The Problem with FlyBe
Sometimes I give an organisation a second chance. I regretted doing this with Flybe in April 2019. The first time, we endured the chaos of changing our flights times, departure airport and arrival airport - the latter mid-flight while family were waiting to collect us at the original destination. Yes, the weather played a part although as my generation learnt while young, manners cost nothing.
So we gave them another chance only upon hearing about the Virgin-led takeover as they had the best flight times to get us to Berlin. We deliberately took the on-board luggage only option, having bought a cases for exactly these type of 4-night trips. One had been used many times, the other less so.
So it’s not just that that I got charged £50 (one way) for said case to put it in hold. Rather, it’s all of the following:
The aggressive attitude of ground staff. There was one member of staff and for whatever reason only she and her God knew, today she was going to be as unkind and rude as possible. Today she was barking ‘zero'-tolerance’ at us as if it was some kind of punishment being issued.
The staff member threatened to charge someone double for attempting to walk past her. Can she do this? To another who politely pointed to another measuring crate she barked, ‘What does that say?’ pointing to the Ryan Air sign. Around about now, most of us are wishing we were on Ryan Air and that’s not something I say lightly.
Damage Everyone was forced to put their luggage in their new minute measuring crate, some coming out with damaged. Many of the passengers with no-carry on were even helping others less able to lift their cases in.
Plenty of space. When boarding, we noticed empty cabins for room for at least all seven of the charged for cases just in the spaces about our seats.
Late. We were already late boarding and the whole line watched aghast as this farce went on. The plane was then half hour late taking off.
There was no mention of this new ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on any emails when we booked (My case was less than 2cms too wide and not even full) . Worse, they could have pointed it out when we checked in or even made an announcement while we were waiting the long time to board.
Seven of us had been pulled out of the line and had to wait until the end until we could back in line to pay our £50, which was taken flippantly in return for a ‘make a complaint’ leaflet that the staff knew everyone was going to need. At least one of the seven had come into the UK with that case with no problem.
Indeed, I had no issue when departing Berlin, a flight which took off late due to the late arrival of the plane from Birmingham . I wonder why? That didn’t stop me being worried about during the whole trip but more so at the airport where I could not concentrate on reading one sentence from by book as we waited. Berlin staff were super friendly, and asked a few people at the front of the queue to put their luggage in hold as this was a much smaller plane.
In fact, our cases could not even fit in the overhead locker and we could only fit one under the seat. Our staff member simply took mine and placed it under a free seat.
To absolutely put paid to this disappointing of all airline experiences, we had to carry our unsuitable case all the way to the plane door, only to be taken from us.
I followed this story the whole time in Berlin being very conscious it was going to happen again as obviously I have to take my case back with me. It seems this was wholly a UK & Ireland issue as no one was getting charged on the European side. There was a story of an older lady in Ireland having to empty out her belongings into black bin bag and presumable discard her case. She refused all offers of financial help from her fellow passengers after being unable to get through to her son. It’s heart breaking.
We’ve tweeted and emailed many times, starting while on the flight and Flybe take no responsibility for the aggressively rude staff that appear to board their passengers.