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Why British Airways Premium Economy is a waste of money

(26 Posts)
Travellingdad Mon 29-Sep-14 02:40:48

This post is a warning and a request for advice. We recently flew long haul with British Airways with our 1 year old. We booked premium economy for the first time (we can't usually afford it), thinking it would be a better experience. Boy was it a waste of money.

We received an email from British Airways confirming that we had the bassinet seat reserved. In their policies they specifically state that they may move your reserved seat, however "You can claim a refund for reserved seats if: You have paid for an upgrade and do not wish to pay the difference in order to reselect your seat in the alternative cabin."

So their advertising makes it clear that if you buy premium economy with a bassinet and they don't give you the seat you have reserved, you are entitled to a refund of the difference if you then move to economy. You are never guaranteed a bassinet seat, but if you choose to go down a class when your reserved seat is taken away then their policy clearly states you get the refund of the difference (they don't dispute this if you ask them on the phone about it).

So we flew and they gave our reserved seat to someone else and offered us a different seat in Premium Economy. Rather than a 24 hour flight with our child on our laps, we moved to economy and the staff on the flight said we would be entitled to a refund. However, that's when their promises fell apart.

We called Customer Service and after a frustrating experience generally, we were told that the email confirming our seat reservation was an "IT error" and that we never had reserved seating. I asked why we weren't able to rely on their email as confirmation, and they were sheepish about that, but said they simply refused to honour their policy.

So the warning part of this post is that British Airways treated our young family in a highly dishonest manner.

So beware of buying premium economy (or business for that matter) with British Airways, as you may not get a bassinet seat for your kid and then paying the extra has been a waste of your money. Don't expect them to be honest about it afterwards.

More broadly, we were shocked that British Airways took such an unprincipled position, and it makes us question whether you can rely on their Customer Service team to help with other reasonable problems if something should go wrong. Not sure which airlines are better, but certainly this one is poor.

I should mention that I was a gold member of BA and extremely loyal to the airline for 6 years. I even sent them information on how much I had spent on them over the years (through work). That didn't matter to them in the end - so don't expect Executive Club to make any difference.

The advice part of this post is asking you whether you can think of anything that we can do to get British Airways to comply with their own policies.

What we've already done is contacted Customer Service, sent letters to the CEO and to the Civil Aviation Authority. We even contacted the tax office (since BA also did not give us a tax invoice for our flight - which is illegal).

We're not going to court - even though the difference is over £1000. It's clearly going to cost more than that to take legal action. The Customer Service representative at one stage boasted that ticket holders have few legal rights (so you need to rely on the good character of the airline, which they failed to display in our case).

Would anyone have any advice on anything else that we can do to make them do the right thing here?

spamm Mon 29-Sep-14 03:12:28

You should not be surprised by this - British Airways is a terrible airline and I have experienced awful service with them. They blatantly and repeatedly lied to my face about a flight I was on with my husband and sister in law. I am an experienced flier, so I managed my situation myself without their help, but they are terrible and I refuse to fly with them.

I am sorry for your situation - maybe resort to social media? Twitter and Facebook?

TheToadLessTravelled Mon 29-Sep-14 04:59:59

Sorry to hear you had such a bad time. We had similar experience and even contacting their director of customer services and it didn't make a difference. Our reserved seats were given away and I was seated several rows back on opposite side of the plane to the bassinet given to my breast fed baby for a 24 hour journey. Staff could not have done more to demonstrate how little they cared,
just fobbed off from call centre to check in etc and told I couldn't even swap with my husband (who was in window spot while baby was sat over a stranger facing the aisle!). Haven't flown with them since. They must lose a lot of loyal customers once they have families as you really are treated differently. Would never risk flying with them again, and always check Im not on a code share with BA (qantas often allocates to BA flights).

I recommend Air NZ if they fly the route, great seating options and service in economy including touch screen snack ordering for service to your seat which is great when pinned under a sleeping baby

Hersetta427 Mon 29-Sep-14 14:54:35

You should have gotton a refund as you went down a class but I think your DC was too big for the bassinet at 1 yr in any case- we have never been able to use them past 9 months as baby was over the weight limit.

OwlCapone Mon 29-Sep-14 14:58:41

British Airways is a terrible airline

I have had nothing but excellent service from them.

LaurieFairyCake Mon 29-Sep-14 15:01:31

It will cost you £38 to take them to small claims court

You can do the whole thing online. I'd bet money you will get it refunded as your email forms part of the contract.

babykonitsway Wed 01-Oct-14 14:00:31

Perhaps a wee bit of embarrassment for them via twitter, facebook etc. families will be decent source of turnover for them

MillyMollyMama Thu 02-Oct-14 17:57:21

Actually it is business flyers they want. They pay more and cause less hassle. You got the Gold Card because of your company, presumably, not as an individual. Other airlines also cannot guarantee bassinets if too many people book them! In any class of seat! You probably did not get one as your DC was too big. Presumably the bassinets were taken by younger babies. You would have had more room in premium so the flight would have been easier.
I use BA regularly and always get a breakdown of the tax. How could you not get this? How did you book exactly?

