United Kingdom full-service airline British Airways has apologized to customers after sending out an email telling passengers that their flight had been canceled.
The email was only supposed to be sent to customers who were flying on the days of the strike and presumably on flights that might be affected. Instead of this, British Airways sent out the email to passengers whose flights would be operating normally, telling them that their flight was canceled and they needed to rebook or apply for a refund.
This major mistake comes after British Airways pilots voted to call a strike for the 9th, 10th, and 27th of September.
British Airways pilots to strike for three days in September
The three-day strike, the first-ever by British Airways pilots, comes after a dispute between the pilots union (BALPA) and British Airways over pay.
Calling the strike a last resort born out of the frustration of having to deal with British Airways management, 93% of BALPA’s members voted for industrial action.
The Guardian newspaper printed a quote from the pilots union, which reads: “Over recent years BA pilots have made sacrifice after sacrifice to assist the company such as taking a pay cut, productivity increases, closing the final salary pension scheme, giving up annual leave days, a new rostering system, and reducing flying pay.”
The airline had offered the pilots a pay raise of 11.5 % over three years that British Airways chairman and CEO, Alex Cruz, said was a “fair deal” and called the strike by BALPA “disappointing.”
While the exact number of passengers who received the false email is not known, you can be sure that many trips that were booked have now been thrown into disarray. When questioned about the mistake by the Guardian, a spokesperson for British Airways said:
“We are sorry that some customers received an email in error to say that their flight had been canceled on non-strike days. We are getting in touch with all those customers this afternoon to clarify that their flight will go ahead as planned. We are sorry for any confusion and inconvenience this has caused.”
The spokesperson went on to say that anyone who went and spent money on alternative flights should contact British Airways directly and that each case would be dealt on an individual basis.
Following these instructions, passengers have taken to social media to vent their frustration at not being able to speak to a British Airways representative despite calling over and over again.
Some customers have received a second email saying that their flights will be operating as normal.
Ellie Kormis who had booked a Greek holiday with British Airways told the BBC she had spent all of Saturday trying to get through to the airline’s call center.
She said that she ended up having to book new flights that would add three days onto the family’s holiday costing them an extra £2,000. “You’re left in a situation where you can’t speak to anyone – and you fear you’ll either lose your holiday or be left out of pocket,” she said.
British Airways contacted her by email later on Saturday to tell her that her flight was not canceled and would be operating normally. Ellie said it was “an epic mess up on their part”, joking that she had lost hope she would ever get through to speak to someone at BA.
British Airways confirmed to the BBC that passengers who had incurred out of pocket expenses due to the false email should present their receipts to BA for a refund.
Another passenger caught up in the misleading email mess, Kaelee Matthews from Cardiff, said BA had told her that they would not be giving her a refund for tickets she bought on Virgin Atlantic because her flight to Orlando had not been canceled.
“We are disgusted with BA,” she said. “We don’t know what to do now. Virgin can’t refund us, but we understand that. Travel insurers say we’re not covered either.”
British Airways has no one to blame but themselves for this epic mess.
From the moment the email went out to tell people that their flights were canceled when they weren’t, the airline should have taken to the phones. British Airways needed to get all hands on deck to remedy the situation, yet like many big companies these days, they feel a simple apology is enough.
Instead of doing this, BA tells passengers who might have been misled to call them. Even on a good day you can spend forever trying to get hold of BA on the phone, never mind a day when tens of thousands of people are all trying at the same time.
Offering free flights, air miles or even upgrades to passengers that were affected would go a long way in showing how sincere the airlines’ apology is.
Will it happen? I doubt it; what do you think? Please let us know in the comments.