Heathrow Advice

Old Nov 27th, 2017, 06:19 PM
  #21  
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Both flights are on the same booking reservation. Unfortunately we are not in business class. We could have gone that route, but I've just never wanted to do that with young children. Knock on wood, we've never had anything but truly excellent flights with ours and we travel to Europe 1-2x annually, but there could always be a first time! And our fellow business class passengers would have paid a lot of money!

Thank you all for your input. The next BA flight from LHR to Bologna is 6 hours after our original flight. I'm going to look at One World carriers to see if anyone else has a flight to BLQ a bit earlier.

Appreciate the tip on the day use rental of a room at the Sofitel!
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Old Jan 6th, 2018, 02:24 PM
  #22  
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UPDATE -

Our LHR-bound flight was delayed and we arrived about ten minutes after schedule. That was enough to cause us to miss our connection to BLQ. The security gates in Terminal 5 will not allow you through if you're within about 30 minutes of your flight's scheduled departure.

As anticipated, the later direct flight to BLQ was booked. The one that BA wouldn't change us to earlier on when I called them weeks ahead of the trip. There was only 1 option with 4 seats and it would have required 3 connections. I suggested the British Air agent search for a flight to Florence instead and he found us a direct flight from Gatwick. So... we took the Gatwick Express bus (vouchers provided from BA), ate a very mediocre lunch in Gatwick at Jamie Oliver's casual restaurant (40 pound voucher provided by BA), and took a Vueling flight to Florence from Gatwick.

AutoEurope was great about changing our rental car reservation when I called them from LHR. We picked up the car at FLR, drove about 80 minutes to Bologna, and arrived safe and sound... just about 9 hours after planned and with an extra $275 in rental car fees we wouldn't have otherwise had.

Feedback on British Air.
Their at-the-gate boarding staff has only received training re: mobility-related disabilities. There was a family with an adult individual with Down Syndrome (and possibly autism as well) who requested early boarding and had to patiently educate the agents who initially denied their request.
There was absolutely NO ONE available to help upon landing. There was no alternative at LHR after missing the connection other than to wait in the 1.5 hour line to speak with an agent. The agent was great - professional and helpful.
Our kiddo did great so none of this was an issue for us, but just a few years ago, it sure would have been.
In summary... BA still has quite a bit of ground to cover as far as assisting passengers with disabilities other than mobility-related.
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Old Jan 6th, 2018, 02:38 PM
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Interesting and glad it worked for you but in the numerous times I've flown BA they have been vey good at early boarding for those with small children, or those with disabilities. I can only suggest that each experience is determined by the one or two people working at the gate. I hope you notified someone with BA as to the problems encountered as this is the only way in which staff can be held responsible.

Did you request help with landing? In such a case, I'd speak to the flight attendants before landing and ask them for help.
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Old Jan 6th, 2018, 03:14 PM
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Too late now, texasaggie, but for the assistance of others, here is the Heathrow airport guide to facilities for those with hidden and cognitive disabilities.

https://www.heathrow.com/airport-gui...e-disabilities

What I failed to find was how to organise assistance on arrival at the airport as opposed to departure from it, however under the Equality Act 2010 your son was entitled not to be subjected to discrimination as a result of his disability. So both BA and the airport should have been taking reasonable steps to assist him and you.

So in the first instance I should complain to BA about their failure to make reasonable provision for your son's disability of which you informed them a long time in advance, and asking for compensation for their failure to book you onto the later flight. A complicating factor of course is that your contract may well be governed by US law but I assume that you have similar legislation.

Good luck. I'm glad it didn't spoil your trip.

