The idea for this blog came to me a while ago. I was standing at the old Heathrow Terminal 4 in the days before BA transferred to the new place and had been waiting for my luggage for an hour or so. It was one of several similar Friday evenings in a row where the same delays had occurred. As usual no one was especially interested in me, or my fellow passengers and of course there was nowhere to sit. I am referring to us as ‘passengers’ note, not the recently more popularised ‘customers’. So I resolved to write to BA. Of course by the time the beers I had consumed had worn off the next day and the anger had subsided I never actually got around to sending the letter. As a result yet another customer complaint failed to reach the ears of the people that it should have been heard by. But I wanted somewhere to express my frustrations, mainly about travel.
What I did do though was to spend a couple of hours at the computer with my old work diaries and an Excel spreadsheet to sort out just how much time I was spending on planes and in hotels. The sad facts are that between 1992 and the end of 2010 I flew on 1,498 separate flights across more than 48 airlines. I say more than, because I did not recognize some of the flight codes of long defunct carriers in places like post-USSR and ended up with an ‘other’ bucket. Of these 761 flights were on BA. My records are a bit sketchy before 1992, but I think we can safely assume the real number is larger. More than ten years have passed by since so I have no idea what the final tally was by the time I stopped working in 2019. One day I’ll sit down and complete the exercise. Sadly I also have a record of every hotel I have stayed in, although quite how many actual hotel nights I haven’t had the energy to work out.
I should point out that flying and staying in hotels was not actually my job. It is just that I could not do my job without the flying and the hotels. Not a very impressive carbon footprint I am ashamed to say.
As I read this again in 2022 having not done much with this site for a while, I noted that across the intervening years until I eventually left the corporate world, the regularity of taking flights and staying in hotels for work did not diminish. But what did change was the level of customer service, or the lack of it, that went with it. At least in 2011 some airlines made a reasonable attempt at maintaining some level of customer service. But ever since it seems that both the airport and the actual experience of being on a flight has simply not been fun. It’s been a headlong rush to the bottom and it’s not just the airlines – it’s everywhere it seems. Nobody cares much about the customer’s experience any more.
So, the net of all this is that I think I am quite well qualified to comment on customer service and travel. So that’s how this blog started. It’s drifted a bit from the original intent to be a forum for telling the good (and the bad) stories about some of the places, companies and people whose service we often have no choice but to use. It has been suggested several times that I write a book about some of the funnier stories of the last few decades – perhaps.