Name Change Nightmare – British Airways Option 2

I have an a few nightmares with changing my name with a few companies. Interesting it is the organisations that have least to lose from fraud that have been the biggest challenge, and most frustrating. Unnecessary proof and administration for a name and a title – and hiding behind data protection and security that adds nothing to either infuriates me.

What started it off for me, and drove me initially to change my name was EE. Utility companies should be the easiest. You have a service, you pay the bill. Same customer, same direct debit – what is the problem. EE insisted on a name change document. No thank you, and hello different provider. And interesting the any new provider never asks for any form of ID other than a bank card and “R FOX” did that fine (yes, you can de-gender your bank cards people, just ask).

Anyway after I did change my name – I went to my banks (I have several) and mostly it was great. HSBC (FirstDirect) and Aviva needed a good kick to only accept a statutory declaration – I point blank refuse to provide anything else. They would not ask for anything else on the basis of marriage or divorce, so why discriminate against trans people. If you pass their security checks, they know it’s you. Barclays, Lloyds Group and Santander all fantastic for me – well done!

My passport was easy too. It’s a money issue for most people, with the additional GPs letter on permanent gender change. You need a passport for a couple of things – the obvious is to travel, and the second people forget is your right to work in the UK. If you are happy using a passport in your old name then fine. Otherwise, get your documents and money ready, book an appointment and get it sorted – they are lovely.

The driving license just flows through from your passport – but make sure they update your hidden gender marker. Also remember a driving license is not proof of the right to work in the UK – just to drive! Oh and if you have a car, update your car documents too.

All aboard for British Airways flight to Nowhere…

Anyway, this leads me on to British Airways (get ready!). I have legacy Executive Club with them from a flight I took with work in 2014. I use to fly every week for years but rarely with BA. So not surprising my Executive Club account has ZERO points, they do not hold my passport on file, and there is not credit available on it. In short, it’s a club card to me (like Tesco!). But you are unable to change your name and title on line (like many, many smart thinking organisations)… you have to call them.

british-airways-logoBritish Airways will only accept for your name change (trans) a passport or driving licence; and for your gender a new passport, new birth or adoption certificate, or finally a Gender Recognition Certificate (let’s not talk about the legality of the last!)

This is not working for Rebecca Fox. No, no no.

Rebecca Fox does not need her Executive Club membership – and she cannot close it either. But EACH MONTH she gets and email in her old name saying how many point she has. Let me remind you I have ZERO points.

I rang them. (Just a small interjection, this is also a 0344/0844 number so I am paying for this in more ways than one.) After a lengthy conversation I was given TWO options:

  • Provide one of the before mentioned documents – most notable my passport
  • Put the emails into SPAM (yes the ones with my OLD name on – how lovely) and in three years the account will expire with in activity

At the same time I asked what information they had on me. They have nothing about me, apart from my previous name and address. No passport, nothing. They did not even have my date of birth until I logged in and was forced to provide when I attempted to update my name online the first time.

I have subsequently emailed them twice saying I am not going to provide my passport. For a couple of reasons and why I would not comply with Options 1:

  • They do not need it – there is no valid reasons other than “It is British Airways’ standard practice to request proof of any changes to personal details that could result in one member accessing another member’s account.” – but this does not mean they need it? I have validated myself with all their security checks (oh and remember the DOB I entered early on in this process – wow really secure). Just update your system with my name, it’s not rocket science.
  • I will be giving them more information than they already have – they have very little information about me so why would I give them a document that as everything about me on it. All my ID when they do not need it. They talked about data protection and data security as though it matters to them, it doesn’t – data protection and data security matters to me. Why on earth would I give them access to a document they do not need for anything other than my name – and I have told them that!
Who is Mark? Who knows but SPAM is also not for him!

Now, let’s talk about Option 2.

(deep breath) What the actual f*ck! I am not sure if I am angry, or about to go into a rage over this. Maybe this is why I wrote this blog.

In short I was told, by BRITISH AIRWAYS, that my gender identity is not important. That one of the best ways (in fact only one of TWO) to avoid me seeing my old name and identity was to put their emails into SPAM. How is this a viable option on any level? How does BRITHISH AIRWAYS think this is appropriate to treat their customers (admittedly not a very good one with ZERO points).

There is serious issue with the processes and policies and system at British Airways in how to treat trans people. I would like to be treated with dignity and respect – I understand I may have turned my back on my old identity, but putting it in SPAM is not the answer.

Asking me to ignore emails in my old name makes me feel like British Airways does not care about me at all. Even providing Option 2 is a clear demonstration of the ignorance and lack of education around trans issues in British Airways and I have no intention of them treating me or anyone else like a second class citizen.

To fly, to serve? I think not.

UPDATE: So BA did change may name a couple of weeks later. This was done entirely by email. They felt, after all, I didn’t need proof I had changed my name even after saying “Security is important” – from the sublime to the ridiculous. Pester power wins, but is does get exhausting at times!

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