British Airways Call Center Hold Times

In November British Airways closed their Jacksonville-based US call center, news that was originally reported in March.

Initially the only part of that news that made me sad was that 280 people would be losing their jobs. I never really cared for their US call center, given that the agents weren’t especially friendly for the most part, and the call center was open for just 12.5 hours per day.

Well, often you don’t appreciate what you had till it’s gone, because the current British Airways call center situation is just horrible. Quite possibly the worst of any airline I’ve dealt with (and that includes the Alitalia call center, which is usually answered with “give me your phone number and I will call you back later”).

I figured the call center would be 24 hours per day and outsourced, meaning the agents would at least be friendly. Nope, instead US calls are now being routed to the UK.

The only good news is that British Airways now lets you phone call centers in other countries when yours is closed. Previously they had both restrictive hours and only let you speak to the Executive Club call center for the country in which your account was registered.

British Airways call center hold times

One of the most common Tweets and email comments I get from people is how long the British Airways call center hold times are. Seriously, has anyone without status gotten through to their call center with less than an hour wait? I don’t know of any other call center that consistently has such long hold times. It’s unbelievable.

British Airways “sales” department vs. “existing reservations” department

In my experience with just about every other airline an award reservations agent can help you with both a new and existing reservation. British Airways, however, has the strictest and most arbitrary restriction when it comes to who can help you with a booking.

They have both an Avios “sales” department, whereby the agent can help you with new bookings, and then a different set of agents that can help you with existing bookings.

The problem is that if you need to be transferred between the two (because I often call to make a new booking and change an existing one), you first have to wait over an hour on hold for the first agent, and then the agents that help with existing reservations seem to have even longer hold times.

My recent frustration with the British Airways call center

Yes, back in December I had a massive problem with the British Airways call center over something that should have taken two minutes.

I had a repeat of that yesterday, except over something even sillier — it took me three hours to get a British Airways Avios ticket on Alaska booked properly.

I was trying to redeem British Airways Avios for two friends of mine on Alaska Airlines. Alaska is one of the few Executive Club partners which you can’t book through the website.

I issued the ticket, and as soon as I got off the phone I noticed they misspelled one of their names. Now, admittedly I should have asked the agent to spell back the name before issuing the ticket, but it is a fairly common name and I spelled it phonetically. For example, if the last name were “Smith,” the agent spelled it “Omith.”

Now, this shouldn’t be a big deal for two reasons:

  • I’m British Airways Gold so can redeposit and rebook awards for free
  • There’s a special British Airways Gold phone number, and the hold time there is usually only a few minutes… at least if you’re trying to make a new reservation

The added issue is that I misplaced the confirmation number. Again, shame on me, but if I called any other airline on earth, they could retrieve it within 30 seconds.

So I called up British Airways. When asked if I wanted help with a new reservation or if I wanted to “change or cancel” an existing reservation, I selected the former. I really just wanted the confirmation number so that I could cancel the ticket online and start over, since I knew that would be faster.

Since I dialed the Gold Line the agent picked up within a few minutes, though when I explained I needed a confirmation number for a booking I had just made, he transferred me to the agents that help with existing bookings. After waiting on hold for 45 minutes I hung up.

I mean, I didn’t even want to change or cancel an existing booking, but rather I just wanted the confirmation number for a new booking I had just made, where they hadn’t sent me the email confirmation (as they’re supposed to).

So I called back, figuring I could get an agent that actually wanted to be helpful. The next agent once again insisted that I needed to be transferred, except this time I pushed back a little bit. I explained that I didn’t want to “change or cancel an existing booking,” which is the line with the never ending hold time that he wanted to connect me to. Instead I just wanted the confirmation number for a reservation I had made, for which the agent accidentally didn’t send me an email confirmation.

He insisted he didn’t “have the resources to do that.” I mean, how poorly is British Airways empowering their agents so that they don’t have the “resources” to pull up a confirmation number for an award reservation they just made?

I explained that I had just been on hold for 45 minutes and no one had picked up, and that I literally just needed a confirmation number for a booking that I had just made. Again, he refused to help.

So I asked to speak to a supervisor, because I did want to share some feedback:

  • It’s ridiculous that for the Gold Line the hold is just a few minutes for making a new booking, while it’s well over an hour for help with an existing booking.
  • Clearly the agents aren’t empowered properly if they can’t pull up a reservation for a booking they just made. That shouldn’t require being transferred to a different department.

He put me on hold for about five minutes to “see if a supervisor would be willing to talk to [me].” After five minutes he came back and said “the supervisor is not willing to take over the call.” Seriously?!

