British Airways ground crew demonstrating excellence

You all probably know how annoying it can be when you reach the airport gate, only to find that your flight is overbooked, which is exactly what happened to me today, en route from London Heathrow Airport to Budapest, which ended very happily, thanks to British Airways’ excellent customer service.

I always try to travel economy class, but as a holder of Star Alliance’s gold card, they always take very good care of me. I haven’t travelled with BA for while, but this time I had booked an economy class ticket on my way from Heathrow London to Budapest, with no BA loyalty or mileage card. I did not make a big deal of it when I received the news that my flight was overbooked, even if I got up at five o’clock in the morning in order to reach my nine o’clock flight. I am now booked on a flight set to leave London Heathrow at 2:30 PM.

So I remained calm.

What happened next, however, impressed me deeply. I was taken to a back office, where I, in an exemplary way, received a detailed explanation for the delay.

“We are truly sorry, but will try to compensate you, the best way we know how,” said the BA representative, offering:

– An upgrade, including full access to the BA lounge, with all facilities at my disposal.

– A substantial refund, in the shape of a card for use in the airport’s shops, which could be converted into a prepaid VISA card and that will last for a few months.

But what impressed me the most was the genuine personal service. With service like that, you’re almost happy you lost the flight, and it only goes to show that British Airways really values the importance of good customer service. Whereas some of us become a little defensive in the face of criticism, at BA they encourage it, as a competitive edge and a means of improvement.

We could all learn a lesson from that, I think, emphasising how important customer service really is.

With all of this in mind you may be happy to learn that HSMAI Europe is planning to set up an Advisory Board on Service Operation.

If you know of somebody who would like to front this effort, please do not hesitate to contact us – at

To BA’s Jacqueline Jolly and Sharon Fernandez – and all of your colleagues at Heathrow: Thank you so much for an inspiring experience!

Photo: British Airways Customer Service Representative Jacqueline Jolly, HSMAI Europe President and CEO Ingunn Hofseth, and Sharon Fernandez, British Aurway’s Terminal Manager at Heathrow.