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BA sadly has turned into Ryanair

(55 Posts)
julieannexx Wed 13-Sep-17 14:25:53

Trying to keep my disappointment / devastation to just welling up with tears and not a volcanic explosion of frustration.....

So here's my story....
We are family of 5 ecstatically looking forward to a holiday at Oct half term in Barbados with extended family.
As school break up days worked out, it seemed like a good idea to send my DD1 (12yrs) out with my brother (her uncle) 2 days before the rest of us fly.
Flights were booked - restricted of course, but still mega bucks - what could go wrong - we were with BA !
My brother is no longer able to go (long story).
So rather than get cross - I thought I'd call up BA and use their Skyflier Solo service for DD1 (12yrs) as Granny will be there to meet her at the other end.

No they said - it's been discontinued as of Feb this year (despite most other airlines having this)
OK - Can we change the name on booking from Uncle to Dad?
No they said - No names changes allowed (despite most other airlines allowing this for an admin fee)
OK - Can we move Dad's flight by 2 days?
No they said - you have to cancel (no refund except half the taxes) and you have to buy a new ticket £1021.50.

I am not naïve enough to think that if you buy a restricted ticket and then change you mind, that an airline will accommodate.
However to discontinue a child safe guarding service and offer absolutely no flexibility whatsoever to a family who has spent £3.5k - I think stinks.
We are not asking for anything that we haven't already paid for.
In fact we are giving them back a seat !

So our choices are:
(1) our child travels completely alone on a long haul flight
(2) we don't get to go on holiday

So massively disillusioned with BA - which has this year turned into Ryanair :-(

OP’s posts: |
PotteringAlong Wed 13-Sep-17 14:28:33

Why can't your child travel alone? How old are they?

PotteringAlong Wed 13-Sep-17 14:29:05

I've just seen. 12. Can they not go alone?

Polly99 Wed 13-Sep-17 14:34:05

It's not great (and I agree BA has gone majorly downhill) but is she a sensible 12 year old and has she flown before? I don't think I'd be too concerned about my DD getting on a plane alone when she is 12. The unaccompanied minor service as I remember it was good in the airport (when waiting for delayed flights etc) but no actual looking after the kids went on on the flights - we were left very much to our own devices until landing.

BastardTart Wed 13-Sep-17 14:40:34

I used to fly with the minder service (boarding school holidays), but I seem to remember that from around age 12 I was just left to fly alone.

But I agree that ba is no longer what it once was and has turned into Ryan air wrt charging for sandwiches/drinks on European flights, paying for hold luggage, etc

julieannexx Wed 13-Sep-17 14:40:35

Theoretically she can but I am extremely uncomfortable with it.
A say she has to independently navigate the airport.
You just know when your kids isn't ready for that !

OP’s posts: |
julieannexx Wed 13-Sep-17 14:44:33

It's the airport I am worried about (both ends) !

OP’s posts: |
AnchorDownDeepBreath Wed 13-Sep-17 14:45:03

To be fair, BA are really clear on which tickets are cancellable and moveable and which are not. They make no exceptions for the ones that aren't; they never have.

I'm presuming that it's not anything to do with BA that your uncle can't come; so they aren't likely to be overly helpful. I think your choices are to let her fly alone or pay for another flight either for her when the rest of you fly or for DH to go early.

Judashascomeintosomemoney Wed 13-Sep-17 14:49:50

Can you obtain a Gate Pass so someone can accompany her all the way to the plane?

Judashascomeintosomemoney Wed 13-Sep-17 14:51:47

Or it might be called a n Escort Pass. Probably depends on the airport I guess.

ShotsFired Wed 13-Sep-17 14:52:03

You can book special assistance at the airports - the buggy things.

You don't need to "qualify" with a certain medical issue or anything, you just need to ask! That'd get her from check in to gate here, and plane to arrivals the other end.

I'd be more concerned about the travel insurance aspect - have you checked she will be covered for solo travel under your policy?

Judashascomeintosomemoney Wed 13-Sep-17 14:54:56

....and Granny can apply to get one the other end to meet her at her arrival gate.

LimpidPools Wed 13-Sep-17 14:57:44

Judas has good ideas.

If you can find a way of getting her accompanied to the gate, you don't need to send her with checked luggage - you can give her a couple of days' supplies then bring the rest with you - so at the other end it would just be following the crowd till she can be met by granny.

Also, she can use a mobile in the airport. Complete with face timing etc if necessary, so you can still help her find her way.

julieannexx Wed 13-Sep-17 14:58:55

Totally appreciate the difference between a restricted ticket and flex.

But as they weren't really clear about removing the Skyflier Solo service and I have still paid a premium to fly BA

OP’s posts: |
VeryPunny Wed 13-Sep-17 15:04:03

Hang on, I'm not sure I see a problem with BA here. Most airlines absolutely refuse to change the cheap, restricted tickets, that's not uncommon. And how were BA to know you were going to need their Skyflyer Solo service, given the ticket was not originally booked for an UM? All the changes have been at your end, and you appear to expect BA to magically accommodate them. They won't, because thousands of people try it on all the time. They are simply abiding by the T&Cs they sold their ticket by.

