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Your views: British Airways’ response to its IT failure

British Airways

Thousands of BA passengers were grounded following a computer system failure in May. In the aftermath, we asked you ‘should BA offer its passengers automatic compensation?’ Here’s what you said.

In just three days we received over 100 comments on our convo and nearly 5,000 people voted in our poll. A huge 97% said they think BA should offer automatic compensation for delayed and cancelled flights.

More striking than these statistics however were the numerous accounts of poor customer service customers have experienced with BA and the differing views on automatic compensation.

Communication breakdown

Alison, a former BA employee, touched on the one immediate frustration many caught at Heathrow and Gatwick suffered; a lack of updates from BA as the situation unfolded:

‘I know from personal experience that one of the worst things you can do to passengers is not tell them what is happening. Being kept informed and up-to-date is so very important, particularly if you are meeting other people at the end of your journey, who may be greatly inconvenienced by any delay in your travel arrangements.’

Other travellers have reportedly complained of waiting more than an hour after the story broke in the press being being informed their flights had been cancelled.

Reputational turbulence

Another supporter, Charlie, wasn’t directly affected but feels the whole debacle may affect who they fly with in the future:

‘I have a trip abroad planned soon and was planning to book flights with BA. One reason I had chosen BA (rather than one of the budget airlines) is because I thought I’d receive good customer service and support in the event of anything going wrong. I’m not sure now it is worth the extra cost of BA after reading about how badly passengers have been treated following this fiasco.’

Unsurprisingly perhaps, this sentiment was echoed a number of times on Conversation with another supporter making the point to BA that it is difficult to be everything to everyone and imparting advice to ‘be quality, charge a premium’.

Automatic compensation

Touching on compensation Jill believes being fully compensated won’t be enough for BA to make good with some of their customers

‘British Airways got it very wrong and now they are adding insult to injury by making it difficult for their customers to claim what is rightfully theirs in the way of compensation. Even if their customers break even, money wise, it does nothing to erase the terrible disappointment of families being robbed of their holiday. Come on BA do the right thing and go some way to earning back the good will and respect of your customers.’

Iain echoed that line of thought adding that ministers should make automatic compensation a primary focus of the next Parliament:

‘After the fiasco (which ruined the holidays of many families) the very least BA should be doing is to issue full refunds and supplement that by giving free tickets for a future flight. Of course it should be automatic. And if legislation is needed to force them to do that, then it should be made a priority in the new Parliament.’


Over the weekend we published an open letter to BA calling on them to auto-compensate the passengers who fell victim to the airline’s IT error. Is there anything else you think British Airways should be doing to help their customers in this situation?

Comments
Guest
Vanesssa says:
10 June 2017

Five years ago it took BA nearly 24 months to pay out compensation for a delayed flight. They had frustrating automated systems and even my letter to the CEO was ‘intercepted’ by customer services and rewarded with one of a number of their bland electronic holding responses. It sounds as though BA are still operating in the same way – perhaps aiming to frustrate the passenger into giving up!

Guest
J. Keegan says:
10 June 2017

Although not directly affected by the BA debacle, I do feel for all those passengers who had their holidays and travel plans ruined. The very least that BA can do in the circumstances is provide automatic compensation. In my view, BA’s CEO, Mr Cruz, has trashed the reputation of BA and demonstrated that he’s totally unsuited to manage what used to be the UK’s premier airline. Even worse, his obsession with cost-cutting has reduced BA to little more than a very expensive “bucket shop” airline, unfit to be regarded as our national flag carrier,

Guest
Denis Page says:
10 June 2017

All airlines should automatically pay compensation for flight delays. Recently I was on a jet2 flight from Leeds that was 5 hours late.I sent a claims letter to jet2 demanding payment of 400 euros in 14 days,they responded by letter saying.’it will take some time to process and investigate fully’. There is nothing for them to investigate ,the plane was 5 hours late ,they know that ,myself and a few hundred other people know that, they should pay up immediately .
When I book a holiday with jet2 I pay the deposit,when the balance is due I pay immediately,if I refused to pay they would cancel my holiday and threaten me with legal action.When they owe me money they look for excuses not to pay me what I am entitled to .These people are disgusting hypocrites.

