British Airways (BA) is working to ease connections for its passengers at London Heathrow through a range of initiatives and services. These include the adoption of new technology, new operating procedures, the use of new vehicles and dedicated staff to make the connection process easier. The airline says it handles 123,000 passengers a day and “a large proportion” of them are transferring at the London airport hub.
- British Airways has unveiled a series of initiatives and services to ease flight connections at its London Heathrow hub;
- BA is investing in new technology to enhance the connection experience, while dedicated connections staff will help customers travel through the airport;
- The new ideas include making sure flights with a large number of connecting customers are directed to arrive at the most convenient aircraft stands;
- Similarly, when the airline knows lots of customers are transferring to the same flight, it will now arrange for a vehicle to transfer them to their next flight.
A hub airport operation relies on the efficiency of its system and that goes far beyond just the punctuality of flights. BA hopes its new initiatives at Heathrow will identify potential connection problems ahead of time and deliver a solution to ensure that a subsequent flight is not missed, and if that is not possible, to ensure that the passenger is quickly rerouted with a minimum of disruption.
“We know how important it is for our customers to transfer through the airport quickly and smoothly, and all of these additional initiatives show them we’ll always go the extra mile to provide excellent customer service,” says Tom Stevens, head of customer at Heathrow for BA.
Among the new ideas include making sure flights with a large number of connecting customers are directed to arrive at the most convenient aircraft stands for the next part of their journey. Similarly, when the airline knows lots of customers are transferring to the same flight, it will now arrange for a vehicle to transfer them to their next flight, cutting out the need for extra legwork.
For those that need to fulfil the normal connection procedure new self-service kiosks have been set up in the flight connections area at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 to help customers print out their boarding passes quickly and easily. It also employs dedicated connections managers, who monitor all flight arrivals and organise for customers with tight connections to be contacted while they’re in the air and given Express Connect status, and information packs, to fast-track them through flight connections and security checkpoints.
Premium travellers in First, Club World or Club Europe, plus BA Gold and Silver Executive Club members who are at risk of missing their onward connection will continue to be provided with a chauffeur driven executive car, where possible, to transfer them to their next flight.
As previously featured by The Blue Swan Daily, BA launched a trial of the Premium Transfer Drive last year for customers arriving at Heathrow on a UK domestic flight. It now confirms this has proved so popular that more vehicles are being added to the airline’s fleet.
When connections are missed BA is now re-booking passengers on its own or any of the airline’s oneworld partners while they’re still in the air. This information is relayed to cabin crew who then “reassure and help customers with their onward journey”. BA says they are then met at the aircraft door by connections staff who provide them with their new boarding pass, refreshment vouchers and, if overnight accommodation is necessary, their hotel booking.