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Holidays

BA chaos + now threat of summer strikes

110 replies

peoniesarejustperfect · 31/05/2022 15:33

Anyone fancy joining me for a bit of a moan?

Due to fly with BA twice this summer - once next week long haul and then in August for our family holiday which is booked separately to the holiday bit.

I can't get over what is happening at airports at the moment. I understand all the reasons, just so surprised that they don't know in advance what problems they are going to have in forth coming week. Lots of cancellations, lost luggage, texting people at the gate. Whist def a first world problem, it sounds miserable. And now BA announce that they are balloting for strike action. For some reason it takes them 22 days to do this.

We've been talking about what to do with our August family holiday - that would be the one that would really disappoint us. Whether we should cancel our BA flights and book with another airline, just cross our fingers & hope or cancel it all and book something a bit more reliable. Like so many people we are desperate to get away.

What's everyone else thinking??

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Whammyyammy · 31/05/2022 16:12

I was an avid BA user until this year. For my transatlantic trips I now just use American airlines and still claim avios, or virgin/delta if AA cannot accommodate route or timings. AA or theire smaller American Eagle flights have never let me down

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peoniesarejustperfect · 31/05/2022 17:32

That's interesting. I have never flown AA or come across American Eagle, but will check them out as def time to make a change. I got a bit carried away with their loyalty card, but can't really see the benefit anymore, especially as I can collect Avios. But really, it doesn't amount to much. What made you change? Short haul and UK based is a bit more of a problem. I need to do a bit more research in future...

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TizerorFizz · 31/05/2022 17:40

We still use BA. I’m assuming you don’t know that the worst issues are with TUI and other short haul operators and lots of the issues are at Manchester. They cannot recruit the staff. Baggage handling is not BA. The fact is most scheduled flights are ok. Heard news about this on R4 at lunchtime and no one mentioned BA. No one even mentioned Heathrow.

We fly business and like T5 as it’s close enough to home to make it easy. We fly on 18 June - not school holidays.

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TizerorFizz · 31/05/2022 17:41

AA code share with BA a lot. Won’t make any difference to anything out of the uk except terminal.

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WhatsitWiggle · 31/05/2022 17:51

Unfortunately the latest issues are "under the wing" which means ground handling - check in agents, baggage handlers, food service providers, security, cleaners. Whereas the previous announced cancellations where airlines have reduced capacity through the summer are "above the wing" - crew and pilots where the airlines knew they had a shortfall due to recruitment proving tougher than expected.

Most under the wing activities are outsourced and have been for many years as cost cutting measures previously. These companies have had to ramp up resource quickly and as with other hospitality jobs, people have taken other roles whilst furloughed and aren't being enticed back.

I don't know what to suggest, but it's affecting all UK airlines.

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peoniesarejustperfect · 31/05/2022 17:54

Thank you, I didn't know that the BA baggage was ok - that is good to know. They lost my sister's luggage last week and it arrived in Italy on 4th day of their week long holiday. Very poor communication from them. I read that BA have been cancelling 100s of fights at once.

That is good news about Heathrow too. 🙏🙏

I know what you mean about AA still being a Heathrow terminal and UK side issues may be similar, but hoping that customer service will be better - possible to speak to someone if a problem + less cancellations and strikes.

Fingers crossed for a safe, reliable and non-eventful trip for you, Tizerorfizz!!

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peoniesarejustperfect · 31/05/2022 17:58

@WhatsitWiggle That makes perfect sense and explains less control etc. I wonder how all these firms feel about the cost cutting now. You get a feeling that everyone has cut back too much and that there is not much 'give' or any control over the chain. Plus, all those things are going to affect every airline. I suspect there is no clever way out of it.

As a hedge, I'm beginning to dream about other holidays. Not to book anything - but just some back up thinking done....

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HundredMilesAnHour · 31/05/2022 18:19

It's not just BA, all airlines are suffering similar issues including AA. AA customer service (both in flight and on the ground is usually worse than BA actually). AA have also been cancelling flights but obviously we hear more about BA as they're UK based. Easyjet, Virgin, Tui are all getting it in the neck right now.

