There I was with the family looking forward to going through the flagship British Airways terminal 5 at London Heathrow, it is usually pretty slick. So on arrival at around 5.15am I was surprised to find that every check in area had a queue snaking back and forth and eventually ending up outside the building. What is going on we thought mmmm guess what there was no one from BA to ask the only people visible were increasingly stressed and annoyed would be passengers.
As the time went by those stress levels continued to rise …would we miss our flight that was at 8am, why wasn’t the queue moving. We queue for around one and a half hours still no BA people on show, eventually we got to the Tensa barrier snake queue and could see that there was initially two and then just one bag drop check-in open to deal with this by now enormous queue. There was one person by the check-in desk shouting out for people with less than hour to go to show themselves but the person was barely audible beyond the first few rows of the queue.
As we neared the Check-In we came across this ridiculous notice and the source of the problem became clear the new computer system introduced just before the summer rush was to blame, so upgrading the system and downgrading the experience while you do it as one fellow passenger noted.
Once we got to the Check-In this was confirmed by our Check-In lady who said it was chaos and she was hoping they would revert to the old system soon!!
So if we break this down:
- A known problem with a computer system that has been dragging on for several weeks
- Knowledge that this will be one of the busiest days of the year first weekend after schools broke up
Faced with these pre-known facts how could BA have dealt with this better….what passengers need is reassurance that they are not going to miss their flight because of a BA problem..so you know it is going to be busy and communication is everything flood the Terminal with BA staff that are well informed and able to pass on everything from information to bottles of water, who can smile and soothe stressed passengers…ensure that every available Check-In desk is manned ….I could go on.
The point is that ignoring the problem and avoiding the passengers was entirely the wrong response and hugely damaging to the BA brand as a result of a dreadful experience. Come on BA face up and deliver when it matter most which is when the ‘system’ is letting you down. Remember it’s the little things that count.