What did you think of Bologna? I'm going to a language school there in about a month's time. Any tips or recommendations?
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Old Jan 6th, 2018, 03:36 PM
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Hi historytraveler,
Great point about each experience being specific to the personnel working that specific flight. I do need to send them a polite, constructive email.
We had requested help with landing weeks beforehand when we realized BA had shortened our layover to 60 minutes, but were repeatedly told that nothing could be arranged before landing in Heathrow. The flight attendants said to look for agents upon exiting the plane... but there was absolutely no one there except for employees assisting specific wheelchair passengers when we landed.
Once denied access through the electronic security due to being too close to departure, there was no alternative other than the line with 50+ people in it for rebooking. We were fine, but for many (many, many) individuals on the autism spectrum, it would have been a recipe for sensory overload with the noise, the crush, the wait, the bright lights, and the change in the expected routine.
All in all, it turned out ok for us; I'm certainly not livid or swearing off BA. We are headed back to Italy in June and will likely fly them again. Our kiddo has been traveling internationally since he was an infant, has had years of intensive therapy, and did just fine. However, I can also honestly say that there are definitely areas where improvement is needed for individuals with disabilities other than mobility-related. Delays happen to everyone. Schedule changes shorten layovers. Also, to everyone. It's the "after these situations happen" area where the process needs some work.
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Old Jan 6th, 2018, 03:46 PM
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Oh, I absolutely agree. I think you have taken a very positive and, hopefully, effective position. Any airline needs to be reminded of its responsibilities to their passengers especially those that need special help. Too many times people just get angry, rant and consider law suits. This seldom does little in correcting mistakes. I think your attitude helped the situation tremendously and think your young man has learned much from his parents which in turn allows him to cope so well.


Do have a great trip this summer and hope this time everything goes flawlessly.
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Old Jan 6th, 2018, 03:50 PM
  #27  
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Hi ann!

We loved Bologna! Lovely old town with a Medieval feel but very, very lively due to the large student population. Amazing food. Not just the famous dishes either. The soups were unbelievable. We stayed in an apartment in the university district and liked the area. The scaffolding around the Neptune fountain came down on our last day there - your view of it will be nice and unobstructed . Heads up that the renowned Etruscan collection in the archaeology museum is closed until 2019. The Roman and Egyptian collections are still open.

Thank you for the info on LHR. I've shared it to a couple of the special needs parents groups I'm a member of. Very much appreciate it.
Once the jet lag lifts, I'll send a constructive and polite email to BA re: our experience.
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Old Jan 6th, 2018, 04:42 PM
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Having some experience with invisible issues like Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism, I want to say, you seem like an incredible parent. I wish more people understood how painful the environment can be for little ones suffering from this. What looks like a child acting up is really a child experiencing pain. Frankly, it was an eye opener for me to learn about it. Kudos for your devotion to helping your child cope so well. Never feel bad using any services to help you and your family. You deserve them just as much as those with visible issues.

Glad you were able to make things work as well as you did, hope your next trip is perfect.
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Old Jan 6th, 2018, 05:16 PM
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I so admire you. We get so many rant posts when any little thing goes wrong and you are so 'calm/reasonable' about BA dropping the ball. I really would contact them and voice you very understandable concerns.
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Old Jan 7th, 2018, 01:43 AM
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I think you have to "give forward" and put some pressure on BA to explain all their errors and what they have to solve

We all could see the issues before they happened and yet BA can't (it is their business after all).

My mother was blind and I have a close relation on the spectrum. I and my family never (never) allow companies to to F@@@ up over any disability, ever. Be nice but:-

1) BA have a legal duty (see ann's note)
2) the press in the UK is live with a story of hidden disabilities at airports not being sorted correctly.
3) tomorrow someone who does need help will not get it
4) the staff on the counter are not doctors, but they do need to be trained to offer the right services.
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Old Jan 7th, 2018, 04:17 AM
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thanks for the tips, TexasAggie. Nice to know that I'll be able to get a proper view of Neptune in all his glory, and honestly I'm not too fussed about the Etruscans so I can live without the Museum collection being available - I'll make do with the Greeks and Romans.

I also admire your sang froid but I hope you do write to BA and LHR who need to be told that people arriving have special needs just like people leaving do.
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