air canada +1, british air -1000

this is one of those “never do business with again” posts that i promised myself i’d write. so here we go:

avoid british air at all costs.

the story goes like this: i’m travelling to budapest from toronto with heathrow in the middle. air canada takes my two bags (a gym bag and a backpack) for the first leg. i checked both just because i didn’t want to have the extra bag on the plane and air canada allows for it. the bags were tagged straight through to budapest.

when i get to heathrow i have to pick up my boarding card. british air is my connecting flight and they inform me that their allowance is one bag and there will be an extra charge. i tell them that the bags are checked through and i expect them to be carried through. no? well, fine. just *give* me one of my bags and i’ll take it as a carryon, then (either one would have been small enough). i’m informed that the only way that i can access my bags in heathrow is if i cancel my ticket (no refund, of course), cancelling my return flight home as a side-effect.

i talked to various managers and made sure i got very clear answers. one guy in particular (‘chris’) seemed to be taking extreme pleasure in the fact that ‘he was in charge here’ and was ruining my day. everyone seemed to agree on the fact that i had exactly two choices in this situation:

  • pay 35£ for the privilege of boarding a flight that i’d already paid for
  • be stranded in heathrow with all my flights cancelled

at this point i was quite enraged. i wanted nothing to do with those fuckers anymore. i went to the air canada desk and asked if they could book me on a connecting flight with one of their partners so that i could avoid ever having to look at british airways ever again in my life. i was willing to pay for this.

air canada informed me that what british airways is doing is certainly immoral, probably illegal, and that they are the only airline that does it. i was certainly shocked as hell to learn that it was possible to be in an “insert more money to continue” situation in the middle of a connection. air canada also told me to not bother wasting my money on a rebooking — they’d cover the extra charge that british airways was extracting from me. i got an incident number from an agent at the air canada desk and was told to email my details to air canada’s refund services along with the number.

i paid ba and told them that this would be the last of my money they’d ever see. i thanked the girl at the desk (who had an honest “i’m sorry, but i just work here” look) and told her to tell her manager to go fuck himself.

i emailed air canada, they wrote back once asking for a scan of the receipt from ba and three weeks later i had a cheque in the mail (for the exact amount of the charge as it appeared on my visa bill, in canadian dollars).

so, for those keeping score:

air canada +1.

british airways -1000.

5 Comments

  1. Ross Burton
    Posted February 25, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Huh, last time I flew BA they were good, but that was a while ago. Fingers crossed for the BA flight I’ve got in a fortnight…

    One day you’ll connect with Ryanair, then you’ll know pain and suffering…

  2. Iain
    Posted February 25, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    You will appreciate (not) this text on the BA checked baggage allowance page ():

    “If your booking includes travel with British Airways and another airline, the British Airways baggage allowance MAY BE MORE GENEROUS and you could be charged for extra baggage by the other airline.” (emphasis mine).

  3. Posted February 26, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    This is all priceless. @iain comment even more.

  4. Jon
    Posted February 26, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Sounds pretty standard to me. They could have dealt with it better, but whoever checked your bags all the way through when they shouldn’t have is the person you should be annoyed with, really.

  5. Jon
    Posted February 26, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Meant to add: it was Air Canada’s error to book your bags all the way when one of the legs doesn’t allow it, so only right that they’ve covered all your costs. I face this issue regularly when flying from UK to Asia or Australia (not on BA) because I have to take internal flights at both ends.