Colleagues of a top QC who was told his children’s nanny couldn’t join his family in a business class flight because the flight was oversold have warned BA they have ‘picked a fight with the wrong passenger’.
Charles Banner, QC, 41, his partner Tetyana Nesterchuk and their two children aged 1 and 4 were escorted from a BA flight in Heathrow by armed police following a row over their nanny’s seat.
The family found themselves grounded after boarding BA flight 2578 from Heathrow Airport to Turin last Thursday for a week-long skiing holiday.
Matters became heated after Mr Banner was informed that the children’s nanny had only been allocated a seat in economy when he arrived at the boarding gate.
Mr Banner paid for business class tickets, but his nanny had been downgraded because BA oversold the flight.
Several legal colleagues commended Mr Banner’s stance, claiming BA have ‘picked on the wrong passenger’.
Charles Banner, QC, 41 left the aeroplane accompanied by his two children, aged 1 and 4, their mother, Tetyana Nesterchuk, and their nanny as officers looked on
The family found themselves grounded after boarding BA flight 2578 from Heathrow Airport to Turin last Thursday for a week-long skiing holiday. (Pictured: Mr Banner and Tetyana in 2013)
Several other lawyers supported Mr Banner after being let down by British Airways
Luke Tucker Harrison suggested the airline ‘picked a fight with the wrong passenger’
Another suggested British Airways should no longer be permitted to oversell flights
When he asked cabin crew if she could join them in business class, because he and the children’s mother wanted to work during the two-hour flight, Mr Banner claims BA plane staff were ‘rude’ with one commenting: ‘You wish.’
The debate raged as the plane started moving from the stand, prompting the pilot to turn it around and insist that he would only fly until Mr Banner and his family had been removed. The flight was delayed by 90 minutes.
Mr Banner, 41 told MailOnline: ‘If BA had told me that the nanny could not sit with us in business then we would not have travelled and could have got a later flight. But they only told us that when we got to the boarding gate.
‘I behaved perfectly but I was challenging the cabin crew because it was the right thing to do. The pettiness and vindictiveness of the staff caused this. I was being very polite about the whole thing.’
He added: ‘It was a very upsetting event for all of the family and the way we were treated was appalling and in contrast to over 15 years of pleasant experiences on BA flights as a regular customer.’
Mr Banner claimed that even though there was a spare seat close to him in business class, cabin crew staff insisted that nanny could still not sit in it and help look after his children, prompting him to inform them that he had made an official complaint about their conduct while still on the plane.
Mr Banner’s found themselves grounded after boarding BA flight 2578 from Heathrow Airport to Turin last Thursday for a week-long skiing holiday
He revealed: ‘This was unsurprisingly very upsetting and frustrating for us all, as it would have been for any family in this position.
‘We kept asking for an explanation and the cabin crew kept telling us again and again in response that we would be compensated, repeatedly gaslighting us by ignoring our request for an explanation as to why the spare seat could not be used.’
He added: ‘I indicated to the cabin crew that I had made a complaint about their behaviour to BA. Rather than apologise, the cabin crew then asked the pilot not to fly either the two kids aged 4 and 1, their mother, the nanny or myself, which was a gross over-reaction to our understandable upset at how we had been treated – most likely to provide the cabin crew with cover against the complaint that I indicated I had made about their behaviour.’
After leaving the plane, Mr Banner says that he was forced to book into a hotel close to Heathrow because of his young children, as it was getting late. The family then took a taxi to Gatwick Airport the following day and booked new flights to Turin with Easy Jet.
He estimates that whole incident has cost him almost £4,000 and is demanding financial compensation from BA as well as a full apology.
He has vowed to never fly with the airline again but admitted that he has already received two verbal apologies.
The initial cost of the BA business class flights to Turin was £1,250.
Mr Banner added: ‘BA have given me vouchers as compensation, but I don’t want those, I want a cash refund. There were a lot of knock-on costs for me as a result of this incident.’
After leaving the plane, Mr Banner (pictured getting an award in 2017) says that he was forced to book into a hotel close to Heathrow because of his young children, as it was getting late. The family then took a taxi to Gatwick Airport the following day and booked new flights to Turin with Easy Jet
Pictured: A British Airways aeroplane takes off over Heathrow airport on Friday, February 11
Mr Banner specialises in planning, commercial and public procurement and is considered one of the finest legal brains in these areas.
He was appointed a QC in 2019 at the age of 38, the youngest from that year’s batch and is rated as one of Britain’s top four planning QCs.
He insisted that the presence of police as he left the plane was simply standard protocol and did not indicate that he had committed any crime.
Mr Banner said: ‘In accordance with standard protocol in a situation where passengers leave a plane and return landside, the police escorted our family back through immigration. They made clear that this was just standard protocol and that no offence had been alleged or committed.’
A spokesman for BA said: ‘We do not tolerate disruptive behaviour and the safety of our customers and crew is our top priority.’