If you have BA status, you'll be looked after better by BA when/if irrops happen. Whereas AA will prioritise their own status customers over One World ones. But if you don't have status, there's not much between BA and AA right now. More food on AA but better service (just!) on BA. For economy I'd pick AA. For anything other than economy, BA still has the edge (especially if you're in club suites).

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WhatsitWiggle · 31/05/2022 18:28

Thing is, it made sense at the time. Why have 10 airlines at Gatwick all employing their own baggage handlers - when you can all engage the services of a company who do this for you? Easyjet flight delayed but Virgin has landed early? No problem, it's the same group of staff. Whereas before, the Virgin flight would have sat waiting for their baggage staff to finish another flight, meanwhile the Easyjet staff are twiddling their thumbs. Profit margins are low in travel, you maximise any efficiencies possible.

Without the pandemic it wouldn't have been an issue. In the areas around major airports, the airports are huge employers - tens of thousands of people. Who were all overnight furloughed / out of a job with no timescale as to when things would get better. Not everyone could sit at home on 80% pay, many people got other jobs - remember the supermarkets were desperate for staff at the time for home deliveries etc.

I don't think anyone in the aviation industry had any idea that it would be so hard to attract people back. But remember, travel only really picked back up in March when the arrival tests for Covid were dropped. It hasn't been a gradual increase. It's been 30% to 80% (illustrative numbers, I don't have actuals) in a few weeks. How was anyone meant to plan for that?

Not making excuses - I usually travel myself this half term but personal reasons mean nothing was booked, I'd be in tears if my holiday had been cancelled for the third time (2020 and 2021 due to Covid). But hope you can see it's not the fault of any single airline or airport.

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grapehyacinthisactuallyblue · 31/05/2022 18:38

Is it just BA though? I was watching CNN earlier and they were saying lots of US flights were cancelled during Memorial day weekend. Sounds like a lot of airlines still haven't working as usual yet.

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TizerorFizz · 31/05/2022 20:54

It’s everywhere. Airlines were operating at 5% during the pandemic. Getting staff back was always going to be impossible but holiday companies sold the holidays. The support staff are working elsewhere. They don’t like the hours at airports. Lots of staff won’t come back. There’s no immediate answer to this.

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Whammyyammy · 31/05/2022 22:00

peoniesarejustperfect · 31/05/2022 17:32

That's interesting. I have never flown AA or come across American Eagle, but will check them out as def time to make a change. I got a bit carried away with their loyalty card, but can't really see the benefit anymore, especially as I can collect Avios. But really, it doesn't amount to much. What made you change? Short haul and UK based is a bit more of a problem. I need to do a bit more research in future...

American Eagle ate American airlines, just smaller aircraft for internal flights, still claim avios from them, albeit usual 10 tier points and 750 avios per internal flight... but as a frequent flyer, all adds up

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peoniesarejustperfect · 01/06/2022 07:58

This conversation has made me feel so much better about it all. I really hope that all the people having a horrible time at the moment, manage to get away or make other plans to enjoy some time together. I do think the airlines shouldn't have sold seats to the holiday companies if they weren't confident that they could ramp up and cope. But it's where we are now.

We flew through the pandemic as my DS was having medical treatment in US and BA were consistently awful, even when there were only 12 people on board. They are such a different airline than they were c3-4 years ago.

@HundredMilesAnHour we have silver status at the moment but likely to loose it this year.

Thank you @grapehyacinthisactuallyblue and @TizerorFizz I think I like airline chat, just like some people like car chat! No easy answers. They are going to have to pay more and treat them better. In a funny way, it's also reassuring to know that it's not just one airline or the UK that's affected.

I think I like airline chat, just like some people like car chat!

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PriamFarrl · 01/06/2022 08:03

I flew at Easter and had the exact same panic. There were loads of flights being cancelled left right and centre then.
But when you looked into it most of them were being cancelled well in advance and were flights where it was possible to move people to a later flight.

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KonTikki · 01/06/2022 08:16

Ground staff before the pandemic had a high percentage of Europeans working for it.
Lovely Brexit has made recruiting replacement staff much more difficult.
Strangely I have heard only one reference to this on the news 🙄

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ScrummyDiva2 · 01/06/2022 08:16

And it's not just the UK. Was in Schipol airport a few weeks ago, and it took two hours to drop off bags and three hours to get through security. Lots of flights delayed or cancelled!

