In March I reported that British Airways was closing their US call center, located in Jacksonville, Florida. This would result in 280 layoffs, which is of course sad. I had my frustrations with some of the agents that I found to be rather rude, though over the past nine months I developed a bit of a random phone relationship with Paul, who works the Executive Club Gold Line. I mean, for the past few months we’ve basically become BFFs.
It’s kind of funny because it’s not like I had his direct line, but just about every time I’d call he would answer. I redeem Avios for travel on Alaska Airlines all the time, so as soon as he answered the phone and recognized it was me he’d say “Mr. Schlappig, I realize we’re well acquainted, but I just need to verify a few security questions.” Once I verified the answers he’d always say “and I assume you’re wanting to go somewhere on Alaska Airlines today?” Awesome guy, and the first time I’ve actually “known” someone that randomly picks up the phone.
Anyway, I was rather sad a few days ago when I called British Airways only to find that their US call center now seems to be closed, and is being answered by people in the UK. Now I’ve been told it will eventually be outsourced to India, so I’m not sure if that’s still the plan and this is just an intermediate solution, or what. But it sure is hard to adjust to them.
I called today to make a change to an existing Avios booking. The agent curtly informed me that they couldn’t help with existing bookings but rather only new ones, which is the first time I’ve had an Executive Club agent say that. I’m not sure what the difference is between assisting with a new or existing award booking. They’re also rather smart-a$$ish. I said I wanted to book a 3:30PM flight, and the agent responded with “you mean a flight at fifteen hundred thirty.” Um, okay…
But here’s the part that really gets at me — British Airways’ US call center is only open from 7:30AM till 8PM ET, which are ridiculous hours, especially if the agents are based in the UK anyway. And the worst part is that you can’t call any of their dozens of other call centers worldwide, since only the call center for the region in which your account is registered can help. That just makes zero sense, in my opinion, and even less so as the centers are consolidated. I really hope they change that policy.
I tweeted them to share my feedback, and would encourage anyone else that’s frustrated by the policy to do the same.