So I had him transfer me to the department for existing bookings. He promised to put me in “the priority queue,” but that wait still took over an hour. No joke, I put the phone on loudspeaker, showered, shaved, went to Starbucks, and when I got back I was still on hold.

BA-Call-Center

When the agent picked up she was able to quickly retrieve my confirmation number. Since I had waited on hold for so long I figured I’d have her go ahead and fix the name as well, which required canceling the booking and then making a new reservation.

She canceled the reservation, but then had to transfer me over to the department for new reservations to issue the ticket again.

You’ve gotta be freaking kidding me.

Unlike the transfer over to the existing reservations department, she promised she’d give the agent all the travel information so that I’d just have to give the new agent the credit card for the taxes.

After a brief hold I had a new agent on the phone that was ready to take down my credit card information, saying that the agent had given her the exact flights.

Once she completed the reservation I went onto ba.com to look at the flights, only to find that she booked them on a (completely) wrong date…

Bottom line

British Airways, the hold times at your call center are horrible.

I thought your hold times sucked with the US call center back when they were consistently 20+ minutes. Now they’re consistently well over an hour. If you’re going to close a call center, maybe you should consider what you plan on doing with all of those calls.

And the lack of versatility when it comes to the agents is just astonishing.

Every other airline (including those that have outsourced call centers) seem to have no problem assisting with a new or existing reservation. Clearly either British Airways is telling their agents to lie or not empowering them properly… not sure which would be worse.

Anyone else dislike the British Airways call center as much as I do?

I think it’s time for a British Airways call center support group, much like we have for Turkish Airlines hold music.

Comments

  1. Yip, I spent a couple hours on hold with them for simple question also. Only to have incorrect information be given to me, although the agent did sound very confident. I do dread calling them…

  2. Absolutely the worst. In fact, getting put on hold for an hour was a relief after getting a busy signal about 40 times in a row. Really unbelievable.

  3. Guess I won’t be making any speculative Avios award bookings, if cancelling them within 24 hours requires a phone call.

  4. I wonder what the agent would have done if you had asked him/her to type the following into his GDS and then read you back the PNR number…

    *-OMITH

    That’s the format in Sabre to bring up all the reservations under a guest name. If you add the first name, makes it even easier to bring up the one reservation your looking for:

    *-OMITH/FIRSTNAME

  5. Thanks for the info. I am now having second thoughts about accumulating Avios as it clearly may not be worth it!

  6. I also get an error message on the web site when doing simple things like trying to accept a rebooked flight. I dread using Avios now because the web site is broken and I have to call in for simple things.

  7. I had to call to add a third party nominee to a reservation and the wait time was 15 minutes the 1st call when I got disconnected and around 10 minutes the 2nd time when I got disconnected. The third time was around 10 minutes when I finally got through so I guess I got lucky.

  8. Agreed! Alaska is often the most useful redemption out of Vancouver, but after weeks of trying and getting the “unusual call volume” and wait time, I’ve given up and booked less convenient flights online on AA. Thank goodness the website has improved!

  9. Personally, most frustrating part of BA is when they say the call center is too busy and so to try again later — whole days have gone by without even having the chance to wait!

  10. I believe the long waits and bad customer service is intentional. In order to maximize profits they are trying to steer people away from the call center and to online activity. BA wants to reduce staffing and this is how they have decided to do it. Knowing you have a one hour wait will eventually cause people to stop calling and try to find another way to deal with their issue.

  11. Nooooo, not the TK hold music! I ALMOST managed to put it out for good, until now…

    On a more serious note, How would you compare BA call center with that of Avianca overall?

  12. It’s horrifying. I wasted 5 hours over the course of 3 calls a few weeks ago canceling a 50-minute flight from JFK to Boston. In other words, it was six times more time-consuming not to take the flight than if I’d flown it. BA is comically bad.

  13. This VERY situation just happened to me. No conf. email sent out as promised, and all I wanted was to get it so I could cancel a booking online. After a 30 minute hold, a transfer, and another 1 hour hold, I gave up.

  14. A question for the blogger: What kind of situations necessitate a call to the BA center to book an award ticket?
    Following the change a year or so ago to the Avios program, every award flight is based on distance so it would seem to me you should be able to book things easier online.
    Are you calling to try and book partner availability for flights you aren’t seeing on BA.com?

  15. After reading about your post from Nov, I tried calling the BA call center in the US one time. No one picked up after 30 min, so I hung up. Later that evening, I called the local HK line, which answered in 7 min and completed my booking of 4 tickets from SJC to OGG in less than 30 min using two different BA accounts. But I have no idea how much the call cost.