Guest
Colin John Webster says:
10 June 2017

BA has always been a complacent, arrogant and unsympathetic business with an appalling attitude to customer service. As my ‘national carrier’, they make me ashamed to be British. However, cabin and flight-deck staff struggle to do their best, but they are hampered by very poor management.
To try and say that the failure of IT systems was solely due to power failure is defensive nonsense; Willie Walsh and Alex Cruz clearly need to be educated in disaster planning. IT systems must have rational defence, back-up and restore systems in place that have been tested to work. I support Which? in their campaign, and suggest that BA gets some better managers.

Guest
chris newman says:
15 June 2017

Very good contribution Colin. I’m aware of how rubbish & arrogant BA management are, as I’ve known GOOD people who have worked for the airline and had the spirit & good will taken right out of them. Treating employees with respect and fairnesss counts an awful lot as well. Dont companies always emphasize “team work” and then there isn’t any. Proper teamwork ultimately equals a far better company that EVERYONE benefits from. One example is Passengers. For the customer is the lifeblood of any business and is often disdainfully and all too readily forgotten/ taken for granted. And of course employees work far better with decent treatment. Therefore immediately – it’s a better company. Last but not least the COMPANY ITSELF benefits in all ways with a more professional, less corner or cost cutting and a reasonable and fair approach. In fact their precious profits will get an upward turn in the long run, with proper long term planning rather than the usual short term gain, that lacks any real or lasting substance. Chris Newman Southampton ( sick of the appalling standard of much of the management in this “so called – great country”) … {Don’t make me laugh}.

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Guest

Well said Colin. As a former employee of British Airways I have been dismayed to see how far it has gone downhill under the leadership of Alex Cruz and Willie Walsh. Appallingly poor management.

Guest
Richard Wagner says:
10 June 2017

All airlines could authorise local ground management to provide food and drink to delayed passengers without reference to the centre – follow the example of the Timpsons chain, where shop managers can pay out up to £500 if they feel a customer has a problem caused by the shop. Great customer loyalty builder, and simply does the right thing.

Guest
David Grewcock says:
10 June 2017

The fact that BA control centre is not located in the UK could be a contributory factor and I think that really wants looking into . They have a lot of work to do to regain passenger confidence .Also why is there too many industrial strikes effecting flight schedules with BA ? This firm needs to get a grip prompt !

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Guest

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/06/02/british_airways_data_centre_configuration/
The bit that matters seems to be at Heathrow and the India Tata operation is said not to be involved.

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Guest

agreed David, BA need to get a grip. You can only push customer loyalty so far.

Guest
Robert Cooper says:
10 June 2017

I am concerned for all disabled passengers who would have no way to make any changes for their travel, this especially for people who use a wheelchair or have limited walking ability , such as myself.

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Guest

Were any disabled people affected and not helped appropriately by BA?

Guest
agnes cullen says:
10 June 2017

When it was obvious that they were dealing with a major failure the absence of any senior members of B A either on the ground or on air with explanations was a disgrace. They should be ashamed

Guest
Alison Morris-Jones says:
10 June 2017

BA’s reputation is now in tatters & their reluctance to compensate passengers will only compound that. Their ridiculously chaotic management of the situation with clearly no action plan in place & on a highly visible international stage will cost them dear, no doubt. This just goes to prove that BA are no better than the budget airlines, so I won’t be wasting my money on them again. The only difference to the passenger is the in flight meal, which considering the extra cost of the tickets is very poor value.

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Guest

A strong sugestion for BA customers. I claimed off Easyjet. They stalled for months. I made a Small claim in the County Court. Even then they applied to lodge a defence which they never did. I was awarded my claim which was paid in days.

