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Share your BA shut-down experiences …. and BA adds £16 to Expedia etc bookings

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I don’t try to pretend that I’m an expert on things I don’t understand.  That’s why I am going to spare you my thoughts on the impressive British Airways shut-down yesterday.

There is plenty of in-depth coverage without a paywall at The Guardian, BBC News etc.  It does seem that, this time, the failure went far beyond the FLY passenger management system which has been the cause of most meltdowns over the past year.

I was just lucky that, despite it being half term, I’m not actually on a BA flight until next Friday.  It is a minor consolation for me given that we booked into a UK countryside hotel this weekend just to find that the weather forecast for today and Monday looks appalling …..!

If you were caught up in the chaos yesterday or the consequences today, feel free to share your experiences in the comments to this article.

PS.  Given that BA’s outsourcing of its IT operation will have played a large part in the poor response yesterday, it does not bode well for the BA call centre in Newcastle which I understand is on the verge of being transferred to Capita.

British Airways Embraer 190 London City

British Airways to introduce an £8 fee on third party bookings

Back in 2015, Lufthansa took a brave leap and imposed a €16 fee on every ticket booked via a travel agent or indeed anyone who used a ‘global distribution system’ such as Amadeus, Sabre or Travelport.  The airline claimed that it was paying up to €18 in fees for every ticket sold and wanted to encourage passengers and agents to use its own website.

Many thought that Lufthansa would backtrack but it held firm.

British Airways and Iberia have now decided to add their own £8 / €9.50 per segment (so £16 for a return flight) fee from 1st November.

It isn’t clear what the impact of this will be on the leisure market.  Only BA knows what percentage of leisure passengers book on, say, Expedia versus  How many passengers, when they see British Airways on Expedia costing £14 more than easyJet, will know that BA is actually £2 cheaper if booked direct?

The share prices of Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport all fell on Friday by up to 4% (see this Reuters report) which implies that the market believes trade customers will simply move to booking direct.  Concur, for instance, claims that it will be able to integrate direct booking seamlessly into its system so that corporate users see no change to their current booking process.  Leisure travellers won’t do that if they are not educated that direct booking is sharply cheaper.

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Comments (230)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Callum says:

    BA say it has nothing to do with IT being outsourced. They might be lying of course, but I wouldn’t personally claim they are without some kind of proof (not that I’m saying you’ve said that!).

    I don’t see how it’s relevant to the call centre either? What could BA employees do that they couldn’t do if employed by Capita instead?

    • HeathrowFlyer says:

      I do not see any benefit from BA outsourcing their fully functioning existing NCL call centre to Capita.

      Capita will be doing it because they believe they can make a profit from it.

      Ultimately BA just lose control over an important part of their operations for a short-sighted short term gain.

      • the real harry1 says:

        it’s reasonable to conclude that BA will in future pay less for a similar service operation

        that must ultimately come down not only to salaries but also to pensions

        • David says:

          Just for balance we should say, a company might not (necessarily) pay less, or much less. Some outsourcing occurs for the reasons of simplifying your business – supposedly letting you focus on the core.
          It can also free you from long term obligations (if your plans change, limited to service contract, etc.) Which can be, in the long term, cost/responsibility avoidance.

          But I’m certain in this case they DO think they will save money. AND in the short term. Given that is the entire culture of BA at present!

          However, we should acknowledge the right mess you can get into when you don’t own your own infrastructure. I’d question if customer services is actually closer to the core than BA might think it is.

      • Callum says:

        The entire reason companies like Capita exist is because they can provide the same services at a cheaper price than companies can do in house, even after their cut.

        There’s no reason why Capita staff couldn’t be just as competant as the BA staff are, nor why BA would “lose control” over them. Whether BA will pay enough to get that is another matter though!

        • RichT says:

          I work for a large IT outsourcing company (not Capita) and I really do resent the general assumption Outsource = Crappy.

          Outsourcing companies can actually be under more pressure to provide a quality service if the contract is written correctly, I know all too well the pressures we come under to avoid “red service” days and dragging people out of bed to deal with High Priority Incidents as potentially the customer would be owed millions in compensation. That monetary drive for quality just doesn’t exist “in house’. Also large outsourcing companies can better attract and pool specific technical expertise and give people a variety of opportunities.

