4 Lessons We Can Learn About Customer Service From British Airway’s Recent Fiasco

Last Saturday, I got stuck in London with roughly 100,000 other people because British Airways somehow managed to knock out power to their entire data center.

As someone who used to run a data center, it was laughable. First it was told that they were hacked. Then it was sabotage (they’d recently laid off a good chunk of their Information Technology staff). Then it came out that some dork accidentally pulled the plug and they somehow didn’t have a backup.

However, the point of this post isn’t a technical geekout. With any corporation, customer service is key. A business and it’s entire lifeline goes back to the customer—and if they are or aren’t willing to spend their money with the business. A business that has a major crisis like the British Airways IT meltdown is a business on a lifeline.

They must give their customers a reason to return to them. What is done is done, but it’s what customers choose to do after the incident that makes or breaks a business over the long-term. And, in my humble opinion, British Airways did a pretty poor job at that.

With that being said, here are five customer service lessons any business could utilize that British Airways is learning the hard way.

1. Don’t Make A Bad Situation Worse

In this case, the power went out and people were stranded. That’s bad enough as is, right? In my case, I was outbound from Warsaw, Poland to London. My flight in Warsaw was delayed several hours because the systems were down. They told us that in Poland, and told me personally that it was very likely that my second flight from London to Phoenix would be delayed, too.

Inconvenient, but no big deal. Until I got to London.

As it turns out, British Airways flew everybody from outlying cities into London where the root of the problem was. It was mind-boggling. Why not just leave the hundreds of other flights inbound to London from other European countries where they were? I would have much rather been stuck in Poland for an extra night, albeit inconvenient, than get flown into the firestorm in London. Many other passengers on my flight (and other flights) felt the same way.

The lesson: If your business has a fire, put the fire out. Don’t dump thousands of dollars of jetliner fuel on to the fire—that’s basically what BA did in this case.

2. Take Care Of People, Don’t Nickel And Dime

The real kick in the nuts for BA was that this was on the Bank Holiday Weekend—one of the Heathrow’s biggest travel days of the entire year. Not to mention, lots of people come into London.

It was nearly impossible to get a hotel during the whole fiasco. And with BA’s computers being 100% down, they were unable to book people into hotels, offer vouchers, or do anything. All they could do was stand around and do customer service the old-school way—by handing out flyers.

The flyers said that we would be compensated £200 for hotel rooms, £50 for a taxi round-trip, and £25/day for food.

I literally watched on my phone while waiting in the hour-long taxi queue as the prices for the hotels jumped from £200 to £700 in a matter of minutes.

BA is refusing to cover my entire costs, which ended up being £219 for a hotel, £75 for a taxi one way (I took the Underground back the next morning), and £33 for food.

Now, at the end of the day the difference is not even £50. I’m not going to bother to continue to fight them, but it doesn’t make sense to nickel and dime people. Sure, thousands of people each wanting to claim and extra £50 can and will add up quickly. However, covering that extra little bit would put goodwill in people instead of anger.

The lesson: Try to make things right, no matter the cost. Nickel and diming may save you a good chunk of change in the short term but will bring ever-lasting anger to customers that will hurt your bottom line in the long run. That extra £50 might be the difference between them flying BA or not next time. Speaking of next time…

3. Don’t Follow Up With Another Disaster

Even as BA tries to recover from this, there’s now going to be a strike coming up later this month. I don’t know the full details, but apparently a good majority of their flight attendant staffing will be striking for four days sometime in June.

Can you imagine the uproar that will occur if people are caught in a 24 hour+ delay a second time? It’ll be an entire new week of bad press, social media fury, and general distaste toward’s Britain’s most well-known (and formerly most prestigious) airline.

The lesson: You’re going to screw up in life. It’s inevitable. It’s how you bounce back from those mistakes that will determine how you (or a company) turn out. At this point, BA should pay those flight attendants whatever they want so that a strike doesn’t occur.

4. Take Heed To The Fact That Everyone Has A Voice These Days

Typical consumer

As we’ve seen repeatedly in the last few months, much of mainstream news is fake. They have a set agenda, and the entire network is scripted around said agenda. But, as we’ve also seen—individual journalism and media is rising.

I saw dozens of people Periscoping and streaming on YouTube while they were waiting for their flights, hotels, or just trying to figure out what the hell was going on. All it takes is a “somebody” sharing the story of a “nobody” and things can get viral and spiraled out of control.

The new age of technology has now given everybody the questionable ability to be a reporter by birthright. I don’t envy the big corporations that have to deal with it, including BA. If you scroll through their Twitter feed though, BA has just given generic answers to everyone—to much outrage.

The lesson, and closing thoughts: Sometimes, all it takes is a little bit of personal touch to make someone happy. “We’re working on this as fast as we can.” is not a good answer. A far better one is, “I’m personally going to make a note of this and try to get it moved up, but that’s all I can do.” Otherwise, your brand will suffer such a high amount of damage that it could drive the company to the ground.

