British Airways to close their Jacksonville call center by the end of 2013

British Airways has just announced that they’ll be closing their Jacksonville call center by December of this year, which will result in 280 layoffs. It’s sad news anytime anyone loses their jobs, but 280 layoffs from the same call center in the same city is just horrible.

They haven’t yet announced their plans for replacing the call center, so I’m curious to see what they do. I’m concerned the call center will go the way of so many others and be outsourced, which is what this statement by British Airways seems to suggest:

In a statement, the spokeswoman said the decision “has not been taken lightly” and is part of the company’s efforts “to ensure our customers receive the best possible service at the right level of cost, operational effectiveness and flexibility.”

One of my frustrations with the call center has always been the limited operating hours. It’s only open from 7:30AM till 8PM eastern daily, which really is ridiculous for a call center for such a large airline. The worst part is that if you’re trying to redeem miles you can’t call an Executive Club number in a different country, as your Executive Club account can only be managed by the call center in your country.

Anyway, this is extremely sad news. If there’s one good thing that comes of this I sure hope it’s a 24 hour call center, if nothing else.

(Tip of the hat to Steve)

Comments

  1. You call these operating hours ridiculous? Try the hours of the BA call center in Germany… 9am-6pm, MO-FRI only! Unbelievable…

  2. The loss of the JAX call center is extremely sad???

    BEN!

    Surely you’ve dealt with that call center.

    How many of the agents there seemed happy to be ALIVE, let alone help you with an award?

    I never revel in anyone losing their job, I am not starting now. But I have trouble thinking this is EXTREMELY sad. Sure it’s sad for the affected employees, but I’m far from clear why it’s sad for customers?

  3. 280 people in the American call center for British Air???

    I used it a couple times and they were fine.

  4. Favorite Jax call center story: “I know you don’t wanna take the CX885 [LAX 2340->HKG 0530+2] cuz that’s gonna take you 2 days!”

  5. They helped me a couple of dozen times, and took care of complicated situations. I found that at the beginning of each call they might be a bit taciturn (I’m assuming because of the way BA treated them) but they would eventually warm up, and then they felt like partners in creating a great itinerary for my family. I will definitely miss them!

  6. I always had decent experiences with that call center too like a few commenters above, much better than the outsourced ones like United to say the least.

  7. They’re always nice about letting me book AS without the $25 call center fee… šŸ˜‰

  8. Your calls will now most likely be answered by India and/or Germany. The call center is actually open 7am – 11:15pm however the executive club has shorter hours. We try to be as helpful as we possibly can within the restrictions put upon us by BA. If you feel someone at BA is treating you in a less than stellar manner you can complain about us on the website under Help and Contacts.

  9. London airways are pulling out of the US?

    Scary, but hardly surprising. They pulled out of most of the UK years ago.

  10. we have an operation in Jacksonville, I am going to warn HR to be wary of any resume floated from this group that applies for a customer service position…something completely foreign to this operation

  11. Good riddance. BA has wonderful service in the air but these people provided truly terrible service, their first answer always being NO followed by contact someone else (the issuing carrier, the travel agent, whomever).

    Not surprised they were unionized, but really sorry to see BA cite cost as opposed to brand destruction as the cause for the closure (although brand destruction is a cost so maybe they included this in their analysis).

  12. I worked for seven years in one of BA’s UK call centers, until it was closed down.
    It was grueling work and the company was always finding ways to extract more out of you for less pay, but we had a good laugh and many of us were there for the staff travel, which could be amazing. I flew on Concorde a few times and got flight deck jump seats on a transatlantic flight, pre-911 of course. Good times.
    And we had our own anecdotes about clueless or rude callers. šŸ˜‰

  13. I had to call them a few times, and every time they were polite and helpful. They always managed to do the most complicated of stuff well, and were incredible when I had to arrange some last-minute compassion flights. It was only when I was transferred to overseas that things went south.

    The way BA had them set up (limited hours, separation between miles and revenue bookings, etc.) was idiotic, but in my experience they made the best of it when they could.