          So please stop assuming outsource = crap. Potentially the fault lies with BA in that they are either unwilling to pay for the service level they actually need, which would be the case in house or outsourced.

        • Rob says:

          It is cheaper because a) new staff will get lower salaries and b) existing staff are losing all staff travel perks.

          There are no other costs as all the infrastructure is BA, obviously.

          • HeathrowFlyer says:

            Exactly my point.

            I do not disagree that the use of consultancies and outside infrastructure/expertise can bring benefits to businesses.

            However in the specific example of the Newcastle call centre it would appear the only motivation is for BA to reduce wages for new staff and rid itself of any future obligations in dealing with staff benefits (staff travel, pension etc). And in the process, if bad events like yesterday’s happen all BA can do is scream at the provider to fix it and deal with the consequences when things go wrong.

            Obviously the wider issue is very complex, however I do not see how BA trying to pay lower wages and pensions to staff at the bottom of the pile is any good for wider society as ultimately the state has to pick up the tab through in-work benefits, pension credit etc.

          • Callum says:

            Whether it’s good for “wider society” or not is rather irrelevant though given they’re a for-profit business. I’d imagine wider society would also be better off if you (and I) didn’t fly BA and release tonnes of CO2 directly into the upper atmosphere!

            And I hardly see how Capita, a company specialising in this area, would handle a system outage worse than BA can – if anything they should be better prepared given that’s their business.

  • Akkers says:

    Currently in Kalamata. Meant to be returning home yesterday. 2 Adults + 2 infants flying club (using avios and amex241).

    Ground staff (Swissport) did best they could but passengers knew more following BBC etc.

    Put up in an unsuitable hotel (for us) as 4 of crammed in a small room. No steriliser / microwave/ fridge which proves to be a challenge with a 2 month old. Ba only flies here Saturday and Thursday.

    Unsure what is likely to happen next …maybe they bus us to Athens or they put on another flight. Anyone got any thoughts/advice?

    • the real harry1 says:

      they must (in law) find you an alternative carrier

    • John says:

      Well it depends if the BA plane went back to the UK empty, or if it’s still there.

      • David says:

        John – you seem to assume the aircraft flew there in the first place.
        By the looks of it the BA644 was cancelled.

        Personally, if BA are non-responsive, and if you have travel insurance, I’d take charge myself – and fly back with any other airline, etc.

  • Stuart says:

    Currently in Paphos, was due to fly back on BA 2677 yesterday. Had seen on the news the disaster start to unfold, so called BA holidays 24/7 duty office who advised they were unable to see any details (as their system down) so we should go to the airport.

    Tracking the situation throughout the day, it was obvious the outbound BA2676 flight wasn’t going to leave, so with only one flight in/one flight out a day, pretty much new we weren’t going anywhere.

    At 1700 local time (1500 BST) we had to check out & had a cab booked to the airport. I told the hotel the situation & they had rooms available if needed, so we headed 20 minutes to the (rather empty) airport to find no desk open & the ground handler (swissport) dealing in BAs behalf. Told the flight was cancelled, told my options & given eu261 “duty of care” letter, all very efficiently & friendly. Another couple who needed to get home was given free reign on every other flight leaving PFO to the UK (not just to LGW, but any destination they fancied) on any carrier. We’d already decided that we’d stay & get today’s (Sunday) flight home so headed back to the hotel, settled in & had dinner, & around 2200 local made another call to duty office, which was answered by within 5 minutes & rebooked onto todays flight, assigned seats & (as less than 34 hours to departure) checked in. Told to keep receipts for everything & make a claim.

    All in all, could have been far worse, & have an extra day in the sun, when I understand the weather in London is due to turn today! 🙂

  • Polly says:

    Let’s hope not too any of our HFPs have been affected. Especially as it’s half term. BA could have sent 1000s of those pax to the other terminals to be flown on other airlines. At least then many pax could have reached their destinations. Am sure the other airlines would have been willing to accept many of them for a price, of course, which BA would have had to cough up for. Interesting reading the TOL comments through the day. My OH rescued some USA pax in transit last night, no hotels within 20 m of LHR. Crept I’m in Dublin leaving Monday! I hope…in J as no Y available. Think aer lingus will be v busy picking up the slack from Dublin next few days.

