flights website grounded by snow
Looking for a seat? Flight information? Ask Santa
British Airways' website was up and down this morning, which is still more than can be said for its aircraft.
The UK's flag carrier's terrible weekend carried on right into Monday, as its shiny new base at Heathrow was snowbound with few flights taking off, and fewer still arriving – in common with the rest of the airport it has to be said.
CEO Willy Walsh reportedly advised passengers to give up the chance of getting anywhere any time soon. You could get further details online, except the website appears to be occasionally sparking into life and taking long periods of lying down. Which is what we imagine being a passenger at Heathrow is like right now.
As far as we could make out, other airlines have managed to get their websites up, which is more than can be said for their planes.
Sometimes it looks this...
Sometimes it looks like that...
We did get a brief glimpse of BA's website this morning – but just like when you try to spot Santa, it had gone in the twinkling of an eye.
It does seem a mystery why BA can't keep its web presence flying. It could be that the airline's ops staff have enough problems on their hands dealing with a whole terminal full of sleep-deprived passengers who've been existing on nothing but Pret a Manger, duty free and space blankets for the last three days. Or it could be "The World's Favourite Airline" is also the UK's favourite whipping boy when it comes to transport problems. ®
If we were to extrapolate your concept of 'standby' or emergency' service governments could save a fortune by killing off fire and sea rescue services on the grounds they are only needed every so often.
Perhaps you are unaware that many public works, including roads and the Thames Barrier (another waste of money using your criteria), are designed to survive any historical challengers that have occurred in the previous 50 or 100 years.
Another example of risk input into capital expenditures have occurred into response to recent rail/tube accidents. When 31 people were fried to death at Kings Cross on 1987 November 18 as the result of a fire on a wooden escalator, a subsequent report recommended all wooden escalators be replaced with metal treads. The recommendation was rejected after cost was considered including the cost of compensating for any deaths - figured at around 2-million pounds per body.
The present Heathrow has been at it's present location since New Years Day 1946, it was first Fairey’s Great West Aerodrome then RAF Northolt, and if BAA has it's way it will be there forever.
This means (1) BAA has to take into account historic conditions; (2) The level of service it proposes; (3) Capital investment needed to achieve these goals.
Even if an event occurs every 20 or 30 years BAA has to take it in to consideration. Notwithstanding BA's attempts to increase the accident count (2008 BA flight crash-landed) BAA still maintains a very expensive fire service that spend months, even years, waiting for the next crash.
The provisioning of this fire service, and even snow removal equipment, is based on historical demand, and proposed service levels. BAA claims Heathrow is a 'world class' airport, it doesn't claim any exceptions. Therefore it has failed in it's duty. It matters not an iota whether the interruption is caused by a humans or Nature exercising it's options.
Talking about 'whingers', you might want to canvas the opinion of those people sitting it out in the airport. They might have different opinions to yours.
The cost of capital equipment, amortised over 50 years or more, might look like a real bargain when stacked up against airline costs (including repositioning empty planes), BAA losses and added costs, passenger losses and added costs and losses to the general economy.
Only people with a myopic viewpoint can't see why BAA failed.
P.S. Where I am has a temperature of 35c, the sun is shining and the drinks are long and cool. But the BBC World Service TV makes us appreciate our luck!
'World's Favourite Airline'
I'm pretty sure they stopped using that slogan a few years ago, mainly on the grounds that their crapulent service, ramshackle aircraft and enthusiastic refusal to follow something so simple as a timetable was opening them up for legal action.
If I didn't have quite so many Air Miles with them I'd gladly never use BA again.
And the Web worked the best
My daughter was trying to change planes at Heathrow on Friday. Still there, but in a hotel at least. Midnight Friday all customer service clerks went home, leaving a long line for Saturday morning at 5:30 AM. When that rolled around they had 3 on - with 3 more standing around waiting for their official start time. And later that day the police came - just before BA decided to do all booking by phone or on the web, without bothering to tell anyone in line.
The website, which at least worked on Saturday, wouldn't let you change a flight in progress, and the phone lines were either busy or would hang up on you. This includes the numbers in Germany, the US, Australia and South Africa.
Most people's baggage is sitting in a big heap in Terminal 5. Yesterday they weren't letting anyone except those on the seven open flights into the terminal.
BA and BAA - made for each other
BA is not/never was the world's favourite airline and serial mismanagement have reduced the airline to a shadow of it's former corporate entity. If BA was ordered to bring it's employees pension fund contributions up to date it would have declare bankruptcy.
This, of course, is not the case with Wee Wiily Walshes benefits package, unsurprisingly.
As for BAA Heathrow, allegedly Britain's 'gateway' airport, it is little less than a scandal.
The last weather that equalled this recent weather disturbance was 20 years ago, according to the Met Office, and Heathrow has precious little to show for what some of the highest airport fees in the world.
Photographs of the snow are ample evidence that it has failed. Airports such as Toronto or Montreal are used to dealing with metres of snow. Until recently, Montreal airport had more snow clearing equipment than the City of Montreal.
The government should terminate the BAA Heathrow 'for cause' and re-tender the contract, which should have all weather performance written in to the contract. This is not difficult to accomplish be it with equipment purchases or retainer agreements that guarantee snow clearance equipment is available.
In any event, I hope those stranded at airports make it to a home or hotel for Christmas.
Equipped for worst case scenario, not too gard
Even though there hasn't been any significant additions of snow, according to Bloomberg Biz TV, for 3 days, it was only today BAA managed to separate parked aircraft from the walkways.
BAA doesn't need more money, it needs competent management - and to concentrate of moving passengers rather than more stores.
As pointed out above, normal is not the goal - worst case is. If BAA's worst case is a few inches of snow and a few degrees below freezing they are unfit for purpose.
If you had studied runway clearance you would know that you first plough the runway using multiple blades running parallel; then you use rotating brushes followed by urea - not salt; then a final repeat brushing.
You said: "We don't know how to deal with these sorts of weather conditions" - that's the problem with BAA, ignorance. Other countries have no problem dealing with greater amounts of snow which means BAA has absolutely no excuse for the few paltry inches in London.
You CAN "realistically" expect any company to do this, if a company in Europe or Canada can do it; it's just that BAA is a cash cow for it's Spanish owners who don't care squat about this abject failure nor British travellers.