Well, it happened. The British Airways cabin crews did indeed go on strike and that’s bad for BA, bad for the cabin 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:
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.