Socialist Worker

Exclusive: How BA bosses are putting profit before stranded passengers

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2198

The world’s airlines claim they are trying to help those stranded by the disruption caused by the Icelandic volcano. The truth is they are trying to make profit rather than assist ordinary travellers. They are running half-empty flights, open only to those prepared to pay top fares, while people who had flights cancelled are left grounded.

The experience of Jenny Dalglish from Hackney in east London shows how British Airways bosses have cynically manipulated people.

Jenny (who is pregnant), her five-year-old son and her mother were due to fly home from New York on the day the volcano started. Their flight was cancelled and they were told that another would be available in four days time. “It was very worrying because we were given no information that BA would pay for accommodation or food. My mum was not well and her medication was running low.

“All the hotels and airlines immediately put up prices, often several times over. The rich could charter private boats and taxis, and pay thousands to just extend their stay or get out. The rest of us were left with no help.”

Desperate for somewhere to stay, Jenny and the others went to friends in Boston. But again their flight was cancelled at the beginning of this week and they were told there were no flights available for another eight days.

“At that point,” says Jenny, “We were at last told that the company would pay bills for food and accommodation, but we had not kept all the receipts so that money was lost.

“Then my mum went on the internet and saw there were flights available on BA that day from Boston to London – at $3,000 a time. We were enraged, I demanded to know why we couldn’t fly and yet there were tickets you could buy.

“Because of my child and my mum’s health BA gave in. But incredibly the flight was a third empty. There were 40 seats empty in my section alone. The cabin crew, who seemed to hate BA bosses even more than us, said flights were constantly leaving with lots of space.

“Why aren’t BA filling all these flights – including First Class – so people can get home? Instead they’re out to make up the revenue they lost. The man next to me had paid $2,000 for his seat. He was travelling on business. He got a seat, a stranded traveller did not.”

The same company that is treating its staff so badly is also treating the passengers it claims to care for with contempt.

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Thu 22 Apr 2010, 17:42 BST
Issue No. 2198
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