  16. hi, can someone list the HK local number. probably cheap if
    you call on skype. also any other numbers would be useful

  17. The Hold music sets my teeth on edge these days. Pavlovian, no doubt. The wait is always at least an hour, if they deem to put you in the queue, and I don’t see why they can’t add Alaska Air to their on line booking site (which is the best way to use the Avios for us West coasters). Horrible customer service. Is there a Freddies award for the worst service we can vote for?

  18. Yes British Airways has one of the worst hold times (I guess Delta without status will match them). Whats more as you pointed out their agents are powerless being based in India. Whenever these companies outsource they give their agents so less power as to make them useless. The agents by themselves could have been so much more useful if BA allowed them. I think its high time the management at BA looks into this issue.

  19. You should try phoning the Thai airways call centre in thailand. Only one contact number and no special number for rop members any more. They have now switched to a new method to svoid wait times until they pick up. THEY NEVER PICK UP.
    So i tried calling their main ticket office at Silom. Again, they NEVER pick up!
    So i went there in person, as soon as they opened. There are about twenty sales agents. All looking at their screens, ignoring customers right before them, holding a queue ticket. Service used to be very good but now seems terrible.

  20. I live in Jax, and knew many people who worked at the BA call center here. Their untimely closing was very, very unfortunate, both for people losing jobs and those of us who have to sit on the phone with a 10x worse call center.

  21. I called and booked an award flight on Alaska. A week later I found it changed to now be Air Canada flight. I wanted the Alaska flight to be with my wife on the same flight. Called to see what was happening and had to explain Air Canada is not even a partner, only to be told this is what I booked. Arggh… In the end it got fixed, free flight, no miles used and was booked as a revenue flight so I was able to get miles for the flight!

  22. Last week I waited 45m to cancel an Avios 241 Rez (website gave error msg) but only took agent 2m to re deposit and refund. I find all BA agents unfailingly polite. However they probably so not appreciate the condescension that we often see from bloggers. I do agree the hold times are absurd.

  23. Im with miles from blighty here on call center strategy although have never had to deal with BA. If you call a call center the minute they open, you often can get through without much difficulty. This is particularly true in the USA since if you call at 7 or 8am the call center is probably fully staffed but no one from the west or mountain time zones are calling yet. If you are in Seattle this isn’t a terrible time situation as you could call BA at 11pm right as they are opening.

  24. Yes, the basic deal is: horrific service, good availability but when available high fees/extras. It’s a deal I sort of am ok with — just ok. I don’t accumulate on BA for this reason but I do have miles from BM which I can use on BA and have been able to book some things online

  25. Agreed. Absolutely horrible hold times. I will say when I do get in touch with them they have been good about (eventually) solving my problems, but getting in touch with the right person is next to impossible.

  26. Along the same lines as daytripadvisor, I’m wondering whether an AS phone agent would have been able to find the reservation and see the BA confirmation number.

  27. If you think the call center is bad, just try and deal with their online counterparts. I wanted to claim miles for a flight that had not been credited. So I emailed them because the section of the site that handled that process seemed to be either missing or unavailable in some way. When they finally got back to me two days later, they wanted me to snail mail the boarding passes. They would not accept a scan or a JPEG as proof; however, they would accept a fax.

    First, that made no sense. Second, I am in South America. The fax thing doesn’t seem to have taken hold in Ecuador, and the snail mail is unreliable, at best. Additionally, all other airline and hotel companies have accepted emailed copies as proof. But not BA.

    So I pushed and pushed some more. Over a month later, someone finally got back to me to say that they would make a “special accommodation” for me and allow me to submit my proof via email. I told them that I had already put the miles on my AA account and that I would no longer need their lack of service.

    By the way, their ground crews at Heathrow are no better. Cold, callous, and distinctly unprofessional.

  28. Agree that hold times have gotten even worse since the Jacksonville call center closed.
    Also, it took one agent nearly an hour to make a simple change to my flight last time. Maybe he was a new employee. I will say that the Cathay Pacific call center (Hong Kong number) used to be even worse, though I haven’t tried calling it for a while.

  29. It’s RIDICULOUS. I can’t even get myself on hold – I’m hung up on after like 30 rings ever time. Unacceptable.

  30. Thanks Lucky for this post. I’m always relieved to hear about airlines with worse customer service than UA!

    btw, is it ever possible to change an award on the BA website? I tried changing a CX itinerary last week. Kept erroring out, so ultimately I just cancelled and booked a new one.

  31. “I’m on hold… I’m on hold… I’m on hold… I’m in some hellish hold world of holding.” – Josh Lyman, The West Wing

  32. @ Kacee — In *theory* if it’s a simple change it should be possible, though much like you I’ve had issues with actually making the change in the past.