Your travel insurance may be your best bet for reclaiming some costs, given your brother can't fly. Or most likely your brother's travel insurance.

julieannexx Wed 13-Sep-17 15:04:05

Thank you Judas and Limpid for your constructive suggestions

OP’s posts: |
Judashascomeintosomemoney Wed 13-Sep-17 15:09:01

Finally, are you sure someone at BA is not giving you duff info? We fly to Singapore every school summer holiday on BA and this time, as there often is on this flight, there was a boy and girl approx 6 and 7 definitely alone and definitely being looked after/escorted by a BA crew member. This was only in August, so well after Feb. Skyflier solo info is still on the BA website. Is it maybe not BA but the receiving airport no longer allowing this? Important to know as if it is the local airport there might be an issue with her flying solo anyway.

julieannexx Wed 13-Sep-17 15:16:42

If BA were in breach of their T&C's I wouldn't need to post on here would I?!
My thread is that BA have become more like Ryanair in their brutal approach to ruining a family's holiday or distressing a 12 year old child (who is not ready to travel long haul alone) for net no financial loss to them.
It is a gutter company who aims to profit from innocent changes in circumstances of their fully paid up customers.
If this did not concern my child - I would not expect them to flex.
I had previously considered BA to be above this.

OP’s posts: |
juneau Wed 13-Sep-17 15:23:25

Sorry OP, but you're in the wrong here. I can appreciate your anger and frustration, really I can, but the person you should be pissed off with is the uncle who has dropped you in the shit, not the airline who are simply abiding by the very clear rules on their website.

And the discontinuation of their Skyflier Solo programme was well publicised. I remember reading an article in one of the weekend papers a while back talking about it, because I went to boarding school and several girls used that service to travel to/from school, so it resonated with me.

Ultimately, what you're looking for is special treatment, but how many people do you think ask a huge airline like BA for special treatment each and every day? You want an exception to be made for you, but you must be one of many thousands every year and they simply could not accommodate all those people, so why should you be any different?

regularbutpanickingabit Wed 13-Sep-17 15:26:05

Um, I think you are projecting a bit here. Be cross with the Uncle, be cross that you didn't think to or risked not buying a flexible ticket. There really isn't anything to be cross with BA about. If they still had an UM service then they would have allowed you to apply that to your child's ticket retrospectively. They have done nothing wrong in upholding their very clear Ts and Cs on the price of ticket you chose to buy.

I'm sorry, I know it must be frustrating, but BA is a business and is not going to make changes in circumstances like this. It isn't about profiting from innocent changes in circumstances - it is about having a clear and transparent pricing structure with different tiers of tickets. If you didn't like the restrictions, you shouldn't have bought the tickets!

ShotsFired Wed 13-Sep-17 15:28:12

It is a shame OP, I have been watching the decline of BA for some time now. I am actively choosing against them where I can (although I flat out refuse to give Ryanair my money).

I do hope you can get this sorted. Really it's your brother's issue seeing as he's the one that caused the whole bloody palaver. Is his inability to fly really set in stone or is it just a PITA that you thought could be accommodated as per your earlier attempts? Could he (for example) fly her there and then fly home again straight after?

dumbledore345 Wed 13-Sep-17 15:28:35

BA cancelled their unaccompanied minor service last year.

Your child is 12 and can travel alone.

You are choosing not to use this option.

Not convinced that BA is the problem here.

Celticlassie Wed 13-Sep-17 15:33:54

BA have become far more like the budget airlines, wrt food and drink particularly.
They also refused to check my friend's parents luggage straight through from Glasgow to NY, despite the flight having been booked straight through with them. They're not in the best health and had to collect their luggage at Heathrow and check it in again to NY. hmm

julieannexx Wed 13-Sep-17 15:44:01

I am not a complete imbecile - I know the T&C's !
There's a reason I shop in John Lewis - you pay a premium because you know they value their customers and can accommodate in certain situations where they might like to demonstrate the worth of that premium.

Just to remind you of the reason for my thread......
I am sad to come to the realisation that BA is no longer my John Lewis !

....and yes I am upset with my brother - and yes I can force my DD to go through the terminal alone a gibbering wreck (great start to our dream holiday) - and yes BA have every right to stick to their T&C's - and yes if you google it there's a newspaper article about the Solo service stopping......
I get all that.
I am just sad that we are potentially going to lose our holiday and it feels like Ryanair.

OP’s posts: |
juneau Wed 13-Sep-17 15:46:52

But you haven't 'paid a premium' to fly with BA to Barbados during half-term - you've paid the same price that everyone else has. I can't think of any budget airlines that fly to Barbados - I mean maybe Thomsen or Thomas Cook fly there as part of their packages - but flights to Barbados during the school holidays are expensive whoever you fly with. We're going to Cyprus and have paid £2k for our tickets for four people - that's just what it costs to go on a sunshine holiday at that time of year. You sound angry and entitled tbh.

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