British Airways agent needlessly cancels my entire itinerary

  • Hi Guest, welcome to the help forum. You can get fast answers to your customer service questions here. We have a dedicated team of advocates who are ready to help. Just go to the section that matches your question and ask us!
  • If you've posted a question or issue for our advocates to assist with, please be sure to check back frequently for responses and requests for clarification.
  • Did you know you can get email notifications when something new posts to your favorite forum? It's easy. Just click the "watch" link right next to the "post new thread" button at the top of your favorite forum. The rest is easy. Now you'll never miss another conversation.
  • Want to become an expert user? Drop by the How to use this forum section and all will be revealed. We'll show you how to make the most of your experience.
Jun 24, 2018
11
2
3
58
#1
I’ve been reading Chris' blogs and byline for years and thought I was the most savvy air traveler there was, having racked up over 3 million miles over the past three decades with little complaints to write about. I have always followed his advice when things have gone wrong and usually have been met with satisfactory results from the airlines. That is until now, when a British Airways agent at Amsterdam airport, out of spite, cancelled my entire family’s itinerary to London because he didn’t like my questioning his authority.

In a nutshell, the flight departed from Amsterdam to London City Airport at 9:55am. All four of us had checked in the night before and had boarding passes in hand and just needed to check one bag. I admit that we arrived at the airport very close to the 60 minute bag check window, but we did find ourselves on the baggage drop line seven minutes before the 60 minute window closed. This is evidenced by an Uber receipt and a photo I took at the time. It didn't help that there were two agents checking bags for dozens of people waiting on line, again, evidenced by picures that I took at the time. While on the baggage drop line we had learned that the flight had closed early, which meant that we couldn’t drop the bag and that either my wife or I had to stay behind for a later flight while the rest of the family flew on to London onboard the flight that we were already scheduled on. When we finally got to the agent (who was the supervisor) at the baggage drop counter I started questioning him on why he closed the flight earlier than the 60 minute time frame that’s printed on the boarding pass. He was clearly having a bad day and didn’t want to discuss it with me and told me to proceed to the ticket counter to re-book for a later flight. As we proceeded to walk to the ticket counter, my wife agreed to stay behind so that me and the kids could get on the flight which was scheduled to depart at 9:55. Mind you that we still had plenty of time to make it through immigration and security. When we arrived at the ticket counter, the agent taking care of us informed me that the agent at the baggage counter had cancelled ALL of our seats and that I would have to re-book the entire family - even though we all had boarding passes and plenty of time to make it to the gate. This entire fiasco cost me nearly $800.00 and we lost an entire day in London because the flight we were re-booked on departed seven hours later. After we re-booked we had to go back to the same agent to check the bag. When I questioned him why he cancelled all of our seats he remained completely and he stood totally silent, regardless of how many times I asked. Having flown BA many times I was taken aback by his rudeness.

After my return home two weeks later I sent a complete account of the incident to BA through their website, seeking a refund for the fare that we had to pay for the flight we were denied boarding. Once sent, I received a claim number. After not hearing back from them for nearly a month, I sent a follow up message using the claim number, requesting an update. A representative did finally reply but obviously didn’t read my original complaint carefully because he wrote an explanation that didn’t apply to my situation at all when he said “when a customer doesn’t fly on an outbound flight, the return flight is automatically cancelled”. I was flabbergasted at his response because that clearly wasn’t the case at all.

I responded to that reply but haven’t heard anything more, which brings me here today. I have all kinds of supporting documentation including a copy of the original message that I sent to BA as well as the boarding pass which clearly states “Bag Drop closes 60 minutes before departure time” and is timestamped as being issued the night before the actual departure. I also have the nonsensical response from British Airways as well as my request seeking further clarification.

When flying home from London I told the agent checking my bag about this incident and asked him if he could think of a reason why I was denied boarding. He replied that it would have been perfectly acceptable for me and my kids to continue on without my wife that day and he couldn't think of any reason why our situation turned out the way it did.

Has anybody else experienced a similar fate at the hands of a BA agent?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,789
12,762
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#2
For an international flights, most airlines recommend arriving at the airport at least three hours before your flight is to depart, two hours before a domestic. I am in shock you thought arriving a little over an hour was adequate. That was way too late. You may have been lucky until now, but I am sure you now know you should never arrive this late again. There are many things that could go wrong- flat tire, computer system slowdown, long lines that could cause you to miss the check in, bag drop or security.

But I do understand your being upset with the agents for canceling all the tickets instead of just one but he may have thought you wouldn’t make it through security by the boarding times printed on your pass.

I would suggest you use our company contacts (read the main page on how to write) and write to BA. Tell them the agent never told he or she were canceling everything.

In your letter, you need to accept blame for arriving so late, because that’s all on you. Your question to them is why the agent did it and never told you he was canceling all the tickets.

