British Airways response to delayed baggage complaint

By | August 14, 2007

Here’s the response from British Airways to my complaint to them about my delayed baggage:

July 28, 2007

Dear Mr Kamens,

I am very sorry to hear about the problem you had with your luggage.  Thank you for writing to us about it.  I understand how frustrating and stressful it is when you haven’t got your belongings.

We are in the process of trying to make improvements to our baggage performance at Heathrow as we prepare for our move to Terminal 5.  We have set up a senior team to oversee the progress we are making with baggage delivery and I want to assure you that it’s a top priority for British Airways.

However we know that during busy times our service to our customers may not always reflect the usual levels of customer service we pride ourselves on.  I recognize this has been the case for you/you and your family [sic].  Therefore we would like to try to settle your particular claim now rather than to ask you to wait any longer or to ask you to send in receipts at this time to prove your loss.

In order to seek to bring this matter to a close now I am arranging to send you a check for $148 to cover all of your expenses.  This will arrive shortly under seperate [sic] cover.

British Airways’ liability for loss, delay or damage to baggage is limited under the Montreal Convention.  If the payment above does not cover the total cost of your expenses or your belongings then you may have further rights against us under the Montreal Convention (see ba.com for details) or against your travel insurance.

Once again please accept our apologies for the inconvenience.  I hope this will not deter you from travelling [sic] with British Airways in the future and thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Sincerely,

[name omitted]
Customer Relations

So, what’s wrong with the letter?

  1. Nothing about my complaint that one reason our baggage was delayed was because the shuttle between terminals delayed us by 15 minutes.
  2. Nothing about the trouble we had getting our bags once they finally arrived in Tel Aviv.
  3. Nothing about the trouble actually reaching a human being to inquire about our delayed baggage.
  4. Two misspellings.
  5. One failure to properly edit the form letter they obviously used to respond to me (“you/you and your family” obviously should have been changed to just “you and your family”).
  6. Over two weeks after the date on the letter, the promised check still hasn’t arrived.

On the bright side, they actually acknowledged that they need to improve their baggage handling.

In short, it’s better than the response I got from American Airlines, but it’s still inadequate.

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21 thoughts on “British Airways response to delayed baggage complaint

  1. camaleon

    It seems that we lost our rights and the airlines are free to do whatever they want… expensive tickets, rude at the airports, causing delays, offering no assistance at all…. let’s avoid travel to demonstrate to them who are the customers and that they need to earn their money. The situation right now it’s close to a robbery… they take our money and provide no service at all. Perhaps they believe that travel is a pleasure therefore they do not care about making it a bit misserable for us….they forget that we travel with thousands of issues and problems and a little of help and courtesy could help to make our journey a bit pleasant….after all, they are paid for that!!!!

    Reply
    1. sgainford

      Should you Fly British Airways?

      I should have arrived at the airport three hours early for my British Airways flight to Verona however when I got to Victoria station to take a 35 minute train to Gatwick airport, a water main had just exploded and flooded all the train tracks. I quickly jumped on another train going to East Croyden where I then got a replacement bus service to the airport. I could have still made my flight but 2 miles outside the airport the traffic completely stopped. When I finally got into the airport I had 20 minutes before my flight, but British Airways wouldn’t let me fly, which is understandable enough.
      But the understanding stops there. British Airways then charged me a hefty £60 to change my flight to the next day. Hundreds of people missed their flight because of the transportation problems that was no fault of their own, but British Airways charged them all £60 to transfer their flight to the next day. However other airlines were a lot more understanding, like Easy Jet, which didn’t charge their customers anything.
      I asked British airways, who are always advertising how much they understand their customers and care for them, where did they get the arbitrary charge of £60, why did they have to charge so much, and why did other airlines like Easy Jet not charge their customers anything? They wrote back in a cold robotic way and basically told me to piss off.
      British Airways definitely made a lot of money that day. And I actually originally paid £20 more to fly with them because I bought into their brand and thought they were more reliable and understanding. But from my experience, and other people I have talked to since then about their negative experience with British Airways, I think those days are over and I think they need to change their brand song from the Flower Duet to John Lee Hookers ‘I need money’ song. At least I’m giving my money to Easy Jet next time.

