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Stranded in Venice

Old 30th May 2013, 12:58
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Stranded in Venice

From BBC: BBC News - British Airways passengers sleep at Venice airport

I understand that if the crew are unable to fly the passengers can't fly, but were no hotel rooms available at any price? Also, what about the fact that the stranded passengers couldn't get to their luggage, medication etc? Who makes those decisions and shouldn't someone from BA been liaising with the airport to make sure of the best arrangements possible for the passengers?

Last edited by LondonPax; 30th May 2013 at 12:58.
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Old 30th May 2013, 17:58
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I think that Flight Delay gives the correct summary: the airline is responsible to provide meals, refreshments and overnight accommodation. When restaurants on the airport are open, it's fine to provide meal and refreshment vouchers; but when restaurants are closed, the airline has to find another way to provide meals (at reasonable times).

I do assume that BA will have a discussion about this incident with the people that handle their passengers in Venice... Someone there erred in not arranging for refreshments an accommodation for the night. (I guess when rumour got to London it was too late to arrange something other than breakfast.)

For the lawyers, the relevant paragraph from the EU directive
Article 9 Right to care

1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall be offered free of charge:
(a) meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time;
(b) hotel accommodation in cases
- where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary, or
- where a stay additional to that intended by the passenger becomes necessary;
(c) transport between the airport and place of accommodation (hotel or other).
2. In addition, passengers shall be offered free of charge two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails.
3. In applying this Article, the operating air carrier shall pay particular attention to the needs of persons with reduced mobility and any persons accompanying them, as well as to the needs of unaccompanied children.

Last edited by MathFox; 30th May 2013 at 18:01. Reason: add legalese
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Old 31st May 2013, 00:14
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........When crew duty limits start to impinge, there are both union and legal limits to be considered.

In both cases it's the Captain's responsibility to gently and tactfully obtain the cooperation of the cabin crew in obtaining a sensible outcome. The cockpit crew's negotiated scale of duty limitations tend to be more flexible, although busting legal constraints has to be justified robustly.

Also on short haul there will be only two, or possibly three of them in the cockpit, and consensus is simple. The cabin crew, on the other hand probably are more affected by being on their feet, and in many ways more stressed by external forces such as passenger service, and generally being more out of the operational loop.

When the Captain approaches the cabin crew for their cooperation in assessing whether or not they remain sufficiently fresh and awake in order to throw the doors open and monitor an evacuation, squirt an extinguisher, or police drunks and suspicious-looking foreigners, he may not always get the answer he wants. Long-haul cabin crews can be trickier, as they will have a Cabin Service Director plus a hierarchy of Pursers with opinions in each cabin. Short-haul cabin crew numbers are smaller with a higher probability of hot dates and baby-sitters to consider if it's a day trip from base and not a 'tour'. Other considerations, such as that day's final schedule out of somewhere like Damascus or Pyongyang might come into play, when it comes down to a final assessment of fatigue vs duty overrun payments......(.not that I'm suggesting that BA currently operate to DAM or FNJ )

The cost of operating two aircraft on positioning sectors in terms of equipment disruption, fuel, maintenance schedule, extra crew time, navigation, landing and handling fees are likely to be mind boggling, and taken together with the collateral damage and disruption caused will be closely examined, I suspect. The lead hand in the cabin crew will hope to be on firm ground, as will others who took decisions that day.

Which ever way you look at it, treating passengers that way by cancelling a short sector is a disaster, and is bound to risk being viewed as indifference by the wider public. It takes only the news-hounds to pick up on a 'human interest' story, such as someone stranded whilst rushing to a hospital bed-side, to do immense potential damage to any airline's reputation, and whatever justification is paraded, it is bound to appear plain mean.

Of course it's always possible that an ops decision was taken at base that over-rode the Captain or the cabin crew, but it still is an un-happy event......
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Old 31st May 2013, 08:04
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They clearly didn't look outside of Venice for accommodation. A search, I'm sure, would have found accommodation in a nearby town and they could have hired coaches to get them there and back. Costly, but the damage to BA would have been minimised. Locking passengers in to the airport seems bizarre, not to say potentially dangerous. Black marks to BA.
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Old 31st May 2013, 11:40
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Who are the handling agents for BA at Venice? Because BA of necessity use handling agents, although the personnel are in BA uniform, I find it's the exception for them to be helpful and frequently, downright rude and unhelpful. Prague has been one example, about which I complained to BA.

So I'm not surprised the ground staff walked away.

Not sure if the staff at Nice are BA employees: if they are handling agents, they are the exception. Similarly at Phoenix.
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Old 31st May 2013, 14:48
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The Venice Biennale is on. I doubt there are any spare hotel rooms for many miles around Venice, let alone 140 of them.
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Old 1st Jun 2013, 09:34
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.......If as mentioned above, the local ground staff left the passengers to fend for themselves, that's a further point.

If the cockpit crew were still 'legal' in terms of duty extension to operate the short sector back home, the cabin crew can't have been too far apart in interpreting their own industrial agreement and, of course, interpretation of the legal limit. If indeed they remained on the aircraft for the empty sector home, one of them will have been by company regulation nominated to remain as the cabin safety operative anyway. ( some one correct me if current BA rules and circumstances are different )

I may be not be on solid ground here, but if this event had involved a smaller and less unionised operator, and in extremis, a perfectly serviceable aircraft shot off back into the sky leaving behind an entire complement of paid-up customers, the Captain's commercial decision might well have been to leave one or more cabin crew behind in order to ensure that the stranded passenger's best interests were protected. Legal duty extension parameters apply only to on-board aircraft operation. Any further discussion would involve active negotiated industrial agreements. Again, if as implied above, the local traffic staff are franchised and not BA employees, there could therefore now be a company rep remaining present to negotiate on the passenger's behalf, and ensure that BA's Station Manager was monitoring even if was out of hours.

