THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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Taking the capitalist road

BA commits suicide slowly

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.

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