  14. Maybe they will consolidate with their JBV partner AA, I believe DL handles some reservations and customer relations functions in the US for AF & KL

  15. Laying off 280 people not cool, but that call center stinks. Asian call centers are usually more efficient and at least they really try.

  16. Gary asked why this would be sad for the customers… Do you realize that your hold time will go up significantly? They aren’t opening someplace else. They are taking 280 people off the phones and routing your calls to India and Germany now. If you thought the level of service was bad before just wait till your hold for 45 minutes to speak to someone outside the US. That’s really customer friendly.

  17. One thing that surprised me about the US is how the call centres all had local staff. In Australia it’s a selling point to have a local call centre, the majority are outsourced…

  18. I called BA in October and got no where with a rep who clearly was not from this county. I called back and got 100% satisfaction from a repinJacksonville.

    BA..please reconsider your decision.

  19. I dislike dealing with overseas call centers. (especially United’s India call center!) That was one reason I changed over to American Airlines.

    My wife & I have some BA miles. (hers: 39K left over from the 100K credit signup & 57K from BMI from Hertz rentals). We plan to consolidate our accounts.

    We live close to LAX and we use the AVIOS miles for nonstop short hauls on AA. We do everything online so we have not have to use the call centers so far.

    We are sad that BA will shut down the US call center!! The few times we would have to use the call center (AS tickets, etc), we would want to deal with the USA, NOT India!!!

  20. Well to be clearer. All calls from Canada, US, South America and the Caribbean all day/night. And all calls from any where else in the world after 8pm UK time will go to Delhi to be answered for forever more…regardless of tier status- all lines- or classes of travel and all of Executive Club for those regions.

    The agents that answer will give the same answers and rules that the employer advises to state now. And the correct total is 380-with all management.Good luck with that to all passengers…you will miss us that is a fact most will soon figure out.

  21. I have dealt with some wonderful people at the Jacksonville Center.

    Larry Johnson, Patricia Johnson, Skip George, Gerri Swiber, Ty,Dale Moore – outstanding – went out of his way, Gary Munson

    I will miss them all!

  22. Purely costs it is cheaper to send your call to India to answer. So be prepared for that to happen and do not complain when it does. Regardless if the passenger is in First Class, or Business Class or any level of Gold tier status. Or go online and help yourself. Addressing hillrider- have you considered that Fly To Serve is an external motto? And the internal motto is quicker, faster and push the passenger to ba.com – Trust us that you will say good riddance to the other call centers lack of knowledge and wish that the US presence was still here. Or you could call IB in MIA for assistance by all means.

  23. I worked at this call center for 12 years. In the last 2 years they put restirctions on our calls like you would not believe. We were only allowed an average 680 seconds per call (later dropped to 580 seconds) or ultimately face termination. Personally I was within 1 minute of their desired time allotment and was terminated..Nevermind that I got things solved and did so without errors. So all those times you were offered a call back..it was probably was to restart the clock on your situation. BA treats their people horribly. Even to the point of penalties if you have to go to the toilet. Please understand..the passengers were the high point of my day and I would do my very best to book your itinerary or solve your problem. I hope the next destination for your calls is better managed. Please address your comments to Keith Williams British Airways Waterside address in the UK. If he does not know how we (passengers and staff) are treated, he needs to know.

  24. Not having ability to deal with Executive Club support 24×7 isn’t ideal (really like SQ’s 24×7 KrisFlyer operation even though it’s not a toll-free number and had a few agents with strong accents).

    So while checking on yet another system screw-up (email said no points refund even though it did happen) I casually mentioned to the agent that it’s not convenient to have them open only until 8 pm EST. He agreed with me and eventually mentioned that soon I may be able to speak to someone 24×7 because they are shutting the call center down.

    I’ve called them half a dozen times over the last month or so and it’s the first time I heard about it. Granted my requests were never super-complicated, but all agents were always very nice and helpful so I am extremely sad to see so many people lose their jobs. I didn’t even realize the call center was in the US or was run by BA itself(thought it was outsourced to another company and probably located in cheaper Canada).

    Don’t know if any BA folks will see this comment but I hope you will all find good jobs and the impact will be minimal. Sad that even crazy-high BA fees can’t pay for US jobs šŸ™

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