British Airways (BA) will make a multimillion-pound investment in staff training at its London Heathrow Airport hub, 10 months after a light snowfall there brought chaos to its services.

The breakdown led to the stranding of thousands of passengers, with some complaining of a lack of assistance from BA staff, just a few days after CEO Alex Cruz told an Aviation Club luncheon in London the difference between BA and LCCs was that the national carrier’s staff would “bust a gut” to fix passengers’ problems when things go wrong.

The new training initiative will start with the airline’s customer service hosts at its flagship home, Heathrow’s Terminal 5.

“British Airways’ hosts have traditionally helped customers with one aspect of their journey,” the airline said in a statement. “As part of a new approach, between now and next summer a huge training operation will get underway to enable every host to help customers across a range of different areas—from ticketing to rebooking, changing reservations, finding delayed luggage or providing up-to-date flight information. Hosts will use iPads loaded with a number of specialist apps and will walk the terminal floor, reaching out to customers, rather than waiting for them to visit desks.”

BA COO Klaus Goersch added: “This will change the service we deliver at Heathrow, but at its heart, this is a really simple idea. It’s about trusting our people and empowering them— giving them everything they need to provide the very best service to our customers. We’re encouraging our hosts to treat customers as they would their own family, and to own and resolve issues on the spot. It’s this exceptional customer service that will set us apart from other airlines.”

The new approach is expected to be extended across Heathrow to empower all BA staff, regardless of where they work.

Alan Dron