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Are you planning to book international air tickets for yourself or your family? If so, please read this to avoid falling in this pit unfortunately my wife and I fell into.

This happened to us by British Airways (BA) when they cancelled my air tickets without any request from my end. This has affected us both mentally and financially.

Let me explain:

December 2011: I came to US to work with my company for 6 months from December 2011 till 30th June 2012. Due to some personal reasons, I’d to sponsor our own air tickets instead of my company. So, I booked 2 return tickets for my wife and myself. New Delhi to Boston dated 27th December 2011 and Boston to Bengaluru (connecting London) dated 30th June 2012.

9th June 2012: My wife called British Airways customer care to inquire rescheduling and cancellation policy just in case my I’ve to stay further in US beyond 30th June 2012.

13th June 2012: I asked my wife to call again and check the price break-up of the individual tickets, since on BA website only the summed amount of all the tickets (including my travel in December 2011) was getting displayed.

20th June 2012: My company confirmed that I’ve to go back to India on the earlier decided date i.e. 30th June 2012. So, I went to BA website to take the print-outs of my tickets. But I was shocked to see that the tickets were not getting displayed there.

21st June 2012: I called customer care and they informed me that the tickets have been cancelled for both of us on 13th June 2012. They also mentioned that cancellation request had come from my side. I clarified them multiple times that my wife had never requested any cancellation or refund. I also requested for the recording tapes of the conversations between my wife and the customer care associate which could prove this. But they denied all the requests. The tickets were booked under my name using my credit card, but the associate didn’t ask any information related to me or the card. How could any associate just cancel the tickets without asking the necessary information? The weirdest was that we never even received a single cancellation email or notification. Just imagine if I would have not checked the tickets till the last date as we generally do, convinced that the tickets are there.

22nd June 2012: I called customer care again multiple times but the manager said there is only one option – buy new tickets. In fact, he asked me a weird question that why my wife called twice. Can’t a customer call multiple times to inquire something? I also contacted BA customer relations but didn’t hear any positive response yet.

This seems either a mistake by customer care associate who spoke to my wife on 13th June 2012 or an error in the BA reservations system. I suspect latter because customer care informed me that both Boston – London and London – Bengaluru tickets are cancelled, but the main page of ‘Manage my Booking’ still shows London – Bengaluru flight details, as displayed in below snapshot of my booking. See in the top circle my July 2012 booking is getting displayed with the online check-in countdown in the right circle but the same details are not there in the below circle. Isn’t that shows their mistake?

I’ve bought this situation to my company’s senior management notice. They have extended my US stay for sometime, but the new tickets did cost me lot of $$$ provided the expensive air tickets price on such short notice.

I’ve emailed to Keith Williams, CEO of British Airways. His staff did respond with the same reply I got from customer care, and I am still following up with them trying to convince that it is not my fault. I’ve also raised a complaint against British Airways through a legal channel for the compensation of $$$ I’d to spend on my new tickets. I am willing to settle with the minimum.

Though this bad experience has given me my wife and me a lot of financial and mental stress, it has taught some lessons (this could apply to other airlines or service providers as well):

1. BA has the most pathetic customer care. 97% passengers of BA agree with this. Google it and you will find it out. So try to always avoid calling them.

2. If you no other option but to call BA’s pathetic customer care, try not to call more than once. They might misunderstand it, assume something by themselves, and propably take weirdest action without even informing you.

3. Always keep reiterating what they should not do even if you are requesting them to do so, like in my case we should have reiterated that please don’t reschedule or cancel my tickets, even though we never asked for cancellation.

4. Always book your tickets through a good travel agent, even if it cost a little more but then such incidents would be the agent’s overhead and not yours. This is most important.

I am hoping something positive soon and will update the post. I request you to share this post as much as possible…it might ring a bell somewhere. Thanks !!!

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