In last Monday's edition of The Hobson & Holtz Report, Shel and I spent a good 15 minutes in the show discussing the communication and employee relations challenges facing British Airways and Gate Gourmet following last week's flight cancellations fiasco.
The broader consequences of that fiasco will be pretty far reaching, starting with financial aspects according to the Financial Times:
Corporate travel managers and agents face extra work and expense following the strike that grounded British Airways flights last week. Some UK travel management companies will charge customers for time spent booking travellers on alternative services, finding them hotels or organising refunds for unused tickets. Others will not charge but will seek compensation from BA.
BA have said they will consider financial claims on a case-by-case basis, and I'm sure many people will get refunds or other forms of compensation.
Yet the real cost to BA could be their reputation as travellers' trust is badly dented by the events of last week, no matter who or what was the cause, as it's the third year in a row that BA have had serious disruptions to their entire operation because of labour problems. Where dented trust could have the biggest impact, though, will be with business travellers and those corporate travel managers the FT mentions.
While some commentators say that the events of last week won't have any lasting damage to BA's reputation, I'd say that view assumes nothing changes either in travellers' perceptions of service, the organization and structure of BA, or the airline business itself.
I wouldn't bet at all on nothing changing.
So on my next UK trip, will I fly British Airways? Well, yes, I do intend to - unless I get even a slight inkling of any problems with flights. Then I'll choose from KLM, BMI or Easyjet, whichever one I perceive as being reliable. If that happens too frequently, that's when you start thinking about switching your brand loyalty.