  33. I’ve always found the JAX team quite helpful in the past booking all of my partner redemptions both easy and difficult.I dread calling the UK centre now –

    one question though – what time are you calling? I’d be curious to see if that is a factor given the time differences – day staff vs after hours staff which could be anywhere

  34. I had a similar problem when trying to transfer Avios between BA and Iberia.

    1. Tried to set it up online, which failed.

    2. Called BA to try to hold an Award reservation while we tried to transfer. He could not hold the Award reservation, despite having waited on hold for an hour.

    3. Reluctant to hang up, he offered to transfer me from Newcastle to Manchester, where they may be able to help me transfer the Avios.

    4. On hold to Manchester for another 45 minutes, and they said they could still not figure out why they could not transfer the Avios, online or over the phone. Said it “must be an Iberia problem”.

    5. Called Iberia in Spain to sort out the transfer. They said it is a BA problem. Only waited on hold for 15 mins to get this part done.

    6. Called BA back. They have no idea why I can’t transfer the Avios, despite confirming that i have had both accounts open long enough to do so, and that everything else is fine. This took another hour.

    7. Award availability gone, four hours later. I have given up on trying to transfer these Avios, either online or over the phone.

    I have NO problem with being forced to do things online, if the online function works. If it does not work, the idea of being put on hold for four hours to get ANYTHING done is ridiculous.

  35. The funny thing is how the English never want to bend their “rules”, making it even harder to get things done. I really, really miss Jacksonville.

  36. I was one of the 280 people who were let go from the Jacksonville call center in the US. Everything that you stated that frustrates you frustrated us for years. We felt your pain, but the environment we worked within was extremely restrictive and there was not a lot of room for thinking or acting outside the box. There was ansolutely no empowerment within the job function. Now it has become worse. At least when we had it, we understood the American market and the American psyche.

    When they announced the closure at an all employee meeting, I specifically asked where they intended to route the calls. The reply was that they hadnt figured that out yet. Excuse me…..what? This type of short term thinking was the norm at BA. When i pointed out to them that this move may save them a quarter in the short run but will cost a dollar in the long run, i was told not to question the decisions made in the UK. How dare i try to introduce logic and reason.

    Long story short, while we werent perfect we were a damn sight better that what you are forced to deal with now. We liked our customers and we miss taking care of you.

  37. As one of those agents that was laid off in Jax, we knew this would happen when we were gone. We had a few bad apples but most of us cared and did the best we could. However BA did not have systems that worked or enough supervisors to support agents. Most of our functions had to be done manually and required a supervisor. Ratio 10-15 to 150 agents isn’t gonna do much when 4 of 5 calls needs supervisor help. The answer they came up with was queue it to India for an answer. Horrible management !

  38. I worked at BA in the Exec department and can shed light on some things. All the calls were routed to the same center. If you were Gold there was separate team for you in the same building. Blue, bronze and silver had numbers to call and the system would prioritize your call based on the number you called. In exec club we couldn’t handle new revenue bookings since that went to the sales department. I understand the frustration because it meant putting the customer on hold and waiting on the sales department to pick up and we lose commission on a ticket while increasing our handle time.

    That was the way it was until July when management decided that everyone would be divided up into groups and they would be assigned calls you could handle. I was never actually trained in sales but was told I could handle sales calls now. It was horrible for the customer because I could do some simple and slightly advanced bookings but nothing extremely complicated. If it was something we weren’t comfortable doing or trained to do, for example a RTW (round the world fare), we could take down a number and give it to a manager to dispense to someone else.

    Exec Club could handle revenue bookings if the booking was made by an exec club member. If you weren’t a member then you had to be transferred (eventually we were advised to have you hang up and dial the customer service number) to have it addressed. It’s not that we didn’t want to help but our handle times were being lowered and more was being expected from us. There were agents who were awful and needed to quit or retire from it though.

    I’ll admit if I had a gold member more often than not I transferred them if they seemed full of themselves and expected more *** kissing than I could offer. I tried to help even though I wasn’t gold trained. I would help up to the point that I would do what I could and get you to the gold line so they wouldn’t have to do little work to keep you waiting.

    When we found out we were closing, BA told us that they wanted to offer customer service at the right price. We said that the customers would miss us when we left. We were right about that but I can say that I don’t miss BA and losing my job has so far been a boon to me.

  39. I had to wait over an hour both times I called BA this month to reserve flights unavailable online. It’s beyond ridiculous. I’ve never had to wait more than 5 or 10 minutes for any other airline.

