There is very little more de-humanising than public transport air travel.
Airlines earn themselves reputations and monikers. Belgian's national airline, Sabena, ended up being know as "Such A Bad Experience Never Again". Which I always thought was little unfair. I used to fly with them twice a month shuttling from Edinburgh to Brussels and I never found that they deserved such a reputation.
They still went bust though.
Now British Airways have a different moniker. And I do feel that thiers, related to their awful customer service, is well deserved.
And I had to fly with them again today. What a pity.
I had done everything right. Checked in online. Reserved my seat. Everything.
Then BA's incompitence struck. They wiped all my data. Everything.
I turned up at the airport to find that "You have not checked in Sir. No you haven't. The computer says so".
It did not matter that I had the confirmation email on my phone, checked in status on the BA iPhone App. Not a jot. The computer said "no" so all evidence in the rest of the Universe was irrelevant.
"Did you pay for the seat?"
Of course I paid for the seat. I mean, an arm and a leg for the seat. BA doesn't fly people around the world for free you know. In fact, this seat cost so much that I could reasonably expect to be sitting in the pilot's lap!
I didn't say any of this but smiled and confirmed.
"No. Did you pay extra for the seat?"
Extra! Good grief! Extra?! You have to pay extra on BA for a seat? Ryanair must be green with jealousy on this one (for American friends Ryanair are a cheap airline that tries to weasle every last penny out of you. They famously said they were going to start charging people to go to the toilet on the airplane!).
No. I hadn't paid extra. I thought paying the equivalent GDP for a third world nation for the ticket was probably enough.
I didn't say that either but just smiled instead.
No joy. Squashed in a crappy seat right at the back for 11 hours. As if flying wasn't bad enough. I tweeted my thoughts on the matter.
BA tweeted back. Phone this customer service number. Which I did.
First time they just cut me off. Second time they eventually admitted this can happen if they "change the configuration of the aircarft". What? They decided to use one with wings for a change? "No, there are no seats available in your category". What about other categories? "No. We wont upgrade you for this".
Eh? Something that was clearly their fault? Last time I was getting on a BA flight from SFO the two people in front of me hadn't checked in so were upgraded so they could sit together. How nice. Turns out with BA if you don't do the right thing you're treated better than if you do. And they never apologise. No. It's your fault you know.
Yes. My fault for choosing this airline. I guess I should have flown Virgin instead.
PS. When I showed my ticket getting on the aircraft the cabin crew spotted that I was the 18th person to check-in for that flight. They were flabergasted that BA had then forced me into such a crap seat after so obviously being so prompt with my check-in. Didn't make a blind bit of difference though. 11 hours of squashed up hell.