British Airways ejected a family when they demanded that their nanny be upgraded to business class…but this isn’t a case of unbridled entitlement. Rather, the family had paid for a business class seat for their nanny and offered a reasonable compromise when they they were told the premium cabin was oversold.
British Airways Throws Off Family When They Persistently Push For Business Class Upgrade For Nanny
The incident took place on BA2578 from London (LHR) to Turin, Italy (TUR). A power couple (two lawyers) was traveling with their two children and nanny to Italy and had purchased five business class tickets.
However at check-in they were informed the business class cabin was oversold and one of their party would be downgraded. The nanny got the short-end of the straw, but the family (apparently not frequent travelers) discovered upon boarding that business class was actually the same seat as economy class except that the middle seats in each row were blocked.
So Charles Banner asked a flight attendant if their nanny, who had a business class ticket, could simply take a middle seat between the two children.
A flight attendant replied:
Apparently an argument ensured and the barrister was quite lawyer-like in his persistence…so much so that the aircraft, which was taxiing to the runway, turned around and returned to the gate. The family was offloaded.
Banner told the UK Daily Mail he was a perfect gentelman onboard and that BA had misled him:
“If BA had told me that the nanny could not sit with us in business then we would not have travelled and could have got a later flight. But they only told us that when we got to the boarding gate.
“I behaved perfectly but I was challenging the cabin crew because it was the right thing to do. The pettiness and vindictiveness of the staff caused this. I was being very polite about the whole thing
“I indicated to the cabin crew that I had made a complaint about their behaviour to BA. Rather than apologize, the cabin crew then asked the pilot not to fly either the two kids aged four and one, their mother, the nanny or myself, which was a gross over-reaction to our understandable upset.”
But British Airways defended the ejection, stating:
“We do not tolerate disruptive behavior and the safety of our customers and crew is our top priority.”
However reports suggest the Banner’s were compensated for the incident, which does not indicate the Banner family was anything more than persistent.
We cover a lot of in-flight controversy on Live and Let’s Fly and while there is often clear blame on one side or the other, this strikes me as the case in which there is enough blame to go around.
Fundamentally, British Airways was not obligated to upgrade the nanny. However, considering the seat was identical and it was British Airways who involuntarily downgraded the nanny in the first place, it seems to me the proposal to let the nanny occupy the middle was seat was a reasonable compromise.
The attorney (either the mother or father) would have been smarter to swap seats with the nanny and score a handsome heap of compensation afterwards–particularly when the crew proved rude and obstinate–but part of me certainly understands their incredulity that a very reasonable request was not honored.
In the end, this incident does not reflect well on either party, but I hope British Airways learns from this by either overbooking less or taking a reasonable step to accommodate displaced parties, including allowing a middle seat in front of the curtain to be occupied.
Do you think British Airways was justified in throwing offing the power couple and their family?
(image: British Airways // H/T: Paddle Your Own Kanoo)