BA commits suicide slowly
Monday, March 22, 2010
FT.com / UK / Business - Union warns BA of fresh strike action.
BA has been on my "no fly" list for some years, because of its unique combination of surly service by dowdy staff in shabby aeroplanes from dirty terminals. It is a sort of airborne metaphor for modern Britain.However its management won brownie points with me today. I glumly realised when I checked my tickets that the first leg of my journey home was with the stricken national carrier. The usual glossy bilge on its website has been replaced with a fast, simple page into which you type your flight number for instant information. Given the pasting their servers must be taking, this was one point to BA management. They earned another because they had transferred the job of transporting me to Paris to FlyBe, a budget operator. I am dreading the unaccustomed in-flight experience, but at least I am flying. Well done BA, the successful strike-breakers.
FlyBe certainly made no effort to steal me as a customer. Perhaps that was part of the deal? The blonde muppet behind the desk had a voice that could only be accounted for by the inhalation of helium. Her make up was heavy enough to cause structural damage to her slight teenage limbs. Her gaze was hand blown in Murano. Despite my cheery explanation of my travel plans, she checked my bags only to Paris. I spotted this and reminded her to check them through to Shanghai. She said that wasn't possible - and hit the button. I held the bags back to stop them disappearing and trotted off to reason with "customer service".
As you know, dear reader, any organisation which regards "customer service" as something reserved to a specialised unit is in trouble. After all, if not to serve its customers, what are all the other employees for?
After a little "reasoning" with the "customer servants", my bags are Shanghai-bound. However FlyBe's entente with Air France is insufficiently cordial to allow it to issue a boarding pass for the next leg. I shall have to check in again at Charles de Gaulle. Not to worry. I set off to relax in the BA Lounge (and get at least some value for my Business Class ticket). The BA lady guarding the dark empty space banished me, pointing to my FlyBe ticket. Was she secretly atoning for her decision to scab? Perhaps. I mentally deducted one brownie point for needlessly squandering my goodwill.
BA may not survive this strike. Despite its management's valiant efforts it doesn't really deserve to. If it wanted to win me back, it would need to take the rare legal opportunity offered by the strike to purge its ground and cabin crews. Even the UK's employment laws permit this, as long as all strikers are fired without exception. But why would it need to pick and choose? The strikers have self-selected themselves as the least desirable employees.
Go for it, guys. There are more points to play for.
Hard luck with the lounge, Tom.
In the current circumstances they ought to have made an exception for a customer willing to stick with them even for part of the journey.
And I just know that look of glee with which they tell you you're not eligible; they must all be the people who didn't quite get made prefects at school.
They really do shoot themselves in the foot every time, don't they?
I recommend KLM these days. They are almost as cheap as a budget deal, and you get reasonable service, bags checked through, food and drink of a sort, etc etc. Schipol/Heathrow is pretty much a no-brainer too, is it not?
Posted by: Andrew Duffin | Wednesday, March 24, 2010 at 01:26 PM
I have still got 45 000 BA Airmiles on my card from when I was consulting for one of our Plc's. Like you they are on my no fly list. I always fly Bristol to one of the European Hubs to fly with a real airline
Posted by: Guthrum | Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 08:46 AM
I don't know that choice of airline matters much these days.
After all, no matter who you fly with, you still have to undress at the behest of some semi-conscious drone which a badge saying 'security' on it, and then have to put up with several hundred fellow passengers, most of whom should be flying as cargo.
Posted by: Rick Bradford | Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 12:41 AM
You are living in cloud Cookoo land the whole point of this strike is to get BA into public ownership (government wont allow it to fail and will bail it out). So Unite will have complete control of the airline the customers will not complain about surly staff and poor service because they know that is the norm for publicly owned enterprises (years of the NHS, Councils etc., have conditioned the public to that acceptance).
Posted by: Antisthenes | Monday, March 22, 2010 at 09:45 PM