Posts: 439
Joined: Wed Oct 02, 2002 11:43 am

BA Check-In Experience

Fri Oct 17, 2003 2:57 pm

Had a very "interesting" experience with BA at LHR T4 on Tuesday night.

My flight departed at 21:15 so minimum check-in time was 19:15. I had to return a Hire Car and wished to avoid the infamous M25 rush-hour "car-park" so arrived at Heathrow at about 4:15pm. By the time Hertz had me to T4 it was around 4:45pm. A near-deserted terminal stood before me.

I then learnt that the flight was not to be called to check-in until 18:15. A near farcical situation arose where a queue for the flight formed outside of the Area "A" check-in area while check-in operatives sat around staring at their fingernails.

When 18:15 arrived, the BA guy at the entrance to the Area "A" check-in queue handed out flyers asking for volunteers to stand-down from the flight as it was overbooked. After standing around for close to 2 hours, he seemed to get very little in the way of positive responses.

Would you not think that BA would be able to better organize itself at its flagship Terminal?


RE: BA Check-In Experience

Fri Oct 17, 2003 3:07 pm

From my experience, and from reading about the experiences of others, I think this is fairly typical BA service. Their check-in staff at T4 have a well deserved reputation for arrogance and indifference. BA still stands for Bloody Awful!
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RE: BA Check-In Experience

Fri Oct 17, 2003 3:14 pm

I've had negative experiences with BA staff at T4 but was once pleasantly surprised!

My mother forgot to buy a visa/didn't know we needed a visa to go to New Zealand. We were slightly panicked by this, but the staff were calm and organised an electronic visa without complaint, nearing 9pm on a Friday night. On this occasion, they were very helpful and dealt with the problem well.

Not what I normally receive from BA though.

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Joined: Sun Jul 08, 2001 11:02 am

RE: BA Check-In Experience

Fri Oct 17, 2003 3:21 pm

I think all airlines do this sort of thing, even at their "flagship" terminal at their home airport....nothing unique to BA.

I suggested to the powers that be who run the website that this thread be moved over to the "trip report" forum.
And the winner for best actress is....REESE WITHERSPOON for 'Walk the Line'!!!!!!!!
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RE: BA Check-In Experience

Fri Oct 17, 2003 4:03 pm

I have had bad experiences with BA a couple of times. I find that the check-in staff is always so unfriendly and is just so unwilling to do anything. When I was booked on BA on a group booking, BA had assigned people random seating, which meant that couples and families were not seated together becuase the computer plugs people into any open seats. I called as well as the travel agent called BA many times trying to get them to change around the seating, but the reservation agents insisted that we do it at the airport when we check in for the flight. Leaving us with no choice we did so, but when we checked in for the flight the rude BA lady told us that the flight is completely full and there is nothing she can do. She also said that we should have taken care of this earlier and not waited until today if seating was such a big conern to us. I couldn't believe what I was hearing from her. When I told them that we tried, she just smirked and said well sorry but we cannot change the seats. Since we checked in for the flight 2 1/2 hours early I'm sure that she could have changed the seats so that families and couples could have sat together and they did not have to sit in some cases 20 rows behind one another. BA seems to not have any compasion, I would like to see if they would like to sit away from their family when they fly and see how they like it.
Posts: 107
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RE: BA Check-In Experience

Fri Oct 17, 2003 5:44 pm

Have to say I agree with the most of the comments above.
I've flown BA many times (not always through choice) and, more often than not, have found their check-in staff to be, somewhat, arrogant and aloof. They can be extremely indifferent to even the simplest of requests, namely asking to be seated next to your partner, alleging that either the aircraft is full and two seats next to each other are unavailable (despite checking in more than two hours in advance and then finding the flight having empty seats once it's airborne) or that they don't 'release' seats till much later in the check-in process. Strangely enough, after a few minutes of 'polite discussions' with the check-in staff and making it abundantly clear we will not move from the check in until we are allocated adjoining seats, two seats next to each other 'miraculously appear' on their computer system. I know each of the check in staff have their particular block of seats to fill but that shouldn't preclude getting two seats together if you are travelling and booking in together, no matter what desk you go to.
Why they have to go through the 'piss the travelling passenger off' scenario I don't know.
This is not only a BA problem at LHR but also with BA check-in staff at other airports I've been to, especially LAX.
Yes other airlines have their occassional check-in staff problems as well, however I've found BA to be the worst of all (BA = Bloody awful or bloody annoying !!).
Having said all this, more often than not, the cabin staff service once airborne has been fine.
Sorry, rant over !!!
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RE: BA Check-In Experience

