British Airways is mounting a huge PR offensive to repair the damage to its reputation caused by last week’s unofficial strike by check-in staff at Heathrow Airport.
BA believes that it can turn around negative perceptions of its brand and cool the anger of furious passengers by apologising to them individually, explaining how the situation got out of control, and offering compensation.
In what may go down as the biggest customer relations drive in history, BA will try to personally contact each of the 90,000 passengers affected by the chaos to offer apologies and ensure they receive full compensation.
It holds details of 17,000 frequent fliers who were among the passengers stranded at the airport for hours – and in some cases days – as a result of the strike. Staff from BA’s marketing, sales and customer relations departments will put in personal phone calls to 7,000 Premier and Gold Card members of its Executive Club and will write letters to 10,000 Silver and Blue Card holders.
A spokeswoman denies that this amounts to relegating some customers to “second-class” status. She says it is not physically possible to call all the affected passengers.
The airline will also search for ways to contact the remaining 70,000 affected travellers whose details it does not hold, although it accepts it may not be able to track down all of them. It will post staff in airports so people can contact them when they return from their trips.
“We accept we can’t fully compensate for the disruption, but we are trying to make sure the people who were affected are properly looked after,” says the spokeswoman.