If you lived in the United States between November 2006 and April 2013, you could be in line for a windfall following the proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit against British Airways over Avios redemptions.
The case – put simply – was that British Airways added surcharges to Avios redemptions in breach of Executive Club terms and conditions. Whilst these were called ‘fuel surcharges’ there was no proof that they bore any relation to changes in the cost of aviation fuel.
For clarity, British Airways has not admitted it was at fault and no court has found otherwise – but the airline is handing over a pile of money to make the case go away.
You are in the money (well, Avios) if:
You booked an Avios redemption (100% Avios, not ‘cash and Avios’) between 9th November 2006 and 17th April 2013
You had a United States address on your BAEC account at the time of booking and gave a US address for whoever was flying, if it was not you
The taxes and charges paid included a fuel surcharge
You will get:
12,500 Avios for one redemption
20,000 Avios for between two and five redemptions
35,000 Avios for six or more redemptions
Avios will be awarded within 30 days of the final settlement being agreed. The court is expected to rubber stamp the settlement on 27th July but BA has further rights to appeal which could extend the process by another year or more.
Alternatively, you can opt in to take a cash alternative which is roughly 17% of the fuel surcharges you paid.
Assuming that everyone takes Avios, a total of 2,228,677,500 Avios will be awarded.
The Avios will be awarded automatically to all BAEC members who made qualifying redemptions during the period. If you want the money, you need to specifically opt in by 29th July. If you have closed your BAEC account in the interim, your only option is to receive cash and you need to specifically opt in.
You retain the right to opt out of this settlement and sue BA directly if you wish.
Don’t worry about sending a thank you note to the lawyers. They are asking for almost $15m in fees and expenses for their work (the fee represents 28% of the settlement value) although you are allowed to object to this if you wish. The court will consider your objection before deciding whether to approve the payment.
You can find out more on the class action website here.
PS. This settlement is only for US residents. Whilst UK residents paid similar fuel surcharges over this period, they are not included. Will any UK law firm now raise a similar case?
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