Airline & airport complaints

Lies and misinformation from Heathrow

Wednesday, 01 July 2009 20:15

How accurate are airport information systems and websites and should you believe what they say?

Modern flight information systems are accurate, very accurate, and what's more they are available on the internet free of charge. Why can't Heathrow show passengers the true state of flights, instead of misleading them?

Here is an example . . .

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Flight EI725 from London Heathrow to Cork, scheduled departure time is 22:15 with scheduled arrival at 23:25

At 2115 Heathrow was telling passengers via their airport displays that all was well, the Aer Lingus EI725 to Cork will depart on time. They were also telling the world the same story via their website. Here is what the world was seeing . . .

london heathrow

Meanwhile, over in Cork, anyone waiting for the flight is being told the same story, or perhaps we should say 'fairy story' with the expected time being shown as the scheduled time . . .

cork airport

Meanwhile, a little searching around on the internet reveals that over an hour ago a delay of 26 minutes was posted for this flight, as shown by flightstats.com . . .

flightstats shows the posted delay

The obvious question is, 'Why doesn't Heathrow tell the truth?' If the passengers can get better information off the internet then there is something seriously wrong with Heathrow's information systems. There is also something suspect about the management for allowing this to happen.

So what was the ACTUAL state of affairs? Did the flight depart and arrive when Heathrow said, or when Cork airport said, or was flightstats.com right all the time?

Here's the true answer . . .

At 2136, after the time that the gate should have been posted at Heathrow, an announcement was made that the flight would be delayed. Heathrow knew that over an hour before, but kept that information from passengers AND anyone waiting for the flight.

Heathrow did not update their web information, but Cork airport were really fast off the mark as shown here.

Cork update airort information

One immediately asks why a small provincial airport can update details while Heathrow can't.

At 2254, flightstats.com was saying that the flight was en route

flight stats at 2254

Heathrow was still telling the world that the gate had closed, while Cork was still sticking to its 2345 arrival time.

The true state of the flight is shown by this table . . .

ei725 actual flight details

This table clearly shows that the airline, Aer Lingus, knew about the delay to this flight over 3 hours before the scheduled departure time, Heathrow airport should have known, because the airline is constantly updating a worldwide database as changes occur. BAA and Heathrow take a more relaxed attitude or couldn't care less attitude depending on your point of view. As the BAA disclaimer says . . .

'BAA Airports Limited does not verify the accuracy or completeness of this flight information and disclaims any implied warranties with regard to it.'

Passengers and people who are going to airports to collect them deserve better. BAA could do better, but as their disclaimer shows, they don't really care about service. Aer Lingus is no better. The great looser is the travelling public, but what's new about that?

By the way, the flight eventually arrived, the details from flightstats.com are shown below.

EI725 arrival

and the full details of the flight schedule are below, read it carefully and you can see who knew what and when, it's a damning indictment of BAA Limited.

EI725 LHR to ORK actual details

Conclusions on Heathrow flight information

Slow and inaccurate. If you really want to know what is happening to a flight don't waste your time visiting the Heathrow website, use a 'proper' service like flightstats and you'll be better-informed than Heathrow. Some people might find these results and conclusions surprising, but if you are a regular traveller you will already know that Heathrow is a bad airport.

 

Questions that Heathrow airport refuses answer

Thursday, 28 May 2009 15:07

Table of questions posed to BAA Heathrow airport concerning security screening of passengers and assaults on passengers by security personnel

Index of the exchange


Question to Heathrow airport Answer from Heathrow airport
15 May 2009
1 Is it possible for airport security staff to assault members of the public whilst carrying out their search duties?    
have these [security screeners] people been granted some special immunity from prosecution for acts which would normally be regarded as serious assaults upon the person?
As with any human interaction, I accept that the possibility exists for individuals to feel they have had a negative experience. I am confident, however, that while you felt you were given an overly thorough body search, this procedure in in live with our security standards and was not intended to offend or harm you.

Comment: The BAA representative does not appear to be able to accept that the passenger was assaulted, in the same way that the police might not accept that a woman was raped.
2 have these [security screeners] people been granted some special immunity from prosecution for acts which would normally be regarded as serious assaults upon the person? Our staff are subject to the same standards of hehavious that would be expected of any individual.

Comment: This is not an answer to the question.
3 What should I do if I consider that I have been assaulted? Who should I ask to speak to, how do I know that my complaint will be taken seriously and that I will not be victimized? Specifically that the staff will not make sure that I miss my flight?
‘Pleased by assured if you fell that a member of out team has been rude or has physically harmed you, that our operations managers will take this very seriously.'

Comment: The question is quite clear, but a clear unequivocal answer has not been given. An assault can take place without physical contact, a fact that notices in airports and other places are only too quick to point out to travelers. It is obvious from internet research that passengers in the US have been the  subject of retaliation from staff.
4 What measures are in place to ensure that homosexuals or lesbians are not employed in this sensitive duty where they could abuse their position and derive sexual gratification from mistreating members of the public who might not want to complain especially as they know that they will be delayed in doing so? Our staff are employed in a professional capacity to ensure the safety and security of Heathrow airport, passengers and other staff. We are satisfied that our staff have been trained to perform body searches in line with Department for Transport standards.