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Read Next: 5 Lessons I Learned Moving From Offline To Online Business

109 thoughts on “4 Lessons We Can Learn About Customer Service From British Airway’s Recent Fiasco”

  1. 增达网:

  2. Some background from an IT perspective: A single datacenter outage wouldn’t have caused this or at least not directly. Having experienced outages before at fortune 50 companies, the professionals find ways to bring up key systems ASAP plus there are usually secondaries at other datacenters.
    What happened is that BA outsourced to TATA consulting. Having dealt with them before, I’ve seen their business plan: They promise low prices, kickback (or get the CTO/CEO to feel great about the deal), and then put cheap labor with a 4th grade education to touch mission critical systems and run with the cash. Want them to fix what they break? That’ll cost YOU!
    Yes, they charge the customer money for additional service calls for stuff they break. It’s in their contracts.

    1. Tata, Wipro, Mphasis, etc…
      All the same.
      “By the power of Vishnu, data center energize!!!”

    2. “and then put cheap labor with a 4th grade education to touch mission critical systems”
      Yup, all while stinking up the office like a skunk with diarrhea.

        1. Or the appearance of low cost.
          Many CTO’s like to simply reduce their headcount to appear more efficient such as: “Laid off 100 white guys who kept the British Airways datacenter running 24×7 without incident to outsource to TATA with a base contract for 1/2 price”.
          Then it turns out that with the “extra fees” from TATA, it’s really twice as much. Oh, and they break everything and charge you double to fix it.
          Don’t tell the shareholders.

    3. I’m ready to boycott anyone who does business with India. Not even so much for the idea, more because I don’t have time to deal with Indian mistakes.

      1. Consider Nigerian craiglist scammers: They’re usually crude but persistent and willing to learn. If only they applied their skillset to legitimate work, then they would be a huge asset to civilization. Remember the Bond villains who were great inventors and could build invisible space stations and ultimately it was to just pull a heist? In Austin Powers, Number 2 suggests: “Why don’t we just make money as a legitimate corporation?”
        Indians took that to the next level, kind of: They’re still crooks and cheats but they are masters of white collar crime and many even begrudgingly give them credit. Want to get an entry level IT job? Get a friend who sounds like you to take a technical phone interview! Then you scam for a while, get some other Indians to help cover for you, and learn enough to get another job where you can scam a while longer, etc. until you get set up.
        Then the companies started doing skype interviews to see if the candidates were actually who they said they were (I witnessed personally two telephone interviews where someone else was on the interview). So now I hear that the scammers are practicing lip syncing in order to try to scam the skype interviews!
        It would be funny to make a movie about all this.
        I read that they were winning spelling bees left and right. My nose itched: Was there a scam involved? And then…
        In an episode of Frasier, Niles inadvertently mouthed the answer to a spelling bee to his son (his son didn’t see it, but this got his son disqualified). These events usually take place in public so it would be entirely possible to develop a code system to communicate the answers to the kids (use two or three people to make fidgets that communicate characters.)

        1. Oh my gosh! I used to give them the benefit of the doubt, but ended-up paying for it. That entire culture can repeatedly lie without flinching, which is seriously messed-up. No other culture I’ve run into is that relentlessly dishonest.

        2. I enjoyed this:
          Best comment:
          “For about 4 years now, I have been working as a receptionist at an apartment service where most of the inhabitants (and I mean almost without exception) are IT consultants from India. I have during this time come to hate this people whole-heartedly.
          They are stupid, refuse/are unable to think for themselves, lie constantly, steal stuff from the rooms, never listen or follow the hotel rules, look down on me because I am a woman, ruin their rooms with their disgusting cooking (you can’t imagine how often we need to renovate the apartments) and they are INCREDIBLY stingy and will never pay for anything without a fight, doesn’t matter if it’s just a phone call for like 50 cents.
          They can’t raise their children either, the little bastards scream and run around everywhere and don’t care if I tell them to calm down in the hotel lobby. It never helps if I talk to the parents either (big surprise right? ), they will just say “yes yes” and then history will repeat itself the next day.
          I don’t feel like a hotel receptionist, I feel like a preschool teacher surrounded by over 100 retarded adult babies.”
          To which an actual Indian responded “I admire your patience”.

        3. I lived in Seven Corners region in Northern Virginia which had gone Hispanic/Indian/Paki over the past 20 years. About a block from where I lived, there’s a 7-11 where one of the 9-11 terrorists purchased the fake ID he used to board a flight which was turned around and used to smash into the Pentagon. I would like to put up a memorial marker at the spot.
          Lee Hwy and Patrick Henry Drive, Falls Church, VA.
          On the bright side, all of these chickens are largely coming home to roost in blue state America. Most of these shenanigans occur in their own backyards and are directed at their own constituencies (gays, feminists). This nonsense largely doesn’t happen in red state because… those hillbillies have a lot of red pill in ’em.

        4. I lived with stereotypically obnoxious Indian girls at one point. One of them was going back, because her dad supposedly died. The others were trying to get out of the rent after I moved in to live with Indians, leaving me with the rent (which wouldn’t work anyway, because that’s illegal, stooped indians). I chewed one of the girls out in front of her friends, because I noted that they left her first, and she was left on her own to find friends who would live with her. I also left suddenly, leaving them to find someone else to cover the rent or pay it themselves.
          I honestly think India should be pillaged by any other country that wants it. It represents WHY nations were historically overtaken in conquest- there was something off, and frankly, people got sick of the sight of them. I don’t think it has as much to do with “poor, helpless nation and big, bad conqueror”. It’s nature’s way of destroying a system that doesn’t work and isn’t going to work. It’s people saving other people from weirding into some feral thing.

