Charles Young

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Sunday, September 18, 2011 #

I'm sitting is a nice new hotel in Redmond - the Hotel Sierra is well worth considering if you are staying in the area. I'm sleep-deprived and jet-lagged, and it's raining hard outside, but hey, I just got to play with one of the Samsung tablets they handed out at Build, and was not disappointed.  Microsoft is doing something trully remarkable with Win8 Metro.
 
On the other hand, I am deeply disappointed with the UK flag carrier, British Airways. Indeed, I've lost patience with them big-time. So forgive me for getting this off my chest. I am very much in the mood to do as much reputational damage to them as I can.
 
When I checked in on-line, they had booked me into one seat but I could see another with more legroom (a front row). Because of repeated experience over the last few years with defective headsets (I always carry my own earphones these days after one flight here we went through three different headsets before finding one in which one of the earphones actually worked) and bad headset connections (having to constantly twiddle the jack to try to hear anything), I spent a little while consciously debating with myself the intangible risks of changing my seat – i.e., I could easily be swapping a ‘working’ seat for a broken ‘one’. Of course, there was no way to know, so I opted for the seat with more legroom.
 
MISTAKE! Forget about dodgy headsets. Nothing worked. Not even the reading light! Certainly not the inflight entertainment. They failed to show me the safety video (the steward did panic a little when he realised they had failed to comply with their legal obligations). So I sat for 9.5 hours in a grubby, worn-out cabin with nothing!
 
To be fair, they did offer to try to find me another seat (the plane was very full), but I opted for the legroom because I wanted to try to get some sleep. So I could probably have got in-flight entertainment. The point is, though, that this is now more than just an unfortunate couple of co-incidences over the last two or three years. I am reasonably fair-minded and understand that sometimes, with the best will in the world, things just go wrong.  In any case, I was bought up to put-up or shut-up (as my mother would say - it's part of the culture).  However, I am forced to conclude that this is now a repeated trend that I experience regularly to the point where I am consciously suspicious of the seats they give me, and clearly with good reason.  BA simply fails to maintain its cabins to anything like a reasonable or acceptable standard (I must trust they do a better job in maintaining the engines). I used to feel some patriotic pride in BA.  Not now.  It’s so sad to see the British flag carrier consistently deliver such an embarrasingly poor and second-rate service. I will be asking SolidSoft in future to, where possible, book me onto a different carrier and will do what I can to convince the company to use other carriers by default.
 
Personally, I think the UK government should give flag carrier status to someone else (Virgin, I guess).