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Posts Tagged ‘British Airways’

What a difference one letter can make. The calamitous power outage that brought such chaos to British Airways flights and caused untold misery to so many thousands of passengers over several days, can also be described, with the addition of just one letter, as a power outrage.

The incident, if such a trivial-sounding word can be applied to an event of such magnitude, caused exactly that: an outrage of such power and fury that it is hard to imagine how BA can ever rebuild its reputation.

What an outrage it has been. What an absolute scandal and disaster that British Airways, which we could happily rely upon to fly the nation’s pride confidently and competently across the skies, has come to this.

And yet it need not have done. OK, so the power outage brought flights to a standstill, but BA only had to tell its passengers (I bet they’re called customers) what was going on, or not going on, and everyone would have let a little sympathy mingle with their disappointment.

What happened instead? Utter chaos, confusion and outrage. And why? Because the company was too arrogant to communicate with its punters, choosing to leave them in the dark for hours, days, while hiding behind the great excuse of our age: “computer problems beyond our control”.

We’ve all suffered from those, or those of us who have technology in our lives and who have to rely on it to work.

As soon as we heard about the BA power outage, Geoff said it would have been because someone had pulled a plug out somewhere. No large company would ever admit to that, I’m sure, but it happens.

I once worked with a young chap who decided to turn off what he thought was a heater. He was hot and the room seemed airless. He flicked the switch of the offending machine and returned to his desk.

Within seconds the entire production of a newspaper was halted as computer screens blanked out and the office fell eerily quiet.

My colleague had turned off not a heater, as he’d thought, but the server that was powering everyone’s computers.

He had no idea that his action had been the cause of the shutdown and it took the office Darren (IT chaps were always called Darren then) the whole afternoon to track down the problem.

BA must have loads of Darrens. More to the point, it must also, surely, have loads of highly paid public relations advisors and spokesmen. Big, big fail on their part.

Who would muster enough confidence now to book a flight with such a flaky outfit as BA? Someone, somewhere, has some serious brand-building to do, but that’s unlikely to be achieved by dressing a baffled CEO in a high-viz jacket and standing him in an office to give a statement.

It is hard to accept that ‘our’ British Airways, in its heyday described by its marketing department as ‘the world’s favourite airline’, is so terribly tarnished by this outrage. I’m taking it slightly personally, since I am related to the company: my niece is married to a BA pilot.

Well, he was working for them. Perhaps, now, like us, he’s feeling outraged by the handling of the outage and is thinking of pulling the plug on his employers.

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