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Last Updated: Friday, 18 January 2008, 15:36 GMT
Passenger criticises BA treatment
Evacuation chute
Passengers had to use evacuation chutes after the crash
British Airways has been criticised for the way it treated Heathrow crash passengers once they had been taken into the airport.

Passenger Mark Tamburro praised the pilot and staff on board, but said ground staff were not so helpful.

He said they were more concerned about security and keeping the media away than about passengers' welfare.

A British Airways spokeswoman said the company tried to provide as much help as possible to customers.

Mr Tamburro, a 46-year-old father-of-four from Oxford who suffered whiplash and a cut head in the crash, said passengers were forced to wait for hours without refreshments.

He said: "The pilot did a great job to get us down safely as did the staff on board who were brilliant at getting us off the plane.

"However, I wish I could say the same about BA and airport staff once we had been gathered and taken to a departure area in the terminal."

Water rationed

The businessman said passengers had to wait three hours to be processed so that police officers could take statements from them and doctors could check them.

He said the BA staff who were looking after the passengers rationed water, the only drink which was initially offered to them in the departure area, and did not offer any food.

"I asked if tea and coffee could be arranged and this fell on deaf ears. We had to be escorted if we wanted to go to the toilet. It felt like the staff were more interested in security than our wellbeing," he said.

After the passengers were assessed by the doctors, Mr Tamburro claims they were forced to wait another two hours in the departure lounge.

Given that we had just survived a major air crash, I found it unbelievable that there was no counselling available in the lounge
Mark Tamburro

Mr Tamburro said he and his two travelling companions had to leave their hand luggage in their overhead lockers on the aeroplane and so had no money or personal belongings on them but nobody was able to help them.

He said: "No one seemed to know what they were doing and did not seem to take the baggage need into account.

He claimed when the passengers asked how they were supposed to get home without any money at all and asked BA for some petty cash, staff refused to help them.

"All we were given was a printed leaflet with advice on counselling. Given that we had just survived a major air crash I found it unbelievable that there was no counselling available in the lounge", he said.

Eventually the passengers, who are still without their bags, were helped by a police officer who arranged for taxis to take them home on the basis they paid the drivers when they got there.

Mr Tamburro praised the police and emergency services but said he was disappointed with BA and said: "It makes me mad that BA's chief executive Willie Walsh comes on television painting this 'everything is sorted' picture. The reality was far from this.

"BA needs to review its contingency plans because what happened to us was not good enough."

'Limitations'

The BA spokeswoman said: "We strive to provide as much assistance as possible to our customers following an incident.

"However, there are some limitations to what we can do due to the various regulations with which we have to comply and the restrictions of operating in an airside environment.

"For example, we have to wait for permission to remove baggage and any other personal belongings from the aircraft. When that permission is received, our aim is to get these belongings back to customers as quickly as possible.

"We can only apologise if any passengers felt that we did not meet their expectations."

SEE ALSO
In pictures: Heathrow crash clear-up
18 Jan 08 |  In Pictures

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