    • Nick_C says:

      If there’s a fault on a plane, it’s easy to transfer passengers to another airline. If all your systems are down, and you don’t know who your passengers are, it’s impossible.

      Other OW flights would have been taking off with empty seats, while BA was incapable of looking after its passengers.

      It’s unforgivible for BA not to have robust backup systems in place. Data should be mirrored at different locations.

      Will be interesting to see what this costs BA, and what they will do to try to encourage people to carry on booking with them. Will they do a u-turn, and revert to being a full service airline? Will Alex Crux survive? (Let’s hope not! ) Glad I got rid of my IAG shares a while ago.

  • Matthew says:

    Will Amex travel be hit by the 3rd party booking levy too or do they have a way round it? Just thinking in terms of the £50 off £200 spend that is on at the moment and often appears. Thanks.

    • Lee says:

      They will be hit as well AFAIK

      Next we will probably have no Avios or Tier Points or Tier Benefits if not booked directly.

      • Barry cutters says:

        No if you read the article – the cost is due to the fees employed by the system

    • John says:

      Well the £50 off just becomes £34 off (or £18 off for 2…), not that big of a deal, same situation with the trailfinders when they had the £200 off but you had to pay the trailfinders £75 fee

      You can’t book HBO or the cheapest booking classes on many airlines, with Amex Travel anyway, and I only use it for ex-EU flights to pay in GBP and get the 3 MR/£ on the gold amex, probably will still be worth it even with the fee

    • Rob says:

      Yes, Amex is hit (they add the fee on Lufty bookings, put it that way).

  • Andrew Clark says:

    Family holiday cancelled yesterday. On a 7.20 flight so had to try and get to the airport just in case. A few comments:
    BA communications were terrible.
    Hard to understand my rights as I really didn’t want to add to the chaos at Heathrow but felt obliged to make attempt so as not to lose money.
    I really don’t understand why BA only on hook for some of my losses. Seems unfair on my travel insurance company to pay out on something so clearly the fault of the airline.
    Would appreciate tips on claiming. Flight comp from BA and everything else from insurance? Still the case if have AMEX Platinum?
    Feeling very sad this morning, smallest child very upset about not going on holiday.

    • Paul says:

      The insurance route via Amex Platinum or anyone else should be the quickest and they in turn will deal with BA’s insurers.
      BA must also provide EU261 compensation on top of you insurance claim. BA cannot limit this, it simply has to be reasonable. The compensation and duty of care costs are separate from the consequential loss hence the advice to deal with insurer.

      • Rob says:

        BA will try not to pay EU261 on weather grounds, which are excluded. They are already telling this to customers.

        • Michael says:

          Surely the weather carve out was in legislation for aircraft ops not poor business continuity planning. Perfectly good day for flying

        • Alan says:

          I thought that was a joke when you posted it yesterday. Surely not the official line and just some ill-informed staff? Complete non-starter as an excuse as they clearly should have redundancies in place…

          • Rob says:

            Not a joke. Airport staff are saying this too.

          • Alan says:

            Wow – well I look forward to the courts quickly disabusing them of that notion then 🙂

        • Alan says:

          Plus BBC articles all ended with explanation of EU261 rights, so hopefully lots more folk claiming than usual!

          • TripRep says:

            Same with Guardian and Telegraph.

            BA are on a hiding to nothing, if they try and dodge this, I’m fairly certain they will be facing multiple court cases.

  • Adam says:

    Was due to be on a 3.55pm flight to Alicante. BA staff were handing out a Your Rights leaflet and advised to make our own new travel arrangements, which they said they would refund. I showed them a Vuelling trip via Barcelona overnight and they said that would be OK! In the end the earleist flight we could book was an 0550 EasyJet on 29 May at a total cost of £940 for the 4 of us. So a day’s holiday lost, ato that rebooked car hire, rebooked parking, petrol for the return journey, I am around £1,100 out of pocket if BA to not pay up as they promise. Fortunately took down the staff member’s name. Clear message yesterday was to leave the airport and do your own thing. Even if they pay up (which I doubt in the cold light of day), I will probably have to fund before any refund comes through. Love they way BA also suggests you claim on your travel insurance first……

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