Sunday, 19 May 2024

Passengers accuse British Airways of 'inhumane' treatment during 77-hour journey

The eight-hour BA flight 2036 was due to take off from Orlando at 7.25pm local time (12.25am UK time) on Thursday – but passengers did not end up arriving back in the UK until Sunday.

After being forced to disembark an earlier plane due to a technical fault, the aircraft that eventually departed Orlando was diverted due to what BA called “a minor technical issue” and was forced to land in New York.

Images of children sleeping on the airport’s floor and complaints of having no food, drink or accommodation were shared on social media and described to reporters.

“BA’s customer service was disgusting, absolutely abhorrent,” passenger Sarah Wilson told the BBC.

The mother-of-four from Undy, Monmouthshire, whose flights to Florida cost more than £4,000, said their £11,000 “dream” family holiday to Disney World “turned into a nightmare”.

She accused BA of “failing their passengers when they needed help most”.

“The passengers were treated inhumanely, all we wanted was some food and drink, somewhere to sleep and to be kept informed – and they failed on all counts no matter what they claim,” she said.

BA has issued an apology, saying: “We appreciate that this was an exhausting and frustrating experience for our customers, and we have apologised for the long delay to their flight.”

The incident coincided with the New York marathon which meant hotels were busier than usual.

Despite allegations from customers that they were left to sleep on the floor of the terminal and given no food or drink, a spokesperson for BA said: “Customers were rebooked where possible and while there were limited hotel rooms available, our teams on the ground cared for customers in our first class lounge providing bedding, food and drinks to ensure they were comfortable during their stay.”

Some of the passengers posted about their experience on Twitter.

Rosie Slater Watts, from Banbury, shared two images of her children sleeping on the floor.

“#BA2036 deplorable service. Cannot believe our children had to sleep on the floor of an airport terminal for five and a half hours whilst you advise that you are looking after us,” she wrote.

Another mother wrote: “Imagine having a little daughter spending their birthday in a terminal, sat on a rock hard floor and not knowing when they’re going to eat, sleep or have a safe place to stay.

“Put yourself in the footsteps of that family and think about what you are doing.#BA2036 @British_Airways.”

John Chapman shared a photo of his daughter sleeping on the floor under a thin blanket.

“@British_Airways 7 year old cancer survivor, sleeping on the floor at terminal 7 JFK . Thanks for nothing,” he posted.

He complained of a lack of communication until “after 3 and a bit hours, a very good BA staff member turned up and information started to flow more and we sorted things out.”

A new plane was sent to New York on Saturday morning to pick up the stranded passengers.

In July, British Airways apologised after a “systems issue” meant dozens of flights in and out of Heathrow Airport had to be cancelled.

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