Comment: This is not an answer to the question.
5 The North American screening method uses small hand-held metal detectors - why are these not used in the UK and more widely in Europe as this would virtually eliminate the possibility of assault, are quicker and much less stressful? We use a range of search techniques at Heathrow airport, whcih may involve the use of a hand held device.

Comment: This does not answer the question.
6 . . . I would like a written statement explaining exactly what your airport management define as a verbal assault and a physical assault on a member of staff . . . Any act which affects the health and safety of any individual will be treated seriously by Heathrow airport. We expect staff to be courteous and helpful toward our passengers at all times.

Comment: Insufficient information
7 . . . can you please provide me with the name and reference of these regulations and the name of the Act of Parliament that gives them force or the legal instrument or order that gives them force. BAA security staff are required to carry out duties in line with the Department for Transport's regulations as part of the Aviation Security Act.

Comment: In all cases the public are entitled to ask and receive an answer to the question 'by what authority do you act?' without that anyone in any position of authority could do anything they liked without challenge. This response says nothing and does not answer the question.
8 Please confirm that the actual regulations are secret and the public has no access to them. You will find more information on these regualtions at www.dft.gov.uk

Comment: This in not a confirmation, the website does not contain the information.
9 Please confirm that passengers are only ever asked to do things that are contained within these regulations and that passengers and others are never asked to do anything that is not explicitly stated in the regulations. In addition to Department for Transport regulations, our staff carry out a number of tasks as required by BAA to ensure safety and security of our airport. These tasks include preventing the enrty of items into secure areas which we consider my [sic] pose a health or safety risk. The processes for searching passengers at the airport, however, is monitored by the Department for Transport.

Comment: Security staff are not honest with passengers and deliberately ask questions that are not within the Department for Transport regualtions. A specific example is 'Are you wearing a belt?' - the stressed passenger is likely to interpret that as meaning that they are required to remove their belt and put in into the tray for passing through the x-ray machine. The correct answer is 'yes' or 'no'. There is NO requirement for the passenger to remove their belt. What is actually happening is that passengers are being misled by the security staff. Next time you go through the airport, in response to any request simply ask 'Is that a mandatory requirement?' and you will be surprised to find that you are NOT required to remove your belt.

Similarly you are NOT required to throw away your water bottle - only empty in before going through security, then refill it wil tap water on the other side. If you can't find a tap ask any of the cafes or retail outlets and they will fill it FREE of charge.

10 I wish to complain further and request that you tell me what organisations or regulators both governmental or otherwise are available for aggrieved travelers to contact. I understand you may wish to discuss your concems [sic] further with the Department for Transport. For your convenience, their contact details are:
Department for Transport Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street London
SW1P 4DR
Fax: 02079449643

Comment: BAA Heathrow airport has not answered the question with candor, their answer should include details of the Civil Aviation Authority's Air Transport User's Council, one wonders why!

If I was a teacher marking and exam or homework I would be writing 'anwer the question!' and similar comments in red all over the script. The conclusion to be drawn is that BAA and Heathrow airport are not interested in passenger complaints. If you can avoid LHR then avoid it.

Index listing of the original complain and full exchange of letters

Read the original complaint

   

Can airport security staff assault passengers? - part - 6

Thursday, 28 May 2009 13:07

If you are following the saga of complaints against airport security staff at London Heathrow airport LHR this is part 6, a response from Heathrow. It fails to provide any real answers to questions. In the face of serious allegations a wall of silence is put up which suggests that Heathrow and other airports have something to hide.

Index list of the exchange


baa_0905_1.jpg baa_0905_2.jpg

Heathrow Airport
Passenger Communications Floor 1, Heathrow Point West 234 Bath Road
Middlesex UB3 5AP

BAA

15 May 2009


Feedback Reference Number: [number removed ]


Dear [name removed ]

Thank you for your letter dated 11 May, I am sorry that you feel we have not answered your questions.

In response to your specific points:

1. As with any human interaction, I accept that the possibility exists for individuals to feel they have had a negative experience. I am confident, however, that while you felt you were given an overly thorough body search, this procedure is in line with our security standards and was not intended to offend or harm you.

2. Our staff are subject to the same standards of behaviour that would be expected of any individual.

4. Our staff are employed in a professional capacity to ensure the safety and security of Heathrow airport, passengers and other staff. We are satisfied that our staff have been trained to perform body searches in line with Department for Transport standards.

5. We use a range of search techniques at Heathrow airport, which may involve the use of a hand held device.

6. Any act which affects the health or safety of any individual will be treated seriously by Heathrow airport. We expect our staff to be courteous and helpful toward our passengers at all times.

7. BAA security staff are required to carry out duties in line with the Department for Transport's regulations as part of the Aviation Security Act.