        5. I feel like even blacks and white liberals are starting to really want Indians to leave (even if it’s on the DL). It’s easy for white libs to justify, because the caste system is so different from communism, and no other country can stand India. They’re also running out of respectful things to call them.

        6. There’s an old joke that goes: A conservative is a liberal that’s been mugged.
          There’s a reason why people become more conservative with age: When one is young, one makes mistakes and or even adopts a particular position due to introduction bias (the first thing to come along, you fall in love with). Over time, reality, logic and facts overcome one’s prejudices and mental change occurs. I consider it an IQ test to see how long it takes for someone to figure things out. I’m reminded of this brain teaser puzzle a lawyer friend of mine posted on Facebook:
          “What has four letters, sometimes has nine, and never has five.”
          The fundamental paradox of liberalism is that it appeals to very smart people and engages them in the ultimate puzzle of rationalizing their beliefs against criticism (sort of like religious faith.) So the smarter one is, the LONGER that above puzzle takes to detangle. The smartest ones can believe and rationalize the dumbest things for the longest of time.

        7. I just left a shop that went Hindu but I don’t hold it against them so much (they are simply what they are) but rather against the white managers that appeared to have little respect for either the customers or their subordinates. Indians have a few virtues which is that they’ll kiss up to management and back each other up (depending upon caste, of course). We have a sick culture and Indians are like the flu.
          Either our immune system adapts or we’ll become sick too. One smug Indian said: “ahaha! You’ll never get rid of us!”
          I observed in response that a disease that kills off its hosts winds up dying too. At least with white colonialism, there was progress and growth not only in the original countries but also in most of their subjects. My Ukrainian wife marvels: “I wish the USA had invaded US like Japan and Korea!” 🙂
          Eventually, whatever countries reject or reverse white guilt and expel the invaders will be the ones to do well while the rest of the world stays in a cold funk and some collapse like the former USSR. Those places then revert back to colonial status and that’s where the problem elements can be deported to.
          I think after the Iraq/Afghanistan war was over, instead of Democracy building, just expel all the problem elements like the Brits did with Australia: Send over all the criminal illegals, the illegals, and criminal immigrants over to Iraq and Afghanistan and wish them good luck. Crossing the border to the USA would earn a one way tick to those places. Let THEM set up Democracy and figure it out.
          Think about it: About 30 million or so invaders and undesirables in the USA would flood those nations with relatively western values and then make it their own. ISIS wouldn’t stand a chance.

        8. Thanks so much [blushing]
          I’ve been posting on the internet since 1989 so I’m probably going to be here for a while.

        9. I tried to look at your posting history to see some of your other comments and you’re set for private. Which is ok. I just wanted to see what else you had wrote and comment if appropriate.
          If you want a laugh, go to groups.google.com and search on polishknight soc.men. It’s a fascinating evolution of how the internet discussion groups evolved over the past 20 years.

        10. the internet must’ve looked so different. i can’t even imagine how it would’ve looked. i guess that’s when prince of persia was released. I must have been a baby when my dad brought it home, unless he got it a year or two late. he was really excited, but my mom wasn’t so enthusiastic. i used to be scared of it, but once he explained there was a princess, i wanted to watch him play every night before bedtime. that’s what i remember about technology back then.

        11. I’m still working on the last Myst game right now. I also have a number of text games I still enjoy.
          It was a different time. Funny thing: Yes, the internet has a lot of men now but women are largely on the web albeit in a different form (facebook, chat, texting, etc.) Back then, the male:female ratio, PERIOD, was a good 20:1. At a time when the fastest internet connection was a DSL line for a WHOLE ORGANIZATION and you had to have an academic or corporate account to login, the biggest debate forum was USENET: A distributed debate system similar to Disqus.
          New newsgroups were controlled by a committee and there was only soc.women available (no soc.men) so men who tried to discuss men’s issues or even just express their viewpoint on gender issues or feminism on soc.women, would be shamed with “What are you doing on soc.men?” So some white knights (men) wrote a program to compile a list and percentages of male to female posters on the forum and shame frequent (male) posters. Ironically, the shaming post was being made by a man. 🙂
          So it was almost symbolic of feminism itself that the battle was being fought to male feminist defenders against anti-feminist men while the women were drowned out.
          Later on, women entered the internet and began to use new services that emerged such as IRC chat or America Online. The men here complain about women getting too much attention on the internet. Imagine a former 20:1 gender ratio and what it was like back then.

        12. “New newsgroups were controlled by a committee and there was only soc.women available (no soc.men) so men who tried to discuss men’s issues or even just express their viewpoint on gender issues or feminism on soc.women, would be shamed with “What are you doing on soc.men?” So some white knights (men) wrote a program to compile a list and percentages of male to female posters on the forum and shame frequent (male) posters. Ironically, the shaming post was being made by a man. :-)”
          That’s a mad reframe! I’d love to study the redpill history of the internet. Sounds like it was corporate interest vs. the everyman’s malespace from the beginning.
          My theory is that you and Kanye West secretly started the manosphere.