      Reply
  2. Ever

    My daughter is a minor. Her AA flight 1622 LAX to ORD got delayed for 135 mins, causing her to miss her TK 6 flight ORD to IST. She ran over the aiport, arrived 5 mins just after the gate closed. Turkish Airlines refused to book her in the following flight since they said AA had to assist as they caused the problem. AA said it was TK. My daughter did not know what to do. It was 3am overseas for me, I had gone to bed at 12 midnight my time since my daughter was keeping me updated on the situation of the delay and that AA people were rude at her when she requested information about the possibility of missing her connection. I contacted AA and they asked me to contact TK. Finally, at 11pm my daughter was sent to a room for minors to rest until 4am to see what they could do. Since the airline was “doing us a favor”, they booked her at their most convenient route: ORD to Duraham to LHR then, to make matters worst, handing her over to BA for the leg LHR to IST. Her luggage wasn’t with her in the BA flight, she learned. Finally arriving at IST, 48hrs journey with basically no sleep, no food… and no sign the slightest sign of sympathy by neither one of the airlines, she filed a missing baggage report for tag AA 449060. She was given ISTBA19138. I told her I will follow up for her and booked her at the airport hotel for her to get some rest. I called AA and they told me that because “BA” was responsible, they could not help…. does the story seems familiar?….also that they could not tell me whether the AA 449060 was in LAX, RDU or LHR since AA does not track luggage or that they implied the AA 449060 has no purpose…. are these people serious?….now I go to the BA site and the record locator does not seem to exist (but I can see it’s valid as per the set of characters my daughter was given). I have tried to reach BA to the UK, Turkey phone and the US phone numbers and they are either closed or putting me on hold with the “sales department”….a day has almost past, my daughter had to be also rebooked (I had to purchase a new ticket by the way) for the leg IST to ALM to GUW which will take her an additional 17 hrs instead of 3 original hours for the leg IST to GUW….. in short, 17hrs total time LAX/ORD/IST and the 3 hrs IST/GUW had come to a 48hrs plus another 17hrs in addition to an airport overnight for my daughter….and here I am ready to spent another night on the phone as she will now arrive at 5am instead with daylight….and without luggage nor help by neither one of the involved airline, totally exhausted and with an additional toll of expenses (overseas roaming charges, hotel, new ticket, meals)…. as it seems the airlines are just doing us a favor….I used to travel very often with a family of 5 but now I am avoiding travel because the airlines are doing a very good job at making any travel just a nightmare….isn’t this almost close to a scary movie?

    Reply
  3. bonnie

    BA does it again!! LOST BAGGAGE/LOST CHECK!

    A check for a lost and damaged suitcase was issued in my name for my daughter who lives in Scotland, but I cannot cash the check because my daughters address is on it.

    I have tried to get someone/anyone at BA to tell if they know the details about the check and how to get another one issued.

    Today BA’s great customer service people at their baggage handling toll free department put me on hold 3 times and cut me off 3 times. WOW. Great customer service, huh?

    Finally I got someone who tells me BA only communicates with customers via letter or fax. I guess that is so they dont appear stupid on the phone as well.

    So, long story short, now going on 5 months with no information, no one who cares, no updates on how to resolve the issue, and no interest in keeping their customers happy.

    Thanks BA for a half a**ed job.

    Reply
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  5. Anne

    Well, it’s September 24th 2007, and British Airways just delivered a suitcase that went missing on August 1st, 2007……..

    We were rather excited, because they had just recently sent a cheque for $1,500.00 the maximum they have to pay out under the Montreal Convention. The balance of the missing clothes/bag, was to be collected from the travel insurance company.

    After a while, I wondered what the rotten, moldy smell was, and looked inside the suitcase. Everything in there is rotten and moldy. Not one to be deterred I sauntered off to the launderette and put the whole lot through a hot wash, with the launderette girl giving me jugs of vinegar to add in with the detergent and bleach.

    Half an hour later, I returned, only to discover that the clothes still smelt of rotten mold, and still had all the mold spots over them.

    I washed them all again, to no avail.

    The only good thing is we now have the clothes to put in a claim, prior to that, we just had a list of stuff, that my son thought was in the bag. Nice, an Armani shirt was in there, that he had left off the original list, plus lots of other stuff!!

    I want to say: “I hate BA”, because I just spent 4 hours in a launderette and I haven’t been to one since college days. And, because my son was so happy to have his stuff back, and then miserable when he realized he couldn’t wear any of it!

    What did they do? Leave the suitcase sitting on the runway in the good ol’ British rain for the past 55 days?

    Reply
  6. jik Post author

    What did they do? Leave the suitcase sitting on the runway in the good ol’ British rain for the past 55 days?

    Quite possibly. The WSJ article article referenced above points out that they simply don’t have enough space to securely store all of the delayed baggage, so it gets put wherever they can find room for it, which in many cases is going to mean sitting out in the open, exposed to the elements.

    I heard a rumor recently that at one point, an internal memo circulated within British Airways discussing whether it would be more cost-effective to simply throw away all of the delayed baggage and pay out the maximum allowable claim for each one, rather than trying to deliver the bags. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and this idea was never actually carried out.

    Reply
  7. jik Post author

    Might I ask how long it did take for you to get your money?

    The date of their response to me is shown above at the top of their letter. The date when I wrote to them is shown in the posting to which I have already referred you. The check arrived shortly after their response, as noted here (referenced above as well).

    In addition, did you fill out a separate claim form in addition to this letter or did you just include your receipts in this letter?

    This question is answered in the posting to which I’ve already referred you.

