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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.

  • TripRep says:

    Economist reporter caught up in the BA hassle, fairly scathing…

    • Cate says:

      Clearly not a happy traveller…

      So what happens if you are in a biz/first lounge and your three hours are up….do you have to leave?

  • Pup says:

    So just to add my experiences into the mix…..

    Arrived at Terminal 5 at about 11.30am Saturday morning in order to check into our t-355 booked Avios short haul flight to Italy. We managed to go to the first check in desks as I am BA gold and went straight through security with minimal delay (apart from the very large pair of scissors my son had helpfully decided to pack in his pencil case!!).

    We decided to go to Galleries North where we found an quiet area at the back of the lounge to sit down and get some lunch. No guests were being allowed in the lounges but luckily the whole family is BA silver following a Qatar sale trip to Auckland earlier in the year so strolled past a very stunned staff member on the door!

    Received Breaking News from the BBC on my phone that all flights before 6pm were cancelled so went to the desk to ask what my options were. Just as I got to the desk after a long wait, they announced, to the whole lounge, that all flights had been cancelled before 6pm. We were all informed that we should leave the lounge (and the airport) and that as their systems were completely down they couldn’t book anyone on to any other flights or book anyone a hotel and that we had to do everything for ourselves etc. They then said that they would pay any reasonable expenses that we incurred. As I was at the front, at this point, I clarified with them if that meant booking my own replacement flights and was assured that BA would cover all reasonable expenses including making my own way to my destination even with another airline!

    Went back to rejoin the family and straight onto google flights to find another flight. Managed to find one with another airline at 6.30am the next day at a total cost of £850 for the 4 of us. So booked it on the basis of what I had just been told and anyway knew it would be a lot cheaper than putting us all up in hotels etc..

    There followed repeated announcements that we had to leave the lounge to exit the airport and collect our luggage on route. 95% of people sensibly stayed where they were (as we did) and were prepared to let the queues shorten before adding to them and we enjoyed lunch and a few drinks etc.

    Reports filtered back to us of long queues to exit (3 hours plus) as everyone had to leave the departures area via the arrivals hall in order to be processed by passport control. This meant that everyone in departures and everyone who is landing and waiting outside on the tarmac had to go through passport control which is OK by me but I know will take a very long time.

    Despite repeated announcements to clear the lounge, eventually the message changed and we were all told to stay in the lounge. What caused the change of heart? Well from talking to the staff in the lounge it transpired that they had closed all the exits from departures to the arrivals hall and the reason for it was just unbelievable.

    When it was first announced that everyone had to leave they (BA or airport – no idea!) had the bright idea of reuniting everyone with their luggage so as people arrived in the baggage hall the staff there would go off and find their cases for them. Passengers and their luggage could then leave the airport for the sunny views of some hotel near Heathrow (or more likely the delights of Slough) to await a new flight from BA.

    This was working to a point (although clearly adding to the delay of getting everyone out of the airport) however fate decided that it needed to have some more fun as things were clearly not bad enough and therefore it decided to just add to the complete chaos by breaking the baggage system! It completely stopped working and therefore they couldn’t get anyone else’s luggage! Everyone was then told just to leave the baggage area and leave their luggage behind and it would all be sorted later.

    As I’m sure you can imagine passengers, who had been queuing for hours at this point, were not too happy that they had to leave without their luggage and they just point blank refused to leave! So there was then a ‘sit-in’ protest in the baggage hall!

    This blockage rippled back through Passport control into the arrivals hall and eventually created a backlog that hit the departures area. It was agreed for safety reasons that they couldn’t let anyone else down to the arrivals hall and so they closed the access from departures. The staff then advised us to stay in the lounge whilst security had to be called to get the baggage area cleared of passengers / protestors….!

    With no end in sight at around 7.30pm, we decided we had no choice but to leave and join the queue in order to try and get some sleep before our next flight. On route we stopped and offered to assist several disabled and elderly passengers who had just been abandoned in their wheelchairs by the side! This turned out to be a lucky break as by pushing wheelchairs we were then directed down a side passage and we managed to avoid most of the queue which was still very evident in departures and a very packed passport control.

    Of course there was no luggage on the way out so after a taxi home for about 5 hours sleep, we returned to Heathrow to a different terminal the following morning for our next flight out and finally arrived in Italy about 15 hours late.

    So not too much disruption to our holidays but no baggage of course…..

    We then decided to try to get proactive and help get our baggage delivered to our holiday destination. Whilst we were at the airport we were told to put a missing baggage claim into which we finally did yesterday evening, however to top everything off when it came to the last page, it came up with “Your reference number is “!!!

