Documenting the British Airways IT Fiasco

Hi British Airways! Unfortunately you have forced my hand in regards to getting my luggage back, compensation and reimbursement for incurred expenses, and all the other general hassle I was put through during your IT outage. This post will document the fall-out afterwards and serve as a warning to others who are flying on British Airways.

By the way, this blog is pretty big and this post will be seen by a lot of people. Feel free to email me if you’d like some of my website analytics! Yes, there are a lot of travel blogs that have reported on this disaster as “news”—but not many of them (if any) were flying BA that day. This post will be updated with the entire run-around and poor customer service you have put me through.

You have a chance to make amends…

Here is the updated timeline, with the whole story below.

5/27/17 (Morning): I was delayed 24 hours by British Airways IT disaster.

I was in Warsaw, Poland and was FLOWN INTO LONDON AND THEN STRANDED. 

5/27/17 (Evening): I was not offered a hotel or a ride, and had to find it myself. I was told I would be reimbursed (and have not been in full, see below).

Finally, after calling and begging American Airlines (whom I’m an executive cardholder with), I was rebooked. AA’s customer service in London was poor (they told me to bug off and that I was BA’s problem), but since then they have been good.

5/30/17: I sit down and file all my claims with British Airways.

  • #1: For reimbursement of my hotel, food, and taxi/London Underground expenses (which went £50 over their budget and they will not pay).
  • #2: For reimbursement of clothing and necessities—I was without my bag for days, had no idea when it would arrive, and needed clothes
  • #3: Under EU261 I am entitled to 600 Euros

5/31/17: I call and get a nice girl who helps me out with my claim for hotel, food, and taxi—albeit she will not cover the additional 50 pounds owed.

She re-files my second claim, tells me the third claim is under investigation, and that’s all.

6/3/17: I call to Customer Relations, the office is closed. I still have heard nothing about any other claim.

I receive the first payment for hotels, transit, and food—albeit it doesn’t cover my whole bill.

6/5/17: I call Customer Relations again and they approve payment for my clothes and toiletries and my EU261 compensation claim ($673).

Will update when received.

6/8/17: Both payments received. My beef is over.

The Story: May 27th, Saturday

I arrived for my flight in Warsaw’s Chopin Airport, outbound to London at 11:45am. Everything was smooth up until about ten minutes before, when the boarding was delayed.

For the next hour, no updates were given—the delay just kept being pushed back. Finally we were told by the Polish BA staff that there was a global IT outage for British Airways. They said it would be very likely that my second flight (London to Phoenix) would be delayed, too.

About two hours after, we were bound for London. Little did I know I was flying into the biggest airline shit-show I’ve ever seen (and I travel a lot!).

Why Fly Us Into London?

It turns out that the computers in London were NOT yet up…and it turns out they wouldn’t be. For a very long time.

Why British Airways flew everybody who was in other countries to London and then stranded them is beyond me.

Once I landed at Heathrow, I was told different things by every single person who worked for British Airways. American Airlines, whom I am an executive card holder with (and whom I originally booked the flight), would not help me. They said it was BA’s problem.

The customer service for American in London was abysmal, too—they are guilty as well. At least they were helpful after the fact and got me re-booked some eight hours later.

Finally, I was told that British Airways could NOT find me a hotel because all of their computers were down.

After walking around all of Heathrow’s five terminals trying to get a hotel, and being turned away (it was a holiday!), I managed to get some WiFi and book via Booking.com.

The room was £219—although British Airways made it very, very clear they would only cover…

Now, considering this was London and that it was a holiday weekend, I found these prices absurd. Most hotels that I saw were £700+.

Of course, all hotels were so far away from the airport, I got stuck with a £75 taxi bill—which I had to wait an hour for.

And £25 for food in London is a joke.

But anyways…

I Stayed the Night, and Got Rebooked

…on American.

Yes, it took going to a hotel that I booked myself, on a taxi ride I had to foot the bill for, and then managed to get myself rebooked on American by calling and begging them for assistance.

The laughable part is that they still had to get their own IT department on staff to override BA’s hold on my flight.

I finally arrived late on Sunday, May 28th—24 hours after I was supposed to.

The Aftermath

British Airways, I direct this at you.

I want full reimbursement of all my expenses—yes, the extra £19 for my hotel and the £25 for the taxi. The £7 for the metro ride back would be nice, too—you’re welcome for saving you money there.

It is not worth my time to fight you on this at all, but I am going to anyway on principle.

I also expect a full reimbursement of my costs that I incurred—I had to go out and buy all new clothes and toiletries, as I had no idea when my luggage would actually show up (it was finally Wednesday that it did—via American. You just sent me an email yesterday saying you still had it…).

And I want the 600 Euros entitled to me under EU261.

That’s all. Make it happen.

  • June 3, 2017
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