    Finally, where did you get the address to send to,

    From their Web site. It’s not difficult to find the “contact us” page on their Web site or most others.

    and do you have any phone numbers?

    Check the Web site.

    Reply
  8. Brad G

    Again, I appreciate your response.

    Neither the address nor the phone number was available for customer relations in the US, and that’s why I asked.

    Reply
  9. Brad G

    Hi again,

    Thanks for the response. Might I ask how long it did take for you to get your money? In addition, did you fill out a separate claim form in addition to this letter or did you just include your receipts in this letter?

    Finally, where did you get the address to send to, and do you have any phone numbers?

    Reply
  10. Brad G

    Hi,

    This seems rather reasonable and I’d like to receive a similar one from 11 days delayed baggage costing me $830 USD. Would you kindly let me know where exactly you sent your complaint letter, and how to see what exactly you wrote?

    I appreciate it,
    Brad

    Reply
  11. Michael Hodder

    I am (was) a B.A. Executive member. The only reason I fly with this terrible airline is due to my company insisting that we ‘fly the flag’. I very recently decided to cash in some points and managed to get 2 economy flights to Malta (still cost me £170 in taxes and fees). Although I made the request in plenty of time, all I was offered was outbound Gatwick North to Malta and Malta via Manchester, then Gatwick return. A direct flight back to Gatwick left within minutes of our flight to Manchester??
    B.A. are the worst airline for collecting points, you have to fly around the world ten times to get a free flight to anywhere. It appears that they try and put you off using them by only offering disjointed flights at poor times.
    The flight to Manchester was with BA GB Connect – No food or drinks, but you could purchase at exhorbitant prices. If you are thinking of joining a rewards programe DON’T choose B.A. In fact why fly with a 3rd rate airline that is living off its name at all? Unless you want crap service and lost baggage!!

    Reply
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  14. Theodore Tso

    My basic rule of thumb now is to NEVER fly through Heathrow unless I allow 3 hours of connection time. Heathrow is such a disaster that you need a bare minimum of 75 minutes to connect between terminals, and that’s assuming that everything goes right. If your incoming flight is late, if the bus driver takes an extended break, if the security line is extra long, you’re screwed. And if you have children and you don’t want to deal with them for 3 hours in Heathrow, the right answer is to simply NEVER, NEVER, NEVER connect through Heathrow.

    Reply
  15. Aboud

    on July 7th we traveled from Boston, USA to Damascus, Syria, Five passengers, with 10 baggage. On July 9 we arrived to Syria with only 6 out of 10 baggage, three showed up 10 days after and the last showed up on July 23 having been left in the heavy rain in Lodon and hwer by every germent was wet and many were beyond use. My wife and three kids left Damascus on August 4th with 7 baggages and arrived in Boston without any baggages, four day later all showed up except for one to this date it been missing. On August 14 I keft Amman to Boston with 2 pices and arrived in Boston without any, three days later one pice of luggeg showed up and the second is still missing. BA shoudl be imparessed and should find a way to fly only what they can service, the BA flying experince has been a very bad experince for me, I will never fly BA or go through Heathrew, nothing works, no flights pull up to gates, buses are very late, you miss connecting flights wati to disembark from the paln that has been setting on the runway fro more than 30 minuts waiting for bus driver, do what ever you can and DO NOT FLY BA.

    Reply
  16. jik Post author

    BA did not address the shuttle issue by mentioning their move to Terminal 5, because we were transferring from an American Airlines flight to a BA flight, and they’ll still be in two different terminals after BA moves to Terminal 5, so the shuttle issue will still be relevant.

    I realize that nowadays the level of literacy we’ve come to expect from the people we deal with on a daily basis is at an all-time low, but I expect the people with whom I correspond to be able to spell, or at least to know how to use a spell-checker, so I do not think it is pedantic to comment when someone sends me a letter with misspellings in it. As for the failure to edit the form letter properly, I don’t think that’s pedantic either, since it indicates that the person responding to me didn’t take enough time to do it properly.

    Considering that our baggage was delayed longer by what happened after it reached Tel Aviv than by what happened before, I can’t agree that their response is adequate when they failed to address in any way the complete incompetence of the people they’ve got handling complaints and delivering delayed baggage in Israel.

    Reply
  17. Merril

    I agree with Nomi. The reason for the double-l is that the stress in England is not fully on the 1st syllable as it is in the US. This creates the need for the double-l.

    Regarding your littany of complaints, I think think that BA did address the shuttle issue by mentioning their move to Terminal 5. Issues 4 & 5 are pedantic. For issue #6, the letter should have specified a range of dates (e.g. 2-6 weeks) so as to not leave you hanging. I agree that they didn’t respond at all to issues 2 & 3. I’ve often found with customer service that they latch on to only 1 issue and can’t see past it. Typical.

    I disagree with your statement that the letter was inadequate. It was contrite and apologetic. It also provided compensation and a means to get more if you thought you deserved more. Overall, this is pretty good for customer service. 🙂

    Reply

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