        13. Oops, I meant to say they were shaming men for posting on soc.WOMEN. Even so, without any other group available, it was amusing that discussion of “gender equality” from men was prohibited on the only forum available on that very topic. Later a moderated newsgroup, soc.feminism was created. This wasn’t corporate really (it was an informal setting from people volunteering their time similar to that of open source software.) Here’s the charter for soc.feminism:
          For the purposes of this newsgroup, a working definition of feminism is as follows:
          1. The belief that women and men are, and have been, treated differently by our society, and that women have frequently and systematically been unable to participate fully in all social arenas and institutions.
          2. A desire to change that situation.
          3. That this gives a “new” point-of-view on society, when eliminating old assumptions about why things are the way they are, and looking at it from the perspective that women are not inferior and men are not “the norm.”
          Eventually, soc.men was created and this resulted in a massive number of postings compared to soc.women or soc.feminism because the moderators couldn’t keep up with censuring anti-feminist posts and also, I think, at the time postings by feminists such as: “Men suck!” “I agree!” just didn’t go anywhere.
          Eventually, around 2005 or so, Disqus and other forums sucked away posters and USENET was obsolete. You can still find it on groups.google.com.

  3. Never been too impressed with BA, traveled with them a few times, never again if I can avoid it. Heathrow is a miserable airport. Last time I was there, some middle eastern immigrant was in charge of security, and he was pitching a fit because no one was following his unintelligible directions.

    1. 10 years age I flew with them and they weren’t too bad. They actually were quite friendly and had decent food. But since then, for unrelated reasons, I’ve been flying with Lufthansa and Austrian for most of the time.
      Lufthansa continues to be one of the best carriers for the region. If you can find a way to swing it, also fly Swiss. FranceAir is hit and miss: If they’re on strike, you’re stuck but the food is good when they fly. Lot is reliable but no frills (they charge a dollar for coffee and the Poles won’t pay for it so they flush it down the toilet at the end of the flight.)
      Surprisingly, the international route for Aeroflot is pretty darn good. Cute women in orange uniforms (and they try to act friendly for Russians. If you speak a few Russian words, they warm up considerably) serve pretty decent food on the main international routes to the USA AND they’re priced competitively!
      Haven’t tried Amsterdam airways but wish I had when I was a bachelor because there’s apparently a brothel at the Amsterdam airport but I have heard largely good things about their service (no pun).

      1. Lufthansa’s only problem is that they nearly stroke out when you don’t lift the shades on approach.

        1. American airlines (not just American the brand but nearly all legacy American carriers) also are sky fascists when it comes to lifting the shades. It’s a safety regulation to ensure that people are alert during landing lest they need to evacuate. No problem with that from me.
          What I appreciate is when there’s decent beverage and food service, clean aircraft, reliable service, and not nickel and diming you over bags and making you fight for the overhead. Lufthansa is still pretty top rate for that with service to a lot of markets.

  4. To the author,
    You ran a data center at 25, or even younger?
    So you were at Director level or above in your company?
    How large was the operations staff?
    What was the budget?
    If this was a large company, then that is very impressive.
    Data center head is a very senior position in a large company.
    Or maybe you were an operations or tech support shift supervisor?
    Still impressive at your age, but far less responsibilities than a Data Center head.

    1. Yeah, I was wondering about that. It’s not implausible, but would be pretty rare for a 25 year old to be in charge of a datacenter anything close to that of British Airways.
      I don’t say this with malice: When Marcus Luttrell was fighting Taliban in Operation Red Wings, his SEAL Team took multiple GSW to the body (and even the head!) and kept fighting on. Even after they fell off a cliff. Twice. While over 30 Taliban were hunting them.
      I seriously doubt even a 4-man fire team from the 75th Ranger Regiment or a Marine Recon Team could have done that.
      I’m willing to say it’s possible that Kyle did the “civilian equivalent”, but one has to wonder…

      1. Yeah, I have heard this type of thing before.
        A 3rd shift supervisor does “run” the data center on the overnights. But if any big problems happens, he calls the boss at home. Immediately.
        And a shift supervisor at 25 or younger is still very impressive. But sometimes these graveyard guys get an inflated sense of their responsibility. Easy to do when its just you and 6 other guys in the whole building.

      2. That fucked up mission is used as a case study for what NOT to do in SUT (Small Unit Tactics) by other U.S. Special Operations Forces. SEALs are the attention whores of the SOF community. Yes, they are exceptional operators. They are also exceptional self-promoters.

        1. “They are also exceptional self-promoters.”
          Jesse Ventura
          Let them have the attention though. It lets the rest of SOF get on with the jobs as surreptitiously as possible.

        2. Yeah, SEALs are a giant neon sign that says “TOP SECRET, DON’T LOOK OVER HERE!!!”

      3. lol You must get your “facts” from the movies. The real story was nothing like the movie.

    2. I was 23, company of 5,000, and was senior storage engineer. That company poached me from the storage vendor.
      I was second in charge of servers and #1 for storage.
      It was an absolute joke of a job and I should have never been hired given my inexperience at the time.

