Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Low cost and low expectations

Dear Bmi Baby,

I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you that you are receiving a letter of complaint in relation to your decision to cancel the 15:30 flight from Belfast City Airport to East Midlands Airport on Monday 19th September. I am also quite certain that this is not the only letter which you will be receiving, given the solemn mood in the departure lounge on that fateful afternoon.

My frustrations run deeper than the mere disappointment at having to spend a sunny Monday afternoon inside the corporate limbo of George Best Airport. You see, I am a reasonable man. People say so. I am so patient and enjoy my own company and, had I made a decision to waste a day I'd be quite happy with my choice to do so. However turning up on time to be told by a member of Group 4 Security: 'Flights been cancelled, go to departures' didn't exactly get me on side.

Confused and a little bit annoyed I joined the bitter queue at departures (despite having already printed my boarding pass) behind a woman who had just been given the same news as me; she was not impressed. In fact I took it better than she did. Eventually I was seen by a young chap who offered little apology or explanation stating the cancellation was something 'operational'. Keeping my composure, I asked how long they had been privy to the knowledge that the flight had been cancelled, to which he shrugged. I then recalled the laborious booking process where, amongst the traps including car hire, insurance, priority lounge and excess baggage potholes I was asked for my mobile phone number. I asked him politely why, if they have our contact information from booking, did they not contact the customers and let them know the flight had been cancelled earlier. This would have saved me significant time and effort as well as £55 in a taxi. Again, my comment was met with a shrug.

Now, I don't want to get this guy in trouble. He was polite in his ignorance and it was quite apparent that he did not know why the flight had been cancelled and that he was in the highly unfortunate position of having to tell the would be passengers that they would be unable to get home/to work/to appointments/meet deadlines and so on. He put us on the next flight however, which was at ten past seven. This was at half past one.

On the plus, I was offered (after I asked) some compensation! That'll help the next 6 hours simply fly by! My girlfriend and I were able to treat ourselves with your very generous token of a £3 voucher, redeemable throughout the airport (excluding W H Smith). You can imagine our elation at this 'Golden Ticket', an opportunity to dine like kings, an ephemeral blissful moment were we could forget our humdrum lives and the poverty we wade through and enjoy the finer things free of guilt. It might surprise you to learn what £3 will buy you in George Best airport...

At the Bushmills bar: 1 small tube of pringles.

At the Cafe: Crisps and Soft drinks (excluding Innocent Smoothies).

At O'Brien's Sandwich bar: nothing, whatsoever.

Needless to say we were disappointed; however we opted to use our £3 voucher to offset our meal at the ‘Bushmills bar’ which came in at £26.55. I appreciate that times are hard, but three pounds does not stretch as far as it once did and, I would anticipate that with a turnover in excess of £869,000,000 last year that you could perhaps dig a bit deeper in order to preserve a valued and regular customer.

Yours sincerely,

Tiernan Welch

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