Saturday, 24 August 2019

British Airways ruin travel plans for tens of thousands of passengers by cutting five days of flights for three days of strikes.

Photo British Airways
The UK's largest legacy carrier, British Airways is buckling under an avalanche of customer complaints and enquiries after the firm took the drastic step of cancelling hundreds of flights over a five-day period because pilots are going on strike for three days!

BALPA pilots voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in a battle over pay and conditions and the industrial action has been scheduled for  9th and 10th  and the third day of action is planned for 27th  September. However, overnight, British Airways emailed thousands of passengers due to travel between the 8th and 12th their flights were now cancelled. 

BALPA has contested the strikes were the "last resort" which has been born out of "enormous frustration" with airline management. It says the airline has rejected a "number of packages" that were proposed to resolve the pay dispute.

British Airways called the strike was "unjustifiable" and accused BALPA of  "destroying" the travel plans of hundreds of thousands of people. Yet, the raft of cancellations, the cost of rebooking and re-accommodating the disrupted passengers will cost the carrier, more than the £5million it would have cost to resolve the dispute.

It is unclear why the airline was cancelling so many flights so far in advance of the strikes, nor why it hasn't pulled in pilots from IAG's other airlines, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling to cover for the striking flyers. The airlines boss, Alex Cruz told the media he didn't know how much disruption the strikes could be caused.  Many aviation commentators have suggested the airline was trying to stoke passenger anger and direct it to the unions. However, the plan seems to have backfired dramatically,  with numerous affected passengers complaining on social media about how the airline has handled the situation. Dropping an email in the middle of the night, passengers unable to contact the airline,  phone calls going unanswered, no extra staff scheduled in to help and passengers being pushed to accept a full refund, rather than making the airline rebook them - even on other carriers, or paying for hotel accommodation and meals if an extra overnight stay is required, which is what the airline is legally obliged to provide.  

Many of BA customers have had a morning and day of high anxiety and stress after getting an email saying their flights had been cancelled, yet after finally getting through to the airline, found they had been sent an email in error and their flights have not actually been cancelled. No apology or compensation for the emotional anguished caused has been forthcoming from British Airways to those affected passengers. 

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