Friday, January 26, 2007

Strike and your out!

Having spent huge amounts of money flying around the world in business, I have had my fare share of British Airways troubles. Mostly these have been lost bookings, not getting the seat I wanted or being bumped off from business class to economy when the plane was too full. There have also been good times, like when the business class in Tokyo was too full and I was upgraded to First Class. BA was always a sort of home from home and at the time we were not allowed to fly Virgin Atlantic, this was a corporate decision, sure someone was making money somewhere on that deal…

I switched my alliance when I changed jobs and the company was only flying Virgin, where possible, and after having flown Virgin there was no going back. It is a completely different experience, but then their routes are so completely different, they for example do not fly London – Barcelona, so they can afford to upgrade the service and make you feel that you are an important person whether you are flying Upper Class or Premium Economy…Having met Richard back in the mid 90’s on Virgin Records 21st Anniversary, he had the pleasure of joining me on a Virgin flight to Cape Town a couple of years ago. He is a very shrewd but nice business man and I got invited to small party with some of his staff in Cape Town…a very “jolly” affair…Noting in the papers today, that he is offering all stranded BA passengers free travel on Virgin Railways during the BA strike is just another brilliant but very nice honest PR stunt…but I must say that I am feeling a bit sorry this time for BA…

It’s been tough for British Airways lately…terrorists’ alerts, fog never seen before, catering staff not making sandwiches and a massive luggage mountains left at Heathrow. Then when you think that the worst is over and all staff will join forces and get the company back on track…they go on strike…and for what?

The Transport and General Workers Union members have decided that they wish to have more money in their pockets plus they want above average days off sick…on average a BA cabin crew member works 150 days a year, average days sick 12 (down from 22) and are paid above average wage (compared to other major UK based airlines). The Union has drawn up a plan of 12 different conditions which should be classified as “illness” and should automatically give the entitlement to stay at home, among those are;

Sore toenails

Eye infections

Sexually transmitted herpes (what do they do there up in the cabin?)

Common cold

Ear infection

Here is how I would have dealt with it. Accept their proposal for days off in return for a change to immediate sacking of the following;

Rudeness: one single complaint from a passenger no matter how trivial.

Serving the red wine in first class cold.

Bumping the passenger sitting in the isle seat with the trolley when going past.

Ignoring the “call attendance bell” for more than 30 seconds.

Not giving passenger their preferred food.

Finally telling an economy seat holder when he or she is asking if there are any newspapers left could they have one, only to be told -“sorry they are for business class passengers only”…

When flying on a budget airline, which sells itself as a “no frills airline” you expect no frills…but when paying top dollar to fly the “worlds favourite airline” you expect service.

Take these overpaid under worked waitresses in the sky and get them down to earth quickly, sack the moaners and get people who would be delighted to work for BA under the current conditions…what is Romanian for “Could I have red wine please?”…

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