Wednesday, August 8, 2007

BA - Beyond Aggravating

Two Things That Suck Mightily

After the summer lull, business travel season looms large once again. Between now and the end of September, and not including domestic travel, I have a week in each of the UK, Japan and Sweden to sort out.

Thinking ahead for once, a while back I booked a visit to Stockholm but on a low-fare, changeable basis. As I feared, I did indeed have to make a change so I called BA last week to move a trip from August to September. Not a hard thing to accomplish you might think, but you'd be wrong.

Three impediments to achieving a simple change were thrown in my way:

  1. You can't do this on-line, despite BA's claims to the contrary. No explanation, just a directive to call them. So I did, and promptly incurred a $20 charge for anything handled by an agent, regardless of the fact that their system shortfall made me do it.

  2. Thanks to the Byzantine fare codes and associated restrictions, I had to find a set of dates that both had space (only a few seats on each plane have these reduced fares) and were consistent with all the required restrictions (a Saturday night stay to name but one). After 30 minutes of playing pin-the-flight-reservation-on-the-donkey, something worked out, though that's "worked out" in the sense of leaving home Saturday and flying back Thursday, leaving at 7 am and travelling 20 hours to SFO via LHR from ARN.

  3. "Ok, sir, now I'll need to pass this to our fares group for them to calculate any additional charges that might be due." Err, say what? Seems their computer system just throws up its hands and sulks in the corner at the concept of actually calculating something, so they send it to the typing pool to deal with instead. "Call back in a week or so sir and we'll let you know." Not even an e-mail notification that the burnt chicken entrails have indicated an answer? Nope. Just keep dialling, and we'll let you know when we're good and ready.

A week later, I duly called. Nope, no news yet. "We're busy." WTF?? So's the rest of the bloody world, in case you hadn't noticed. Called again the next day and finally got an agent willing to actually, you know, help? The answer had come back - hooray! - but it was wrong - oh, good grief. To keep me from going ballistic she phoned-up the fare goblins that live in the basement and had the whole thing sorted in 15 minutes, with the answer of $63 being the final result.

"Oh, plus $20 of course, sir....."

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