Cerisier Sat 04-Oct-14 07:11:35

Last summer we booked 4 business class BA return flights for a long haul trip. It cost a fortune. On the return leg 2 of us were downgraded. So BA split up a family of 4. We couldn't believe it. We have never had this happen before or since with any other airline. We had never flown with BA before this trip and will never fly with them again.

Rojak Fri 17-Oct-14 20:01:20

Bit late to this but was thinking that perhaps OP could get in touch with a consumer affairs journalist from a newspaper as they often follow up and get results where mere mortals fail.

I'm another non fan of BA especially when travelling as a family - Singapore Airlines, Emirates and even Malaysia Airlines are so much better when it comes to service and family- friendliness

TheXxed Fri 17-Oct-14 20:07:35

Flew BA to cape town once, never again! I understand that any airline can lose your luggage but most tend me sympathetic and work to find a solution.

Spadequeen Fri 17-Oct-14 20:14:44

I'm another that won't ever fly ba again, flight to Chicago fine, plane home was awful, couldn't fault the staff but everything else about the flight was awful

Pippidoeswhatshewants Fri 17-Oct-14 20:14:50

I have very fond memories of a flight with BA when I was pregnant and ds was little. Never flown with them since.

ZenNudist Sat 18-Oct-14 10:45:34

I swore off BA after awful customer service connected with a flight delay. Our connection was missed due to late flight and we were lied to and fobbed off at every dealing with them.

We were flying for business, and had paid a lot. We ended up in a shitty coach bussed to a shitty hotel and eating shitty food before getting an inconveniently early next day flight.

You'd have expected lowest common denominator treatment from Ryanair or similar which is reflected in their prices. BA is not a quality airline. I decided to vote with my feet and don't fly with them any more.

Trapper Sat 18-Oct-14 11:36:16

I have had nothing but good experiences with them and have frequently travelled LHR-SEA with my too (first flight at 3wks - both toddlers now).

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Sat 18-Oct-14 15:53:18

We have flown with BA a lot with the kids when they were aged from 6 weeks to 11 years.
Probaably 80 flights, the majority transatlantic.
Had nothing but good experiences.

Don't talk to me about American Airlines, Delta or United though. All dire. Air Canada is ok.

iwaly Sat 18-Oct-14 16:42:44

I have had very poor experience with BA after being a long standing frequent flyer loyal to them - their treatment of my elderly mum who was flying with me was so bad I have never flown with them since. (She became very unwell on the flight and I asked if we could have help when we landed as she could hardly walk - they said it wasn't up to them, they would contact ground staff for us and request it. Ground staff then refused to provide help because we hadn't prebooked it and "no one is available".) She ended up in hospital and I still cant forgive BA for the way she was made to struggle through the airport (I had a baby and a toddler with me so could hardly help her). Never again with BA in all the flights we have taken since then.

Easy to have a good experience when you don't need help or the system "works". Its how they cope with problems which shows you if they are any good.

HermioneWeasley Sun 19-Oct-14 18:11:06

I flew BA PE and was impressed. More comfortable than regular economy, at the front of the queue for immigration and excellent service when we had a short connecting flight

currieaddict Fri 24-Oct-14 17:50:13

Another who has had nothing but excellent service and care while flying british airways.

BecauseIsaidS0 Thu 30-Oct-14 15:40:42

British Airways has terrible, terrible customer service.

carlsonrichards Thu 30-Oct-14 15:59:48

Won't fly with them or United EVER.

Take them to small claims.

pinkcheese Thu 13-Nov-14 20:21:34

FYI there's no such thing as 'premium economy' on BA

Their classes are:
World Traveller
World Traveller Plus

soupey1 Thu 20-Nov-14 12:36:03

We flew BA WT+ this summer and won't be again. The service at the airport and on the plane was absolutely dire! As one example of the very many instances on the plane at one point I asked if they served Baileys or anything after the meal and the steward looked at me as if I was a piece of dirt - when I then commented that I was only asking because Virgin did he told me to fly with them in future! I had already had the problem of the requested wheelchair not being available and then having to bus to the plane and climb the steps - all without DH as he was held back for extra security screening and I wasn't allowed to wait for him. Next year we are travelling with Virgin again.

TwelveLeggedWalk Thu 20-Nov-14 12:46:34

This is interesting. I've always been a big fan of BA but flew with them with children for the first time a few weeks ago and was less than impressed. It was a BA charter rathter than schedule, so I put it down to that, but maybe it's because they are just not child friendly.

I asked if there was a children's meal available and was told no as we hadn't pre-booked it (hadn't had the option to pre-book it as it was a charter through another agent). Ok, fine. Then they slapped down two plates of adult cooked breakfast in front of my 3yos which were basically a scalding hot foil box with boiling hot oily sausages in. Quite impressed no one got badly burnt given half the flight was pre-schoolers.

lljkk Thu 20-Nov-14 13:00:32

I wondered that, Pinkcheese. Thx.
Maybe BA is only lousy if you've never flown with Continental.

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