      1. Hey, that is very impressive!.
        I am sure it added to your experience, and you probably did great. Good for you!
        Nice article, BTW.
        And kudos for leaving “corporate slavery”.
        I still dream about that and I’ve been in IT for 30 years.
        Did you ever try consulting? I’ve been doing that for 20 years. Still in the corporate grind, but more freedom, more $$$, and less corporate BS. Yes, still a tech peon, and yes still can be “life draining”, but better than being an employee, IMO.

        1. Yep, I tried to get into solutions consulting in NYC wirh my first company – the storage vendor – was only 21 at that time. Didn’t happen and my corporate career got worse! So here I am.

        2. Can you go remote?
          Sounds to me perfect solution. Travel aroundasia for a few months while working remote…
          The dream

        3. I did, but only once.
          You have to work for the right department in the right company and most importantly for a manager who is a good guy.. I’ve had multiple contracts with one Wall St IB over the past 25 years. They did let me work from a foreign country for a while. It was great, and it was also very nice of them to let me do so. Especially the line manager who approved it. Whenever I see him these days I let him know that I owe him one.

        4. I worked software – mortgage backed securities – for a few years as sub contractor. Single handed created massive system…
          Was bought out. Havent worked since. Travel a lot between NYC. HAMPTONS, miami, and previously asia.
          Thinking about contracting work…
          Seems so easy if you don

        5. “Single handed created massive system. Was bought out.”
          That’s awesome!
          Hope you got a good chunk of that change…

  5. Yeah British Air is one of those airlines I won’t fly. Although… I’m not flying a whole lot these days anyway. Boats are a better way to go. (Provided you aren’t in a hurry to get where you’re going!)

  6. The most sickening thing about these situations is the cost of accommodation. What else can you buy with 700 British Pounds? A fancy new Intel i7 laptop with 16GB RAM and a boss graphics card? This is all just for a measly nights sleep on a mattress with some AC!

  7. Nice article…I’m not sure what it’s like overseas these days (I’m in the USA), but I won’t fly here in America. I have no desire to be pawed, groped, or examined with a magnifying glass – not to mention having my belongings broken or stolen. But I feel the same way about going through any sort of metal detector, or checkpoint. To my way of thinking, if you give into that sort of thing, you are giving tacit approval to your Constitutional rights being stripped away. And if you have a wife, a girlfriend or children, you’re giving tacit approval to them being ogled, fondled or worse. But that’s just how I see it…opinions vary. Bon voyage and happy trails…

    1. The epitome are the idiot government line brown nosers who shuffle their families through the screening. They have to be beta cuck as fuck to dissociate while their assholes are being rubber fingered. How can any father still smile at their own family with their palms down on the linoleum table as the big black lady with the nametag rims your rectum for the second time checking for WTF? Polyps?? Noo daddy takes super cleanse from the Info Wars store. What a shit eating faux smile daddy must have. “Why are the guards taking turns fingering my shitter too daddy?” . . “Well it’s to keep us all safe pumpkin”
      Jesus what a cuck. Why every time I’m with my family driving and we get pulled over for some invasive highway checkpoint bullshit, I make sure my kids hear about it after I’m done screaming and cursing afterwards. I rant and preach for a good while to the kids about probable cause, the 4th amendment and how the kids had better not dare grow up to serve the globalist cuck system or work any dumbed down job that requires a borderline retard IQ and wearing some monkey suit. I teach them that a good 50% or more of people in government are never your friend and that in some western countries, the entire globalist cucked government wants the native citizens dead, gone and replaced.

      1. I couldn’t have said that better if I tried…and this – “…and that in some western countries, the entire globalist cucked government wants the native citizens dead, gone and replaced.” I think you were being generous there, McGoo; I think all Western governments want all the native citizens dead, gone and replaced. Bravo sir.

      1. Sadly, the fedgov killed train travel, and is hellbent on hobbling its zombified corpse (AMTRAK).
        Perhaps The Donald will break the cycle, but so far every AMTRAK head who has tried to push positive reform has been fired posthaste.

    2. Didnt know that whats happens in the US .arent there seperate checking rooms for the women which are manned by women ?.and why dont they use handheld metal detectors instead of groping people ??

    3. FYI I will never go through the rape-o-scan cancer machines as long as I have a choice to avoid them (if you can choose to opt out then that just proves there is something wrong with them).
      Last time I traveled, I had a red pill conversation with my groper, an older white man. As soon as he realized I held similar views, he let me go without even doing the full Uncle Sam pre flight massage that I am accustomed to.
      Can’t wait to try this again!

    1. Can your efforts viedma, yapping around while trying to use bolshevik rhetoric to discredit facts is making your worthy of comparison to a piece of garbage.