Let us know what they say after you’ ve gone all
the way up to the CEO if you have to.
 
Jun 24, 2018
11
2
3
58
#3
For an international flights, most airlines recommend arriving at the airport at least three hours before your flight is to depart, two hours before a domestic. I am in shock you thought arriving a little over an hour was adequate. That was way too late. You may have been lucky until now, but I am sure you now know you should never arrive this late again. There are many things that could go wrong- flat tire, computer system slowdown, long lines that could cause you to miss the check in, bag drop or security.

But I do understand your being upset with the agents for canceling all the tickets instead of just one but he may have thought you wouldn’t make it through security by the boarding times printed on your pass.

I would suggest you use our company contacts (read the main page on how to write) and write to BA. Tell them the agent never told he or she were canceling everything.

In your letter, you need to accept blame for arriving so late, because that’s all on you. Your question to them is why the agent did it and never told you he was canceling all the tickets.

Let us know what they say after you’ ve gone all
the way up to the CEO if you have to.
In all of my correspondence the first thing I did was admit that we arrived late, which was due to circumstances and unintentional, and I even mentioned that on this thread. But fact of the matter is, after being issued the new tickets and checking the bag, we breezed through immigration and security and could still have made our original flight. As a matter of fact, I watched it push back from the gate. I still take exception to the agent cancelling all seats.
 
Sep 19, 2015
2,212
3,513
113
48
#4
Cutting it close can cause problems. You were in line 7 minutes before the 60 minute cut off time. When does the computer stop allowing new baggage tags to be processed? 2 minutes before? 1 minute before? There may have been a computer programming reason that is beyond the control of the agent.

That being said I am not a fan of what BA has become. I wonder if that agent even worked for BA or for an agency.


Write a polite letter.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,789
12,762
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#5
In all of my correspondence the first thing I did was admit that we arrived late, which was due to circumstances and unintentional, and I even mentioned that on this thread. But fact of the matter is, after being issued the new tickets and checking the bag, we breezed through immigration and security and could still have made our original flight. As a matter of fact, I watched it push back from the gate. I still take exception to the agent cancelling all seats.
I agree with you about the agent canceling everything. That’s why I suggested you write. I think you have a legitimate issue.
 
Jun 24, 2018
11
2
3
58
#6
I agree with you about the agent canceling everything. That’s why I suggested you write. I think you have a legitimate issue.
I sent an email of my case to the primary contact listed here on Elliott, Denize McGregor, but the message was bounced back with the following explanation: "Your message wasn't delivered due to an e-mail rule restriction created by the recipient's organization e-mail administrator".

It seems that BA is now restricting incoming messages to their employees only from certain domains, most likely in order to keep massive amounts of complaint messages away from their Inboxes. I attempted to send the same message to other contacts listed here and met the same fate.

Where do I go from here?
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,678
6,668
113
San Francisco
#8
British Air is quite well known for arrogance. If you all checked in the night before, and if you reached the bag drop before the 60-minute cut-off time, you have a strong case for compensation. . The agent was being a jerk for sure; he should have been trained to handle questions and concerns like yours while busy tying to get a flight out. But it's a "he said, she said" scenario with little possibility of any action on BA's part. Did BA make any effort to rebook you on the next flight without charge? If you were there on time, you should not have had to pay for the next flight in the first place. I'm confused.
 
Jun 24, 2018
11
2
3
58
#9
No effort at all was made to get us on the next flight, which was two hours later, without having to pay for it. For that flight they wanted $2,200 for all four of us. In the end we settled for a flight seven hours later for roughly $800.

There should be no confusion. I have a picture that I took of the situation at 8:53, which technically is two minutes before the official closing of the flight, with my wife on line. The baggage check counter was manned by only two people and there was a line. My wife shouted out at the agent telling him that we are on the 9:55 but he was working the Elite line and said she would have to wait for the other agent. I'm having trouble uploading some of the materials that I have, which backup my assertions. An error is being returned stating "A server error occurred. Please try again later."
 
Feb 17, 2018
19
38
13
53
#10
Just being in line at the 60 minute cut off time is not good enough, the computers close out the flight, so you must have your baggage checked in by that time. Hopefully your appeal will reach someone who can make an exception in your case, or at least give you a voucher for the extra you paid.
 
Jun 24, 2018
11
2
3
58
#12
Just being in line at the 60 minute cut off time is not good enough, the computers close out the flight, so you must have your baggage checked in by that time. Hopefully your appeal will reach someone who can make an exception in your case, or at least give you a voucher for the extra you paid.
You missed the greater point. We were in line trying to check just one single bag. When I knew that we were too late to check that bag I realized one of us would have to stay behind for the next flight but the agent cancelled all of our tickets, not just the one. Me and my kids could very easily have made it to the gate at that point and boarded on-time.
 
