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When BA compensation really doesn’t hit the mark ….

Sometimes you read something that makes you want to bang your head on the table and despair at the idiocy of the person who decided to write it. Such is the case of the treatment of the British Airways passengers who were locked in Venice Airport overnight last month.

As was widely reported at the time, delays in correcting a mechanical fault to a British Airways after it had landed in Venice meant that the cabin crew had exceeded their legal working hours for the day by the time it was fixed. As the pilots had not exceeded their working hours, the plane returned to London empty.

This occurred during the opening of the biennale art festival, with almost no available hotel rooms. The passengers were therefore forcibly locked in the airport overnight, with no access to food or water, apart from that available from the toilets. Blankets were provided, but passengers were not allowed access to their luggage. This meant, for example, no access to nappies or baby food for those with young children. When the airport reopened, €3 of credit per person was offered to buy breakfast. Passengers did not leave Venice until around noon the following day.

A380 1

I was wondering at the time what sort of compensation BA would have to offer to the 140 people affected. For comparison, remember that we were offered £200 per person in Dubai over Easter (plus a five-star hotel, transfers and all meal expenses) to switch from Club World on the morning flight to Club World on the evening flight.

One of the passengers affected has posted details of BA’s offer on Flyertalk. Frankly, it is shocking.

In return for being forced to sleep on the floor of Venice airport overnight, with no food etc, British Airways has offered £100 compensation. This is not even in cash – only BA vouchers are on offer, which can’t even be used by a lot of the passengers, who are not UK based.

To be honest, this beggars belief. It is hard to even envisage the mindset of the BA customer relations person who decided to make such an offer. Even offering no compensation at all would have been less of an insult than £100 of BA vouchers.

Even £500 per person would only have cost BA £70,000. I don’t know how much value they place on bad publicity, but they will run through substantially more than £70,000-worth before this is over.

The even greater irony is that, if it hadn’t been for the opening of the arts festival, there WOULD have been enough hotel rooms in Venice. And the cost of those hotel rooms, plus food and transfers, would have come to a few hundred pounds per passenger anyway. BA is not even willing to give passengers the money they would have had to spend on them had they not been locked in the airport and made to sleep on the floor!

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Comments

  1. Indeed shocking and shows the depths BA has plunged. No amount of hype over the 3 new aircraft with old products 6 years behind the competition can paper over appalling service now generally handed out.
    Of course EU comp would have been payabl on top and this may have affected BA decision. None the less pretty shoddy for a blue chip organisation.
    I only use them now when booking redemptions or short haul in the EU or domestically.

  2. James67 says:

    Are the pax not entitled to a full refund on flight under eu regulations for being delayed over 5 hours? There is no wag I would have accepted this and would fight it vigorously for full cost to me then some. As it sounds I think pax could and should sue BA for injury. If I could, I would probably avoic flying BA ever again.

    • Under EC261/2004 passengers would be entitled to cash compensation plus reasonable out of pocket expenses. As its probably <1,500km that would only be €250 though, but still far more than BA was offering.

      BA's approach to compensation in these circumstances is an absolute shambles. Under the regulations they are supposed to advise passengers of their rights, and given the circumstances you'd think that they'd want to try to make things right. But instead they offer a derisory amount in vouchers and hope people will just accept that and go away.

      Worth knowing your rights and fighting for them…

  3. Colin MacKinnon says:

    Well, that is BA. I took four months, plus a couple of hours on the phone and several letters – all the way to the top – to get 2,000 quid back from cancelled flights to Australia.(Booked in BMI days).

    I actually asked for Avios for one free RFS to Spain, for my wife who had to put up with my moaning!

    No letter saying: your cash is now in the bank. No letter of apology. And no Avios.

    BA, frankly, is sinking to Ryanair levels.

    Of course, I will still fly them – BA and Ryanair! – where they offer the best deal. IIE point-to-point. But why use my Avios for long-haul?

    In fact, I am now looking at gathering points for AA’s Exploer Awards.

    http://www.aa.com/i18n/disclaimers/oneworld_awards.jsp

    It seems this offers a great way to travel if, like me, you only do two or three long-haul trips a year and spend a lot on credit vards, rather than flying or hotels or car hire. (and I spend well over 100k a year on the cards!)

    • Sinizter says:

      Having only recently got a AA credit card and not having had time to look through all of it, I had never seen that chart previously.
      Thanks for the info. Something to look into.

  4. Mr Bridge says:

    to be honest BA as well as other airlines, really need to clean up their act in this area.
    I hope that the pax on this flight are offered a class action or similar by good samaritan solicitors firm. It could have been any one of us on that flight. Why couldn’t ba have offloaded the food and drinks from the plane? Why couldn’t BA have paid for a snack bar to stay open. If i owned a snack bar in an airport and was offered a chunk of money I would have jumped at the chance;

    Quite frankly there was a number of solutions that could have been effective, and you would think that a company like BA would have a contingency or protocol for such events

  5. Worzel says:

    Have done BA London Heathrow to Singapore and also Heathrow to Agadir in the the past few months-both economy.

    BA service was good but could be improved.

    Those who have issues with delayed flights will have their own individual case.

    However, we all seem to depart and arrive back home safely!-something we perhaps take for granted?

  6. Whilst I understand that to run a good business a degree of cost control must be in place, and that BA will have only limited or contract staff in Venice, this is SHOCKING treatment by B.A.

    I would have thought an offer of a free flight anywhere in Europe plus a cash payment would have been the minimum….

    • Miles for compensation is a cheap way for you to be compensated especially when you see how awful some availability is and that you pay extortionate fees to airlines for using them.

      • Paul, I agree, and don’t think that “Miles” is appropriate for this, as stated in my post,
        “A FREE FLIGHT ANYWHERE IN EUROPE” (i.e. FREE. No fees or surcharges)

  7. I totally agree that the cost of the bad publicity on this will far outweigh the amount they would have had to spend on a fair settlement.

    As a relevant aside, I have found one of the most successful ways to get some easy comp from airlines is to ask them if they’ll throw in a few frequent flyer points for your troubles.

    Most recently my mother-in-law’s bags got delayed by Lufthansa. I chased them for her, and she got her standard cash compensation. Nevertheless I asked Lufthansa for a few M&M miles for my troubles (I spend a fair old while chasing various clueless baggage handlers on the phone) and got 3000.

  8. This is crazy. How did they come up with £100???