Of course it's always easy to comment from a distance, and there may be more factors involved that I've overlooked, but it's still what hits the press that matters a lot.

Mutterings apart, I have a lot of sympathy for cabin crew and other airline staff who inevitably are in the front line, and as a regular fare-paying long-haul passenger with a choice of operators to my particular destination, I stick firmly to BA for plenty of reasons that surpass an occasional hiccup.........
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Old 1st Jun 2013, 12:49
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Three issues in my mind.

Crewing issues - The Flight Deck where in hours and under CAP371 have less hours than Cabin Crew. So if there was a delay situation why had the Cabin crew not been changed.

Handling agent issues - As has been said there may have been lack of rooms locally but we are not at the height of summer so rooms could be available else where just needs a bit of lateral thought.

Customer services - Again a bit of lateral thought. Move as many via other operators ok might not be direct but at least they are moving. What about via Paris or Amsterdam and using Eurostar.

Sorry my background was in ops/crewing with non-unionised caring airlines.
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Old 1st Jun 2013, 13:01
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Not defending this awful treatment of our pax, but
Originally Posted by xtypeman
Crewing issues
- I read the delay was at VCE?

For those who do not understand BA's (as was, anyway) way of crewing, the c/crew may well have 'joined' the f/deck for the VCE rotation from a previous flight thus running out of any possible extension before pilots. In my time we campaigned hard for 'parallel rostering' to avoid very complicated discretionary decisions for Captains, but 'they' knew best.

Overall, BA not showing too well, at the moment, are they?
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Old 1st Jun 2013, 16:09
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Some years back, at PHX, the aircraft had tech problems three times. The ground staff stayed on for another four hours, getting pax on and off the a/c. It was the Saturday of a July 4 weekend: the ground staff were frantically checking on where to get rooms for a full 747-4 of pax, just in case. Eventually, we got off but the crew were in discretion: there were some moans from obviously junior CC, but everybody else really buckled down to get the a/c away and keep the pax as happy as could be. That was a really good job, and shows what BA staff can and will do - if allowed to.

I suspect that maybe the PHX ground staff - or a substantial number of them - are BA employees.
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Old 1st Jun 2013, 17:31
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I think BOAC has it right.

It used to amaze me that we could not be crewed with the same cabin crew for the whole tour, be it one day or more, long haul or short.

Sadly, I think this one is down to the unions and historically weak management.
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Old 2nd Jun 2013, 08:14
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Sounds like wrong place at the wrong time.
If the C/C had gone out of hours it seems a strange decision to leave the pax at VCE and return the aircraft unless for example the crew were on day 7 (the max allowed without a day off)
Most other airlines would have left the crew and aircraft in VCE and flown back after min rest, but if they could find xx hotel rooms for the crew and none for the pax it may have been a operational decision to avoid such a scenario, most pax would understand this situation perhaps, you have to consider the small minority however.
Whilst it was a complete PR disaster at least the pax got back, had it been a LOWCO what would have happened??...
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Old 2nd Jun 2013, 08:57
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Venice

If it had been a LoCo the pax would have been better treated!

This looks to have all the hall marks of stroppy BA CC refusing to go the extra mile and operate into discretion. And that is why I do not fly BA anymore.

When the ash cloud struck a year or two ago I was stranded in Spain with easyJet and the service they offered was first class.
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Old 2nd Jun 2013, 09:49
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What has to be remembered in all of this is at the end of the day its the passengers who pays the wages.......
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Old 2nd Jun 2013, 10:19
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Originally Posted by 101917
This looks to have all the hall marks of stroppy BA CC refusing to go the extra mile and operate into discretion. And that is why I do not fly BA anymore.
- read post #9? Unless you have definite evidence of what you say you are completely out of order. In my experience, LGW c/crew were excellent and would have done everything possible and legal.

I just cannot believe the decision was avoidable - for whatever reason. It sounds as if the only other option would be 3hr+ coach rides to Verona or Padua etc. for hotel rooms
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Old 2nd Jun 2013, 11:00
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MathFox quoted the EU regs above. Can anybody tell me what, if any, recompense pax have if the airline clearly does not provide the support stated?

UFO
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Old 2nd Jun 2013, 11:10
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Here's what I don't understand. Did the cabin crew return to base in the otherwise-empty aircraft as crew or as passengers ?

If they were designated as crew they were on duty and should have had all the pax along with them.

If they were designated as pax because they were not on duty they had no business being in a cabin without any crew, on an aircraft whose only crew comprised the two pilots.
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Old 2nd Jun 2013, 13:18
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First the passenger should contact the airline and seek reimbursement of any expenses incurred.

If the airline rejects the claim, or ignores it, then the NEB should be contacted. It is best to contact the NEB of the country of the airline, although NEBs in the country of residence, country of flight origin, country of flight destination should also be able to assist, but there will be language/translation issues.

More information here: How to Complain (but ignore the bit that tells you to complain to the NEB of the country where the incident occurred, follow my advice above)

This incident was a flight cancellation, the passengers likely are entitled to cash compensation of 250, in addition to refund of any expenses incurred for 'care'.
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Old 2nd Jun 2013, 14:29
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WHBM - yes, a good question but no answer will arrive, I suspect. It just could, of course, be that 1 c/crew member was still in hours eg called off standby for the rotation or mixed roster. On the other hand...........................................
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Old 2nd Jun 2013, 17:59
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While I was not a part of this crew, I can set one record straight. The cabin crew did not come back to the UK on the empty aircraft. They stayed in VCE airport with the passengers.
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