BA Own Goal – A Terminal Case Study

Leeds Own Goal - Players Walking Away from the Goal Mouth in Disbelief

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Wow! This is a management, PR & Internal Comms case study in the making. I can see this being on the CIPR course next year…

The thing that stood out most for me though was the amount of coverage pointing to underinformed and poorly trained staff – from issue with the initial check in procedures through to baggage handling staff not knowing their way round the grounds.

And then it gets worse, failure to keep frontline customer-facing staff informed:

“Nobody really seemed to know what was going on. Staff seemed as much in the dark as we were.” (more)

“One baggage worker told the BBC the situation was “mayhem” and that the technical problems had been known about for some time.” (more)

“A BA staff member said they would have liked to be able to phase it in rather than ‘do it all at once’.” (more)

So many senior managers will tell you that staff are their ambassadors – but when you break that down it means that they want their IC Manager to inundate people with positive propaganda or that they expect staff members to magically feel ownership of the brand without working on empolyee engagement or brand values.

The simple things like making sure that staff are adequately trained, listened to (because they know more about the practicalities of their day job than you do), consulted about big decisions which affect them and constantly kept informed in emergency situations often go by-the-by.

As Himself said, he would rather have been a passenger in a three-hour queue at Heathrow yesterday than a member of BA staff at Terminal 5!

3 Responses to “BA Own Goal – A Terminal Case Study”
  1. Ellie Clewlow says:

    An image of the mighty, all-conquering Stoke City FC used to illustrate a serious public embarassment? What are you trying to say here Casey?

    A less-than-gruntled Potters fan

    (absolutely with you about Terminal 5 though)

  2. Liam says:

    When I came back through T5 on Friday night at 11pm (only one hour late) I met some people who had been waithing for 3 hours for thier bags.

    What amazed me was that there were only 2 people on the customer service desk – and that closed at ten past 11.

    If you want to fix your reputation you’d try a bit harder than that!

    Hoping its better tomorrow morning when I have to go back out again!


  3. Indy Neogy says:

    This whole episode just depresses me on so many levels. To add to your points:

    1) What on earth were the Project Managers thinking ramping the system up to full capacity without any serious graded testing? (Not to mention not having any “floating reserve” of staff for various processes.) It wasn’t guaranteed to fail, but if it did fail it was pretty much guaranteed to escalate to catastrophe. This is absolutely Project Deployment 101 stuff.

    2) The PR response… you forgot to mention how the senior staff at BA and BAA all hid for hours. No-one, not even an IC peon was sent out to face the press. Instead, the media were left to circle T5 and poll upset customers and put front-line staff under even more pressure.

    The above (in two separate areas, project management and corporate comms) are just fundamentally an example of not paying attention to the basics. That scares me.

    On top of that, no doubt I’ll still be seeing characters from this saga appear at PM and IC conferences lecturing us all about how to do things.

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