Guest
Freda Hendel says:
10 June 2017

A wise move and one that I shall employ, if needed, in the future is to initiate a Small Claim in the County Court. I have switched to BA from Easy Jet and Flybe because of their luggage restrictions and the delays that seem to be regular occurrences now I wonder what to do as there is nowhere else to go. BA should put their house in order immediately. Repay those inconvenienced immediately and convince the rest of us they are worthwhile.

Guest
Bob Crees says:
12 June 2017

People should really holiday in the UK. There are many fine resorts and due to the changeable weather conditions that we have, there is a reduced risk of skin cancer by having holidays at home. This in turn will help the NHS.
But lets discuss the issue – Lets say my holiday from Manchester Airport to Spain is delayed by 6 hours -SO the air company has to reimburse me for that delay? – BUT my car journey from Manchester to Cornwall is delayed by 12 hours, due to congestion on the Motorways and Caravans – So who pays for that delay?
Trying to claim compensation like this is really pathetic. It’s like asking, who do I sue if I get a flat tyre.

Guest
Norman Naylor says:
12 June 2017

I think the airline should do more than make announcements over the public address system. Delays and cancellations can impose a whole range of concerns and problems for passengers and a caring airline would send real people – customers services personnel – to circulate among passengers and deal with their questions.

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Guest

Being profoundly deaf, public address systems are a waste of time, all I hear is noise. You can’t lip-read public address system!

Guest
John Walter says:
13 June 2017

I stopped flying BA several years ago after a standard class flight back from Seattle. The cabin staff openly stood about chatting rather than keep themselves aware of passengers who might require attention. It seems that BA executives’ deals are more related to profits for the shareholders than consideration for clients.

Guest
Ianm says:
15 June 2017

They need toPut the Custome First Again. Start by getting rid of the useless Spanish CEO whose previous experience was running two low-cost airlines and who has not the culture and understanding required to restore and maintain the BA brand.

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Guest

yes when I worked for the airline, I distinctly remember Putting People First course 1 and then course 2. No danger of that nowadays. The only thing Cruz puts first is his own bonus, which he’ll get when he leaves after running BA into the ground. Interestingly enough he recently told his employees that he intended to “make BA great again”. I’d love to know how he intends to do that! I tweeted him to ask- zero response.

Guest
Gary Aldridge says:
22 June 2017

The truth is that BA have outsourced their IT divison to sub-standard offshore supplies. So well done BA management you may have saved in the short term, now you will pay millions in compensation and a incalculabe in lost confidence and hence future sales. It makes it worse that the CEO lied about the incident and said it was nothing to do with the outsource. However, I wager that the TRUE ‘findings’ of the independent review of the incident will ever be made public.

So to all senior management reading this , when the price is cheap think BA , it’s cheap for a reason !

Guest
Alexandrina Jane says:
22 June 2017

They should have an English CEO not Spanish

Guest
Joseph Siddall says:
22 June 2017

Ah, but it’s no longer an ‘English’ company, but part of an international group, isn’t it? However, that should not make any difference. Awful service and indifference trickle down from the top. Nationality of the CEO is immaterial.

Guest
Michael Daniels says:
22 June 2017

Far too much air travel, atmospheric pollution is one cause of global warming. The planet and all life upon it
is now seriously endangered. Temperatures world wide are soaring, so if you are happy with the thought of
living in an oven, just keep flying.

Guest
Thomas Burns says:
22 June 2017

Why is their not a quick security check for passengers late for their flight? Why are the departure gates not advertised at least 45 minutes before take off? In Heathrow they wait until the very last minute and passengers have to run. This is ridiculous for the elderly and disabled.

Guest
john says:
22 June 2017

stop polluting our sacred air !!

