Blog by Richard Heagy
(The scene is a British Airways (BA) terminal on a Bank Holiday weekend during which BA has suffered another disruption of its IT system, this time a complete meltdown of its worldwide system. Lines snake back and forth in the departure hall and outside as far as the eye can see. A disgruntled male passenger finally reaches the front of the line and confronts the female agent behind the counter at one of the few check-in positions that is open. He is dressed casually, wearing a short-sleeved shirt that reveals a large bruise on his left arm and a broken wristwatch)
BA AGENT: May I help you?
PASSENGER: I doubt it?
BA AGENT: We are doing the best we can, Sir.
PASSENGER: Do you know how long I have been waiting in line?
BA AGENT: I have no idea, but if you like I can make a guess.
PASSENGER: Never mind.
(The PASSENGER looks at the broken watch on his left wrist and places his hand on the counter with a thump)
PASSENGER (continuing): What time is it? As you can see my watch is broken and my arm is bruised.
BA AGENT: Sorry about that.
PASSENGER: Would you like to hear how it happened?
BA AGENT: Not really, Sir. Right now we are very busy.
PASSENGER: I will tell you anyway, since it is BA’s fault.
(The BA AGENT drums her fingers on the counter impatiently)
PASSENGER: After queueing for several hours I finally made it inside the terminal and eventually found a place to lie down alongside several other passengers in close quarters where we were furnished with yoga mats. I must have dozed off for a bit, but woke up suddenly with a lot of pain in my arm. One of the passengers was trying to step over me, but ended up stepping on my arm and breaking my watch.
BA AGENT: That’s unfortunate, but all of the passengers are suffering some kind of inconvenience because of the delays.
PASSENGER: I expect the airline to reimburse me.
BA AGENT: You will have to file your claim for compensation online.
PASSENGER: How can I do that when your IT system is dead?
BA AGENT: I really don’t know, Sir. It’s not my department. You might phone customer service for information. They may be able to help.
PASSENGER: When pigs fly.
BA AGENT: Excuse me?
PASSENGER: As I said, we were furnished with yoga mats but after a while I started getting a stiff neck. When I asked one of your staff about pillows, he said it would cost £7.
BA AGENT: That’s not right, Sir.
PASSENGER: Probably wanted to take advantage of the situation and make a little money on the side.
BA AGENT: Not at all, Sir. Our new CEO raised the price to £12 for pillows.
PASSENGER: You got to be kidding.
BA AGENT: No, Sir. We at BA take our pricing very seriously.
PASSENGER: Pretty soon you will probably cut out all amenities on board.
BA AGENT: There are no plans for that. Instead, we will charge for everything, no matter how small. Everything is being phased in, as you can see from the notice behind me.
(The PASSENGER looks up and reads the notice out loud)
PASSENGER: Peanuts, 5 p each; paper napkin, 10 p; recycled water, £1.50; plastic cup to hold the water, 75p; key to unlock and lower tray table, £1; toilet paper, £3; use of toilet (3 minute limit), £5.
BA AGENT: You will need to have exact change as no change will be given on board.
PASSENGER: You will probably start charging for a cushion on the seats inside the plane next.
BA AGENT: What an excellent idea. If I submit that as an employee suggestion I may get an award.
PASSENGER: What about the air outside the terminal while queueing for a delayed flight?
(The BA AGENT looks at the line behind the PASSENGER)
BA AGENT: Is there anything else I can help you with?
PASSENGER: Yes, I need a new boarding pass since my flight was changed.
BA AGENT: I’m sorry but the printer is not working.
PASSENGER: Maybe you can just write one out by hand.
BA AGENT: Even if I could do that, I don’t have any paper.
PASSENGER: Use this. Be careful; it’s the only one I have.
(The PASSENGER places a paper napkin of the counter. The BA AGENT looks at the napkin; then at her watch)
BA AGENT: Oh, look what time it is. My shift is over. Good luck and thank you for choosing BA.
(The BA AGENT walks off and is soon replaced with a new agent)
PASSENGER: I would like …
NEW AGENT: Sorry, but my shift doesn’t start for five more minutes.
(The NEW AGENT takes a bottle of nail polish from her purse and places it on the counter)
NEW AGENT (continuing): I know you have been waiting for quite some time, so a few more minutes should not matter.
ANNOUNCEMENT (over loudspeaker): We at British Airways are truly sorry for the delays that you have experienced and are doing everything possible to remedy the situation and get you to your destinations. You will hear a personal message from our CEO just as soon as he has finished his afternoon tea.
NEW AGENT: What did you say?
(The NEW AGENT starts polishing her nails, spills a few drops of polish on the counter and picks up the napkin to wipe it up)
PASSENGER: I mean to say bollocks.
(The PASSENGER slams his right fist of the counter and the bottle of nail polish spills all over)
NEW AGENT: Well, really. There is no need to get upset over a delay; it happens all the time.