Review: The BA Experience

On the morning of our big trip to Santorini we headed over to Heathrow (Terinal 5), our flight was with BA (British Airways). We had booked assistance as the children both have different things they struggle with. I did try to talk over the phone to see what assistance we could get, but they wouldn’t discuss, just told me to speak to staff at the assistance desk on arrival. So that’s what I did. They completely denied that assistance exists. But eventually stamped our tickets for fast track through security, though did mention the soft play directly to the kids – worst idea ever. They can’t deal with that stuff when they are anxious, but now they had been told about it, so as it was still quite early, we headed straight over in the hopes they could have a quiet 10 minutes in there. They did. I was already quite miffed going into it, because BA had changed their on-board food policy – we booked with them due to the complimentary food and drink service, so we would be comfortable in the knowledge the kids would have ample snacks/drinks. No notification, no compensation. Just a change – totally ethical, right? Nope.

But there was a lady at the boarding gate, who’s name I now forget, who I spoke to about the children’s difficulties. She invited us to come on through and board first, and offered apologies about how we’d been treated. Feeling slightly better we boarded, to have the rebuilt confidence taken away – the on-board snack service which could only accept electronic payment, was unable to take card payments as it wasn’t working, so tried to get the system working. 90 minutes into the flight, they gave up and processed all payments manually, on paper. It took ages, so many people got nothing until quite close to the end of our 4-hour flight.

Overall though, the flight wasn’t too bad, a bit of turbulence, and for a small airport, Arrivals was quite efficient. We got through passport control, baggage collection and exited the building rather swiftly, where our transfer was waiting.

Then there was the return journey. Santorini airport is way too small to deal with the demands that are being placed upon it. It needs expansion and an organisation shake up. In the interim, I honestly advise that it’d be far less hassle and far more enjoyable to get the ferry to Athens and fly back from there. They weren’t very organised and put people through security before they were ready to take passport control, sent everyone to the boarding gate and then made everyone clear out of the boarding gate so they could then do passport control, meaning we had to all leave at once in a mad rush and linger in a crowd where people were coming through security.

When I mentioned to the passport control officer that the way they had done it was completely inappropriate (Logan by this time was in full swing panic attack mode) – pointed to Logan and said “it’s upsetting children” She started shouting at me. I said I was just giving feedback, she continued shouting… I walked into the boarding area, she followed me, still screaming in my face in front of all the other passengers. I told her “you are shouting at an adult in front of a child and making the situation worse. I was just feeding the situation back to you. You are still shouting.”

Again, the boarding team were great – having witnessed the ordeal (and seen other passengers offering up seats/offering biscuits) they put us through boarding first. But then there was an issue with the plan (on landing an electrical fault had flashed up so they had to reboot the plane). It meant we were stuck on the bus on the runway in afternoon heat for about 30 minutes. But eventually we got on the plane and our journey home commenced. This was a much more enjoyable service, with the on-board facilities working as they should have been.

Overall, I have had far better experiences flying with easyJet, but I am in no hurry to get back on a plane in all honesty.

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