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“British Airways make their own rules. ”

Written on: 05/05/2019 by Elsie P (2 reviews written)

I was to take my partner to the US - his first visit there, and for me a happy reunion with a hotel and staff I knew from my many travels as cabin crew. My partner is in his eighties, and I didn't want him being kneed in the back or having someone constantly heaving themself up using his backrest. So I decided to pay the extra to ensure we had seats in the last row.

The seat map came up and showed that the last row in Economy was available. I paid £31 for each of us to sit in that row - this is of course on top of the actual ticket price. We were to travel home in Economy Plus, and I bagged the two last seats in the middle of the aircraft, just in front of the toilets, again to avoid having anyone sitting behind us.

The day arrived, and we boarded the aircraft for our outbound flight. And it turned out that our last row seats now had three seatrows behind them. I called a crew member over and asked if there had been an aircraft change, which she didn't think there had been, but when the situation was explained she said she'd ask the purser. The flight was full so it wasn't possible to move us.

She came back and said that the purser had told her that, very often, the seats on the seating plans don't correspond with the actual seats on the aircraft. This is clearly not ideal when you are charging your passengers to book specific seats.

Needless to say we were kneed in the back constantly during the flight. Upon arrival in the States I wrote an e-mail to BA to ask for a refund, but as always in these situations, Computer Says No.

I wrote again including more information, but got the same response. Craftily, there was nothing in the booking to say what I'd paid for. I should have taken a picture of the seating plan, but I really hadn't thought that would be necessary with British Airways.

Our return flight was OK; we got the last seatrow that we'd paid for.

I wrote a letter to British Airways Customer Services upon arrival back home, and explained that I've been cabin crew for another airline for 32 years, and that I know how to read a seat plan, but they just wrote back that "they couldn't guarantee that you get specific seats." Quote unquote. Not even when you charge people extra money for them?

The letter was carefully worded to say that they were "sorry that I FELT I hadn't got the seats I'd booked," and that "I FELT their seat maps weren't accurate." No taking responsibility for the mistake - instead throwing it back at me and what I "felt." What rubbish!

I called them and was on hold for 24 minutes before my call was answered, only for me to be put through to another department, which also turned out to be the wrong one. I think they pass complaints around amongst themselves in the same department, hoping that you'll get fed up and give up.

When I finally got to speak to the right person, I asked for a breakdown of the costs. This must have made the call centre chap realise I wasn't going to back down. Starting a game of "Good Cop, Bad Cop," he told me that he was reading the reply sent to me by his colleague, and that it was clear that he or she was wrong. He was going to sort things out for me!

He then offered me an "e-voucher." He was rounding the amount up to £75, and was clearly expecting me to be grateful for this fabulous deal!

I asked if this meant I would have to fly with BA again to get the money back that they owed me, and he confirmed this. He helpfully added that I could "gift" the voucher to someone...

I have now managed to get someone else to use the voucher for their booking (poor sap), and give me the £75. But I will never fly British Airways again. Easyjet customer service and Ryanair sales tricks for BA prices? I think not.

My partner and I are off to New Zealand in October, and will be flying Business Class for a big birthday. Guess who we absolutely will NOT be flying with...

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