Any business can suffer a crisis. It’s how a business responds that is important. So it’s unfortunate those caught up in British Airways’ IT failure at the weekend had anything but praise for the airline.
ITV news broadcaster Chris Ship was one of 75,000 BA passengers hit by the delays. Chris moderated last year’s Abta Travel Convention and will do so again at this year’s convention in the Azores in October. So I followed his tweets from Heathrow’s Terminal 5 on Saturday with interest.
Chris’s tweets grew increasingly fraught as he received no information. “No check-in. No bag [drop] working. Queues everywhere. Planes cancelled. No information. No help, not even a Tannoy announcement,” he wrote.
Later he fumed: “The worst thing was the communication. We were getting updates via news media. Nothing from staff at airport. Nothing on BA’s Twitter.” His passing shot was: “Everyone has condemned the way @britishairways handled this.” It seemed to summarise the episode.
Agents were no less frustrated by the lack of information from BA as they worked tirelessly over the bank holiday to rebook customers. An apology and thank you to the trade from BA on Tuesday came a little too late given that on Friday the airline revealed plans to impose an £8 fee on all GDS bookings by agents.
Customers and agents deserve a lot better from such a massive company, with such a powerful brand. Clearly the airline didn’t have all the answers immediately, but to pull down the shutters was surely the worst possible response.
BA’s reputation has been severely dented. If it wants agents to help restore its image, it could do with showing them more respect.
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