Guest
Luke McCann says:
22 June 2017

I was flying from Dublin – Johannesburg via Heathrow on Sunday 29th May, and got caught up in the chaos. While the lack of communication and general mismanagement was disappointing, I eventually received free accommodation and food vouchers, and have just received a cheque for the GBP equivalent of 600euros (and it happened less than a month ago). Granted I was on the ball and immediately used the Which tool to create a letter to send to BA Customer Support requesting the mandatory compensation, but the turnaround time has generally been very good here. I think the current laws regarding flight delays depending on how long you’ve been delayed for, in addition to the distance of your destination is far. BA, I imagine, are set to shelve out close to 100,000,000GBP in the wake of this IT failure. To demand anything more would be too much in my opinion, and would needlessly force many airlines into bankruptcy. Personally, I lost more in missing a day’s work than I received in compensation, but when these things are relatively rare, to a certain extent I think people have to take these things somewhat on the chin. I think the relevant regulators need to clamp down on ridiculous levels of capacity. I overheard something like BA operate at 95% capacity at all times. Now that is ludicrous. There needs to be more buffer room in order for airlines to be able to respond to system faults and the likes.

Guest
Ruth Fraser says:
22 June 2017

Anyone who is old or disabled should get hotel accommodation instead of staying in the airport

Guest
Mr Lynne Harpwe says:
22 June 2017

In 2013, me, my wife & 7year old son had booked a holiday in Lido Bay Florida. We stayed the night before at the Premier Inn for an 8:00 am check in at LGW. Checked in and waited and waited and waited, I enquired re the delay and was told that our nominated aircraft had experienced turbulence on return to LGW and was being replaced for my Tampa flight. After more waiting, we were in the process of boarding @ around 4:15 [ Off. Dep. 11: 20am ] when the BA flight mngr. pulled me to one side & advised me that due to the fact that replacement aircraft was smaller I was unable to travel [no seat] but my wife & son were ok to load. We had a car booked in Tampa my wife , doesn’t drive , my son is now breaking his heart & I’m on a flight to Orlando the next day, I’d spent over £ 3000 to experience this . With the goodwill of the stewardesses I sat with them in there rest area for the whole flight with my wife &son half way up the aircraft. I have never ever been subjected too such disregard & total unprofessionalism in all my life as that God forsaken day at LGW.I did approach BA for compensation but was told I didn’t qualify. I will NEVER fly BA again in my life if its at all avoidable, the operation is a disgrace to carry our National flag.

Guest
Mr Lynne Harpwe says:
22 June 2017

This problem is far far wider & deeper than a bloody IT failure. The whole operation is in desperate need of firm leadership in order to recover its once held position of ‘ THE WORLD’S MOSTPOPULAR AIRLINE ‘

Guest
Nancy Edmunds says:
22 June 2017

I worked for BA for 22 years and was sacked for reporting sexual harassment. You will get no compensation as the management simply do not care they are paralysed by the stronghold that the Union BASSA has over them and have sacked anyone of any experience or integrity. The Company’s assets have been stripped to the bare minimum and any unexpected undue pressure placed on its daily operation renders it incapable. Best thing you can do in future is to fly with another career that is not beleaguered by constant threat of cabin crew strikes, broken baggage carousels and global it outage. If in doubt historically search how BA have recurrently failed their customers since the opening of t5 !!

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Guest

Interesting Nancy I wont ask if it was a male member of BA and how high up the ranking he was but I looked up a City shares website on BA and it seems they outsource their IT to–India but deny that has anything to do with it . Also it seems they do have an uninterruptible power supply and that was bypassed but they deny anybody “switched it off ” and that “investigations are continuing ” , I wonder why, how long does it take to check -the mains supply -the power unit – or any firmware ?? more to this than meets the eye. Chief says -I wont step down. seems you might be right on “asset stripping ” if if BA (IAG) is owned by private equity firms then they add dept to a company to fund bigger payouts to themselves -aka- “dividend re-capitalization ” they raise cash by issuing debt same type of wording as “quantitative easing” – printing (more of your ) money and “collateral damage”-sorry we just killed 100 civilians with our “highly accurate ” laser guided bombs . Never mind just found out BA now has its own gin and this has upset James Alexander -quote I have just spent £1000,s to gain gold status and is now asset stripping BAEC benefits and worsening the flying experience –cant post the rest (he gets too angry ) .

