British Airways (BA) have direct 10 hour overnight flights from London Gatwick (seasonal Oct-Mar).
We’d never flown in a business class flat bed seat to the Maldives, so we decided to plan ahead and make this trip extra special. I booked a pair of Club World tickets as soon as they became available a year in advance. As you might imagine we were eagerly looking forward to it for months.
The day before our flight, I was unable to use Online Check In. When we arrived at our airport of origin, 8 hours before the scheduled departure of our international flight from LGW, I was advised that as companion ticket holder on an Avios redemption award booking I had been selected for an enforced downgrade.
In addition, in early 2017 BA decided to replace its complimentary refreshments and had introduced a new Buy On Board service on short haul flights. This meant even though we had purchased business class fares with domestic connections, the in flight service offerings on our internal flights were sadly no longer included in the ticket we’d booked prior to the announcement of this “enhancement”.
BA also failed to get 1 of our 2 bags out to the Maldives until almost 3 days later, resulting in a delay getting through customs and meeting the Conrad representative in Malé. It also caused considerable inconvenience for the first few days of our holiday.
Our return flight home was delayed due a technical problem, it was so late BA had to put us up overnight, thankfully my suggestion of using the LGW Hilton was accepted. We flew home north the next day. I was grateful to receive proactive advice from Rob Burgess (www.headforpoints.com) to make a claim under EU261/2004. After an online form submission on BA’s website, then a few phone calls to chase up, I managed to receive payment within a fortnight of my return.
Sadly, obtaining the appropriate compensation under EU261/2004 for the downgrade took substantially longer, including having to go to the extreme of referring to CEDR.
Whilst I do appreciate things go wrong, I believe it’s how a customer relations team responds to such events that allows it to maintain and even enhance the reputation of a brand.
Unfortunately, I felt BA customer relations failed to deliver on this occasion and the service fell well below expectations. This is a great shame, as I respect the professionalism of BA’s long serving front line staff that do genuinely care about the customer experience.
There are superior business class products available from well respected carriers like Qatar, Etihad and Emirates. They all have frequent flights to the Maldives via their respective hubs. As they also fly from Northern England and Central Scotland, I will now consider these airlines when planning any future trips.