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If you have ever had cause to call British Airways Executive Club, you will no doubt be all too familiar with the seventh circle of hell your mind enters as you wait… and wait… and…
The ‘soothing’ voice repeatedly telling you that anything you need can be sorted out on the website, when it definitely can’t (hence the call!) is my personal highlight, but others prefer the ‘relaxing’ sounds of BA’s own classical guitar version of “The Flower Duet” (from Leo Delibes’ opera, Lakmé – in case you’ve ever wondered):
I’ve spent so much time over the years (usually early in the morning when BA have inexplicably cancelled my flight) listening to that piece of music, that even just the opening bar produces a Pavlovian jolt of instant stress!
If you do have to call British Airways, after about 30 minutes of waiting (I can’t remember ever waiting for less than that), what remains of your mind might begin to wonder how much the call is costing.
Yes, to truly add (financial) injury to insult, you get charged 7p per minute for the privilege of waiting to speak to someone. The fact that BA doesn’t employ enough customer service staff, has a website that lacks key functionality, and may or may not have just cancelled your flight, is completely immaterial.
7p per minute might not sound like all that much, but you’ve got to take into account that your call can easily take well over an hour, depending on how bad the wait is.
Paying a company £4.20 per hour for wasting your time might appeal to some people, but I suspect it’s likely to remain a minority interest.
I can’t help with the waiting times (I really wish I could – seriously, if anyone has any tips, please let me know!), but I can help with the cost.
British Airways Executive Club lists two main phone numbers for customers from the UK:
- The usual number is 0844 493 0 747. This is the number that costs 7p per minute.
- The other number is supposed to be for when you are away and need to call from abroad, +44 191 4907901.
Note that the second number is actually just a local number (Newcastle area?) with the UK country code tacked on the front.
Therefore, you should be able to use that number and pay local rates simply by dropping the +44 and adding a 0 instead, so 0191 4907901.
If you try that though, the BA ‘soothing’ voice tells you that the number you have called can only be accessed from abroad and that you need to call the 0844 number instead.
The solution is to simply to add 141 to the start of the number when you dial, as this stops BA’s system knowing where you are calling from.
The number to use is: 141 0191 4907901
Being a local UK number, many people will be able to call completely for free on their landlines if calls are included in their package, and anyone who gets free/included minutes as part of their mobile contract can use their minutes.
So next time you need to call British Airways, as painful as it sometimes is, at least you won’t have to pay!
The British Airways Executive Club call centre in the UK is only open from 07:30 to 20:00, which isn’t ideal if you’re in a different time zone or have an early/late flight that gets cancelled.
They do have other offices around the world that are open at different times, but finding out what is open when and how to contact them can be surprisingly difficult.
Fortunately, a character named ‘Dunk’ over on the US-based travel forum Flyertalk created the BA Contact Finder page. The Contact Finder is extremely easy to use and instantly tells you which offices are open at any given moment and how to contact them – thank you ‘Dunk’!