After a car crash, Robert Bates, 22, is in stable but critical condition, unable to speak and still in intensive care. Five weeks before the crash, Bates booked an Orlando vacation as a birthday present for his fiancee, who also broke her pelvis and suffered a perforated ear drum in the accident. Wanting to make sure Robert had something to look forward to after his recovery, his sister Nicole tried to save his vacation. Orlando hotels and Disney World both gave refunds or postponements — British Airways took a harder line on Robert’s £800 ($1,200) flights. Despite being told repeatedly that Robert was in intensive care and couldn’t speak, British Airways insisted the booking could only be changed if Robert got on the phone.
After the family contacted a local newspaper, British Airways is being more cooperative, but the airline’s initial response seems pretty cold. “They weren’t apologetic at all,” the fiancee told The Telegraph. “They just didn’t want to speak to us – only to Rob even though he’s in intensive care.”
I phoned BA and they said ‘We’re not going to discuss anything with you.’ We asked if they wanted a doctor’s note but the woman said it wouldn’t work. They just wanted to speak to Rob, I had to explain about five times he was in intensive care and couldn’t speak. The lady persisted in putting Rob on the phone.
A British Airways spokesperson’s not-that-apologetic statement:
We are now in touch with the family to offer them further assistance in this exceptional case. Like all airlines we are bound by data protection rules which mean we can only discuss the detail of a booking with a customer. We cannot ignore the provisions of data protection law but we always try to be flexible in our approach to customer issues. We will always look at any exceptional circumstances on a case-by-case basis.
It is too much to expect that an airline have a way to look at exceptional circumstances without the family of the seriously injured kid having to go through the media first?