Fri Oct 17, 2003 6:07 pm

TonyB - re I know each of the check in staff have their particular block of seats to fill

They don't - they have access to any empty seat on the aircraft, and can quite easily move people (done it myself when I'm flying and someone was sitting in 'my' seat - naughty !). OK they shouldn't move people with assigned seats, and seats occupied by nosho passengers are only given back when the flight is closed for check-in. But they can can always find you something provided the flight is not too full. Group Pax and Premium Frequent Flyers are pre-seated when the flight is created in Departure Control - usually 24-48 hours prior to departure, which may account for why more seats are taken up. But once open for check-in, any unoccupied seat is available. I'm not sure how they decide which pax should sit together, normally pax with the same last name are seated together - perhaps if your partner has a different surname, they didn't know you were travelling together.

Re the comments earlier regarding group seating, BA keep back a hefty portion of the cabin for seating of groups, but its all done by outsourced people in developing countries, and the procedures are shall we say a little unrefined. Generally pax in Group Bookings are travelling on discounted fares and so are not entitled to pre-seating directly by the travel agent, and it has to be done on a request basis to Seating Control.

Regarding the idea of only opening the flight for checkin a couple of hours before it leaves is ridiculous - it can be opened for check-in any time, and any agent at any desk at LHR can check you in in theory - presumably the lamentable and bone-idle work practises have been put in place specifically to prevent anything like Customer Service from happening inadvertantly.

My advice is to use the Self Service Machines - much more friendly, MUCH more efficient, and they let you select your own seat. Plus, if you have bags to check, all baggage from the Fast Bag drop goes in the Club Class luggage container, so you'll get it quicker at the other end. Bargain.
Young and beautiful and thin and gorgeous AND BANNED ! Cya at, losers
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RE: BA Check-In Experience

Fri Oct 17, 2003 6:12 pm

I flew on to JFK from LHR with BA last Novemeber. As I was running late I decided to get checked in at Paddington Station, so that I did not have to run into T4 with all my bags. The check-in clerk said we were cutting it fine for this but glady checked the luggage in and it was taken off our hands.

I enquired about getting a bulkhead seat as this was my first long haul flight and I am 6.2ft, she said that we had already been allocated our seats which were in the middle of the back cabin. she said maybe they would reshuffle at the airport. I just thought I had been lumbered with a crappy seat and she hadn't really changed anything. However when we were boarding at the gate, the gate agent took one look at my boarding pass took mine and my other half's and wrote a new seat number. Once onboard my first 747, I discovered that kindly lady back at Paddington had made notes on the system to put me by the window and at the bulkhead with extra legroom.

I have to say I thought it was a very impressive trip and I would gladly book with BA any day.

Sorry to put a dampner on your "shoot down BA thread"
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RE: BA Check-In Experience

Fri Oct 17, 2003 7:43 pm

Why all the fuss?

I travel BA frequently and always find the check in service freindly, quick and professional. Too many sourpuss on this thread!
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RE: BA Check-In Experience

Sat Oct 18, 2003 1:20 am

JGPH1A - you may be correct, however it was the check-in girl herself who, when I asked why she didn't have two seats together, informed me that she was allocated a block of seats to fill on the aircraft. She made a point of asking her colleague to release two of the seats in his block of seats so I could sit with my partner (I once also experienced this with Singapore Airlines check-in at Auckland).
I've also used the Self-Service check-in (both BA and British Midland) however, on a couple of occassions, for whatever reasons, the system has advised me to check-in with the check-in staff direct.
As for the difference in the surnames I understood, perhaps wrongly, that if a booking was made on the BA reservations system whereby both names were entered and the same booking reference given, that this should show up on BA's check-in computer system that both parties are travelling together on the one booking (I don't seem to have this problem when I check-in with, say, British Midland or Air France for example - only BA).