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peoniesarejustperfect · 01/06/2022 08:39

ScrummyDiva2 · 01/06/2022 08:16

And it's not just the UK. Was in Schipol airport a few weeks ago, and it took two hours to drop off bags and three hours to get through security. Lots of flights delayed or cancelled!

I wish the UK media would report this more. It's slightly myopic of them to just focus on the UK situation and make out that Britain is faring worse than anywhere else. All helps our understanding and expectations!😀

@KonTikki Very little is said about Brexit, but if the staffing situation/chaos is universal, maybe it's not had such an impact? I think the biggest issues have to be antisocial hours, low pay and probably low employee satisfaction. There's now jobs around - not just here but everywhere.

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Afterfire · 01/06/2022 08:43

It’s not just BA. I started a similar type thread the other day, lots of posts here about it all -

www.mumsnet.com/talk/holidays/4556796-are-tui-about-to-go-bust

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Afterfire · 01/06/2022 08:44

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MaisWee · 01/06/2022 08:47

Plenty of news articles over the last 2 years of the appalling treatment of airline staff by their companies and by other countries’ covid regimes. Ongoing pay cuts to all staff, room confinement for pilots and cabin crew throughout the pandemic (still ongoing in some destinations) massive redundancies and fire and rehire, permanent roster instability, just scratching the surface of it. It’s hardly surprising staff morale across the whole of aviation is at rock bottom. That could be a factor in the current situation. No consolation if you are going on holiday, I know, but could perhaps give an insight. Despite the above, I’ve found many colleagues are still doing their absolute best for the typical traveller, but with diminishing resources making it harder to do a satisfactory job of it.

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CharlotteSt · 01/06/2022 08:47

Where are you going in the summer OP? We're going to Greece with Easyjet so have a Plan B to go overland if necessary and have found a route. Is that a possibility?

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peoniesarejustperfect · 01/06/2022 09:19

@Afterfire I will grab a coffee later and have a read.

@CharlotteSt That sounds amazing. We are staying near Preveza in Greece, so quite a long drive!! Where are you going and how are you managing it. I love the idea!!

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peoniesarejustperfect · 01/06/2022 09:40

@CharlotteSt Wondering how a train and ferry could work...

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TizerorFizz · 01/06/2022 10:28

A union rep on Radio 5 this morning did say employees had gone “home” to EU countries. The airlines and airports are relying on overtime and people being willing to work unsocial hours. You cannot employ anyone without training and this takes time. So I think overselling of holidays to service company debts is to blame. The infrastructure doesn’t and cannot support the sales.

The idea of cheap holidays has to go. The employees need to be paid more and have better working conditions. That’s the only way they will recruit and get out of this mess. And reduce sales! They simply cannot manage the volume at the moment.

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MaisWee · 01/06/2022 13:06

Employees in my airline have not 'gone home.'

I am speaking about an entirely fictitious department here, but it gives you an idea of what has happened. In the Spring of 2020, over a quarter of the employees were made redundant. There was a refusal to use furlough when whole departments could be cut and merged. Where there were perhaps 10 experienced workers, they would be 'invited' to apply for 6 of their old jobs or even entirely unrelated jobs on lower pay. Many decided to retire instead (they were old enough - and experienced enough - that retirement was an option) and the least experienced people were recruited to fill the jobs. So 6 inexperienced people doing the job of 10 experienced people. This, multiplied up across an entire company and an entire industry. The remaining employees are on reduced pay still while the directors award themselves huge bonuses and there is no incentive at all to do extra work (we have a situation in our airline where if someone in my department offers to do overtime this weekend but their duty the previous month or the following month is cancelled, they do not get any overtime for it, but are still expected to be on standby to cover any work on the days their other duty was cancelled.) There is not the knowledge there or the manpower to do the work needed, and due to the nature of airport security even if they can find someone with the experience to do the job they cannot get their security approved fast enough. The government are blaming the airlines and the airlines are blaming the government, and both have had their part to play in the decimation of the industry to the place we see it today. Between them as a result of the pandemic, the airlines and the government have put a bomb at the roots of the airline industry and are wondering why it has fallen over. It cannot be patched up, it needs a huge amount of investment in to rebuild, and no one wants to pay.

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