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How to take British Airways to CEDR arbitration

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We are receiving an increasing number of emails at HfP from British Airways passengers who have had major issues on or with BA flights.  Our general advice has been to take BA to arbitration, making a realistic and not sensationalist claim for compensation.

A HfP reader who has been through the process of taking BA to arbitration has written this how to guide.  You will find it useful if you also feel the need of taking a BA complaint further after not having been offered satisfactory compensation.

British Airways Airbus A350 Aircraft

This is how you should approach your claim.  Remember that, of course, this article is purely the opinion and experiences of the author and is not official legal advice in any sense.  Please also remember that the remainder of this article was written by a third party and not by Rob or myself, although it has been edited slightly.

What is CEDR?

Before we got into the details of making a claim, this is an explanation of what CEDR is and how it works:

CEDR is an independent dispute resolution body that adjudicates disputes between passengers and subscribing airlines.

They are currently adjudicating disputes related to Thomson (since the 1st February 2016), British Airways (June 2016), Thomas Cook (July 2016) and EasyJet (August 2016).

A professional adjudicator will assess the application provided by the passenger, evidence submitted by the airline and the relevant law as appropriate in order to reach a decision on the validity of a claim.

CEDR Adjudicators have the power to direct that compensation should be paid to the passenger if the claim is deemed to be proven

In achieving a fair and reasonable outcome for both parties they will treat the passenger and airline fairly, give equal consideration to the word of the passenger and the word of the airline, remain neutral and promote neither the position of the passenger nor that of the airline.

How to claim

Stage 1:  Raising concerns with the airline

You will not receive a satisfactory hearing at arbitration or in court unless you show that you have used your best efforts to achieve compensation directly from the airline.

In the case of BA you have to use their tortuous online complaints process, which is designed to make record keeping and response as difficult as possible.  You must contact Customer Relations via the form found on this British Airways site.

It is essential that before submitting the complaint online you keep a record of the date and time sent.  Copy the text element of the online submission into a Word or similar file to keep a record of what you stated (save this on your own computer).

The BA system does not encourage this but you will need it later. I suggest creating a BA file and placing a copy of this document into that file.

Once submitted British Airways will email you a receipt to confirm they have received your complaint. This reply also includes your auto generated complaint reference number which you will keep needing, so don’t lose it!

Stage 2:  The airline trying to resolve your complaint

The airline will try and resolve your complaint to your satisfaction. This may take several weeks but you must allow them sufficient time to assess your complaint and respond.

BA tend to respond fairly quickly via email and you will find a letter explaining their response embedded. Keep a copy of the response in your BA folder.

If there is an offer of compensation, you need to decide whether it is reasonable and at this stage either accept or reject it.

Stage 3:  Rejecting the offer

If you decide to reject the airline’s offer, you need to respond with your reasoning and a suggestion of what you would consider to be a reasonable offer.

However, responding to this can be rather difficult as you must follow BA’s convoluted proces to reply correctly.

I would advise that you explain your logic (with calculations, eg x% of the flight cost or £x based on 1.6p per Avios point which is BA’s selling price) as to your idea of proper recompense.  Bear in mind that if BA rejects it, the Independent Adjudicator will read it and if it is plainly unreasonable will probably reject it too!  Be sensible. (If you feel that the airline has contravened any consumer or EU laws, quote them here).

End the submission by suggesting if they do not accept your proposal you will take your case to the County Court. This “threat” should encourage them to either make a FINAL offer or to refuse to budge.  BA should send you a response indicating that this is their final offer and then offering you the chance to go to mediation via CEDR (an independent dispute resolution body that adjudicates disputes between passengers and subscribing airlines of which BA is one).

At the bottom of the BA response you will see a paragraph telling you NOT to reply directly to the email as the email address is unmonitored. You must therefore respond ONLINE via the link at the bottom of the email.  Hit that link, enter your case reference and paste in your response. Submit and keep a record in your BA file.

Stage 4:  The final response letter

If the passenger and airline are unable to find a mutually acceptable resolution to the complaint, the airline will issue a ‘final response letter’.

This letter will tell you that the airline is unable to take your complaint any further and it should normally say that you may refer the matter to CEDR for adjudication. Go to CEDR’s website to see how it works.

Once you have received a “Final Response” that frees you up to go to mediation via CEDR straight away. Alternatively you can apply to CEDR independently BUT only once 8 weeks have passed from your original complaint submission.

In my case I had the “Final Response” letter via email from BA within three weeks of initiating my complaint and was then free to apply to CEDR immediately thereafter.

Stage 5:  Apply to CEDR for adjudication

CEDR’s online process is a bit of a hit and miss if you apply before the 8 weeks are up. Their system seems programmed to reject the application even if you have had your Final Response letter, but it is easy to follow the process.

