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Customer Service
COMPLAINT: BA First Class - Extremely Disappointing

 
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Old Feb 5, 2017, 1:16 AM
TurtleEyes TurtleEyes is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 2

Dear Reader,

In September 2016, I flew with British Airways in First from LHR to KUL on flight BA0033 . My initial impressions were positive. The check-in was efficient with polite and friendly staff. The Concorde Room was a fairly nice place to be (save as to the cabana). My First suite (2A) had not been properly cleaned before the flight and was also dusty. Notwithstanding this, 2A offered a good amount of comfort, space and privacy. Fast forward 12+ hours. Would I fly in British Airways First again? No. Would I fly with British Airways again? No. This is why:

The Flight
  • There were two members of cabin crew in the First cabin. The 1st cabin crew member was polite and professional. The 2nd cabin crew member was extremely unprofessional.
  • The supplied headphone set was faulty and did not work. I raised this with the 2nd cabin crew member and had to ask twice for a replacement set. It took over 40 minutes to receive this
  • Once airborne, I ordered a cappuccino. I had to ask three times for this and wait over 50 minutes for it to arrive.
(The following times are in BST)
  • At 21:30, the 2nd cabin crew member took my dinner order. At 22:00 I was informed that the main course was no longer available as the flight had run out as only one serving had been available. I was confused at this, as my order had been the second order to have been taken; the first order being from the passenger in seat 1A (who had not ordered the same main course as I had).
  • The 2nd cabin crew member stated that there was only fish available from the First menu. I informed her that I did not eat fish and was told that my only option was to order from the Club World menu. I was told that only the ‘spinach penne’ or ‘beef’ was available. I ordered the ‘spinach penne’.
  • Whilst waiting for my dinner, other passengers who had ordered sometime after I had, were given their meals. I pressed the assistance button at 22:49 hoping to enquire about my meal. At 22:51, the 2nd cabin crew member walked passed me to the Club World cabin without acknowledging me or the blue light. She then walked back, again ignoring me.
  • At 22:53, the 1st cabin crew set my table. I had expected an amuse-bouche, but did not get one, instead I was given my starter by the 2nd cabin crew member.
  • At 23:17, having finished my starter, the 1st cabin crew member brought a main dish of 'beef' to my table. I told her that I had not ordered this and had ordered the ‘spinach penne’. The 1st cabin crew member apologised and took the order back. The 2nd stewardess whom had taken my order then came over and stated “I probably got your order wrong” with no apology. I was disappointed at her laissez-faire mannerism and further the amount of time it had taken to receive my dinner. I was also confused to why there had been such a delay in service when other passengers whom had ordered much later than I had, had finished their meals before I had even received mine.
  • At around 23:20, the ‘spinach penne’ was brought over to my table. I was disappointed at the basic presentation (it was simply a bowl of pasta) and certainly not to the standard that I would have expected. I had paid to travel in the First cabin and therefore had also expected the level of food and service to reflect this.
  • Once I had finished, my plate remained on my table for some time before the 2nd cabin crew member cleared the table and asked if I wanted to order dessert. It was around 23:40 (over 2 hours after I had placed the initial order) and whilst I was still waiting to order my dessert, other passengers were able to sleep. This delay in service had a detriment to my own sleeping plans and I was extremely disappointed at the service from the 2nd cabin crew member.
  • It was close to 00:00 when I was able to get ready to sleep.
  • At around 05:00 I awoke and was the first person in the First cabin to do so. I asked the 2nd cabin crew member if I could order the ‘full English breakfast’ and have a cappuccino to be brought over first.
  • Some 20 minutes passed and I still did not have my cappuccino; during which time no seat-belt sign was displayed so I did not know why there was such a delay. Further, despite being the first person to have placed an order for my breakfast, the passenger in 1A received their ‘full English breakfast’ before I did. When I asked about my cappuccino I had ordered some 40 minutes ago, I was told that as the seat belt sign was now displayed I could not have this. I was extremely disappointed as at the material time I placed my order (and for some time after this) there had been no seat belt sign displayed. It was just before 06:00 that the ‘full English breakfast’ was brought over (without the cappuccino).
  • Shortly before descending, I went to the Club World cabin and was surprised at how clean the toilet was compared to the toilet in the First cabin. The First cabin toilet had urine on the floor and base throughout the flight and clearly was not cleaned properly. The soles of my shoes I wore smelt of urine as clearly I had to stand in this to use the toilet facilities in the First cabin.
  • Another observation was that the cabin crew members in the Club World cabin were professional, friendly and happy to converse. In contrast, I was disappointed that this level of service and professionalism had not been displayed in the First cabin by the 2nd cabin crew member.

