In a shocking lack of empathy, British Airways left a young girl stranded at Heathrow airport. The teenager, who was travelling alone, had to spend some time on the streets outside Heathrow. Eventually, she was picked up (read rescued) by a relative.
The girl, who was originally booked in Business class, was later downgraded to Economy when she flew next morning.
British Airways Cancels London to Mumbai flight (July 25, 2019)
Aashna Kenia, a resident of Mumbai, was travelling Reykjavik-London-Mumbai on British Airways (BA) on July 25. Apparently, the Reykjavik-London leg went fine. Aashna had a 7 hour layour at Heathrow and when she arrived at the boarding gate for her flight (9:15pm), she was told that the flight has been cancelled.
When she sought a hotel accommodation, she was told that more than 20 flights have been cancelled and British Airways cannot provide her a hotel room. She was told she could fly on the morning flight (10:05am flight).
Incidentally, this was the first time she was flying internationally alone. Aashna probably thought she could spend the night at the BA lounge at Heathrow. She was flying business. However, she was not aware of the night curfew. Heathrow airport closes between 12:00am and 5:00am. She was asked to leave the airport and she spent the next 90 minutes on the street.
She tried the airport hotels but they were all full. She tried to convince the hotels to let her spend the night at the common areas, but that was refused.
Fortunately for her, one of her relatives came to the rescue at about 3:00am. Then she came back to the airport at 7:00am for her flight.
There was a final surprise in store for her. British Airways downgraded her seat to Economy. There were no explanations given. Upon checking with a crew, she was told that she was lucky to get a seat in the first place.
It is not clear if any compensation was provided.
There are many issues with this.
First, it is incredible that a passenger was allowed to board a stopover flight when the second leg was cancelled. In this case, the origin city was Reykjavík in Iceland. For many visitors, Iceland requires a Schengen visa. The visa requirements for UK are different. In other words, visa for Iceland cannot be used to enter United Kingdom. In some cases, UK requires a DATV visa (https://www.gov.uk/transit-visa/direct-airside-transit-visa) for transit but that cannot be used to enter the country.
I cannot fathom a scenario where the airline cancels my flight, the airport shuts down and I cannot enter the city. Perhaps, there is a provision to grant a visa in such cases which I am not aware of.
Second, it is understandable that for multiple flight cancellations because of weather, BA was not able to provide accommodation to every passenger. Although, when this happens, I expect complete transparency rather than vague comments. For instance, British Airways told the girl that more than 20 flights were cancelled. In a news I read that day, it said a dozen flights were impacted.
If I am told the number of flights cancelled, number of passengers were impacted and the percentage that were provided accommodation, I would probably understand. I hope airlines don’t use multiple flight cancellations as an excuse to fleece passengers.
Third, some passengers require assistance (or hotel in this case) more than others. There is no doubt about it. In my head, this should be the priority (my personal opinion)
- Passengers with special needs (medical conditions etc.)
- Passengers travelling with kids under 5
- Families (because they could share a room)
- Non-residents of the country of departure
- Non-residents of the city of departure
Most of this information is available with the airline or the travel agent. It shouldn’t be too hard to prioritize.
Fourth, the downgrade to economy. I have seen this happen before and it is not a big deal. Of course, the passenger should be compensated fairly.
What do you think?
Sourced from: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/mumbai-teen-flyer-stranded-on-london-street/articleshow/70458396.cms