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Monday, March 28, 2011

British Airways overbooking creats problems in Muscat London flight

March 28, 2011 | Author Erin Adam

The former Labour Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has been involved an extraordinary in-flight dispute on board a British Airways service from Oman to London.

Six Business class passengers who checked in at Oman were told that the flight had been overbooked and that they would have to downgrade to Premium Economy class. To make room for them, some Premium passengers were asked to move into Economy class and, because that cabin then became full, some Economy passengers were bumped off. One Premium Economy passenger, who had booked the seat with more leg-room because she was pregnant, refused to move although her husband reluctantly agreed to move to Economy. To passengers’ irritation, the six Business Class seats remained empty until the flight stopped at Abu Dhabi, when Gordon Brown and five of his staff boarded the plane.

When the passengers saw who it was taking the seats that they had originally booked there was an outcry. The pregnant passenger exchanged angry words with Kirsty McNeill, Mr Brown’s aide, and others complained to British Airways and demanded to know whether they had been downgraded in favour of Mr Brown’s party. British Airways denied that Mr Brown was involved in the overbooking and said that it would compensate passengers whose seat bookings were affected.

Mr Brown, now a back-bench MP, has been appointed as a ‘distinguished global leader in residence’ by New York University in Abu Dhabi at a remuneration of £70,000 a year. The University reportedly pays for his travelling expenses.

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