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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

British Airways' Reputation Damaged by Employee Comments on Facebook

British Airways learned why online reputation management should be a top priority, and a group of its frustrated employees in London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 discovered that Facebook isn't  a safe forum to vent their anger.
Thanks to the power of social networking, the  workers' rude comments about passengers caught the attention of the press. Their Facebook group, "'Things that irritate you more when working on check-in", lists complaints including: smelly travelers and American customer's with "stupid accents". 
But the terminal five group members aren't the only worker bees creating controversy.
One group features several workers who formed a band and posted a video where they sing "What a disaster Terminal 5 is"., and Another group 'Bring long hauls back to Gatwick' claims they're victims since BA moved all the longhaul flights that it 'legally could' to Heathrow.
An article on the Dailymail.com quoted some of the group's colorful quotes

'This group is to try and get Willie Walsh, for once, to listen to the staff...Cabin Crew are leaving faster than Dawn French from a Weight Watchers meeting because they simply don't get paid enough....Operations there are shambolic  -  luggage is lost, no BA flights ever leave on time, and virtually all flights are coached to remote stands'

Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. British Airways is scrambling to stop the mutiny, but the posters used code names such as "Suely". According to the Dailymail's story, the check-in staff is being investigated by their bosses. A spokesman said the comments as 'disappointing' and 'unwise' and pledged to deal with those responsible.

The mere fact that this inner-conflict evolved into an international PR disaster highlights the importance of  online reputation management, especially for an industry that's already struggling to survive.

The main obstacles to reputation management are the potential legal ramifications, since employees could sue for violations of their privacy and freedom of speech. If and when future amendments or bills are submitted to address this issue, It will be interesting to see if governments will side with the corporations or the individuals.

By Matt O'Hern at 12:24 PM | Comments (1)

(1) Thoughts on British Airways' Reputation Damaged by Employee Comments on Facebook

I think a distinction should be made between generalised and personal comments about passenger's; accents or personal hygiene which are unacceptable, and the refusal of BA management to listen to staff or retired staff.

At present the company's 47,000 pensioners are campaigning to persuade Mr Walsh and his team to reinstate their entitlement to stand-by travel at low rates - a perk that has been offered to all staff for at least 60 years.

Under BA's plans these seats - which would otherwise be empty - are being denied to BA&'s own pensioners whilst remaining available to retirees of other airlines under complicated Interline agreements.

Ironically it was the same 47,000 pensioners to whom Walsh turned earlier in the year seeking their support for a third runway at Heathrow.

The campaign website is at:
www.BA-be-fair.com

Comments by Philip Howells : Tuesday, November 04, 2008 at 10:50 PM

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