    So now we have no reference number for our bags and without one you cannot log in again to the missing baggage area!!

    Everyone states that using Twitter is the best route to ask questions. So we decided to join Twitter and asked the BA Twitter feed what to do as we didn’t get a reference number for our bags. They clearly did not want the world to know that they had any IT problems so they promptly decided to delete the message………

    So in summary:
    1) We still have no luggage
    2) We have no lost luggage reference number or been contacted by BA regarding our baggage
    3) We have had no formal communication from BA regarding our missed flight at all! In fact when you log into find my booking or my executive club it just shows the flight as having departed!!!
    4) We tried to contact BA on Twitter but they kindly deleted our message.

    On the plus side we are in Italy enjoying our holiday and we booked a separate return (thanks to Rob’s article on lower taxes on Avois trips by booking separate flights) so have a flight home.

    All in all we have spent about £1100 on additional flights, taxis, toiletries, food, and a couple of essential items of clothes to get us through and missed about a day of our holiday.

    Most people we spoke to on Saturday just dealt with it as bad luck and tried their best to make alternative plans. We feel exceptionally lucky that we had both lounge access and that we managed to get replacement flights so quickly. In addition it is worth pointing out that the staff of both BA and the airport were brilliant in the circumstances.

    Next steps are to call BA to find out about the luggage (although I thought I would wait until the office staff were back on Tuesday), and the flight, and then submit my additional costs / compensation claim to BA. Clearly from the comments above, I might then be preparing a small claims court submission but that is some way down the line and I am still hopeful that BA will pay up so that I am not out of pocket!

    • Angmo says:

      Good tip on the wheelchair users! Where did you dropped them off in the end?

      • Pup says:

        Costa coffee – made sure their taxis / family were coming to get them and they were comfortable (e.g. Had a drink etc) and then we left them.

        • 1nfrequent says:

          Just wanted to say good on you for helping those people out. Very kind of you (notwithstanding the queue benefit!) and I’m sure it was very much appreciated.


  • Cheshire Pete says:

    I’m going to start the paperwork for my claim this evening. I was initially only going to lodge the EU compensation with BA, but actually as their Twitter is current saying a decision hasn’t been made about this being applicable I’m also going to lodge the incident with my insurance.

    I guess like many I booked my flights on my BA Amex and I guess as I also have Platinum I get the better of the insurance! Be interesting what the Amex Axa make of it anyhow. So our return CE flight from MAN to LCY was cancelled Sunday but managed to get rebooked to LHR. The compensation aspect should apply but also the state of our plane to LHR had no catering at all and hadn’t been cleaned. So there are two aspects I will coming from, the EU claim and also the Secton 75 aspect of paying for a clearly advertised CE service but effectively receiving no extras at all on my rebooked flight, just a cup of water, same as Economy.

    I think an initial 2 pronged attack is best considering BA will probably go out of its way to weasel out of any mass payout.

  • Hana says:

    I was in Lima, due to fly back to London with BA on Sunday 29th May. My sister told me the news on the 28th May. Until mid Sunday I could not access the BA site, not my excutive account nor to check if my flight was going. So I didn’t know what I was doing really.

    I thought about changing my flight, given the statement BA had issued

    “We are refunding or rebooking customers who suffered cancellations on to new services as quickly as possible and have also introduced more flexible rebooking policies for anyone due to travel on Sunday and Monday who no longer wishes to fly to/from Heathrow or Gatwick.”

    I had flashbacks of my luggage being lost previously by BA. Then turning up 3 weeks later soaking wet. Also given I suffer from fibromyalgia did I really want to potentially put myself into a situation where I could face delays.

    But I couldn’t get through to BA at all. Even though they were telling people to contact them via DM on twitter. They had actually turned it off!! Eventually when I managed to get online, the change fee to push my return flight back would have cost £165. With no guarantee if BA would compensate for this, I decided to take the original flight. Everything went smoothly but I feel like I ruined my last day on holiday.

  • Paul Hampton says:

    I am going to take legal advice on this, but would appreciate hearing from anyone who has a view on the following – after waiting for 6/7 hours our original flight was cancelled and we were sent home. The flight was rebooked the next day for travel 2 days after the original departure date. This flight also subsequently cancelled due to the ongoing situation. Is this 2x EU261 qualifying events or just 1?

    I am talking to BA Customer Relations now and I have been told they are yet to confirm whether they are accepting full liability for the event! I cannot imagine they will have much of a brand or business left if they try to claim this was outside their control. Of course the trigger event could be argued, but the back up data centre not taking over is something they should have full confidence and control over. Anyway, case raised and I will keep you posted.

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