I’m finally back at a keyboard! YAYYYY. It’s been nearly three weeks of familial bliss amid my holidaying children and grandchildren here on Mykonos (for the wags among you, “nearly” modifies “three weeks,” not “bliss.”:)).
But bliss rhymes with abyss, and into the latter plunged my creative focus as my seven-, five-, and one-year-old grandkids raised my spirits to the heavens. Their parents of course kept me grounded, reminding me that one of the primary purposes of their visit was to celebrate my birthday. And so we did. Several times, assuring that everyone on the island now knows my age and henceforth and forever more shall begin every sentence addressed to me with, “For someone of your age…”
|Papou is how old?|
Rather than resist all of that, I think I’ll take it as leave to practice being a curmudgeon and flail away at the gods. In this instance, on behalf of my daughter and her family vis–a-vis British Airways.
That’s not to suggest British Airways is a god, only that it behaves as if it thinks it is. It even abbreviates its name to “BA,” as in the Ancient Egyptian word for that part of God that incarnates and reincarnates, traveling between the worlds of the living and the dead, depicted in hieroglyphics as a human-headed bird hovering over the deceased.
|The other BA|
Some might say in the case of British Airways that depiction more appropriately represents a vulture. Others would undoubtedly disagree with me and argue that from their experiences BA represents the “ba” in “ba-humbug,” as in “who cares?”
For those of you familiar with the ways of mighty BA, what I have to say may seem just another ho-hum example of BA’s legendary dysfunctional relationship with baggage, but to others it might help explain why Harry Potter preferred walking through walls and zooming along on broomsticks to flying BA.
Let’s start out with a little ditty to set the mood…
British Airways doesn’t care
That once you’re out of the air
Your bags aren’t there.”
On the recommendation of a friend of mine with the Greek National Tourist Organization, my daughter, her husband, and their year-old baby girl booked to fly BA out of JFK to Heathrow and on BA again directly into Mykonos, rather than traveling on Delta non-stop to Athens and from there on to Mykonos.
They left JFK on Friday the 13th of June—an auspicious beginning—to join me in celebration of Father’s Day and my birthday on Sunday. The JFK leg took off two hours late, touching down in Heathrow twenty minutes before the scheduled Mykonos leg, but the JFK plane never reached the gate in time to make the Mykonos connection.
But this is not about BA’s apparent absence of effort at making that connection work. Nor is it with BA re-booking them on a flight into Athens that kept the family sitting around Heathrow for ten hours, followed by several more hours in Athens waiting for a sunrise connecting flight into Mykonos.
No, the gripe runs to a deeper example of BA’s lack of consideration for its passengers. One would think that with ten hours to transfer the family’s luggage onto their re-booked Athens flight, BA could make that happen. Especially after my daughter asked a BA representative in Heathrow, “Is it necessary for us to claim our bags here and recheck them on to Athens?”
As if reassuring a child, BA’s representative told her that would not be necessary, because their bags would accompany them to their “final destination.”
Fourteen hours after arriving in Heathrow, the family arrived on Mykonos sans checked bags. Now the fun began. Where were the bags? In Athens? Heathrow? New York? No one knew. No one at the airport had an answer, BA’s automated missing baggage system yielded nothing, and no one could reach a live person at BA for help.
A full day went by with still no news from BA on the fate of their luggage. Halfway into their second bagless day, I turned to my friend who’d suggested BA in the first place.
Even he couldn’t crack through BA’s automated system to find live help. So, he went “out of system” and tracked down a living, breathing person who confirmed that indeed BA had located the bags.
They’d never left Heathrow!
BA in its infinite wisdom had decided to hold onto the bags and send them on to Mykonos the following Tuesday aboard its next regularly scheduled flight to Mykonos—three days after the bags arrived in London and the family had departed for Athens.
How could BA do such a thing and compound it all by keeping the truth from its customers? Surely BA knew that missing luggage ruins a traveler’s holiday. Costly unplanned expenses and anxieties over the fate of one’s belongings are the very least of what flow from such experiences.
We’ll likely never know if what drove BA were cost saving considerations, ineptitude, or something else, because BA’s opaque baggage tracking practices give most passengers no access to the truth.
Having said that, I did come across an article published on July 3rd captioned “Baggage chaos continues for British Airways.” The article reported, “British Airways is warning customers it could take days before they are reunited with their bags following four days of technical issues with conveyor belts at Heathrow Terminal 5. Intermittent problems from Thursday to Sunday meant some bags had to be processed manually and led to many passengers arriving at their destinations without their luggage.”
That sounds like a reasonable explanation for what happened to its passengers’ bags between June 26 and June 29, but what’s BA’s excuse for what happened two weeks before then? And again on June 21 when more travelers flying to Mykonos on BA out of Heathrow arrived without their luggage. Or does BA regard that sort of episode as business as usual, unworthy of an explanation?
“To Fly. To serve” is British Airway’s slogan. Frankly, I think there’s a better one: “This is a helluva way to run a railroad.”
Bet Harry Potter would agree…even at his age.