8. You can find more information on these regulations at www.dft.gov.uk.

9. In addition to Department for Transport regulations, our staff carry out a number of tasks as required by BAA to ensure the safety and security of our airport. These tasks include preventing the entry of items into secure areas which we consider my pose a health or safety risk. The process for searching passengers at the airport, however, is monitored by the Department for Transport.

I understand you may wish to discuss your concems further with the Department for Transport. For your convenience, their contact details are:

Department for Transport Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street London
SW1P 4DR
Fax: 02079449643

Thank you again for taking the time to write.

Yours sincerely
[Name and signature removed]
BAA


read the letter to which BAA is responding

This response does not provide answers to the legitimate questions asked by the passenger. The BAA, operator of Heathrow airport, seems only to be concerned with fobbing off complaints without providing any information or service.

For reference a table of the questions asked and the responses received from BAA is available.

Full index of correspondence.

   

Can airport security staff assault passengers? - part - 5

Thursday, 28 May 2009 00:00

This letter is one of a series that make up an exchange between a transfer passenger passing through London Heathrow Airport LHR and the BAA, operator of the airport.

Index of the exchange

The passenger complaint is that he was assaulted by security staff during screening. The airport refuses to admit that this is possible and remains in denial. The way in which legitimate concerns are brushes aside without any reference can only be described as breathtaking.

Here is what the passenger said . . .


11 May 2009
Dear [name removed]:
Feedback reference XXXXXXXFeedback reference 1083336


Thank you for your letter dated 16 April 2009, further travel has prevented me from responding before now.
I appreciate the time you have taken to respond to my letter the conciliatory tone of you letter. Regrettably I do not feel that my legitimate concerns have been answered. For reference I have set out my questions and your responses which follow this page.
Further internet-based research has shown that I am not alone in my concerns and that retaliatory behaviour by airport screeners is taking place. The evidence suggests such behaviour is more prevalent in the US, this assertion is confirmed by my experience. However, I have also seen it in Europe.
Large numbers of passengers pass through LHR and in my opinion it is inconceivable that there are no abuses taking place.
You say in your letter ‘ . . . the security regulations in place at Heathrow are administered by the Department for Transport . . .' can you please provide me with the name and reference of these regulations and the name of the Act of Parliament that gives them force or the legal instrument or order that gives them force.
Please confirm that the actual regulations are secret and the public has no access to them.
Please confirm that passengers are only ever asked to do things that are contained within these regulations and that passengers and others are never asked to do anything that is not explicitly stated in the regulations.
I wish to complain further and request that you tell me what organisations or regulators both governmental or otherwise are available for aggrieved travelers to contact.

Question to Heathrow airport Answer from Heathrow airport
Is it possible for airport security staff to assault members of the public whilst carrying out their search duties?    
have these [security screeners] people been granted some special immunity from prosecution for acts which would normally be regarded as serious assaults upon the person?
None yet
have these [security screeners] people been granted some special immunity from prosecution for acts which would normally be regarded as serious assaults upon the person? None yet
What should I do if I consider that I have been assaulted? Who should I ask to speak to, how do I know that my complaint will be taken seriously and that I will not be victimized? Specifically that the staff will ‘Pleased by assured if you fell that a member of out team has been rude or has physically harmed you, that our operations managers will take this very seriously.'
What measures are in place to ensure that homosexuals or lesbians are not employed in this sensitive duty where they could abuse their position and derive sexual gratification from mistreating members of the public who might not want to complain especially as they know that they will be delayed in doing so? None yet
The North American screening method uses small hand-held metal detectors - why are these not used in the UK and more widely in Europe as this would virtually eliminate the possibility of assault, are quicker and much less stressful? None yet
. . . I would like a written statement explaining exactly what your airport management define as a verbal assault and a physical assault on a member of staff . . . None yet
. . . can you please provide me with the name and reference of these regulations and the name of the Act of Parliament that gives them force or the legal instrument or order that gives them force. None yet
Please confirm that the actual regulations are secret and the public has no access to them. None yet
Please confirm that passengers are only ever asked to do things that are contained within these regulations and that passengers and others are never asked to do anything that is not explicitly stated in the regulations. None yet
I wish to complain further and request that you tell me what organisations or regulators both governmental or otherwise are available for aggrieved travelers to contact. None yet



Yours sincerely,


[name removed]


Read the response from LHR, London Heathrow Airport

Index listing of the original complain and full exchange of letters

This sequence of letters suggests that Heathrow airport does not treat passenger complains seriously;

Read the original complaint

   

Why is Manchester airport charging for plastic bags at security ?

Thursday, 14 May 2009 13:32

When you book a flight you pay hefty charges that include taxes and airport security.

airport charges MAN Manchester

As you can see, the flight cost was £11.04 but then an additional charge of £24.95 was added to cover taxes and airport charges.

So why is Manchester airport ripping passengers off to the tune of £1 for a couple of plastic bags at security?

These bags can be bought for about £14 a thousand, which is 1.4p each, so for less than 3p worth of bags Manchester airport is charging the passenger £1.

That's a profit of over three thousand percent - no wonder it's know as rip-off Britain.

The traveling public has already paid a massive fee for airport security, they should not be paying more.

   

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