  40. I was one of the US Agents that lost her job. I worked for British Airways for almost 9 years. I must say in the beginning the training they gave was excellent as well as support we received. In the first 5 years we were trained to be a one stop shop. I admit that hold times were long. The reason for that at that time was all the other countries preferred to speak with the US call center but the system was only set up to handle miles for the US, Canada and Caribbean, which was out of the agents control. We helped with hotels, car rentals, baggage issues, mileage bookings and general information as one agent. I loved working at British Airways this was a great company to work for. However, when changes were made, around the time mileage became Avios, although we were senior agents we could only help in the department we were placed in. We were also managed by our New York office previously, which I feel made a difference. If we had computer issues they could be fixed quickly. Once the UK took over it tool several weeks to fix and once the close was confirmed some computers issues just did not get fixed. I was sad to leave, however the last 4 years was difficult I was unable to use all my knowledge to help all passengers. I want to think that British Airways will realize where they went wrong and correct it. I think closing the US office was a mistake we were very knowledgeable agents and most, not all of us were on board to help passengers and always competed to be accurate in our information and assistance. I for one would work for them again if they corrected the error of their ways. We were always scored on quality if we did not give it we did not get any bonus. I wish I could explain what their vision is but I cannot. I know with the recent changes in our country it is very expensive to employ many people in the US, and certainly not due to the wages they pay it is due to our current government vision. As a former employee of British Airways I will miss providing good service to all passengers!

  41. I too am a former BA agent and prided myself on providing the best customer service I was able to. I feel training could have been better. Also we had handling times to adhere to which I felt was ridiculous. We were expected to provide excellent customer service in 480 seconds or less. We also were also graded on quality. So most agents really were trying their best. Its unfortunate for the employees who lost jobs and for the customers we loved to suffer with these changes.

  42. One of the main reasons that the call times are so high is that people press the wrong option to get through quicker, yet it has a knock on effect on everyone else trying to get through. If you want a reference number, then don’t press the option to make a booking, just because you get through quicker. Log into your exec account online and get the reference number from there. Don’t call the call centre to change a booking that you can change online, just because you’re lazy.

  43. @ Anon – Based on your comment in another thread, I believe you are a UK agent, right? I am sorry you are overwhelmed with amount of calls and I’m glad that hear you are staffing up.

    FWIW, I am pretty sure that Lucky wouldn’t waste 2 hours if he could find the reference number online. I had booked quite a few award tickets for my mom & dad using Avios from my account and those flights wouldn’t show up under my Exec. Club. The only way to get to them was by using a link in an email (perhaps, using ref # but never tried).

    @ All former JAX agents: I figured something like this was going to happen. Generally had positive experience with US staff and, honestly, the main downside were the hours. Hope you all found/will find better jobs! 🙂

  44. Do you think BA cares about servicing all of the exec club members obtained through mergers. They know exactly what they are doing

  45. @ #nolongerloyal — Oh, that’s good to know. Does BA have separate Gold phone numbers for those that are actually loyal vs. those that aren’t? Because you don’t input your Executive Club number till you speak to an agent…

  46. First…the JAX call center was opened from 7am EST to 1am EST- the reduced to 11pm…then after BA UK- decided that the calls should be followed to Delhi- for financially reasons eventually the center was only open for 12 hours for 1 month. Closing 20 Dec.

    Gold Lines have priority and get pushed to the top of the que. All instructions for ANYTHING are at the management decisions in UK- Manchester- for call flow, and bouncing calls, the decision to advise a “supervisor cannot take a call” is a specific directive for the management.

    Gone are the days of caring about higher tiers—-they only care about the talk time- your job is based on talk time- after you don’t make your talk time you are fired.
    Customer Service is code for rush- and que it off- have the passenger call back.

    They know exactly what they are doing…. and do not care if the passengers waits unless you are a Gold Guest List with ear power to complain…or a Premier Member.

  47. And a note for “Anon” mid travel changes cannot be changed online. Schedule changes/time changes and reissued tickets cannot be changed online. Mileage tickets are prohibited from being changed online mid travel- mixed cabins on same ticket- open jaw tickets- these CANNOT be changed online. The computer cannot calculate currency changes mid travel- /fare differences/ miles for upgrades.change fees etc. ALL BA agents know this and this is the largest volume of calls. You must be a NEW agent that BA prefers…call the passenger lazy.

  48. I am one of the unfriendly, from the US call center. All I will say is that you think it is hard to be a customer? Best thing that ever happened to me was them outsourcing my job overseas. Good luck as I personally feel it is the beginning of the end.

  49. I have called British Airways numerous times and I have NO problem getting through. Why? Because I call the correct number and I select the correct option.

