British Airways maltreats an Indian classical musician

British Airways maltreats an Indian classical musician


norman lebrecht

August 05, 2019

The renowned pandit Debashish Bhattacharya was returning home by BA from a festival performance at Womad when the airline contrived to lose his iconic self-made guitar during a 14-hour layover at Doha.

‘This instrument is one of a kind in the world and it is very valuable in every sense. I possess it since 1995 and it has become a part of me,’ he tells us. British Airways and its agents were unhelpful. The food, he adds, was ‘unsavoury’ and no accommodation was arranged for the long layover.

After three days of high anxiety the guitar was returned and the Pandit was able to perform again.

But he and his followers are unlikely to fly BA again.



  • Nik says:

    There are a lot of gaps to fill in with this story. Was the 14-hour layover the result of a British Airways delay or cancellation, or were his flights booked that way? If it’s the latter, it’s not the airline’s responsibility to arrange accommodation for him. Why on earth would it be?
    Also, presumably his connection was with Qatar Airways as BA only flies as far as Qatar. If the instrument was lost during the layover, how do you know it didn’t happen after it was unloaded from the BA flight? In which case it wasn’t BA who lost it but the Qatar ground handling agent.
    You clearly have some kind of vendetta against BA. At least try and make sure your stories stand up before you post them.

    • GBNZ says:

      Final carrier is responsible for list/damaged checked bags. Perhaps he bought the ticket from BA but like Nik says, the loathsome Qatar Airways is likely responsible.

  • V.Lind says:

    The link is to your article on a staple in BA food. An individual’s statement that the food was “unsavoury” bears no relation to any such story. People have whinged about the savouriness of airline food for yonks. It is largely a matter of taste, and perhaps to an Indian the choices were too bland. Let’s face it, nobody flies for the cuisine.

    For that to be the only link from a story with much more substantial problems reported is a little bizarre and journalistically irrelevant. as noted above, the story offers insufficient information as to what actually happened, just that a man whose taste buds were apparently offended endured some problems. Need a bit of game raising here.

    • Nik says:

      The sentence “no accommodation was arranged for the long layover” is for me the weirdest bit. It’s completely meaningless if you don’t explain on what possible basis the passenger expected that accommodation would be arranged for him.
      It’s a bit like those stories in the Daily Mail where Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom spent their last 300 quid on an upgrade from economy to premium economy and then suffered the shock of their lives when they didn’t receive first-class red carpet treatment and a private chauffeur to the gate.

  • journeyingjohn says:

    I am no fan of Best Avoided and their rip off services in 2019 but with respect, this must involve at least one other airline because of the routing and therefore may not be Beyond Abysmals responsibility.
    As someone who flies many times a year I actively avoid British Airways since for the past few years the service has dropped and dropped again, the cabins are filthy and the catering a joke (when loaded). They offer no help when things go wrong and only see their customers as a potential source of additional revenue… delivering the products paid for doesn’t come into it. However, I think that this story is only one side and there must be at least one other party involved and probably culpable.
    In future, don’t risk it, book with a quality airline… fly AnyoneButBritishAirways (ABBA) and then you wont have to deal with the BullSh*tArtistes

  • Edgar says:


  • Rajeswari says:

    Yes, BA sucks. I travelled very sick and very rude and unhelpful.

  • Leo says:

    I don’t want to question the quality of this artist’s music, but in what sense is that classical?

  • John Borstlap says:

    Since brexit, staff at BA have become quite sensitive to outlandish-looking contraptions, and probably they suspected this instrument of aesthetic intrusion into narrowly-defined boundaries. Last month, my PA was not allowed to take her Polish hair dryer home when she returned from a short holiday because of the shape of the thing which was interpreted as violently harmful, which it was, but not in the way as it was imagined.