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British Airways and US Airways – Travel to Pittsburgh

January 2009

I thought someone might like to share share our experience of travel on these two (not so great) carriers:
Saturday 10th JanuaryAfter check-in and security at Newcastle airport we (Traveller 1, Traveller 2, Traveller 3, Traveller 4 and myself) were told our flight was delayed.

Following several announcements that the extent of the delay was substantial we approached British Airways staff for advice about our connection out of London on US Airways. We were told that that this was something we should discuss with US Airways or our travel agent, not with British Airways.

We boarded the plane and we are then told the flight was delayed a further two hours. We were now aware that we would definitely miss our connection. We asked the aircrew what to do and we are told that they didn’t know and couldn’t help.

They advised us to go to the connections desk in Terminal 5 at Heathrow.

We went to the connections desk at Terminal 5 and were told that we should see the person at the customer services desk in the ground floor of Terminal 1.

We visited the customer services desk in Terminal 1 and we were told that British Airways couldn’t help, we were told that we should go to the US Airways office.

We went to the US Airways office and found it was closed.

We rang our travel agent who advised us that they couldn’t tell us what to do next or how our delay will be managed (for accommodation, re-bookings etc). They helpfully tell us we should pay for a hotel ourselves and pay for the rebooking on Sunday’s flight.

We find another BA Customer Services desk and approach them. They told us that missing our connection at Heathrow is not their problem but suggest that they can ensure we are booked on Sunday’s flights on US Airways.

This they did, informing us in the process that for some reason this had already done for Traveller 1, Traveller 2 and Traveller 3 but not for Traveller 4 or Myself.

British Airways were unable to inform us how we might get hold of our bags (checked at Newcastle) or where these might be.

We called the travel agent again to see if they could book us a hotel and charge the cost back to our employer. They tell us “no”, they offer to book the rooms but tell us that we will have to pay ourselves.

We sought advice from the airport hotel service who recommend a moderately priced London hotel. We then asked the travel agent to book this.

We paid then for travel to London, walked to our hotel, and went out for a meal. We were all pretty much shattered at this stage having left home at 7:30am and finally checking in to a hotel at 6:30pm. We still were not sure know if we were going to be OK on Sunday’s flights or whether we would be charged for a change of flight.

Sunday 11th January

We paid for breakfast at the hotel and checked out. We walked to Paddington Station and caught a train back to airport. Copies of all hotel and travel receipts are attached.

We tried to check in at US Airways, are told that our tickets were not correctly issued and we needed to go to discuss this with BA.

We got to the BA Customer Services desk again, they issued us with copies of documentation and we went back to the US Airways desk and tried again to check in.

Again US Airways told us that the documentation was still wrong and they took the papers themselves to BA. They then booked us into seats on our flight to Philadelphia.

We asked if our bags were safe and we were assured that they were.

We arrived at the gate to board our plane and two of us were told our seats were no longer available and we had been placed elsewhere on the plane.

I asked if his seat still had additional legroom and was told not to worry about it.

We boarded the plane and found that the seat I was assigned had less legroom than the bulk of the seats on the plan and that the back of the seat did not recline at all as it was hard against a toilet wall.

The other seat that was reassigned was used by crew who slept on much of the (daytime) trip to Philadelphia.

Upon trying to plug the headset in on my seat I found that the light, headphone socket, and stewardess call button on that seat row did not work at all.

We arrived in Philadelphia and my bag arrived. None of the other bags arrived for the other travellers.

I rechecked my bag to Pittsburgh and was told that my seat had been given to someone else. I was told that I did not have a seat on the Pittsburgh flight and the flight was full. I was told to go to the lounge and speak to the US Airways desk there.

We all went to the lounge but no one was working. We had a meal and returned closer to flight time. A seat had now been allocated to me.

We reported the loss of the other bags upon arrival in Pittsburgh and we were told we would be kept informed regarding progress with finding them.

Two days later we still had had no notification from the airline that the bags had been found or even how the search was going. The online service told us little.

Tuesday 13th January

On Tuesday night three travellers received their bags at the hotel (11pm). Still no sign of the final bag or update on its whereabouts.

Wednesday 14th January

On Wednesday night at 2am the final bag arrives.

Thursday 15th January

On Thursday we realized that our connection time of 54 minutes at Philadelphia will not allow us enough time to catch the bus from the terminal the plane arrives in, clear security and board our international flight. We asked our office to get us on an earlier flight from Pittsburgh.

My PA contacted the travel agent and was told that my booking on the flight from London to Newcastle on 17th January had been cancelled by person or persons unknown. She was also told that the Trust will be charged £110 per person to change the flight times of our Pittsburgh to Philadelphia flight. She was further told that my employer had been notified that I and Traveller 4 were “no-Shows” on the Newcastle to Heathrow flight.

Two other things to note: US Airways charge for all alcohol on international flights. They also charge for headsets.

One comment on “British Airways and US Airways – Travel to Pittsburgh

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