    Obviously some people seem incapable of doing this. I have always found BA staff professional and great to deal with. When I book my flights, the agent always reads everything back to me and makes sure I agree with everything before payment. They do not make mistakes with names and dates – passengers do.

    And how anyone can make a booking then lose the confirmation number is beyond belief – all you need to do is look at your email confirmation – if you had given the correct email address in the first place.

    Try calling Virgin, where you are on hold for days and eventually get a message saying the office is closed. Now, that IS frustrating.

  50. I knew almost all the BA gold line agents in Jacksonville and they were both professional and helpful. You are right, most people don’t appreciate something until it is gone.

  51. I keep trying to call BA to ask a question… I go through their different steps to push #’s to get to certain areaa no matter what I do, I then receive a busy signal. I have tried off and on and the same thing keeps happening. Unreal!

  52. I too was a previous BA reservationist and took great pride in being associated with a classy airline. However, the vision BA had was to take any short cuts available and decided to outsource our jobs to unqualified, untrained reps in a call center for hire call center PRC. During the final years of my tenure with the company I had the unfortunate experience of seeing my pride with the Airline become a source of mockery in the airline industry.

  53. I commute weekly between the UK and US, and until 2012 I mostly used BA. Your experience is sadly typical. As gold guest list and 5000+ tier points annually I never managed to make a phone reservation in less than six hours! Complex bookings (made by phone) always went wrong – getting it fixed was a living nightmare. Some great folks – like Paul in the US (hope he’s doing okay – he was fantastic) – but overall BA call service is truly the worst of the worst. It was the final straw – the reason I mailed my Concorde room and GGL card back to them, and went elsewhere.

  54. The Avios program is pretty good in terms of earning and redemption ratios, especially if you fly in premium cabins. But teir customer service is the worst of any other program, it takes at least an hour to speak to an agent (at best) even if you have an elite status and if you email them they get back to you a week later with a rather condescending response. I guess one issue may be that Avios is a separate company which objectives can be somewhat different from BA as an airline. They should fix it as it will impact the image of BA as a reputable airline and obviously the loyatly of their frequent fliers…

  55. In response to Lucky, I would like to give you a tip. You can access your booking numbers in your account just by looking at your reward activity it lists all bookings made with rewards. You do not need an agent for this. I hope this helps save you time.

  56. Yep; Still holding on the line listening to the stupid music, they even dont give any information how much time likely we are going to wait like many other call centers!! Although my previous call was hanged up while on hold at about 35 minutes…
    YOU HAVE HORRIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE in US BRITISH AIRWAYS, REALLY HORRIBLE!

  57. ..same for us UK customers. I’ve been trying to talk to someone for 4 days and in each occasion i’m told they are experiencing high demand and suggest calling back…so i have…and nothing changes. But i bet they make a bloody fortune with all the calls that rack up mobile minutes profit. Bloody appalling service…

  58. Ditto in the UK here. On hold for 10 minutes to be transferred and put on hold for another 20 minutes and than transferred again and gave up after waiting after being on hold for another 40 minutes with Lakme ringing in my ear on a constant loop and the phrase “do more of what you want to do on ba.com”. I certainly don’t want to be holding on the end of a telephone line like this, that’s for sure. It really shouldn’t be this difficult and all because you can’t enter an AVIS preferred number when booking car hire on BA.com. Only way is to book with someone else. There have been so many problems with contacting BA over the last year and it’s just getting worse. Down hill. Majorly.

  59. I can’t even get thru anymore when calling. I select a prompt and the line cuts out after a few seconds. Ridiculous.

  60. I can confirm nothing has changed – on average they its a 45min wait on a national number which gets them revenue!!!!

    I am totally furstrated with this – if only i could sue on the basis that i was missold of their service standards for building up loyalty miles…

  61. The Call Center in India is the worst and they give you misleading information.

    I am a victim of their inefficiency.

    I could not rebook my AVIOS redemption online so I called customer service to assist in rebooking my flight but the agent (Ayushi)failed to issue a ticket. I called numerous times and am told it would be ticketed within 24 hrs, 48 hrs, and now 10 business days? In addition, I was instructed by another agent (Ali) to go to the airport if I wanted to get it ticketed right away to no avail.

    We are in the digital age and I could not find a logical answer why it takes days even a week to issue a ticket at the push of a button. Furthermore, I also faxed my concern to BA Office in NY but I did not get any acknowledgement or reply.

    The airline will deny me boarding without a ticket and I paid money as well to secure my flight.

    Does anyone know how I could get someone at British Airways to assist me?