____________________
Formal Complaint
  • Within 24 hours of landing in KUL, I wrote a formal letter of complaint outlining the aforementioned issues and emailed this to the CEO of British Airways, Alex Cruz.
  • The ‘You First’ department at British Airways confirmed receipt of my email. Subsequently, I received a very generic response from British Airways Customer Relations. No attempt was made to address (or even explore) the issues that gave rise to my complaint. This was disappointing. I was simply offered 10,000 Avios points.
  • I responded by return, rejecting this offer and again asked for an explanation to why I had received such poor service during my flight and why no attempt had been made by British Airways to address the issues that I had outlined in my formal complaint.
  • The response from British Airways Customer Relations was again disappointing and did not offer any explanation other than the matter would be dealt with internally and that the gesture of 10,000 Avios points was because British Airways “have to be consistent so we’re fair to all our customers”. I found this statement somewhat ironic.
  • I accept that mistakes happen sometimes, as we are human. But I cannot accept (i) the amount of issues I experienced during my flight and (ii) the lack of care and resolve shown by British Airways following my formal complaint. I would not have expected this from British Airways especially when choosing to fly First. Would I fly in British Airways First again? No. Would I fly with British Airways again? No.

____________________
Conclusions
  • My expectations pertinent to flying First with British Airways were aligned to what I had experienced in the past in F (with other carriers) and J (with other carriers and BA). In general terms (during the flight) this was (i) to be comfortable in my suite and (ii) to receive a good level of service during my flight. It had been some 4 years since I had taken a British Airways flight. My previous experiences in J with British Airways had been positive and there was no reason for me to doubt the level of comfort and service that I should have expected in First would surpass this.
  • In January 2017, I posted my experiences on the FlyerTalk forum. The impetus was to to get a better understanding to the issues that gave rise to my complaint to British Airways from those who travel more frequently than myself; and thus better placed to offer their thoughts. From the various replies and discussions this generated (with over 28,000 views at the time of writing this), I now have this insight. This has enabled me to understand these issues with a greater level of depth and thus enabled me to conclude:
  • The 'flagship' Concorde Room (including the cabana I had booked) leaves much to be desired and is in need of major improvements to be aligned with a premium proposition.
  • Meal preferences are distributed not based on the material and sequential time of the order being placed by a passenger, but rather based on a passengers frequent flyer status.
  • Amuse bouche is no longer served in First; due to British Airways cost cutting programme.
  • It would appear that preparing a cappuccino is a time consuming process for the cabin crew due to the “drip system” used. Therefore, it would seem that it is easier for the cabin crew to simply ignore such requests for their own convenience.
  • British Airways customer service is unwilling to properly respond (and offer a suitable remedy) to complaints.
  • I was left extremely disappointed with a brand that I once had held in high regard. Following my 4 year hiatus from British Airways (and from various reports I have seen) it would appear that things have changed at a managerial, strategical and operational level to the detriment of some end users; like myself.
  • I would summarise that the First offering by British Airways is poor and somewhat akin to flying in J (albeit in a smaller cabin with a better seat/bed) as opposed to full F offered by other airlines such as Emirates and Cathay Pacific. I still uphold that I would not fly with British Airways again.

At the time of posting (05 February 2017) my complaint with British Airways remains unresolved.

Thank you for reading.

Sincerely
TE
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