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Caught at heathrow,,,

London, United...
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Caught at heathrow,,,

Yep, I had the misfortune of trying to catch a flight out of heathrow on Friday morning. Hoped I could get out before the snow came and flight was booked a couple of weeks ago and I was staying at an airport hotel.

Arrived at 8.15 am for a 10. 25 flight. And yes, did the delayed, boarded de boarded dance, then the fun started...

Announcement,,,Flight cancelled, please collect your luggage and recheck in for 6 pm flight. So as i am waiting for luggage I book a Eurostar ticket to Brussels. I will just leave and catch the train.

Wait for an hour for bags, then it's announced, sorry, baggage is still on plane, flight not cancelled, flight delayed, we've cancelled the 6pm one instead and our flight goes in that slot.

I ask can I get my luggage, answer no way, go up stairs get a new boarding pass. I do it as I don't want to lose my luggage., we are all queuing at ticket desk, then moved over to a check in desk, another announcement,,sorry, the luggage is actually off the plane. What?, ok, how do I get back down and collect my luggage? We will take you down. Another announcement,, Wait, sorry, that's wrong. Luggage still on plane. At this point, we have been there for seven hours, passengers go nuts.,why all the miscommunication? One guy threatens to punch a member of staff, they don't know if the luggage is on or off and have made 4 different luggage announcements. People are confused and tired.

Several of us ask for our luggage, I want to get the heck out of dodge and get the train. It's a mess at heathrow. no coordination and masses of people. They announce they are definitely taking the luggage off now, so 90 people have checked bags, and we all have to be escorted back to the baggage centre in an,hour to collect. Those who wish to travel at 6 pm have to recheck in their bags. Passengers go nuts again, they have,just rechecked in, now they have to get their bags and do it again. Supervisor announces, trying to divert anger "the reason you all have to collect your bags is because of this woman and others like her,,who want their bags" and points at me. Stunned silence ensues. No one can quite believe she has just publicly blamed a passenger and they all look at me, Fortunately no one took umbrage with me. I had probably been the only one who was never rude or demanding. I asked her to keep it pleasant and not blame me for the situation. Her response was,," well I also said and people like you madam". Again we are all stunned and she realises passenger anger is not diverted away from her. She is making it worse.

She asks the staff for volunteers to take us down to baggage. None of the staff wish to do it, she asks again, the conversation ensues in front of the passengers..." Well one of you has to do it". At this point I step up and say I'll do it if they give me a pass and directions. I'll take the passengers, i mean they have been arguing for ten minutes now in front of us. This stops them and two staff are allocated.

So, we all go downstairs, I book again, this time on the 19. 34 Eurostar, collect ,y bag and leave heathrow, one other woman comes with me. Everyone else stays, no one is sure, staff giving out reassurances the flight will go.

Flight did not go, or the next one, they did not get their bags, they slept at the airport as hotels full. No assistance offered.

I got home in brussels a full 16 hours after arriving at heathrow. But I got home.

I've experienced many screw ups at airports, but I can honestly say, the mess on Friday at terminal 1 was nothing short of appalling. The snow, the cancellations and the delays, were not the issue. People expect that, The issue was the total lack of co ordination, the miscommunications and the total inability of the staff to cope and yes, trying to divert blame to passengers.

Heathrow may have spent money on their winter program, but what they don't have is internal cross departmental processes in place, that allows them to deal with many cancellations and displaced passengers at once.

UK
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1. Re: Caught at heathrow,,,

Wow. I think a letter to the airline asking for an apology, better procedures and staff training is in order.

australia
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2. Re: Caught at heathrow,,,

Heathrow may have spent money on their winter program, but what they don't have is internal cross departmental processes in place, that allows them to deal with many cancellations and displaced passengers at once.>>>>>

Isn't this the same airport that took 2 weeks to clear the baggage when T5 opened.

