Monday, December 04, 2006

My worst flight experience so far

Well, this is not a "complaint post". But I have completed a 36 hours of travelling. It was very unfortunate that I could not get to book my travel on my favourite airline - Singapore Airlines. It was so fully booked that I could not even get on the waitlist even if I am an Elite Gold KrisFlyer. Anyhow, that's where it all started...

I was booked on Qantas to fly to London, and transit to Philadelphia by British Airways. It all started wrongly! Qantas was late for departure for 1 hour.... and I thought that was fine, anyway, I have 3 hours of transit time... the weather came in. Heathrow was closed, the plane was diverted (and we only got to know very late in the travel... and not through the captain first! But via the Travel Map on my console directly infront of me).

Then, again, who can "blame" that pilot? It is the weather... we touched down at Amsterdam. They collected our head-sets. Switched off the entertainment system.... and were not allowed to disembark the plane. We were stucked in the plane for 2 hours - as if my 18 hours of flight is insufficient!

We were not served any coffee / tea (as hinted by the captain). We were not served any food (they did not cater for this). We were left hungry... and meanwhile, my plane over in London is approaching boarding time.

The cruel joke was that some passengers were actually going to Amsterdam. They were not allowed to disembark (well, who can blame them "again"?) But they were forced to fly to London (which we don't know when the airport will be reopen again). Anyhow...

We did fly off to London (and guess what? is my baggage going to Philadelphia directly or is it not?)...

We arrived at Heathrow. Honestly, that's not my favourite airport. It is supposed to be "International".... but they really need to upgrade it. The line that leads to Terminal 4 was very long. Due to the long backlogs... meanwhile my time is ticking away.

The strange thing about travelling in Heathrow airport is that they ONLY allow 1 baggage. Fine for me... not so fine for many ladies who are carrying their laptop + handbag. Anyhow, none of my business... let's move on with the queue.

After the customs check, I went to the Connection Flights counter or the staff just at the end of the queue. To my dismay, I could not catch my connecting flight on time.... I will need to reboard and get another boarding pass.

And guess how long we waited at the Connection Flights queue?


3 hours!

At one point, we were so hungry (remember? we were not served any food on our Qantas flight?), some passengers actually flared up. One obnoxious manager came out and said this to a complaining customer:

"Sir, what do you expect me to do? If you are not satisified with our service, I am very willing to switch you to another airline."

Absolutely, horrendous serivce by a British Airways ground staff. There are 8 counters and only 4 are opened (2 of them goes to Business class, 2 attends to Economy)... and the queue at the Economy is 20 times longer than the business class. Well... again... who can blame them, right? They are just doing the "right" thing.

Sometimes, I really think good service goes beyond the "right" thing.

And to add on to the injury - my baggage is still left behind at Heathrow!

So, I came to Philadelphia with just my laptop. Tired and hungry with no change of clothes.

One thing for sure - given a chance I will NEVER travel by Qantas and British Airways. And certainly not going through Heathrow airport. It is a terrible experience. The travel experience given by both air liners were way below what I believe is "International" standards. I believe there are worst ones... but that's not the point. If they want to provide service for international customers, they need to lift up to the image. Not to mention that it protrays a bad image as a national airliner to both countries.