BA – Being unable to check-in online for our return journey has put me off flying BA in future

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Date of travel

May, 2024

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British Airways

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On our recent holiday to Tuscany we flew BA from Heathrow to Pisa.. We prefer flying from Gatwick – coming from Kent it’s much easier and quicker for us – but both Naturetrek and HF Holidays use BA, probably because of the generous luggage allowance, helpful when packing boots and walking gear, although we’ve never had to use our full allowance.

Our outward flight was fine. We’d checked in online as soon as it was open and were happy with the seats we’d been allocated. On arrival at Terminal 5 there was a small queue at the self-service baggage drop kiosks but it didn’t take too long to drop off or hold luggage; security and boarding were fairly uneventful and and although we were a bit late leaving the time was made up en route and we landed early. As there’s nowhere to get a cheap and cheerful cooked breakfast at Terminal 5 we bought a Meal Deal to take on the plane so we didn’t need to buy food on board, however the cabin crew handed out a small packet of biscuits or flapjacks and a bottle of water each. This might sound very basic fare to those who prefer flying Business Class/Club Europe or whatever but for a short flight to Europe we’ve never considered this option and probably couldn’t afford it anyway.

However, our return flight was a different matter. 24 hours before the flight my husband tried to check-in online for the return journey but ithat was not possible – it was unavailable. Despite trying at different times during the day he, and others on our holiday, including the Naturetrek guide, failed to access the site. One of our group had the BA app so managed to check in. Unfortunately my husband had read articles about how terrible the BA app was and had decided not to bother with it. We crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. When we arrived at Pisa airport initially there were two check-in desks open for BA flights – one for ‘speedy boarding’ and one for the rest, including our group, but our queue was not moving. Then one of the check-in clerks closed her desk and the remaining desk dealt with both queues. The same thing had happened to us in Milan Malpensa airport last year. Things moved more slowly as it became obvious to us that nobody was being allowed to take any carry-on luggage into the cabin so people were opening up cases and removing items they didn’t want to go in the hold.; this delayed things even more and we were rappidly running out of time. We finallly got through but had to hurry to boarding so couldn’t buy anything to eat on the plane. Worse was to come when we found that our seats were in the back row of the plane – with no window. As I suffer from mild claustrophobia I do like to be able to see out – to see anything,even a slight glimpse of clouds or sky through a nearby window helps. Things were held up when the cabin crew could not close the doors of some of the nearby overhead lockers due to too many large wheeled cases and there was talk of having to put one particularly large one in the hold., causing further deelay: I’m at a loss to understand how these large cases were allowed on in the first place when all we were allowed was a small underseat bag; I suspect a group in front of us who were changing onto another flight at Heathrow did not have any luggage at all in the hold to allow them a speedy transfer. I then realised that not only could I not see out I could not read my book either, as it was in my hand luggage that had gone in the hold. I consoled myself by reading the in-flight food options and we each decided on a sandwich, sweet treat and drink bundle. An announcement from the flight deck that Pisa and the leaning tower would be visible from the left side of the cabin only added to my unhappiness as we’d not seen anything of Pisa apart from the road to the airport. Eventually we took off and we were given a packet of biscuits and small bottle of water; we sipped the water and waited for the trolley to come round, so hungry that I was salivating at the thought of a Tom Kerridge cheese and carmelised onion sandwich. We waited, and waited. Obviously being in the last row meant a long wait. When the trolley eventually arrived we asked for the sandwiches we’d chosen but were told there were none. One of the flight attendants then revealed the unbelievable fact that BA management only allow 2 sandwiches on the Pisa route – she said that they complain but nothing happens so she suggested we should complain to BA about it. I suspect those two sandwiches had been eaten by passengers on the outward flight. (I’ve since checked the BA website and it does advise pre-ordering food to ensure you are not disappointed but I don’t remember seeing any reference to this in the printed onboard information booklet.) We were offered a toasted panini(?) but as we were nearing the time when the plane was due to start descending we declined and I ate my two biscuits, plus the two from the outward flight that I’d still got in my bag. Upon landing we then had to wait ages while everyone sitiing in front of us disembarked and when I joked that it was a shame there weren’t any boarding stairs so we could get out the back door as it was so close one of the attendants said that BA didn’t use those, adding ‘if you’d rather fly with easyJet that’s up to you’.

Yes, actually, I think I would rather fly easyJet; at least we could have checked-in for our return flight at the same time as the outward journey. If easyJet can allow this why can’t BA?


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