  62. Call the Japan call center. Fast, efficient, and very good. Called them yesterday to make a booking. London was saying at least 45min hold time, i used Skype to call the japan call center and someone picked up right away

  63. Indeed calling Asian call centers is the best. I often call the Hong Kong exec club number. But now, BA lost my bag and the only number I can call is the UK number. Today I waited for 1.07 min to be told my bag was lost by Iberia so I should call them instead.

  64. And here I’m on hold for the 4th day trying to get in to them about a schedule change that doesn’t work. I thought I was getting a completely dead ended line the past few times, but after googling it, of course I quickly run into Lucky’s blog and find that I’m not crazy. BA IS CRAZY!

  65. Sorry to tell you all this is the way the company here in the us are going they now want to get rid off all the customer service agent in the airports and bring in some outsourced ground handlers, we are in the middle of union contract negotiations but was voted down, now they are treating us that they will do it any way. so your customer service here in the us will properly be the worst you have ever had.

  66. At least you can get to a hold queue, I am pressing the option for a new Avios booking, and all I get is the busy signal, have called back 5 times already, still just get a busy signal. Sigh…

  67. For the last several days, I’ve been trying to upgrade my flight tomorrow from IAH to LHR using Avios points. Online says seats are available, but when I try, they “can’t be booked online.” Exec Club’s change line is repeatedly busy; the regular reservations guy (clearly from a call center in India) said only Exec. Club dept can make the change with Avios…after reading this forum, I tried calling the Canadian line, which says waits are an hour. I am happy to call anywhere in the world so as not to waste any more time on this. Any suggestions as to which EC call center number might actually get me to a human? It really is quite astonishing. The irony is that I would be more than happy to do this online if the website – which keeps telling me I can upgrade – would let me. This is, indeed, a HUGE time sucker.

  68. @ Annette – recently Lucky recommended me to use their Singapore call center (+65 6823 2095) but I believe they are only open 8 am – 4:30 pm Central (Mon-Fri). Not sure what’s open this late.

  69. @ Ivan Y – Thanks. If I can’t make progress tonight I’ll call them in the morning. Cheers.

  70. @ Annette – you are welcome! Hope you get an upgrade 🙂 I guess you can “book cash + upgrade with points” online if you do it at the same time but not if you do it afterwards. Disappointing but – then again – BA Avios site isn’t that great, especially when it comes to partner awards (even a data changed requires calling them).

  71. @ Ivan: I just got the BA credit card and so I didn’t have enough points at the time I booked the ticket. Now I have tons because of the points promotion for a new card. But it seems if one can’t book online, the points are difficult to redeem.

  72. @ Annette – yes, people used to complain about the BA’s US call center in Jacksonville (closed at the end of last year) but new system is way worse from what I hear (personally, JAX people were alright). Another problem you will find (or may have already found) is that certain flights don’t show up, e.g. IAH-DFW used to not show anything; now it does (at least, last time I booked) but I couldn’t find anything IAH-MIA even though AA shows plenty of availability (didn’t end up going to Miami so hadn’t had to call). Other times only certain flights show up if there are a lot to choose from. Lucky did a post about that recently.

  73. @Ivan, so here is what happened. This morning early I tried the Singapore number you gave me. It is for a fax machine (although it is indeed the number listed on BA’s website for EC Singapore.) Then I randomly picked the British Virgin Islands number. This got me a 15 min wait time (hurray!). I was eventually put through to a very nice British lady who told me there were no upgrade seats left. She also observed the guy I talked to in Delhi yesterday, who told me there were Avios seats available at that time, should have put me through to EC. I told her he tried a couple of times, but the line was busy. I gave her a bit of an earful about how frustrating this whole exercise has been. She was sympathetic and apologetic. She said its unlikely there would be seats available at the airport since there are only two still left, but I should ask anyway. She also seemed to share my opinion that outsourcing the customer service to India was probably not such a good idea. So this has been a learning experience. Next time, hopefully, I can just pay cash and upgrade at the time I buy my ticket. Since using my Avios points is difficult, I should have a planeload by the time I take my next international flight! But thanks so much for the help. It was much better to spend 15 min to find out there were no seats than an hour! Cheers.

  74. @ Annette — sorry for connecting you to a fax machine! 🙁 Haven’t had an occasion to call that number but that’s what Lucky gave to me and I’m pretty sure he’d called it. Perhaps it’s one of those phone/fax machine combo devices and it thought you were a fax… Glad you got some certainty but sorry the seats had disappeared. Can’t hurt to ask at the gate though… Also — just in case you didn’t know — BA usually makes you pay tax/fees difference when upgrading using points. Taxes & fees are same for Economy & Premium Economy and also same for Business & First; so Eco->Prem. Eco or Biz->First means no extra fees but anything else means more money (for IAH-LHR I think it’s around +$300-400).

