Excellent British Airways Strike Communication, Air France Fails to Impress

Well, it happened. The British Airways cabin crews did indeed go on strike and that’s bad for BA, bad for the Strikecabin crews, and most importantly, bad for passengers. The good news, however, is that the communication has been truly excellent throughout the entire process. It’s particularly good when you compare it to Air France and its upcoming possible strike. They’ve really blown it.

Let’s start with BA. There’s no question that the strike sucks. A lot of flights have been canceled, but according to BA, all flights that were planned to operate have operated. The cabin crew’s union, however, says that it’s mass chaos. Who to believe? Probably the airline. For example, Unite says “By 2pm, only one flight to JFK airport had departed – normally there are five.” That’s not true. there are normally five flights per day on Saturday but only 3 are scheduled before 2p. Two of those were canceled so yes, only 1 flight operated, but the last two flights which were scheduled after 2p operated as well. I believe that was the plan.

BA has also done a very good job with its policies here. Anyone who wanted to change or get a refund was welcome to do so without penalty long before they even knew if the strike would actually happen. They have been putting out flight status information 8 full days in advance so you can really know if your flight can be expected to go or not and make alternate plans with plenty of advance notice. We have a Cranky Concierge client flying on the 29th and his flight is going so far. It’s just nice to know that the information is there and they’ve been able to maintain their schedule.

BA CEO Willie Walsh is putting out daily video updates on the strike talking about how things are going (well, in his opinion). The video communication adds a nice touch, I think.

The airline has even gone as far as buying Google keywords. Search for “ba strike” and you’ll see this:

BA Strike Google Keyword

That takes you to a page with BA strike updates. They are also putting updates out via Twitter. It’s been an impressive effort in an awful situation.

Now let’s talk about Air France. It’s just pathetic in comparison. Air France cabin crews have said they’ll strike March 28-31, perfectly timed to overlap with the second half of the BA strike. (French and British cooperating?!? The world is ending.) So how is Air France handling this? They aren’t.

If you go to their website, you won’t even find a mention of the strike, at least not anywhere I’ve found. We have another Cranky Concierge client flying on Air France on May 31, so we decided to look into the possibility of pushing the trip one day to happen after the strike.

First, I tried to tweet Air France to see if they were allowing changes for people traveling during the strike period. I never received a response. So I called Air France a couple days later and they informed me that since they don’t know if the strike will happen, they aren’t allowing any changes. If the strike happens, then you can change. Something tells me that if the strike happens, things will be much worse for passengers on Air France than they have been for BA passengers. Then again, maybe French passengers are used to it since striking is a national tradition.

So, kudos to British Airways for dealing with an awful situation quite well and Air France, boo on you.

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23 Comments on "Excellent British Airways Strike Communication, Air France Fails to Impress"

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David SF eastbay
Member

“””””Then again, maybe French passengers are used to it since striking is a national tradition.”””””

I was thinking the same thing before I read what you wrote……lol.

BA was smart to make plans ahead of time in case there were strikes including chartering other planes/airlines to fly their passengers. Should be interesting if it really worked for them as it could set a tone for other airline workers who want to strike. They may learn an airline can make successful plans before hand and not cause the mass chaos striking unions hope for.

Jason H
Guest

I’m not surprised you didn’t get a response when you tweeted Air France. There aren’t a lot of carriers that are making good use of social media to connect with their passengers. It’s a shame, but it isn’t shocking when you look at how businesses have been so reactionary to new ways of communicating with their customers.

Joey
Guest

Thanks for this article, it is good to see BA trying.
Striking is such a touchy subject and can really hurt brand loyalty. It is of utmost importance to make sure that those inconvenienced the most are being communicated and made very aware of the situation. I won’t try to argue the merits of the strike, but I will applaud BA for making an significant effort to reduce the long term losses.

JM
Guest

Brett,

What’s your take on BA’s wet-leases of other aircraft from other airlines to fill in during the strike?

http://www.britishairways.com/travel/flights-option-2/public/en_gb
http://www.britishairways.com/travel/strike-ballot-2/public/en_gb?refevent=strikelhn_strike-ballot-2

I know we’ve seen wet-leases on other airlines during strikes (and, of course, for other operational issues like aircraft shortages, too), but still.

Seems to me that BA is going to great lengths to serve its customers here, too.

Also ironic that Ryanair is on the charter list and flying into Heathrow, isn’t it?!

JM

shingles
Guest

And TAP Portugal is also taking the “Air France” approach apparently – some comment here

http://insidetraveller.co.uk/blog/?p=864

that rather supports your thesis, and more…

Nick Barnard
Member

Hrm, BA has really outplanned the union here.

So, the question is are CHAOS style strikes legal in the UK? And do you think they work Cranky?

jgjohnson2
Member

Then again, maybe French passengers are used to it since striking is a national tradition.

And such behavior is uncommon in Britain? But then again, let’s consult history…

“The English disease”: the supposed predilection of British workers to opt for strike action. In the United Kingdom in the 1960s and 1970s, strikes were commonly used by workers for dispute resolution (BNET Business dictionary)

Matthias
Guest

The Air France strike was cancelled …

Matthias
Guest

… But it seems that Lufthansa will go on strike starting on April 13

Ron
Guest

Interesting. My dad’s in the UK now and he’s a die-hard BA loyalist, but this time he flew on a different carrier (probably for the first time in a decade or more) — not because of the strike (I’m not sure he was aware of it) but because he wasn’t able to find a decently priced seat on BA. He bought his ticket not too far out, I wonder whether the looming strike and possibly pre-cancellations was what made BA availability so scarce.

Trav
Guest

Interesting article. I wonder if BA are actually trying or if it’s just typical marketing spin?

ST
Guest

It is trying. Ask the passengers who’ve benefited. A gimmick in this instance would have backfired badly.

kt74
Guest

I agree with your assessment, and, on balance, it seems BA is winning the battle for “hearts and minds” here in the UK… It is interesting that they are getting riled at the union’s attempts to inflame the media though:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/7498489/British-Airways-in-gagging-row-over-strike.html

M O Neal
Guest

http://connexionfrance.com/air-france-plane-cabin-crew-strike-called-off-abandoned-11520-view-article.html

Air France Strike has indeed been cancelled. They didn’t do anything about it because they were confident that they would reach an agreement. When I spoke to the staff 3 days ago they were sure that it would not go ahead. Therefore kudos to both Air France and their union for willing to negotiate. Boo to BA for being a bunch of stubborn idiots. I never thought I would see the French handle a strike so well.

tom
Guest
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