  8. Customer service is almost a lost art these days. It’s more about spending a hundred bucks to save a nickel as long as the shareholders are happy the rest of it doesn’t matter. What is forgotten is if customers aren’t happy sooner or later there won’t be any shareholders. The thing is though, that as companies get bigger (and have more lobbying power to have laws passed to their own benefit) there’s less competition so in some cases customers have no choice but to grin and take it up the tailpipe.
    In my opinion a couple of the worst things to deal with are insurance adjusters and warranty work.
    Property and similar insurance used to be a product you bought to protect yourself/property from damage/loss/theft etc. Your adjuster came out and said what’s it going to take to straighten this out? A few days later you got a check. Now if you have a claim especially a large one you almost (or really do in some instances) have to hire a lawyer to receive the product you already paid for. That trend seemed to have started with ” we have to prevent fraud in order to keep everyone’s premium lower” and has turned into ” we have an obligation to our shareholders so we have to use every excuse in the book to keep from having to pay you and if we have to pay you very much or often your ass is gone”.
    The insurance lobby has a knack for having laws passed in their favor instead of customers who are pretty much SOL.
    From time to time though I have dealings with companies who haven’t forgotten what customer service is. We have a small (by today’s standards) retail machinery dealer with whom we deal with at work. We usually get a new machine from them about every other year($350,000 + machine) whose service is outstanding. Their physical location is 250 miles away however they have a couple of service guys who live in our area and when I have a problem they will usually be there in less than 24 hours if need be and in emergency will drop what they are doing and come running and have never once given us the runaround on warranty work. You never hear of that anymore, although it ain’t cheap.

    1. You can sum up all of what you said in a sort of Mantra:
      Focus on Customer Value, and Stockholder Value will follow.
      Focus on Stockholder Value, and the Customer will flee at the first opportunity, never to return.
      Works every time. Guaranteed.
      Just a thought.
      P.S. In the case of the Airlines, alternatives are already starting to present themselves, most notably in the form of the Scheduled Charter operations such as Surf Air. Small, friendly airports. Get there fifteen minutes before departure. No nickle and dimeing extra fees. No TSA Blue Glove Bullshit. (For now anyway.) In a word: Civilized.
      Look into it.

      1. We have the worst customer treatment in the history of air travel and the highest airline profit and shareholder value.
        Seems like the airlines are doing the smart play. They are also giving the customer exactly what they want. Cheap flights with shitty service.

  9. Kyle, just a piece of advice from experience-
    If you’re going to/from EE, you should avoid Heathrow if at all possible. (Not knowing where you are flying out of in the West,) you’re better served flying on LOT, Lufthansa, or Austrian. If flying LH, the Munich Airport is one of the best in Europe, especially if you’re doing non-Schengen to non-Schengen. I am back and forth 1 or 2 times per month, and there are very few issues. It’s very well organized, and I have yet to be late or misconnect after years of doing my EE travels.

      1. Aeroflot is good now. Even connecting on the Sukhoi Superjet isn’t too scary!

      2. Haha! I just said in the above! Vitaotey!
        My wife is a Ukrainian nationalist and refuses to fly Aeroflot but concedes that it’s well priced and has pretty good service (the Russian stewardesses are trained to smile if you speak just a LITTLE Russian. My father in law in Odessa was super happy)
        LOT is ok but has gone no frills for domestic routes but I expect the international route is full service. My problem is that LOT doesn’t have a Warzawa->Dulles corridor flight and we don’t want to come in via NYC or Chicago but otherwise, LOT has excellent military pilots and relatively good airbus planes for their international routes.

        1. Never any problems on LOT, but finding a meal at Warsaw airport between a connecting flight was a challenge.

  10. Sometimes being a tenacious consumer seeking marginal recompense isn’t worth the time or hassle, though it lingers in the back of your mind that they ripped you off and pissed on your schedule.
    I flew coast-to-coast RT, 2 weeks ago. Not the worst experience ever, but above-average BS and plentiful problems from end to end. I remembered making a resolution to avoid neg “route talk” with others, which is not an easy habit to drop. Instead of experiencing it twice (echoed somehow more bitterly in the retelling, no matter how mildly put), I try to let it go even though my capacity for Zen can waver to the downside in certain situations (as w/ this British Airways mess).

    1. Who can you fly with then?
      AA is known for its rude, obnoxious, fat flight attendants.
      Air france is known for its 90s if not 80s style cabins and service, not to mention strongly unionised frequently striking staff. That leaves, what, Turkish Airlines or some Middle Eastern companies who offer excellent service but are from ennemy territory?

      1. Fly with the Germans, who all but go into shock if you don’t put your windows up while on approach.

      2. I would gladly take 80’s and 90’s style cabins and service over what is offered now.
        Although, I suspect that style is due to the fact that Air France has steadily been on strike since then.

  11. Shit, I hate flying. I have to dose up on scotch and valium before I get near an airliner. It’s not crashing that scares me.. in fact, hurtling towards the ground at 400 knots would be a welcome fucking relief. No, what I hate is being trapped.. TRAPPED.. for 15 fucking hours in a tin can with 450 assholes. And on top of that, there’s the real prospect of being TRAPPED in fucking terminal with 4,500 assholes for god knws how long. And it doesn’t even have to result from some freak IT disaster or unpronounceable volcanic eruption.. just some run-of-the-mill breakdown or delay which happen ALL THE FUCKING TIME.
    Fuck me dead, I hate flying. Unfortunately, living on an isolated continent on the arse end of the world, traveling anywhere leaves very little option. Unless I want to swim.

    1. Got to agree.
      Have done many long hauls.
      But not for three years – all you mentioned plus the security issues

    2. I’m the opposite. I love flying, being away from any cellular tower for 8 hours and sitting comfortably sipping red wine.