Guest
Andy says:
22 June 2017

First World problems!

All travel involves risk. You either accept that or pay someone else to shoulder the risk (insurance). Insisting on automatic compensation would require increased ticket prices because someone has to pay!

Guest
Mrs Miller-Forward says:
23 June 2017

I was given as a surprise a special seat upgrade by my partner for my birthday, to my disappointment instead of a wondeful surprise it turned out to be dreadful. A meal was brought to me that contained tuna, I explained I was allergic to tuna, did they have anything else I could have, was told no just a plain bread bun! As I suffer with low blood sugar I had no choice than to eat the plain bread bun!!! I was and still am disgusted at the so called special upgrade with nothing to eat. It spoiled my birthday surprise, my partner was furious when I tild him. BA did nothing about the complaint. Dont fly BA if you want to be given fair compensation for bad treatment!!!!

Guest
Charles Billette says:
23 June 2017

I loathe and despise air travel . Airlines, generally, treat their passengers with utter contempt, whilst trying to keep up a pretence of being polite. I find that coaches, trains or even driving are preferable to air travel. It may well be (as claimed) the “safest” way to travel — except when there is a disaster — buit it is miserable and stressful. No thank you.

Guest
C D Daukes says:
24 June 2017

It is too easy to suggest that airlines should offer immediate compensation without a proper procedure to ensure that compensation is genuine. If the airline is culpable it should pay out but this culpability has to be established before thousands of pounds in compensation is released. The petition should concentrate on improving the procedure for claiming rather than pressing for a blanket package which is bound to be open to abuse.

Guest
Mrs Edna R E Craig MBE says:
2 July 2017

My 76 year old friend and I (I’m 75) where caught up in the BA chaos in Heathrow (flight arranged was to Belfast City Airport ) 28th May. BA staff where most unhelpful and the lack of communication was dreadful. It was obvious that they were dealing with a major problem and no ” BIG CHIEFS” WERE AVAILABLE. As two elderly ladies we found the experience extremely stressful. We considered the worst part of this encounter to be the attitude of the British Airways staff. On Sunday 28 we were informed by BA staff that we were now booked on Flight BA2131 departing 11 10 hours on Monday 29 from Terminal 2 with Air Lingus. When we arrived for this flight we were advised there were no seats for us although our names were on the list. We were sent from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3 and then sent back to Terminal 2 it was dreadful.
We eventually travelled to Belfast City on Monday 29th at 19 20 hours thanks to an extremely courteous and efficient gentleman Melchor a manager with Menzies Avaition and helpful Aer Lingus staff.
So as you can imagine we will not be travelling with British Airways again. Edna Craig

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Guest

What a horrible experience it sounds like you had Edna. Can I ask, have you started to the compensation process? I’d be very interested to hear how you are getting on with that.

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Guest

Afternoon gang! Lots of you will already have seen our latest tool to apply pressure on British Airways but, for those who haven’t, my clever colleagues have designed a postcard writing and printing system that you are all free to use: http://www.which.co.uk/bapostcard So, if you have a story about delayed or cancelled flights, whether it was down to the IT failure or not, we want you to tell it to BA CEO Alex Crux. Click the link help us in our call for automatic compensation.

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Guest

Dean – I think you’ll find the BA CEO’s surname is Cruz, not Crux. Easy mistake to make.

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Guest

Oooops! Zs and Xs too close on the keyboard 🙂

Guest
razorback says:
19 July 2017

ABBA – fly Anyone But British Airways.