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How I claimed my €250 EU261 compensation from British Airways

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A couple of weeks ago I was out of the office on a week long review trip (Ibiza, Madrid and Frankfurt … you may have read about it). As I wanted to be back in London for the weekend, I booked a Friday late afternoon flight back to Heathrow.

I got to Frankfurt, had food and drinks in the JAL lounge (the review of that is still to come) and boarded the plane on time. The crew did the safety briefing, the plane taxied around for a bit – and then stopped.

After a while we were told that the engine was broken and an engineer would have to look at it.  He would decide whether or not we could fly to London.

What followed was a back and forth of information and decisions that went a bit like this: we will stay on the plane, we need to get off, we will wait, ok we will get off in a bit and go back to the terminal, [more waiting and crew serving water], we are going to leave now, ok we might need to stay in Frankfurt, LONDON IS SENDING A NEW PLANE!

As confusing as this sounds, I did appreciate that the crew gave us every update they had and that the captain came through the plane to answer questions.

After two hours on the runway the plane taxied back to the terminal.  We were told that we’d have to be back by the gate in 30 minutes.  I went back to the JAL lounge where the receptionist assured us that she’d make an announcement. After another hour the plane from London landed.  Unfortunately there was no food on board but at least I didn’t have to spend another night in Frankfurt.

When I got back to the office, I decided to seek EU261 compensation.

Under EU law you can claim compensation for flights that are more than 3 hours delayed:

Up to 1,500km within the EU – €250

Over 1,500km within the EU and all other flights between 1,500km and 3,000 km – €400

All other flights – €600

Confusingly, flights TO the EU must be operated by an EU airline for your claim to be valid.  Flights FROM the EU are valid irrespective of the nationality of the airline.

My flight was 4 hours delayed so I decided to make a claim.  As Frankfurt is under 1,500km from London I was theoretically due €250.

Now, how do you make your claim?

Unfortunately there is not an easy click through menu to claim your compensation on the BA website.  You have to file your claim using the general ‘Contact Customer Relations’ form.

Bad IT design or a cunning plan to make it more confusing to claim?  You decide …..

You need to go to this page of the BA website and fill out your personal details, flight information and a detailed description of your request.

I put:

‘I’d like to claim EU261 compensation’

The answers that followed on the screen did NOT provide me with immediate help:

… so I clicked ‘Submit’.

Three days later I received an email from an Andrew Washburne apologising for the delay and informing me that

‘the distance of [my] disrupted journey (calculated in accordance with the Regulation) was less than 1,500km, and this means [I was] entitled to €250.00 in compensation. This equates to £213.86 in local currency.’

I had to go back to the BA website and enter my case reference number as well as my bank details for the money to be send to my account.

Three days later I received an email that the payment had been made and after another three days the money was in my account.

BA EU 261 compensation claim payment confirmed email

Conclusion

Once I had figured out how to make my claim the process was straightforward. A few emails back and forth and the money was in my account within 9 days of my initial contact.

The email mentioned the option of getting Avios instead of money, but it didn’t say how many. Rob’s recent article on BA’s Avios offer to people who are due €600 suggests that it would probably not have been close to 21,386 Avios (1p per point).

Flight delays are annoying, but when they do happen it’s good to know that it’s fairly easy – although not quite as easy as it could be – to claim the compensation you are due from British Airways.

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Comments (110)

  • IanMacK says:

    Anybody had experience claiming under EU261 from Lufthansa ?
    We had a nightmare experience last Saturday flying ABZ-FRA-ZUR where the ABZ-FRA was delayed on take-off due to time taken loading baggage on aircraft (Local school mid-term holiday – plane packed so LH would have known to expect a bunch of bags / cases – within LH control).