Sep 19, 2015
2,212
3,513
113
48
#13
You missed the greater point. We were in line trying to check just one single bag. When I knew that we were too late to check that bag I realized one of us would have to stay behind for the next flight but the agent cancelled all of our tickets, not just the one. Me and my kids could very easily have made it to the gate at that point and boarded on-time.
Were you all on one reservation? If one person out of X has to be rebooked the PNR (reservation number the alphanumeric code) has to be split — so that may have caused a problem.

And yes if you are still in line 2 minutes before the cut off then you are too late.

There is a reason that people are advised to arrive 2 hours before take off. And if you read some forums on changes of security protocol at AMS (flyertalk) there is more of an issue— Especially Ex-schengen.

The airlines have cut staffing at the airports. Now some airlines even have people print out and attach their own luggage tags (Alaska Airlines at SEA airport I am talking about you). And the traveler can get stuck in an understaffed line and it is horrible.

I am one that has cut it close so I know what can go wrong. (Traffic accident, road construction etc).
And I have met people having a bad day — and I have realized that arguing or challenging the person does not help.

Many of the airline check in systems lock and close check in automatically— it is part of the program— flight delayed 2 hours? Program locks according to normal schedule, does not allow for the change in departure time.

So if you are in line 2 minutes before and the process of registering the bag is not done, and then have to be rebooked — and one of X wants to fly later, the reservation of all may be messed up.

Neil, you know the process better than I do, have I messed up in my explanation?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,789
12,762
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#14
Were you all on one reservation? If one person out of X has to be rebooked the PNR (reservation number the alphanumeric code) has to be split — so that may have caused a problem.

And yes if you are still in line 2 minutes before the cut off then you are too late.

There is a reason that people are advised to arrive 2 hours before take off. And if you read some forums on changes of security protocol at AMS (flyertalk) there is more of an issue— Especially Ex-schengen.

The airlines have cut staffing at the airports. Now some airlines even have people print out and attach their own luggage tags (Alaska Airlines at SEA airport I am talking about you). And the traveler can get stuck in an understaffed line and it is horrible.

I am one that has cut it close so I know what can go wrong. (Traffic accident, road construction etc).
And I have met people having a bad day — and I have realized that arguing or challenging the person does not help.

Many of the airline check in systems lock and close check in automatically— it is part of the program— flight delayed 2 hours? Program locks according to normal schedule, does not allow for the change in departure time.

So if you are in line 2 minutes before and the process of registering the bag is not done, and then have to be rebooked — and one of X wants to fly later, the reservation of all may be messed up.

Neil, you know the process better than I do, have I messed up in my explanation?
Your explanation is fine. Your watch also could easily be off against the airlines as well by a few minutes.

That said, he does have an issue he should take up with BA- he was told only one person had to be on the later flight to collect the luggage and then they were surprised to find out all of their reservations were put on the second flight.
And they weren’t told either.

That’s the point that he should go to BA with. He admits he was too late so it’s a moot point.
 
Jun 24, 2018
11
2
3
58
#15
Your explanation is fine. Your watch also could easily be off against the airlines as well by a few minutes.

That said, he does have an issue he should take up with BA- he was told only one person had to be on the later flight to collect the luggage and then they were surprised to find out all of their reservations were put on the second flight.
And they weren’t told either.

That’s the point that he should go to BA with. He admits he was too late so it’s a moot point.
Interestingly, even with having to take the time to get new tickets issued, we breezed through immigration and security to the point where I was actually able to see our original flight push back from the gate when we grabbed breakfast at a restaurant.

My problem now is with contacting BA. As I reported here, BA appears to have changed their email system to the point where messages sent from outside of their internal BA.COM domain are being bounced back. That means the contact page on this site for British Airways is no longer valid. That said, how should I proceed to contact them? Snail Mail?
 
Likes: agnostic

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,789
12,762
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#16
Post #7 has asked John, our research director, to check into the issue.

Try the next name on the list and see if you get the same problem. This is the first we’ve seen of this problem. Wondering if it is just that one contact email address
 
Likes: jsn55
Sep 19, 2015
2,212
3,513
113
48
#17
Flyboy I would wait to see what the research here finds out before snail mail. Do you have a free email vs a company email address?

There may be restrictions on some emails. Some of the mileage bloggers who are into credit card churning asked followers to repeatedly email people at BA about the changes to the mileage program. I would not be surprised if something like this caused email restrictions.

But I do think BA has joined the race to the bottom.
 
Feb 17, 2018
19
38
13
53
#18
You missed the greater point. We were in line trying to check just one single bag. When I knew that we were too late to check that bag I realized one of us would have to stay behind for the next flight but the agent cancelled all of our tickets, not just the one. Me and my kids could very easily have made it to the gate at that point and boarded on-time.
Did you tell this to the agent when you were turned away? Normally late shows to check in are canceled to allow for standby passengers to be accommodated.
 
Likes: agnostic