We saw all the people sleeping on the floor on the news

Glad you used paragraphs

London, United...
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3. Re: Caught at heathrow,,,

Yes, and now I have to deal with the whole is a refund due on the ticket and is compensation due. I've honestly not seen anything as bad as this, and I flew into terminal five the day it opened. One would have hoped they had their act together, but they don't,

Dealing with the flights is one thing, the area of dealing with the passengers is another. And they have nothing for this " front of house" element.

Sorry for the long post, but it really was a comedy of errors. But at least I got home and did not sleep at the airport.

Portland, Oregon
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for Air Travel
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4. Re: Caught at heathrow,,,

Froggy, which airline was this? Given that this time around the snow was forecast and predicted I'd have thought that the cancellations would have been better co-ordinated.

I've always wondered what it'd be like to be stranded at LHR in a weather situation (though I have family there so I wouldn't really be stranded). I was in London in 2006 when they had a "fog in" which cleared the day of my departure (Xmas Day).

Leeds, United...
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for Leeds, Bradford
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5. Re: Caught at heathrow,,,

Was it BA you were travelling with Froggy? It was announced on Friday that if any passengers wished to changed travel dates over the weekend they would be able to do it FoC. I'd also assume that they would be forthcoming with refunds for PAX like you who made other travel arrangements although I didn't see the full story (on Sky News).

Bangkok
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for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
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6. Re: Caught at heathrow,,,

Hi,

Agree with #1..

A few things I dislike there.. Granted, I suspect things were very fast moving, with multiple departments all doing different things.. and everyone looking for a way TO go.. but still... coordination needs to happen..

The things that I personally find not acceptable are, in order you list them,

1) "the reason you all have to collect your bags is because of this woman and others like her"

==> NOT ok to 'call out' another passenger.. Don't care if everyone may know it or not, if true or not.. Doesn't matter. You don't call out a passenger in public period unless it's a serious safety matter where doing so reduces or eliminates that security risk.. (which this case does not appear to be)

2) "Well one of you has to do it"

==> Another example of "Not OK" behavior or actions.. yes, I get it, staffing may be tight, yes, I get it that perhaps none of the staff may *want* to take a group of upset passengers.. but.. that is their job as staff.. It's not the passengers job to do it..

This is a management failure.. As management, a part of your job/responsibility is to assign work duties (within company policies and any applicable labor rules or laws) to subordinate staff..

So long as the work direction is not unsafe, a clear violation of labor agreement, safety or security statues; you "work as directed" period. Staff may not like it or otherwise, and if so, file whatever action you like via the approved channels, but it is not ok to have that "I don't want to" conversation in front of passengers.

I get it that weather makes planning and coordination a challenge.. No doubts there.. and to that end, I do cut some "slack" for sudden changes as I recognize that this can happen and it's not always a case of poor/lack of planning... but.. I also think this needs to be balanced with good service standards and coordinated with all the relevant internal departments..

I'd wonder what was the process underway at that time with their SOC or System Operations Control, who commonly is the master operations controller and makes these "we're delayed, we're cancelled, etc" decisions.

I think you deserve an acknowledgement that better *handling* of the matter was in order, even with the conditions that existed.

Travel Safe,

London, United...
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7. Re: Caught at heathrow,,,

I was on the Brussels airline flight from terminal one. I think it was the 2094" The staff on the flight were excellent, they gave economy passengers a water run, then free drinks, and then allowed us to buy sandwiches.

It was the airport that was the issue,,,

Scotland
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8. Re: Caught at heathrow,,,

I'm shocked Froggy - you're a woman! :)

Seriously, that is appalling. Sounds like someone in need of retraining (in another job!).

Italy
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9. Re: Caught at heathrow,,,

I wish someone had filmed it, what a nightmare.

London, United...
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10. Re: Caught at heathrow,,,

Yep, it was, I feel sorry for the people who got stranded. If they had just taken the luggage off the plane and let people go or make a decision to stay in the first place, it would have alleviated a lot of the problem.

The thing was the snow had hardly started when the airport went down, they were obviously cancelling the eu flights, which is fair enough, they just needed to communicate that and let people make decisions. Basically they kept us there, which was the wrong decision.