Who’s in charge? BAA subcontractor culture and Heathrow airport

Heathrow Due to a total cock up on my part I had to catch a plane to Dublin from Heathrow and return to Stansted. Which required a late night trip to retrieve my car. Arriving after 11 at terminal 1 I found myself on planet Kafka – the airport was closing for the night. But was bustling with contractors repairing the Arrival lane at Terminal1. Which meant all buses were rerouted to the Departures lane upstairs.  There was another traveller who had left from Terminal 2 before it closed for renovation and had arrived back at Terminal 1. We were both waiting for the bus back to the Business Parking area. Which didn't arrive. After half an hour in the freezing cold we tried to find a way to call the car park. There was no number on the ticket. So we tried the short term carpark and the attendant in the BAA uniform. Sorry I'm a contractor nothing to do with me. No I don't have the number. So we tried inside the terminal. No staff from BAA. Just contractors. The official helpline closed at 7pm and didn't open till 9am. I got out my Iphone and started working the numbers on the Heathrow BAA site. I eventually made it through to another BAA contractor who claimed I was calling a helpline which was only supposed to be used by the disabled. He couldn't help me find a number because he had contract with BAA which said he was to run a bus service.. to move contractors around the site.  I tried calling for help on Twitter from BAA. Nothing.

After an hour the two of us caught a taxi to the car park and tried to claim the money back- this service costs more than £20 a day after all. Only to be told it was our fault for not calling the number. They didn't seem to understand that there was no number in evidence on display with the rerouting of buses. Clearly we had to have a number because their drivers were instructed to sit in their portacabins all night and wait for customers to call. I got home at  2am after leaving just after 9.

We seem to have sleepwalked into subcontractor culture. I gather it is cheaper, more flexible. Poor performers can be replaced. But subcontractor culture still requires an owner. And BAA was nowhere to be found or contacted.



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