Letter: Self-righteous air

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Far be it from me to disagree with Egon Ronay (letter, 30 October), but I travelled (economy class) to the US with British Airways last week and I thought that the in-flight food was entirely satisfactory. It is regrettable that the same cannot be said for the manner in which BA treats its paying customers.

When I checked in at Heathrow, I was informed that the flight was overbooked and that it was likely that I would have to travel by an alternative (slower) route. The best explanation I was offered was that "It's just one of those things" since BA policy is to overbook every flight by 10 per cent and I simply had the misfortune to be booked on a flight for which most passengers had turned up. I was told I would be compensated and I was given a pounds 4 voucher for the airport restaurant. When I was later condescendingly informed that I would after all be fortunate enough to be granted the place which I had booked (and for which I had paid pounds 565), the staff seemed to expect my undying gratitude.

Instead they have convinced me that the "world's favourite airline" has such a complacent and self-righteous attitude that I would be better to travel with alternative carriers in future. Conversations with friends and colleagues have revealed that many experienced travellers feel the same.

I understand the commercial pressures which force airlines to try to ensure that their planes are full, but if passengers' views were publicised I wonder how long it would be before similar commercial considerations forced BA to treat their customers with a bit more respect.

Professor Peter Mathieson

University of Bristol