would get his passport renewed by then? If not, then they all start over again tomorrow night. And the whole voucher program is designed and titled to be a "Companion Ticket", with the T&As repeating the requirement to travel together.

    So while I'd have hoped for a better solution like the OP did, I can't fault BA here, especially if they put a cert back into his account. And the hint that they should figure out passport expirations with data in their system is another thing you could hope for but is not part of the deal.
     
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  18. Globaliser
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    Globaliser Silver Member

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    The ticket is not free and it is not supposed to be free. The airline is absolutely upfront about this. Anyone who thinks they are getting a free ticket has just been deluding themselves.


    And anyone who thinks that a non-status customer spending $1,000 to get a four-sector award ticket in First is showing any form of loyalty to the airline is also deluding themselves. Even status doesn't itself count for much these days, because it could almost all have been earned on other airlines.

    BA would probably have tried to offer more flexibility to someone who was genuinely a loyal customer. But I'm not surprised that the rules would be stuck to for someone who's basically doing this as a one-off on the back of a credit card offer, and whose loyalties definitely lie elsewhere (as demonstrated by being "gold in every other alliance"). Airlines know that such loyalties don't rapidly change.
     
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  19. ukgooner
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    ukgooner Silver Member

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    I think you are deliberately missing the point, you tease..

    But just in case your being serious:

    1) Achieving top tier with an airline involves spending hard cash (real revenue) of probably around $30,000 per year. That's worth an airline bending some rules occasionally to maintain goodwill. Globaliser is quite right - even that doesn't mean loyalty though. Last year I earned status largely though my custom of Aanother Aairline.

    2) Spending $30,000 on a credit card generates $225 for the airline and credit card company to share. On its own, thats not worth an airline bending rules.

    I'm not questioning the commercial rationale of handing over four F segments for 2 people (market price about $30,000) for $1,225 of revenue (though plenty of questions should be asked!) but trying to understand why people on this sort of deal, with no other commercial relationship with the airline, expect the airline to bend over backwards when they (the passengers) miss their flight - for flat tyres, out of date passports, change of mind - indeed any reason not caused by the airline itself.

    I liked Globaliser's other point about status in every other alliance probably not helping the cause! I hadnt thought of it in that way, but you're quite right....
     
  20. ukgooner
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    ukgooner Silver Member

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    And one last thing ( I would have edited but the "Network Solutions" Banner Add got in the way of the submit button)...

    Its not about the Airline not caring, or not looking after Pax - its simply saying, in order to offer this ridiculously good value, all you need to do is turn up at the airport in time with the right documents to fly. We cant offer any flexibility at this price. Sorry.
     
  21. spaced2
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    spaced2 Silver Member

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    not going to bother line by lining this one as it's kinda pointless - i think some of you (or just ukgooner :) ) came down a bit hard (or insensitive, in some of your own words) given that I basically admitted fault and only expressed some hope for flexibility on BA's part.

    For the record, again, yes there was first seats available next day
    Also, for the record, JFK was unable to adjust the ticket given it was purchased with miles (or so they said)

    As expected, no "compensation" was awarded - all i really wanted was a longer trip out of it. not faulting BA for this decision, but given that I will be flying JFK to LHR a lot more frequently in Business i don't have much of an incentive to give them any of my business going forward when i can choose between excellent business class products on CO and VS and accumulate onepass miles for both - had they thrown me a bone i would've probably proactively sought out seats on their flights.

    ba did return taxes on my companion's ticket, which i think includes YQ.
     
  22. Globaliser
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    Globaliser Silver Member

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    Sorry but the industry's a harsh place at the moment.

    Given that VS has an excellent J product (about on a par with BA J overall, depending on personal taste) and decent frequency on NYC-LON, and that you have *G for CO, what are the realistic chances that you would really have moved any significant part of your flying to BA? That's the question the airline would be asking.

    If you were already BA Gold, I have little doubt that BA would have been trying a bit harder to fix your problem. But your experience shows the difficulty whenever you go off-piste these days. It's exactly the same when I fly *A or EK.
     
  23. spaced2
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    spaced2 Silver Member

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    Has to do with the firm I work for, but overall:
    Yep. Their loss. Will probably switch to another card w/o foreign transaction fees too. Aside from the taxes/yq on award tickets their availability ex u.s. In premium cabins is really attractive, but I can just use Amex points opportunistically and concentrate status on *a as my work travel increases substantially over the next 12 months.
     
  24. Tivoboy
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    Tivoboy Milepoint Guide

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    I wouldn't consider all these fees/taxes going straight to the airline. The taxes of course, do NOT go to the airline and through LHR the taxes are at least half the amount. As for the fuel surcharges which are really highest on BA, they DID have to transport the passenger, their luggage, and F seat and all that goes with it. It probably isn't the 400$ that is the fuel surcharge but these days it is probably a big percentage of that.
     
  25. al613
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    al613 Silver Member

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    How much is to transport the heavy F seat? If its too much, may be BA can remove the empty seats and leave them in JFK till they come back. :)
     

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