November 8th, 2016
Normally I am a happy customer but this sequence of events suggested a blog post to me.
It all started with my regular London City Airport flight from Berlin, scheduled at my favourite time of 7.05 am. I get a text the night before (9 pm) informing me my flight is cancelled and to contact the Help Desk. So I duly call, just to find out the Help Desk is closed and won’t open in time to help me with my voyage over the sea.
I take matters into my own hands and find the next suitable flight, knowing to call the ticket desk early in the morning. I am a bit elated that I don’t have to start quite as early as planned. I call them, get assured my flight the 11.35 flight will be on time and that I am on it.
With new ticket in hand I happily arrive at the airport, having had some extra time at home with my kids and taking one of them to Kita, although I have had to reschedule my entire morning in London, which is to be back to back.
On arriving at airport I am informed my flight has a minimum of 60 minutes delay. I get advised to go to the ticket desk to take the 12.20 Heathrow flight to avoid not knowing when the City flight will depart exactly. The ticket desk kindly changes my ticket and I have time for a quick coffee and wander over to my gate.
Now the real fun begins.. The slightly ditzy check in lady, let’s call her Chantelle, cannot find me. When she can she writes my name wrong and accidentally blacklists me – WOOPSIE.
Now she is not able to override this as only the Head Office in London can. She pouts and calls her colleague (for ease sake let’s call him Danillo or Danniiii) who is busy checking in a group of army soldiers (15 of them with three bags each arriving fashionably late).
She squeaks: “Dannniii I cannot do this, I don’t speak English please do it.” Danillo responds: “I am too busy, Chantelle, but you need to do this soon otherwise the lady won’t get on.” Chantelle says “Oh Danniiii pleasssse.”
Danillo calls his side kick from the BA mobile phone, the desk phones don’t suffice for that matter. Who is not to be found . Once found, with three people hunting for it, it is passed onto Chantelle who mouths to her other colleague “please, please”. Her colleague says “Okay I will try but oh dear what is the number…”
A sheet is produced with numbers…
In the meantime I say to Chantelle, who is just sat behind the check in desk bemoaning her looming end of day, “surely a member of staff cannot work for an airline, PARTICULARLY British Airlines, who actually cannot speak English.”
She says “oh , trust me I didn’t want to work here for BA but it happened that way.” Now her colleague, let’s call her Anna, has reached the Head Office but panicky throws the phone back to poor old Danillo who is left to run the show for his 4 check in ladies. “Oh yes, she has been blocked. No I don’t know why. I can’t do anything. No no idea. Oh no. Yes, it’s a bit urgent!” Danillo is being given another number.
“Thank you head office”, Danillo chirps duly. “Here Chantelle call that number whilst I check in more army comrades.”
Chantelle huffs, picks up the BA mobile and calls the number, after 4 attempts of reading his handwriting cannot (admittedly he asked Head Office to repeat 3 times and hastily crosses out numbers like bingo)
After her unsuccessful attempts poor Chantelle grunts again and throws the phone on the table. “I can’t get through” she proclaims. I kindly but firmly point out that 44 stands for the UK and that every country code requires 00 or a + dialled.
She smirks and wordlessly dials. Now it is 12pm (20 minutes before take off). Sadly no one answers, she is placed on hold , whispers over the phone to me, “I don’t think you will make your flight…”
Her colleague Anna tries to call the supervisor upstairs, Sabine, but no answer neither. Must be lunch….
Finally Danillo looses his cool and jumps from the army to my rescue, relegating Chantelle to the army (she squeaks , looks at her watch disapprovingly and then marvels at the screen until she has to ask Danillo how on earth he was checking them in) Error code Danillo what do I do? Danillo 2 luggage per person or 3. Danillo did you get that message…
Sabine, the supervisor, calls back from her lunch break. Danillo says “oh Sabine, you really can’t do anything.” He hangs up.
Danillo smugly hands me a boarding pass saying to go quickly, I mumble “you are my man Danillo. Thank you.”
I run almost excited by the prospect of flying and hastily open bags for security.
At boarding gate there is no one left and the staff look unnerved. Asking “what is going on at the front? We just had someone called Matthias being checked in as Mustafa. We are worried his bags won’t arrive.”
I hand over my boarding pass and it flashes red.
“What is your name?”
“Oh this is booked in for Gustave. You aren’t booked in.”
I quickly realise what my friend Danillo has done.
He has now checked me in under my middle name, the cunning vixen. That way I am a new person and the old problem has been erased or at least been delayed.
Several calls later and the ground staff resign on understanding what has happened. They simply wave me through, luckily I have no hold luggage.
Allegedly I have been blacklisted and I should have handed someone a LIX but no one knew what that is. So who cares. I am sat on the plane enjoying the view! Thank you team BA, that was quite the quite the lesson in delayed gratification.
P.S. The reason London City Airport is proving a bit tricky today for flights is that a group of protestors have parked a Dingy on it. Well quite suitable…