    Anyhow, BA fees are rather steep on their own award flights if going to/through London so that’s a lot of people use it for partner award (most show up online but for Alaska and Aer Lingus you have to call in); since BA chart is distance based, a perfect redemption would be a short flight that is expensive if you pay cash.

    Have a fun & safe trip!

  75. Try to call the other EU country numbers, such as the German one for instance, you ll have less waiting time

  76. Yes, BA in USA is notorious for long wait. Call Qatar or Emirates and you get through in under 5 minutes. British airways now transfers calls to UK but the wait time continues to be in excess of 30 min to 90 min (yes!) depending on your luck. The message always says they are experiencing unusually high call volumes. If this is true all year, they need to add more lines. but they don’t care as I have complained many times and no one cares or is willing to listen. I will stop flying this wretched airlines once my miles are used up. Most big cities in US are now served by middle east carriers with a far superior product for less price. To go to Asia this is the way to go. Teach BA a lesson by actively boycotting it. Any decent airline that cares would have fixed this problem long back. They are just as bad as United or American.

  77. I have been trying for days to talk to someone about booking a flight to Australia. I see the flights but the web-site will not book them and I called have about 50 times only to get busy signals!!!! This is the worst customer service I have ever seem. Now I know why my family and I don’t travel with them anymore. Avis are useless if you can’t spend them. They obviously don’t care about customers at all.

  78. Oh sweet lord, been trying to get £50 back off them since Sunday, eventually after 3 days trying got through, “oh that another department – let me transfer you ….” back to that infernal guitar pish and then got disconnected.

    Unbelievable – no email contact address – no way to deal with this – these guys are back in the 20th century.

    You win BA, keep my £50.

  79. OCT 5, 2015: After reading all these messages (and others from other forums), I was worried about how difficult I would find it to book an Alaska Air flight using my Avios. I called the BA Executive Club number and found them to be closed (telling me that they were closed until 7:30am EDT — I’m on west coast and this was at 5:50pm PDT). I spent some time looking into calling an international office as suggested (Qatar, UAE, Japan, etc) but simply decided to call the regular USA BA booking 800 number (not exec club, just normal bookings). I got through after a short wait on hold (a few minutes) and explained that I wanted to book an Alaska Air flight with Avios but couldn’t via the website. I was told I’d need to go through the Executive Club and they would transfer my call. While I was waiting the few moments for the transfer, I figured I’d get the same recording I encountered when calling that number myself. To my surprise, an agent answered. I again explain my intentions and I was helped immediately. I was also told, without asking, that the $25 fee for using phone booking would be waived.
    I was planning on booking only one seat from LAX to Ixtapa/Zih, Mexico because I was booking 2 other seats on the same flight via Aadvantage miles — I only had enough Aadvantage miles for 2 seats at 35,000 miles RT each (that’s why I was working with my Avios at all). When the BA agent told me the flight was only 20,000 Avios for RT, I started thinking I should book all three seats with Avios — the taxes and fees were the same via BA and AA/Alaska Air. I only had 52,700 Avios, though. So, while the agent waited on the line for me (she told she would), I transferred 8000 Chase Ultimate points to my BA Avios acct via my online Chase acct. Those points arrived instantly and I was able to book 3 RT seats with 60K Avios + ~$270 in taxes instead of 105,000 Aadvantage miles and the same tax/fees. WOW. And it all happened within about 20 minutes of my initial call to the closed BA Exec Club office. SO, you might just try the normal channels to avoid the pitfalls everyone is complaining about. Maybe BA has finally improved their customer service?

  80. Just waited for 17m on hold. Terrible music, and they interrupt it with a long pause, and then a recorded voice every 15-30s, making you constantly think somebody is about to help you.

    Finally, someone picked up: I heard a rustling in the background. “Hello!” I said… *click*, as they hung up on me.

  81. Call Hong Kong. I just did it over Skype for ¢50 and it was the best customer service experience i have ever had. The Brits are the wrong kind of polite for customer service. Chinese politeness works well. No wait also! +852 3002 1208

  82. I have been on hold with BA for just under two hours now. I am just blown away by how horrible this experience is… I’m itching to try one of the foreign call centers that others have mentioned, but I’m already in almost two hours here and the thought of starting this all over again is dreadful.

    Do all locations have that plinky guitar music?

  83. Dear Mr Schlappig
    I would like to know if in the meantime your experience with BA contact centre has improved since February 2014.

  84. Been on hold for an hour trying to rebook and flight I missed. Nice memes BA, leaving customers out to dry since 2014

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *