All quiet on the BA front

imageI’ve been rather quiet on the blogging front recently as a result of my father’s ongoing illness in France.  However, I’m doing the best I can to try to prevent my own personal crisis impacting on my business commitments.

BA’s crisis management approach with respect to Terminal 5 seems to have been equally non-communicative as today was the first time I received an email as an Executive Club member commenting on the very public issue.

Sarah Keyes, Executive Club Manager describes the recent mayhem as “operational challenges”, and says she recognises “that we have let customers down” and of course, is “dedicated to meeting your expectations for Terminal 5 and offering you an improved experience.”

That’s it – no detail of how matters will change, not really heart felt apology, no concern that club members have not been communicated with as a key public in the weeks since the troublesome terminal opened.  Not a very impressive attempt at restoring a reputation.

But as this week’s banning of supermodel Naomi Campbell for life shows, public relations aren’t a forte of the airline.  I’m not excusing violence or tantrums, but I can imagine the way in which the loss of her baggage was communicated by an officious member of BA staff clutching a two-way radio.

Although the media has generally seemed to enjoy another opportunity to attack Ms Campbell (who famously won a libel case against the Mirror Group), her spokeswoman showed a professional approach in commenting on the current situation: “Naomi has been flying with BA for nearly 30 years and has been a good customer. She hopes this can be resolved amicably.”

Compare this to the BA media response

British Airways spokesman said they cannot give any comments about individual passengers and so would say nothing further about Naomi Campbell’s case.

The British Airways representative added: “All incidents of abusive or disruptive behaviour towards fellow passengers or staff are taken extremely seriously and will not be tolerated. We deal with cases on an individual basis and take appropriate action where necessary.”

It seems a shame that BA doesn’t take its own poor behaviour as seriously and not tolerate its corporate abuse of passengers.  And, how ridiculous to hide behind the weasel words of not commenting on individual passengers when they have banned this high-profile individual.

In a conversation with PR practitioners in the motor industry last week, someone using  Heathrow’s Terminal 5 for an upcoming media trip plans to advise media to bring hand luggage only – whilst others said, they’d rather use the money spent on business class tickets with BA to charter flights from smaller airports such as Farnborough

After all, would you risk your reputation by association with BA, BAA or Terminal 5?

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.