Holidays under threat over call centre 'shambles' at Passport Office

Holidays under threat over call centre ‘shambles’ at Passport Office and British Airways: Furious travellers tell how they are waiting two weeks for urgent call backs or are being repeatedly cut off

  • Travellers have been left miserable when trying to contact both organisations
  • Some people say they didn’t hear back for weeks despite their urgent enquiries
  • A family trying to contact BA said they were left on hold for 15 hours over 14 calls 
  • One worker at the Passport Office’s helpline said the situation was a ‘shambles’ 
  • They said ‘countless’ people have missed their holidays because of the delays
  • British Airways and Passport Office customers are spending weeks on hold at call centres as both organisations are overwhelmed the amount of people ringing to try and save their holidays. 

    Travellers are being left frustrated in their attempts to contact the airline and the Government agency, sometimes waiting for hours on hold or having their calls repeatedly cut off.

    People trying to get in touch with the Passport Office being left waiting two weeks for urgent calls back, with an employee at the agency blaming ‘terrible management’.

    Speaking to The Times, the employee said the agency’s helpline, which is run by French firm Teleperformance, is a ‘shambles’ which has led to ‘countless’ people missing their holidays. 

    One employee at the Passport Office, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Times the situation was 'a shambles'

    One employee at the Passport Office, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Times the situation was ‘a shambles’

    Meanwhile, British Airways is only answering one phone call in every 20 and has cancelled hundreds of flight amid ongoing staff shortages after getting rid of 13,000 staff during the pandemic.

    Travellers trying to get through to the airline to rebook flights after they were cancelled report going for weeks without hearing from the company. 

    One family said they spent 15 hours on hold after ringing 14 times and still never managed to speak to someone. 

    People trying to get in touch with British Airways have sometimes been left waiting weeks for someone to get back to them

    People trying to get in touch with British Airways have sometimes been left waiting weeks for someone to get back to them

    It is reported in The Times that passport applicants that are able to make it through to the Passport Office often find staff are unable to help them, and phone calls back to them that have been promised don’t materialise for weeks.

    The employee, who asked not to be named, told the paper: ‘It’s a shambles. 

    ‘Teleperformance is missing all service level agreements and not by days, by weeks. The urgent call back queues had a two-week wait when I last worked it. 

    ‘Lost and stolen was 15,000 records over its service level agreement.

    ‘Staff aren’t trained, they are thrown in and make countless errors, and are constantly being shifted from department to department. 

    ‘It’s an absolute mess and customers are suffering. I’ve made countless people cry by telling them they are not going to get their passport on time.’

    They added the felt the problems could be fixed by Teleperformance taking on more staff.

    The Passport Office told The Times: ‘As part of our plans to deal with the record 9.5 million applications expected in 2022, we’ve increased staff numbers by 500 since April 2021. 

    ‘Our extensive preparations have helped us to handle more applications than ever before, with more than one million processed in March. 

    People queuing outside the Passport Office in Victoria, London. One employee of the agency's helpline said 'countless' people had missed their holidays because of delays with the service

    People queuing outside the Passport Office in Victoria, London. One employee of the agency’s helpline said ‘countless’ people had missed their holidays because of delays with the service

    ‘The Home Office has raised concerns with Teleperformance about its delivery. 

    ‘Teleperformance is urgently working to add extra staff and significantly improve current performance.’

    British Airways told the paper: ‘Our contact centres are extremely busy at the moment and we’re working hard to improve our customers’ experience. 

    ‘We’re currently prioritising customer service calls so we can assist with existing bookings or those who need help urgently.’

    Teleperformance and Sopra Steria did not offer a comment to The Times.

    It comes after months of chaos for British travellers eager to travel after Covid restrictions were lifted earlier this year. 








    Five million Britons have delayed renewing their passports because of coronavirus restrictions. 

    And post-Brexit travel rules from the EU have complicated matters further as they require travelling Britons to have at least three months validity remaining when travelling to EU member nations.

    As a result, Britons are now being warned they face a 10-week wait for their passport – instead of the usual three week turnaround time.

    Last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson threatened to ‘privatise the a*** off’ the Passport Office and the DVLA unless they step up services.   

    The PM laid into the ‘post-Covid manana culture’ at some government agencies as he urged the Cabinet to find efficiencies that can help ease the cost-of-living crisis.

    The swipe at lingering pandemic practices such as working from home came amid fury at ‘nightmare’ delays in receiving new passports.  

    Officials sounded the alarm over the passport delays, which they say are being caused by ‘unprecedented demand’.

    The delays are causing chaos for families who are still yet to receive their passports – despite applying for them months ago.

    One family today told MailOnline how they face losing out on a £1,100 holiday to Spain next month because they are still without one of their passports. 

    Britons tell how ‘nightmare’ months-long delays to passport applications have left their summer holidays in doubt 

    Britons say their holiday plans are being thrown into doubt because of ‘nightmare’ delays in receiving their new passports.

    Families say they fear missing out on long-awaited trips because they have not yet received the important travel documents – despite applying for them months ago.

    One family revealed how they were yet to receive a passport nearly two months after ordering it – even after shelling out an extra £100 to ‘fast track’ their application.

    Meanwhile, a wedding photographer said she faced losing out on a £3,000 job in France because her passport had not arrived – despite her applying for it back in September. 

    It comes as officials sounded the alarm over the delays, which they say are being caused by an ‘unprecedented demand’ for new passports.

    Officials say five million Britons have delayed renewing their passports because of coronavirus restrictions. 

    And post-Brexit travel rules from the EU have complicated matters further as they require travelling Britons to have at least three months validity remaining when travelling to EU member nations.

    As a result, Britons are now being warned they face a 10-week wait for their passport – instead of the usual three week turnaround time.

    The delays are causing chaos for families who are still yet to receive their passports – despite applying for them months ago.

    Advertisement