You can attach files (ie those you have saved in your BA folder).  It is probably better to download their PDF form, complete and sign it and then scan it in to send it along with all your other files via email. If you have a problem you can call CEDR. They are usually very helpful and will sort out any glitches.

You also need to send your Credit Card details to underwrite a £25 fee should your case be 100% rejected by the adjudicator.  This is unlikely and anyway the CEDR process is much quicker and cheaper than the County Court process. You can always revert to that if you are unhappy with the adjudicator’s decision, though it may no doubt become part of the airlines evidence in any County Court process.

CEDR will check your application and may ask for further information. Once they accept it all further correspondence is automated via email and you can log in to check the progress online, answer further queries or see the airline’s comments – or hopefully their revised offer!

Once CEDR has passed it on to the airline they have 15 working days to submit their response (or defence). If no improved offer is forthcoming within the 15 days, the CEDR will adjudicate.

You will then have your final result – and hopefully one in your favour.

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Comments (120)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • TripRep says:

    OffTopic, Heathrow Britian Busiest Airport on ITV just now, 787 getting delivered, worth a watch?

  • Zoe says:

    Help needed please! I was recently due to fly on BA8754 Madrid to London City at the scheduled (departure 16:45 and arrival 18:20), this was the last leg of a family trip to Havana, the flights were booked with Iberia but this flight was operated by BA.This flight was cancelled before flying, however I was not informed of this change by either BA or Iberia, i only realised the week before the outbound flight by checking my BA app!

    When I made the booking, the return flight to Heathrow was £66 cheaper than the return flight to London City. I know this as i booked my other family members on the same flights but returning to London Heathrow ( They live close to Heathrow and we live close to London City)

    However the flight to London City was cancelled and we were moved on to the same flight to Heathrow as my other family members (Departing at 18:25, arrived 19:45)

    The journey between London Heathrow and London City, by public transport or car ( without traffic) is 1 hour and 10 minutes.Therefore delay to the final destination of the alternative flight offered was 2hr 45mins (Flight delay = 1hr 35minutes plus 1hr 10minutes to final destination) .

    I had contacted Iberia for compensation under EC Regulation 261/2004 for this flight as well as the difference in fare. They just said flights are cancelled and thanks for my custom! I have since read i should claim with BA as they were the operating airline.

    Not only am i cross about paying the premium for a destination i didn’t return to, we also paid £80 for a return taxi vs £18 if we had flown in to city and had a much longer journey back with a 5 month old in tow!

    Does anyone have any experience of anything similar? Can anyone offer me any advice on how to effectively pursue this?

    • Anna says:

      How much notice have you been given? I think if it’s more than 2 weeks you’re not entitled to any compensation. They have to re-route you, but only to London itself – you would need to check the distance between City and Heathrow I think to determine whether you can get transport refunded. Having said there I’m sure there was a post on here recently where a couple of got diverted from Heathrow to Gatwick (or vice versa) and BA paid for their taxi between the airports. Be prepared to dig your heels in and persevere though…

      • Genghis says:

        I’m no expert on EC261 but a colleague recently claimed for a delay and rerouting on Swiss and also claimed for a taxi from LHR (they were meant to fly into LCY)

  • Sam says:

    I have been as far as CEDR which has taken a year all in all. Our Thomas Cook flight Easter 2016 to Lanzarote was delayed with no information. We went to the gate, waited a couple of hours with no information, sent back to the lounge, still no information. Kept being told to go to the help desk at certain times. They told us our plane had been struck by lightning and they were getting a plane from Manchester that never materialised. Eventually after nearly 12 hours at the airport we were told the flight was cancelled and they put us up in a hotel where 4 of us shared 2 single beds and were given a meal at 10.30 that night. We have 2 children, luckily 11 and 13, some poor people had toddlers and babies. We went back to the airport the next morning and again flight delayed as high winds and they could not get plane from Manchester. We missed at least 24 hours of a weeks holiday. Anyway all 3 families in our party claimed as it was obvious it was staffing levels rather than lack of a plane and the other 2 families have received their compensation in full but mine was rejected!! Exactly the same claim, same flight, same everything. Different adjudicator. I suppose I just have to live with it but seems very unfair.

  • Charlie says:

    I’ve been offered the €600 compensation from BA, but alternatively they have offered €825 in BA vouchers (for reasons see my post #2).

    In practice the vouchers seem like a good idea, but I wonder if anyone knows if the vouchers have any restrictions? I would ask BA but I really don’t to wait another week for a reply through their complaints system!

    • Charlie says:

      Also, if i choose the cash, BA are asking for my bank details (account number, sort code, etc). In practice how does their payment in Euros get credited to my account (which is in Pounds). Thanks in advance for any replies!

      • Alan says:

        They’ll convert it into GBP before paying it into your account – exchange rate is OK as I remember.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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