A traveller’s tale – (‘Terminal trouble at T5’ continued)

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

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Another day, another visit to the local department store to buy some more clothes here in Fort Lauderdale. Another day without my suitcase, still missing from BA 209 on Saturday (see earlier BLOG – ‘Terminal Trouble at T5’). Another day of wondering if there is any intelligent or caring life form left at British Airways.

Every day since this case study began BA has assured me and Mary, my trusty PA in London, that the case (which has at least been found) is about to be loaded on the next flight. Every day they have managed to find an excuse not to load it.

And I am one of the lucky ones. It transpires there were 190 bags missing from Saturday’s flight from T5 into Miami International. Most, including those of The Moodie Report Online Content Editor Matt Willey and Nick Woodward and his colleague Emma from William Grant have seemingly disappeared into the T5 equivalent of the Bermuda triangle. 

Today I read that the luggage of a passenger who died on a BA flight on 2 April is among the items lost in the initial T5 baggage fiasco and still not found.  “I have no energy left to get angry about this,” wrote the man’s son on pilot and cabin crew website Pprune.

That tale puts any of our woes in perspective. But one wonders exactly who at BA is showing energy and is getting angry on behalf of the airline’s fast-dwindling consumer base.

As I write I am looking at the glossy T5 brochure produced by BA. “So calm, you’ll just flow through” it says on the cover. “High speed baggage system you can rely on” it continues on page 6, adding with a delicious daring of fate: “Along the whole 18km of belts there are state-of-the-art label scanners to ensure your bags are where they should be, when they should be. So wherever you’re headed, you can rest assured your bags will be going there too”.

Er… yes. With just the small qualification that there may be several weeks in between.

A colleague mentioned yesterday that a BAA executive had said my earlier report indicated I was ‘sulking’ about losing my bag. Once companies start reacting that way to genuine consumer concerns there is only one direction ahead, downwards.

In fact I am remarkably sanguine about losing a bag. It’s happened before and I am quite capable of making do. I am less sanguine though about the lack of response since the debacle, and I am certainly less sanguine on behalf of all those travellers who were bound for the trip of a lifetime on an island cruise. Like me, none of them are sulking – all of them are just shaking their heads and wondering how something that promised so much could have gone so badly wrong.

I feel sorry for others too who are innocently tainted by BA’s incompetence – notably the World Duty Free team who have put together a fine retail offer at T5. In fact I think the wines & spirits offer may be one of the two best in the world (alongside Changi T2 and T3, run by DFS Group).

But consumers are not only likely to a) avoid the terminal or b) ignore the shops if they do use T5; but c) actually feel resentment at the clear evidence of heavy investment in such ancillary services when the core business of an airline and an airport cannot be carried out with anything even approaching Keystone Cops competence.

World Duty Free – again, I emphasise, an innocent party – must have thought it had combated virtually every external threat possible in recent years: terrorism, war, intra-EU duty free abolition, disease, strikes, fog and economic recession. Add to that list an equally serious (but wholly preventable) new dynamic – incompetence.

Meantime, stay tuned for the ongoing saga in The Case of The Moodie Report…

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  • I have been trying since Monday but to no avail to get an updated status on Martin and Matts luggage. A recorded message at BA tells you to check with the on-line tracking service – this has not been updated since Sunday!I have spent 15mins 3/4 times per day waiting to get through to speak to a ‘human’ at BA. Whilst I understand to some degree the problem is not completely the fault of BA I am at a loss as to understand why they do not have sufficient staff to man the telephones. I have resorted to phoning reservations and asking to be put through to the lost baggage department. As Martin said they keep telling me his bag is tagged and ready to go on the BA209 but it never materialises and they cannot confirm if it has been put on the flight until it arrives at its destination – how Irish is that!. As for Matts bag – that is no where to be found!!! I have just spoken to BA and advised Matt is departing from Miami tomorrow and when they find his bag can it be returned to his UK address – watch this space!!!!!!!!

    A tired and frustrated Mary @ HQ