British Airways also doubles as the CIA

Thanks to a recent schedule change, I was able to change my Thanksgiving plans to fly into New York, and out of New York to LAX.

Unfortunately, the British Airways agent whom I spoke with, inadvertently put me on a LHR-JFK, then JFK-LAX departing the same day…on Thanksgiving. I’ll chalk this one up to the agent’s thick foreign accent thanks to her being located in a non English speaking country, but I clearly remember reading to her the dates and flight numbers, so can’t understand where the confusion came from.

Anyways, I found out yesterday about the mishap and tried calling to get it fixed, thinking it would be a simple change, and there was evidence to my favor. I called the number provided in the booking email to me and was routed to a call center in India. I spoke with about 10 agents.

Agent 1: There’s nothing we can do. Sorry, you agreed to the changes so tough luck.

Agent 2: I just spoke with Agent 1 and I can’t override her decision.

Agent 3: I need to call a supervisor.

Supervisor 1: We need to pull up the recordings of the original booking phone call to find out what was agreed to. We need to do an investigation and will get back to you in 24 hours.

Agent 4: Yes, we need to do an investigation. We have an internal team than handles this so call back in 24 hours.

Agent 5: British Airways made a mistake and we’re so sorry. I’ll note your booking so it can be changed after 24 hours.

Agent 6: Agent 5 didn’t put anything in the booking, and we are not admitting fault at all. Call back later.

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Agent 7: We don’t have any call centers in the UK. You will always be transferred to us in India.

Agents 8-10: We are conducting an internal audit of your reservation. Please do not interrupt the process and let us complete our review so we can analyze the recording.

Okay, so what??? Yes, I know British Airways (and many other airlines) record calls, but this is the first I’ve heard of them reviewing a call to see what was agreed to, and see who made the error. In the countless supervisors and agents I spoke to, they weren’t reviewing the call to improve their future service – they were reviewing it to find fault, and, specifically blame either their agent, or me as the customer.

I asked them why British Airways has suddenly turned into the CIA, but they didn’t provide comment. All I heard from their Twitter team is that this is company policy, and they must review recordings to find out how to decide what to do with the ticket.

Okay, maybe it’s just me, but I thought I had a few “bullets” on my side:

  • My original itinerary was flying into the US on Thursday, and then out to LAX on Friday. Nowhere was there a same day flight to LAX planned for Thursday.
  • I’m a onworld elite – I thought that would help, but that was about as useless as my local library membership.
  • I’m a Club Europe / Business Class customer. Again, useless.
  • I was told by a BA agent that they made a mistake. Mysteriously, that “recording” doesn’t exist.

In any event, it’s interesting to note how British Airways handles this process and how consumer unfriendly it is. I’ve had agents question me on things before, but never have I felt like I was being brought in front of a judge for a mistake that was clearly in my favor.

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Long story short, I finally found a UK call center number and not the Indian call center my reservation indicated I needed to call. Within 5 minutes I had a “chipper” English lad on the phone who changed my reservation, no question. English humor added for entertainment. 🙂

British Airways

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  1. Pam says

    I’ve had to call BA several times in the past concerning the large number of photo cases I carry as checked baggage (sometimes more than 20) and any time I get the India call center it’s a joke. They can never answer my question. But the UK center isn’t much better with their knowledge of baggage fees, policies, etc. My last call was 45 minutes of trying to confirm France to Gatwick, 12 hour layover, Gatwick to the US would only incur one baggage fee – answer I finally got – “you can pre-pay for checked baggage on our website.” UGH! And yes, I was only charged once for my bags, but twice for the bags my assistant checked under his name. Their phone center customer service is just bad.

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