Oh how the mighty have fallen. A decade ago, British Airways referred to itself as “the world’s favorite airline”. Now, they are quickly becoming the world’s worst.
After their planned strike was canceled, it became obvious that staff morale was at an all time low – something that became painfully obvious last Friday night at London Heathrow. A flight arriving from Prague got into the airport over an hour late, mainly due to the bad London weather.
Sadly, the baggage handling team at terminal 5 reached the end of their work day, and nobody at British Airways was willing to authorize overtime pay. End result — luggage stays on the plane, and the staff all go home.
Passengers had to wait for hours till the morning crew arrived at the airport. Some of these customers had been stuck at the airport for almost 6 hours. Of course, British Airways blamed everything on the bad weather, and apologized for the situation. Sadly, this is the same airline that once left 100’s of bags out in the rain, so they have a pretty nasty history in dealing with luggage.
The airline industry must be excited to see 2009 coming to a close. It was a year of route cuts, perk cuts and abuse from passengers over all kinds of sacrifices in the cabin … and a genuine commitment to fees for extra bags. The global financial crisis triggered in September 2008 hit the travel industry with extra severity, forcing airlines, famous for not being able to generate easy profits anyway, to scramble to keep their heads above water. But, at least there’s next year … not really.
While nobody with even shred of sense expected 2010 to be the year the airline industry went wheels up, the latest prediction from the International Air Transport Association is pretty grim. IATA expects the sector to lose $5.6 billion next year, thanks to higher fuel costs and revenue declines because of lower fares. This is worse than the $3.8 billion it originally forecasted. The number of passengers filling seats, IATA believes, will increase, but it won’t be enough to make a difference.
There’s good news in here. Continued brutal competition will keep fares low, so if you missed your chance to take that dream trip this year, you’ll have another bite at the apple in 2010. For the airlines … well, there isn’t any good news. But, is there ever?
[Photo by emrank | counting days | via Flickr]
When American Airlines started to charge a $2 fee for curbside baggage check-in, the skycaps lost their tips. Passengers were accustomed to paying $2 or so, it seems, and weren’t going to amp up the cash flow just because the money was going into a different pocket. So, nine Logan Airport skycaps – current and former – just came into $325,000, thanks to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled based on a law intended to protect wages and tips.
American Airlines tried to get by on a technicality, saying eight of the nine skycaps were subcontractors (working for G2 Secure Staff) and thus weren’t protected. The court disagreed, favoring broader protection. But, it isn’t over yet. American Airlines, according to a report in USA Today, is evaluating “all of its legal options.”