    Then at FRA were waitlisted for subsequent planes – first one full but we knew the next was wasn’t – tried to demand seat allocation and certainty to travel but LH claim they are only obligated to book us on comparable class – LH ridiculous interpretation of EU261 Art. 8.1 b) “at the earliest opportunity” – every LH customer services staff whom we asked / challenged were clearly programmed to say exactly the same thing !!

    Other websites report LH as terrible to deal with so any experiences appreciated.

    Thanks

    • AlexT says:

      I had a horrible experience with LH a couple of years back. Was flying back from HND to FRA and engineers had forgotten bolts loose in the AC unit on the plane. Upon takeoff we experienced massive vibrations and smoke in the cabin. Plane had to dump all fuel and land at NRT. 3 hours later we took off on the now repaired plane, but due to the delay I missed my connection to LHR.

      I wrote to LH claiming compensation under EU261 and got a reply saying that the flight was delayed due to circumstances out of the airline’s control. I wrote back and was told weather conditions. The flight was in the middle of summer – perfect clear skies both in FRA and in TYO. On my third try I threatened to sue and asked for a detailed engineer’s report from the incident to submit to court. Within a day I got a reply that for “customer service” reasons my request for compensation would be granted but that LH admitted no liability in the case and essentially I wasn’t setting a case precedent for other travelers on the same flight…

      • IanMacK says:

        AlexT

        Thanks for your input.
        LH seem to have a horrible reputation.
        I have sent a note to Rob separately.

        IanMacK

  • Isabel Friedlander says:

    I was recently delayed on a BA flight for 4 hours at Washington Dulles as it was raining, but not torrential rain at all.. After an hour the pilot turned off the engine to save fuel. In the 3rd hour he turned on again but 3 passengers decided to accept the offer to leave the plane so we had to return to the bay to refuel and get their luggage off . We landed exactly 4 hours late and a website I consulted was clear that this weather did not constitute “exceptional circumstances”. I completed the claim form but BA ‘s replies, and several of them, would not accept the claim!!

  • Eli says:

    Some friends just had a delay on Swiss. They told the passengers on board that the delay was due to bad weather.
    The bad weather was nowhere to be seen (very thin dusting of snow in Zurich).
    I sent an email to Swiss and they replied that the plane arrived late due to a technical fault and it’s considered exceptional circumstances and therefore EU261 would not be applicable.
    They attached a £40 voucher per passenger.

    This is all a con, as technical faults are all eligible for compensation and the voucher is just a shutting up attempt.

    Don’t let the airline fob you off about weather. If you don’t see bad weather, check for yourself what happened and don’t be fobed off with a voucher they throw at you.

    • Rob says:

      Whilst the UK courts have decided that technical faults count, Swiss courts may not have. As long as the flight was to/from UK you’re fine as Small Claims Court will follow Huzar v Jet2.

  • NFH says:

    What if you don’t want it converted from EUR to GBP and instead want the full EUR amount to be paid to your or a friend’s EUR bank account? Will BA do this?

  • mark E says:

    I flew BA on Saturday from Schipol to Southend ( flight was diverted as my booked arrival airport London City closes on Saturday afternoons) Flight was 3 hours late , i understand that it was due to fog. No official reason was given and it was foggy in Amsterdam . Will i succeed with a claim ?

    • Rob says:

      No harm trying although fog is an allowed exclusion.

      • mark E says:

        Thanks Rob.

        Off Topic : It was me that tweeted the pic from outside The IC Amstel. I will be aiming to stay there again with reward nights , with the family (2 adults 2 children) Have you ever managed to use a reward night to stay there with the family ?

  • PLR says:

    Last summer I was on a flight from Gatwick to Mykonos which arrived four hours and forty minutes late after leaving two hours late and then making an emergency unscheduled landing in Milan as one of the crew took ill. Easyjet wouldn’t refund me under EU law saying this was out of their control. Does anyone know if I could challenge this?

  • Chris Cannon says:

    Just been delayed 34 hours LAS- LHR on BA. Is compensation still due if we were traveling on reward flights?