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BA & the class divide

November 18, 2007

I have always thought that flying with BA was one of the best ways of becoming aware of the worst aspects of the English class system. If you are not in first class you are treated like a serf, and its obvious that those looking after you deeply resent having to spend time with the lower classes. Compound that with poor service, incompetent computer systems and you have a recipe for a bad day such as the one I have just lived through.

On this occasion I flew in World Traveller to Vancouver to save money. The sales pitch indicated that this was a a half way house between economy and club, but to be honest it felt like economy on American Airlines, so God help those in BA economy. It took them two hours to get the entertainment system working, the food was dire and thanks to multiple incidents of incompetence (for which I got no apology) I had been reassigned from an aisle seat to a centre middle and we were delayed on take off. Net result ten hours of extreme discomfort, competing one either side for the right to use an arm rest and loosing most of the time. Oh and a toilet was out of action so the average wait was twenty minutes (I was awake unfortunately so conducted a scientific survey). There was no room to work as I had planned on an overdue article and I had seen all the films ……

So arriving in my hotel after the normal hassle with Canadian Immigration (why do one of the most friendly and hospital people in the world have some of the most aggressive immigration officers?) I went onto the BA site to register a complaint and also to ask that someone would make sure the mistake was not repeated on Tuesday when I fly back.

The complaints proceedure was not too hard, the normal obstacles to deter people, but I got through those. Then I got the following message in return:

Thank you for taking the time to contact us, we have set up your file and the reference number can be found above. While you are waiting for a reply from us there is no need to re-send your email. Our aim is to ensure we make contact with you as quickly as we can, this may take around two weeks. We are very grateful for your patience in the meantime and thank you again for contacting us and for giving us an opportunity to respond.

Two weeks? You call that customer relations?

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