It’s another Whine Wednesday and today I’m writing about something that I experienced a few days ago at London Heathrow Terminal 5 while departing on British Airways: Lack of manned Service Counters.
The first long haul flight I was supposed to be on was to Bangkok, but you could hear announcements all over Terminal 5 C of other flights to Asia and North America being delayed for hours.
I didn’t manage to catch that connection and was rebooked first to Kuala Lumpur and then on the A380 Service via Hong Kong which ended up leaving with a 2h+ delay as well.
Now to the core of our Whine Wednesday: British Airways had no counters open in Terminal 5C for the entire afternoon and evening. There was a counter with one (1) representative in the lounge at Terminal 5B where you had to walk through the tunnel. The line was about 50 people deep by the time I reached the lounge to hang out due to my delayed flight, and I saw people waiting for the one agent right after the door opened.
If you want to take the train to Terminal 5 Connection Center you are being dumped in the arrivals area which is in front of the transit control and security. Yes, there are plenty of desks but it’s very far away from the C gates, and you probably can’t go through the transit control if you’re on a delayed flight unless BA endorses you in some way. Heathrow T5 has a cutoff at which you are no longer able to go through the checkpoints.
I heard people talking a bit and most of them missed their connections or wanted to get rebooked for the following day or alternate connections but they couldn’t get any BA staff to attend to them. Crazy!
Why don’t they (BA) have anybody working at these Help Desks and Rebooking Centers on a late afternoon/early evening when their operations are causing mayhem for the passengers?
Delay reasons as per the announcements were of a wide variety. Missing Catering, Security Team not available for the final sweep, Fueling, Medical Emergency. They had everything!
A situation such as this at an airline’s hub is shameful. I feel sorry for the passengers who really have nobody to approach, not even the one person at the lounge since they have to hang around the gate area. British Airways has to keep the appropriate amount of staff on duty to attend to distressed passengers, especially at their hub airport.
The way that Terminal 5 is designed is a complete disgrace too. You can’t properly transit between these terminals, especially going back to the main Terminal or leave T5 altogether without some effort. There isn’t also any lounge at T5 C, only a Starbucks and as luck has it most long-haul flights depart from there. Calling the entire Structure ‘Terminal 5’ is somewhat of a lie as well since these 3 areas (Main Terminal, Hall B, Hall C) are completely separate buildings connected by a tram. It’s not one terminal so the way BA advertises it is somewhat false in my opinion.