    3. Seems to me that “refugees” have made the case that you could get into Southeast Asia by boat if you were dedicated to it, assuming that you’re talking about Australia.

  12. As to point #1, you are completely ignoring the legal and ethical obligations of a company and only thinking of your convenience. More than half of the passengers of the flight from Warsaw to London were flying to London as their final destination. There weee probably others on board who were connecting in London onto other carriers, which had no issues. British Airways had the legal and ethical obligation to fly that flight. Now… could they have re-routed you via Iberia or Finnair and American? Maybe… They should have been pro-active about not putting you into Heathrow, but flying that flight? Absolutely they should have.
    My other disagreement is with your take on the strike. You do understand that the BA management doesn’t want a strike, right? You know that’s now how things work, right? You’re young and you’ve never been in management or a Union shop, so you probably don’t know, but management has no control of a strike.

      1. You have a choice. You had a choice to fly or not fly. You had a choice to ask questions. When BA was not flying, you had a choice to rebook with another airline. There are lots of choices. They may not be great choices, but they do exist. Look, shit happens and this happened because of BA’s own fault, but as a self-aware traveler you should get better informed about the alternatives and your rights when you travel.

        1. Wrong. No information was provided. That was why people were so upset. They made it seem all was normal in London.
          As for alternatives – yeah, okay. Let’s just pay $5,000 cash for a one way flight on the spot. Get real.
          I’m well aware of my rights and have exercised them all – but it doesn’t change the fact they fucked up and handled it poorly.

        2. Kyle, I’m not wrong. Information was provided at some point, which is when you should have some back-up plans go into effect, not rely on others, who now have to accommodate hundreds or thousands. One way flights from London to Phoenix don’t cost $5,000. You should get real. Either way, it’s still an option.
          I will and did agree that they screwed up and maybe even handled it poorly, though I don’t know what their capabilities were on such a scale. With the systems down, they don’t even know when or where anyone is going because they can’t access the GDS. They also can’t just give out cash like it’s candy. Corporations don’t even have cash on hand to give out. They are required to compensate certain amounts as per EU regulations. They’re supposed to do that.

        3. One way internationnal flights at the last minute cost thousands. You weren’t there, so how do you know what information was provided to passengers?

        4. Just for fun, I went to tripadvisor and searched for a one way ticket WAS->KRK as of today. It was $1100. A week out, the price goes down to $900.
          One way tickets are usually a ripoff (they cost about the same as a round trip much of the time). At this time of year, this is reasonable for the route I was searching.
          For fun, I searched on priceline for last minute hotel rooms in London. I found one available for about $40 a night on the outskirts of town.
          Of course, when thousands of passengers are dumped the prices will vary (usually sell out) but my point is that someone with a smartphone with apps loaded can usually survive in many of these conditions. Relax, go on the outskirts of town for a few days, and speaking nice to the gate agent about arranging a flight out in 2 days will make them feel relieved (they can accommodate you easily) and ask for perks. I usually score a few upgrades in these cases by being cool about it.

      1. You blamed them for creating a second service disruption right after the first, it being the strike. I’m saying they didn’t create it.

        1. Read carefully:
          You’re going to screw up in life. It’s inevitable. It’s how you bounce back from those mistakes that will determine how you (or a company) turn out. At this point, BA should pay those flight attendants whatever they want so that a strike doesn’t occur.
          I’m saying they’re GOING to create a second disruption if they DON’T act.

        2. You really show a lack of experience and knowledge of business operations with that comment. A strike is for a few days, at worst, weeks. Paying whatever a union wants without strong negotiating dooms a business for decades if not permanently. Most airlines went out of business because of their human resource costs. In the airline business, people are by far the largest cost.

        3. In the USA at least, how can a business have strong negotiation with a union when the Federal Government has spent decades ensuring that Unions are holding all the cards?
          SCOTUS even legalized violent acts committed by union flunkies that further the union (US v. Enmons).

        4. They don’t hold all the cards. Payroll and HR still work for management and the board decides when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. That said, in the airline business, unions control almost as much as the CEO.

    1. you’ve never been in…a Union shop

      I’m envious of that, being in a Union shop is a socialist hell on Earth, the closest a Westerner can get to experiencing the daily grind of someone in the old USSR, or life in FDR’s CCC “gulag”.

      1. I was born and raised in the USSR. I find American unions to be much worse. They’re for profit organizations and most couldn’t care less about their members.

  13. Gota love the airlines. Point one. They brought all the flights back to London because it was the cost effective thing to do. It was a bean counter move. By bringing all the flights back to London they were able to take care of their pilots and FA’s and put the logistical burden on the passengers to take care of themselves. They also didn’t have to pay all their crews overtime for an extra day. There would have also been a tremendous amount of shuffling crews around because of duty times. The airlines don’t handle delays based on customer convenience, they operate on bottom line.
    Point two: see point one.
    Gota head to the airport now. More on this later.

    1. Aren’t most of the legacy airlines running ancient IT infrastructure? I seem to remember Delta’s datacenter meltdown a year or so ago exposing to the public the fact that the airline was literally using 1970s-era scheduling/computer tech.

