I wouldn’t normally publish, or take the time, to even document an event such as this, but everyone deserves a thank you when they go above and beyond their job/s; and besides, it is more relevant to this site than it may seem!
An Open Letter to British Airways,
A little over a month ago, a chance arose for a long weekend in Nice, France, for the kids and me in September. I jumped online, managed to secure 3 return seats up front (thank you Avios) and all was good!
Despite London Heathrow being exceptionally busy, we got through security, after a short queue, and managed to find a spot in the corner of the Galleries South lounge for some lunch. Boarding was uneventful and as I had secured the kids into their seats, I felt it safe to provide them with Kinder Eggs, their reward for being well-behaved up until that point.
Quick Tip: If you have never travelled with kids before, either as a parent or guardian, from door to door, the whole trip is just a series of small bribes to keep them quiet and entertained!!
Sadly, 5 minutes after these sugary treats the Captain piped up to inform the now, fully loaded, B767 that due to severe storms over the South of France, we would not be taking off. He continued to inform us that he would like to keep everyone on the aircraft so if a window from Air Traffic Control were to open, we would be good to go. He expected the delay to be around an hour!!!
45 minutes later the Captain once again spoke to advise us another aircraft that had recently arrived at LHR, needed the gate. So now we were going to push back and park up elsewhere on the airfield. Once we found a not to busy side road off the main runway, the aircraft stopped, engines powered down and the seatbelt signs once again went off. Then another radio message!
We were going to sit here for at least another hour as the storms in France had not moved on as quickly as had been expected. It was at this point the Captain & crew sprung into action. Now, I have had my fair share of delays over the years, from 15 min to 8 hours after a lightning strike on an inbound aircraft, and even cancellations to the following day, but the crew on BA348 really did impress.
Now I should remind you during all of this, in my view, I had done a good job of keeping my 4 year old twins calm and entertained, despite the sugar rush I had administered at boarding. The Captain then appeared in the Business cabin to speak with the passengers as the cabin crew began handing out bottles of mineral water. He came up to my seat, introduced himself as Captain Richard Cook and commented on how well-behaved the children were being in such an unfortunate and unavoidable situation. He then made an offer I never knew was still allowed!
“Would the kids and you like to come and sit in the flight deck?” I thought that had all stopped after 2001! It was at this point the moment was ruined. A gentleman in his 50/60s, somewhat dramatically, entered the front cabin and at the top of his voice, informed everyone in Business that he was a Gold Card holder and had not yet been given some water to drink!! “Is this how you treat your most valuable customers?” he demanded.
Captain Cook excused himself, and along with a member of the cabin crew, dealt calmly and professionally with the “Gold Card Holder” before seeing him back to his seat. The Captain then returned straight to me and asked if we were interested. As a bit of a plane nerd, I was more excited than the kids, but the experience was brilliant and he and the first officer extended this offer to all the other young families on the aircraft! All while the cabin crew did not stop once, for which was nearly a 3 hour delay before we got going!
Those who know me personally will confirm I’m not a big fan of British Airways at present, due to the many unwelcome changes they are making, but this thank you is not to the airline, but to the whole team on BA348 to Nice on September 9th.
The crew may have had worse situations to deal with in the past, but for this frequent traveller, who has held nearly all of the status levels and travelled many, many miles with BA, you performed out of your skins during this tricky delay! If I had any of the Golden Tickets BA supply to Gold Card Holders to thank members of staff, I would have shared it with you all.
From me and the kids, Thank You.
Oh, and how does all of the above fit in to this site? Well, if you ever get invited “up front” of a BA jet the flight crew have a clever little app on their iPad. While you are sat at the controls you can pose for a photo. The Captain or First Officer will then hand the iPad to enter your email address, which you do, and click send. When it arrives you will be surprised to see, not only the image, but a smart border capturing all the information!
New BA Challenge, one of the above images from the flight deck of every aircraft BA operate. GO!