British Airways re-sells travellers air tickets and keeps the money!

Ed’s note: Please be aware that when I travel I pay in full for my flights and do not get Media discounts or any kind of recognition from the airlines. The story that follows is a personal one and happened in the last two weeks. British Airways sold me a seat which they then sold to someone else without a refund to me. Now that for me is stealing.  If I bought a car and didn’t arrive on the day to fetch it would they sell it to someone else??? NO! ITS CALLED STEALING FROM PASSENGERS!!! HERE IS MY STORY. BA were asked for a comment and their answer was in essence “dead or dying, you should have put your kids in danger to get to the airport. We are keeping your money and that of the passenger that bought your seat!” SACommuter is wholly owned by myself and Anytime Media and Events is also wholly owned.

On booking my ticket to fly overseas I had to have a stopover in Porto. When I fly with various stops I always use a travel agent because if something goes wrong, the money I pay them as a service fee goes a long way to assisting me when I am travelling. In this case it made no difference!

I booked my airticket (see graphic alongside) to fly with TAAG from JHB via Luanda to Porto on the 27th September and with a connection to the UK on the 5th October 2017 returning Tuesday 17th to Porto for my return journey with TAAG.

I travelled around Portugal by car (on the other side of the road mind you!) with my daughter and her fiance meeting all his family and on my return day, returned to Porto. However, the fog was very bad and I was following Nuno’s brother when he took the turn off but I was in the wrong lane. I had no idea where I was and how to turn around. I do not have international roaming which is why I was not using a GPS but instead following someone.  We eventually ended up at the parents place after many wrong turns in the fog and a scary ride!

I contacted the travel agent immediately who informed me that BA had already cancelled the seat and not only that but also the return journey. NOW I GET THAT YOU CANCELLED THE ONWARD ONE BUT WHY THE RETURN. I BOUGHT AND PAID FOR THAT SEAT. YOU HAD NO RIGHT TO RESELL IT. NONE WHATSOEVER. IF YOU DID I DESERVE A REFUND!!!!

So now the fun started. I got a flight with Ryan Air for 80 Pounds – Far less than the R3952.00 I paid return with BA. But had to go via La Rochelle in France and to Standsted. Took all day to get to UK but I got to my son in the end.  I now contacted BA on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. They finally answered me on Twitter to say that since I missed the onward flight, the computer (please note there are no humans at BA, they fly humans not computers but they blame their computer) cancelled the rest and no refund unless dead or dying and death certificate would be needed!!! Really?? Seriously?? But if I wanted to book a journey back there was a business class seat (their response was they had the right to resell my ticket without refund because of the class ticket I bought and I should have read the small print) for R5000.  I said no and after my travel agent called Sue in Johannesburg and my husband, there was nothing that could be done. The computer could not be overturned. It had the final say. And customer service, well that department is now no longer operational it was too expensive to run!!! See review I wrote for BA on Trip Advisor. Bearing in mind I have 40,000 followers, I hope this makes an indent.

I bought a ticket with TAP (R2471.00) at a much lower cost than the requested R5000 and they were nice, efficient and absolutely got a 5 star rating from me on Trip Advisor  .

I got back to Johannesburg and tried to reason with BA. My questions were simple and again I was told “Tough Luck “:

  1. I get that I forfeited the onward journey, but you had no right to cancel my return. I paid for it I want a refund for that portion. My question – what right do you have to sell my seat to someone else and keep the money. I bought the seat and had every right for it to fly empty! On both sectors! I owned it for that time.
  2. How can you tell me to read the small print – dead or dying – great customer service. So I need to put my kids lives in danger (check the fog reading for that night in Porto) just so British Airways can prove a point !
  3. Here is some advice from a now seasoned traveller –
    1. Do not use a travel agent, it doesn’t make any difference on the large airlines. Take a risk and book a cheap airline. Learn to travel with less and so what if you get stranded. Enjoy the town you are stranded in and catch the next flight, train or bus.
    2. Do not book more than one sector at a time.  I was told by British Airways that a one way is more expensive than a return so that’s why they had to charge me a further R5000 after they already took the R3900 from me making it more expensive than a return flight between JHB and London).
    3. Where there is a cheap airline, use it.  Their customer service beats the non customer service of the big established airlines.
    4. Including my bus ticket into London the trip from Porto to UK with Ryanair cost me R1200.
    5. Do not use British Airways if you can help it.

In closing. I would never have written this article if I had a decent response from British Airways. At no time did I ask or request them to refund the entire ticket. I simply asked them to fly me back to Porto on the ticket I had paid for or refund me that portion.  They had the same reply all the time….Tough luck we won’t help you.  

Read the correspondence on our Twitter feed – @UKSAcommuter and Facebook SA Commuter Magazine and you will see their lack of customer service.

Ed’s note:  We had asked BA to quote on a wedding for 58 people to SA from UK. We have subsequently cancelled and bought the tickets through Virgin.  It was slightly more expensive but I at least know that our visitors will not have a nightmare when travelling. I contacted the CEO Alex Cruz on alex.cruz@ba.com and I was contacted by their Customer Relations with an auto response email. Their comment was as follows:

It states under section 3c of our Conditions of Carriage that if you don’t use the flights in sequence, your ticket becomes invalid and therefore is cancelled.  This is shown clearly on ba.com and is agreed to once you purchase a ticket with us.  Once this happens, the seat is released, although there’s no guarantee we’re able to sell the seat, especially so close to the departure.  This is shown by the six unsold seats on your return flight.  As you booked through a travel agent, it then becomes their responsibility to make you aware of this, as your contract lies with them.  You were correctly advised that we can extend the validity of a ticket under certain circumstances, but this isn’t one of those cases.  You may be entitled to a tax refund, however, you would need to contact your travel agent directly to process this.

You’ve mentioned that I didn’t respond to your query about reselling your ticket, however, this was covered in paragraph three.  On this matter I stated, “Once this happens, the seat is released, although there’s no guarantee we’re able to sell the seat, especially so close to the departure.  This is shown by the six unsold seats on your return flight.”  We’re sorry you’re upset with the outcome and have felt the need to post your disappointment on your blog and TripAdvisor. Please note that I was offered a business class seat for R5000 as my seat had been resold according to Sue Botes of BA in South Africa. And it’s in writing.

So there you have it. From the horses mouth. Miss one leg and forfeit the others.  And they keep the money even though they sell the seat you paid for!!!! Buy one way’s with cheap airlines. Its better that way.

The Traveller

As a worldwide traveller with an eye for something different, I started Travel Match. This initiative matches the Corporate Buyer or Event co-ordinator/Marketing Manager to not only share experiences with each other during an educational but also opens up a world of different ideas. Venues and activities now have a chance to meet buyers on a social level before getting down to business. I design educationals around fun and intuitive thinking and the Travel Match members love them.

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