      1. Yup. Most is Sabre based. The thing is, DOS based software is just heaps more stable and dependable than more modern platforms. Considering the volume of usage, they almost never go down.

    2. They also don’t own those airports, have no permanent rights to just keep those aircraft there indefinitely, do need them in the hub once the problem straightens out to get all of the collected pax to their destinations, need their crews for the same AND if they can fly some flights, they should do so to minimize the damage. That’s actually required by law. But sure, saving millions is also a factor.

  14. Pretty weak article. Sounds like they treated you fairly well to the best of their abilities.
    It may have cost you an extra 50 pounds in costs, but when systems are down its tough for them get things done efficiently. They compensated at levels that are slightly above expected costs in most situations. Mass transportation systems are always going to have headaches and system failures at times. They made reasonable accomodations. Better if they could have booked your hotel themselves, but they gave a pretty reasonable expectation of costs.
    We all love cheap airfare. If they give out excessive compensation or goodies then the price of tickets would have to increase.

  15. British Airways outsourced their IT to India, apparently their IT team in India made some mistakes which lead to the whole problem in the first place. They were cutting corners to save some cash. British Airways is considered like Air France and Lufthansa a “premium” carrier, but they are no better than the cheap airlines that offer flights within Europe like Ryanair and TUIfly.
    Its all shit these days. Some arrogant jerk called Emirates and Singapore “Third World Airlines” in his Europe travel guide. You got to be kidding me, those two are the flying equivalents of the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship line.
    Lufthansa and Air France have declined in quality over the years, 20 years ago, their European flights provided meals in Economy, then it was reduced to sandwiches, and today Air France gives you a bag of peanuts, yep a French airline giving peanuts, the land of haute cuisine and gastronomy. Lufthansa at least gives you a sweet pastry on short haul flights. Emirates and other gulf airlines give you real meals even on short flights.
    Flying in the US has been a lost cause for many years, it was kind of bearable in the 1990s, but really went downhill when Pan Am shut down, in its hey day it was a lot like Emirates today, complete luxury. In the 60s-70s no US airline had flight attendants older than 32, and even in the 80s you had attractive flight crew. Nothing like that today. That being said Emirates is a lot more expensive than Pan Am was when it was running.

    1. See my comment below regarding the outsourcing to TATA. What a mess. Corrupt CEO’s love TATA (cough, kickbacks, cough) or they’re just stupid and assume that Indian IT is cheaper. I talked with top level executives and they tell me “This is the trend so we follow it.” So why are they getting top 6 figure salaries to “follow trends?” Can’t we just pay a secretary $60K a year to write org charts and follow trends?
      The SouthEast Asian airlines are the tops. Pretty stewardesses in their early 20’s on average, fantastic meals and seats, and airports with not only great dining options but also destinations in, and of, themselves. Their lounges are amazing too. I have United lounge passes and it’s similar to basically hanging out at Starbucks with some cheap alcohol. The Asian carriers have AMAZING lounges. Again, I’d move in there and never leave if I could.
      During the 90’s, it was a pleasure to fly on American (not the brand) airlines. If you love a smoky cabin, then you’d love the 80’s but the airline unions did something useful in helping to get smoking banned on American flights and this spread to the rest of the world and that’s a good thing. Do you like sitting in a smelly ashtray for 10 hours? During the 80’s, these were the entertainment options:

      And tickets were MASSIVELY expensive. This was for a ONE WAY ticket to London back in the 80’s:

      With the 90’s, fares went down, frequent flier programs boomed (it was possible to get into a lounge and free tickets just by playing the system). The golden era. It all went downhill after 9-11 like a lot of things.

      1. Flying before 9-11 was pleasurable. And in the old days they distracted you with food. I got to experience Pan Am in the 70s. Only thing like it today is Emirates and Singapore.
        In those days you can ask for smoking or non smoking.
        Think about Europe today it’s been flooded with third world immigrants. Back in the 80s you would see pretty French girls frollick on their beaches. Now you see Muslims in their burkinis.
        Eastern European women are where West European women were in the 60s/70s. It was possible to meet gorgeous British and French women in those days. These days British women are hogs and French women are nothing to write home about. Even the US was well endowed with beautiful feminine women in those days.

        1. Non-smoking sections remind me of this:
          I’d take a tiny seat on Austrian Air in non-smoking over a larger chair in the non-smoking section of the 80’s anytime.
          The USA’s toxic femininity is due to a combination of white guilt, released puritanical repression, and a chivalrous sex starved culture all released at once like a teenager pops a pimple. What a mess.

  16. They wanted to absolve themselves of responsibility as a defensive measure, because someone at the top assumed customers were angry before customers had even made up their minds to be angry. The proper frame would have been “sorry we made a mistake, we’ll do our best to fix it.” People generally expect that mistakes happen.
    I see that jumpy, defensive attitude a lot among millennials in customer service.

  17. European Airlines, at least the flag carriers used to provide their customers with excellent service, even in coach class. These days the major European airlines are “Americanizing”. All of them are competing with low cost carriers, forcing them to drive down prices and then lower the quality of service. If you want to see quality airlines, you got to experience the Asian and Gulf state airlines, they know service.

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