British Airways Budapest to London, or How AA, BA, and US all blamed each other for screwing up my ticket

British Airways Flt. 869 Budapest to London-Heathrow
Dep. LHR 1:50pm
Arr. BUD 5:15pm
A320, Coach

The first leg of my return journey started off as poorly as my outbound. As a recap, I was unable to successfully check in for my outbound flights online and had to call US Airways to “sync” my ticket. I had to talk to multiple agents to get my LHR-BUD ticket sorted out after my missed connection. So I wasn’t surprised there was a ticketing problem with my return flight — but it was the most inconvenient of all. I went to checkin online for my BUD-LHR flight the afternoon before my departure, and the system kicked back that there was an error with my ticket and I had to call British Airways. Great.

So using wifi, I tried to call British Airways, and spent literally two hours trying to talk to different agents to figure out what was going on. They scolded me that the connection wasn’t good and that there was an echo, but I explained that I was calling over wifi and that’s all I could do. The first agent said there was a problem with the ticket, but I had to talk to American since it was an American ticket. So I tweeted with the American social media team, who told me they looked up the ticket and that there was nothing wrong with it. So I called BA back, and spent another 20 minutes on the phone, where they insisted that AA had to fix the ticket. More tweeting with the AA team who insisted there was nothing wrong and that I should tell BA to call AA. One final shot at dealing with a BA agent who said that she couldn’t check me in, but whatever problem I had could be dealt with at the airport if I got there early.  So all told, I spent more than two hours on my already shortened vacation dealing with two different airlines and got no resolution.

My final saviors

My final saviors

So I made sure to get to the airport nice and early. Alas, at 3 hours prior to departure, the gate wasn’t open. I found the BA ticketing agent office, where I repeated the whole shpiel. Her response? “Well we can’t do anything because its an American Airlines ticket. I’ll call the BA supervisor here, but we’re probably going to have to call the AA agent in London…” Surprisingly, when the BA supervisor came over, she was able to fix it – but said I would have to go to the check-in desk for a boarding pass. I have no idea who messed up here – my guess is either US Airways or British Airways since they were the only people who had touched the ticket. But no matter what, if the British Airways supervisor was able to fix it, one of the many British Airways agents I spoke to on the phone should have been able to help me.

From there, the rest of the trip over to London was fairly uneventful. I still had about 10 minutes til the check-in desk opened, but it did and I got my boarding pass. The security line was long and pretty chaotic; at one point a Hungarian woman started shouting at an agent and tried to force herself past security agents who wanted to frisk her. That was cute.

I stopped at duty free to use the 10 Euro birthday voucher I had gotten from Heinemann duty free shops. My flight was one of the few non-Schengen flights out of Budapest, and the non-Schengen gates are all the way at one end of the terminal, with a small passport control area. For some reason, the passport control line was massive and took forever for each person – which is odd since people were leaving the country. A Qatar Airways flight was being held for passengers stuck at passport control, and the Qatar ground crew was very agitated and speaking sternly with the passport agents. I later realized there was also an Aeroflot flight leaving, which could have explained the holdup.

Budapest - a vital connecting point to the Middle East?

Budapest – a vital connecting point to the Middle East?

There is only one lounge in the non-Schengen area– the Platinum Lounge, which I had access to both from my OneWorld status and my Priority Pass status. It was extremely crowded and had very limited amenities. There were menus offering real food for sale as well as cheese, salami, bread, soup, and chips, as well as self-serve beverages. I didn’t stay long, and went and got a real sandwich at a cafe in the terminal, as the gate area felt less claustrophobic and had more open seating than the lounge.20150119_120401 20150119_120638

Platinum Lounge BUD

Platinum Lounge BUD

After all the trouble, I had been assigned an exit row, which BA treats like a bulkhead – nothing under the seat in front of you. I was in the window seat which didn’t have a real armrest, but the pitch was significantly more comfortable than on my outbound LHR-BUD flight. The snack service was a ham and cheese sandwich again, which I skipped, though the vegetarian option looked much better – a tomato, mozzarella, and pesto salad.

BA A320 exit row

BA A320 exit row

The flight over to London was uneventful, until we got to Heathrow, where my string of random things happening on flights continued. When we landed at Terminal 3, the Captain announced there was a medical emergency on board, so we all had to remain seated until the medics got on board. As this was a British Airways flight as opposed to an American one, people listened. After about 10 minutes, the medics boarded, and attended to a woman in the row behind me. I couldn’t quite figure out what the issue was, and don’t know how I had missed hubbub during flight as I’m fairly observant. Soon after, the Captain allowed all those seated in front of the medics to deplane, so I was off and headed towards immigration, where there was no wait whatsoever for once.

From Heathrow, I headed onto the Picadilly line of the tube to the Park Lane Hilton London – where I’d spend one night and experienced all sorts of shenanigans not fitting of a luxury hotel. Stay tuned!

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