We Don’t Want Your Money Sir…

Christmas Bear Tree

Christmas Bears

Funny things recessions, it’s surprisingly harder to spend your money these days…

We’d booked a recent trip to the land down under, turned up at the airport with plenty of time to spare, checked in via the automated terminal and proceeded to the baggage drop off point. The intent being to go through airport security checks, enter our booked lounge and relax 🙂

“I’m sorry you can’t check your bags in yet, you can only do this 3 hours before the flight” the airline hostess exclaimed in a haughty voice, unless you are travelling first or business class. “You’re clearly not first class are you?”

WTF?!?, you don’t get this problem or attitude from Virgin Atlantic airlines (Well done Richard Branson on your customer service) with whom I regularly fly.

The ticketing agent had advised that we had business class tickets, but they were simply premier plus…

Right, I naively thought, we’ve got 6 hours to kill before our flight, what the heck, let’s see what the upgrade cost will be for a business class ticket. So, I go to the airline customer desk to ask. They explain that they are unable to offer an upgrade price as the tickets were purchased through an agent and not directly from the airline and that I would have to take this up with the agent if I want to arrange an upgrade.

So I call the agent, who, with surprise, exclaimed that they had never heard of this before as upgrades are available only from the airline. They’d like to help, but given the amount of time before the flight it wasn’t something they could do easily and advised talking to the airline as there must be some sort of mistake.

Back to the customer service desk, who were adamant that upgrades aren’t available on that basis and gave me a customer service number to call. I phoned the customer services and explained we simply wanted to upgrade our seats. “That shouldn’t be a problem sir!” they said, please hold. Five minutes later, they said in a surprised voice, “I’m sorry sir but we can not offer you an upgrade as the tickets were purchased from an agent and not direct”!

The explanation was as follows… Because the ticket was purchased from an agent for which the airline give “Significant Discounts for resale”, they are unable to calculate the difference between the price offered to the agent and the cost of the next class of seat.

I asked “Are you serious?” the price paid for the ticket should be irrelevant to the upgrade price surely? If you have a confirmed seat in any class and an upgrade is available, then surely they can offer a price on that upgrade, and you can choose to accept the offer or stick with your existing allocation? Apparently, this particular airline doesn’t operate in that manner and therefore it is impossible to purchase an upgraded seat.

The customer services rep was equally surprised and wanted to help. I asked, “Surely the price paid for a seat should be irrelevant to any upgraded offer price?” As a customer I am prepared to spend additional money with them but they don’t wish to take it! Surely that doesn’t make sense to the business or their shareholders for that matter.

To make matters worse, they confirmed if they were able to offer an upgrade it would have been an extra £500 for the two of us. They admitted this was a crazy policy and would raise this with their management. But the bottom line was that they were unable to offer any upgrade.

Very disappointing and as it turned out, over half the business class beds on that 12 hour flight remained empty and unused.

If you’ve watched the spoof airline show “Come Fly With Me” from the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/comeflywithme/lounge/ there is a snobby first class stewardess (Penny), it appears this whole airlines attitude to customers is modelled on that parody (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00d72n4) or that comedy was an accurate reflection of that airline.

So unless you book directly, don’t expect to be upgrading anytime soon, and now I know the true meaning of the B and A in BA

Update:

On the second leg of our flight, The stewardess didn’t know why, but we were presented with a bottle of champagne. They asked what had happened as they very rarely do this. I assume it must be because of the previous discussion.

They advised, that they are no longer able to offer inflight upgrades at the moment also at managements ruling, so the bottom line is until a change of direction, you simply can not upgrade or spend any more money with the airline.

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