BY188B - this thread is about BA check-in experience, hence some people have described their experiences. If you find BA helpful and professional that's fine, but don't expect everyone to have had the same experience. I also fly BA regularly (mainly for work) but, as stated above, I have not always found them as 'friendly, quick and professional' as you have. Your last comment about 'soupusses' is uncalled for and unneccessary.
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RE: BA Check-In Experience

Sat Oct 18, 2003 3:32 am

BY188B - Consider yourself lucky to have had only positive experience with BA check-in. However, if one day you experince what anyone of us have had experienced before, then you will understand our feelings. Regarding your comments about people on this page being "sourpuss", I believe you are only saying this because you like BA in general. If you look at most of the topics and the discussion in this website you will find a lot of gripping about other airlines too, its a shame, but it cannot be helped because its just the simple truth of what's going on in the airline industry.
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RE: BA Check-In Experience

Sat Oct 18, 2003 7:00 pm

Well, I'm sure there are BA staff who are rather rude & aloof, but I suspect it's not a trait unique to any one airline.

while check-in operatives sat around staring at their fingernails.

They should be fired on the spot. Why does the airline waste badly-needed money on idiots like these? I've seen the same with Aerolineas Argentinas staff at EZE - only this time they were playing with their mobile phones whilst pax waited like lemons in front of the desks; again, fire them all, and replace them with machines.

Of course, I'm not an apologist for BA but this business of sitting there at zero productivity should be stopped.
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RE: BA Check-In Experience

Sun Oct 19, 2003 10:35 am

After all the negative feedback of "check-in staff" I feel I must add some clarity here.

I was merely questioning the BA system at T4 - and it's handling of requests for offloading....I found the check-in staff themselves at T4 (and the QANTAS handling agents at MEL) to be excellent - particularly as on both occasions I requested an ailse seat (as per my QFF profile) - and on both occasions it was met with a smile and done. Lisa - the QF check-in agent at MEL - was excellent with her person-handling skills , opening up a bulkhead aisle seat which was "blocked" and taking me through the extra security procedures for late booking passengers (I only booked the flight 2 hrs prior).

PS My apologies for originally posting this thread on the GA board, but I thought this more suitable to the way BA handles it's passengers rather than a specific trip report!!
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RE: BA Check-In Experience

Tue Oct 21, 2003 6:15 am

I may have reported this on a trip report but my worse experience checking-in with BA was earlier this year at LGW-North...

After arriving well in time for the self-service check-in and "Fast" bag drop service - the self-service check-in machine could not find my (then) partner's booking - despite us both having checked-in "online" the night before.

We were told by the information counter to head over to the "fast" bag drop and drop our bags anyway and we would be issued with our boarding passes there.

At 0620am - the area looked like a refugee-zone with queues I have not seen for a long time. The "Fast bag drop" queue was full of other passengers with exactly the same problem where some passengers could find their bookings on the self-service machines but their companion(s) bookings were amiss.



Time was passing slowly and the queues were not shifting as quickly as the sheer number of people joining the queues...

A member of BA's ground-staff then came through the crowd shouting for passengers for Dublin and Marrakesh to come forward. Noticing that our flight to Amsterdam was actually one of the next to depart and it was departing BEFORE these other two flights called - I asked him if we should also jump the queue. I was asked abruptly if he had called for Amsterdam - to which I answered NO but mentioned to him that the Amsterdam flight happened to be leaving before the other two. He rudely told us to continue queueing and not to worry - the flight will not leave without us...

Once at the "fast Bag drop" - the staff realised that our flight had in fact closed (whilst we were queuing) and therefore had to ring through to the gate. Minutes continued to pass...

Once again, the rude staff then told us that we shouldn't have arrived so late and refused to accept that we HAD arrived way ahead of time but their self-service machines were faulty and told us that despite that - we should have given ourselves more time.... (which in effect negates the convenience and time saved by using their online check in service - one should ask!).

Anyway - we were then told that they were doing US a favour and the flight would wait for us before departing.

The cabin crew were unhelpful on arrival at the gate having run to the very last gate in the Terminal and the flight then picked up a further delay due to snow.

We arrived in one piece although someone probably spat in my tea but our bags never arrived Amsterdam until almost 16 hours later...

(oh and BA's agent at Amsterdam refused to deliver the bags to the Hotel although the Renaissance Hotel was superb and offered to collect them for us having overheard my outrage on the phone at the Concierge Desk)

Stretch 8
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RE: BA Check-In Experience

Wed Oct 22, 2003 8:53 pm

I think that check-in at any major airline hub is problematic. When I fky BA, check-in at my home airport (IAD) is a breeze compared to the Titantic-size lines in front of the United desks. Since I usually travel beyond LHR and back on BA, I find it a lot easier to check-in for my return at BA counters in places like Zagreb or Prague!
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