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British Airways strike: the cancelled flights which are not actually cancelled

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We have a separate pinned article on the home page covering the pilot strike.  However, it is important to repeat something we added yesterday and which we covered on social media.

British Airways emailed a lot of people on Friday night to say that their flights were being cancelled due to the strikes.

What did people do when they received these emails?  They went to and triggered the cancellation and refund.  They then either booked – often at substantial expense – a replacement flight on another airline, or decided not to travel and cancelled non-refundable hotel rooms.


BA was only kidding you.  Surprise.

Yes, a lot of flights have been cancelled before, on and after the first batch of strikes on 9th and 10th September.  However, a lot of flights – despite people receiving cancellation emails – were NOT cancelled.  Someone at BA pressed the wrong button.

You should, overnight, have received a second email from British Airways if you were mistakenly told your flight was cancelled.

However, if you received a cancellation email from BA, do NOT necessarily believe it.  Do these two things:

Go to Manage My Booking and look at your flight.  If it says ‘cancelled’, it’s cancelled.  If it simply shows in a red font then it IS operating although it remains at risk, depending on how many pilots report on the day and how many replacement aircraft BA can source.

Go to and try to book a seat on the flight you are on.  Without wishing to state the obvious, if you can still buy a seat, the flight is going.  If you can’t, it’s not.

Note that British Airways has not yet cancelled any flights for the 2nd strike on 27th September.  It has until 13th September to cancel them to avoid EC261 compensation.

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Comments (85)

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

  • Ian says:

    I woke up to 9 SMS messages and 17 emails about cancellations – some for flights I cancelled months ago!

    The only one I cared about was booked with AA. Phoned them and was switched to a nicer flight but ticket on request. Changed all my plans and then AA switched back to original routing.

    BA “cancelled” lots of flights and helped me refund or re-route half my flights but not the others. I’m now stuck with a mess of flights missing returns or leaving before I even arrive

    GGL can’t help because they don’t get the final schedule for a few days

    Once again I feel sorry for the BA staff who have to clean up this mess.

  • Justas says:

    OT – lounge situation at LGW North between 4:30-5:30am. No1 lounge – nobody can get in without a pre-booking. The lounge is virtually empty but the dragons insist that nobody is allowed without a pre-booking. My lounge – a long line by the entrance from 4:30am waiting for the lounge to open. Aspire lounge – no issues to get in with a PP and maybe 10-15 people inside.

    • Curious says:

      If the No1 Lounge is empty, why exactly are PP holders not allowed in?

      Did you ask for the reason? And if so was it a coherent response? Did you ask for a supervisor?

      Do people just accept this illogical stance and walk away?

      • Justas says:

        I walked away without pushing. Frankly, I was not in the mood of arguing at 4:30am, especially as I could get into another lounge without any issues.

        • Peter W says:

          LGW south was similar two weeks ago using LoungeKey. I complained to HSBC and LoungeKey. HSBC offered me a crate of wine or some shopping vouchers for my troubles. LoungeKey sent me some generic email and spent the next week phoning me at a cost to me as I was in the States. I went to grain store instead which was actually a good experience. Flying out of Boston tomorrow, hoping for more luck.

          • john says:

            It only costs if you answer

          • pablo says:

            Or if you don’t and the call is diverted to voicemail.

          • Lady London says:

            The only way to avoid being charged, if you are charged to receive calls when roaming (many contracts don’t charge you in quite a lot of places these days) is to divert your calls to voicemail before you leave the country. Has to be done on the UK network first apparently. Advice received was that you set up that divert once you’re already abroad as it wont work.

            So you wouldn’;t get any calls “live” but if the voicemail divert is of all calls and set up before you leave the UK, you wouldn;t be charged either only (potentially, depending on how you did it) for retrieving your voicemails.

            If your phone won’t do it usually your network can set it up if you call them.

          • Alan says:

            @LL I combine divert all with either Three Feel At Home PAYG SIM or Hullomail visual voicemail that you can then access as an app on your phone without having to call voicemail from abroad, works nicely 🙂

      • Paul C says:

        The reason is usually the need to keep capacity available for passengers from airlines for which they are the contracted lounge for business and status passengers. Happens with No.1 at LHR T3 in the afternoons.

      • Rob says:

        Not illogical. Airlines have paid for spots. Whether passengers turn up is immaterial.

        Give No 1 some credit – you really think they want to turn down an easy £15 from PPass?

        • Doug M says:

          Maybe so. But the capacity issue needs to be resolved. Should these lounge organisations remove these lounges from their lists? Lounge Access available when no one else wants it?

          • Lady London says:

            It;s gone too far with Priority Pass and major UK airports. Priority Pass should refund an amount to anyone who can prove they were turned away from a lounge. It should be enough for 1 soft drink or coffee and 1 snack “the airport coffee-snack index”.

            Otherwise, other than any pure snob or status value, the American Express Platinum card, if unable to delivery on Priority Pass access when its holders actually need it, is looking very much overpriced at £600. Other than the travel insurance (which is more restricted in cover than with other high level cards), Priority Pass entrance for 2 is a mainstay of just about justifying the otherwise outrageous £600 fee for the Plat. So there should be some recompense to Priority Pass holders generally when there is a clear pattern being seen that that benefit is not able to be provided.

    • Lady London says:

      I have always got into that lounge between 4.30am and 5.45 or so without a peep from them and no one else being turned away either. The place has very low number of visitors.

      I’d say that’s No. 1 lounges trying to extract more money from Priority Pass by routinely turning PP customers away, or just trying to extract an extra £5 booking fee “because they can”.
      At that time of day, at any time of year, that lounge being full is a lie and they won’t be expecting enough people who actually paid, for them to have to start refusing people that early.

      Even Stansted – which gets much more rammed and has more reservations and more airline contracts, you are pretty ok to get in at the 4.15-shortly before 5am (at the very earliest).

      No. 1 Lounge North Terminal Gatwick has also considerably dropped in quality and experience since late last year – it’s really not an aspirational experience with the lack of staff to clear tables, really low quality food options except for 1 or 2 items. Loos very nice but not quite inspected and cleaned enough when the lounge gets busy – the same hardworking crew do not seem to get any extra people to help them no matter how busy it gets.

      Thanks for the update I am not actively avoiding No. 1 Lounge Gatwick North instead of it formerly being my go-to.

  • Dan says:

    FYI they have cancelled flights in 27th – my lhr-bcn has been cancelled

    • APPL says:

      I’m on BCN-LHR on the 27th, and still looks like operating atm. Got the red message in MMB with options to rebook, but no cancellation yet.

  • John says:

    I guess “celebrating” the so-called birthday will be the last thing on most people’s minds now.

  • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    There’s also, apparently, a free pint of Speedbird 100 in Brewdog bars for BAEC members this weekend.

  • Neil Donoghue says:

    Note that British Airways has not yet cancelled any flights for the 2nd strike on 27th September. It has until 13th September to cancel them to avoid EC261 compensation – Can Someone please explain this to me? Does that mean BA can cancel my flight on the 12th of September and leave me stranded in the uk? We are due to fly to Canada on the 28th for a cruise and ideally would like to fly. We also got the your flight is cancelled yesterday only to find out it’s not cancelled!

    • Rob says:

      There is no compensation for cancellation 15+ days out.

      BA has to refund and try to find other seats (not obliged to succeed) but you get nothing else on top.

      • Neil Donoghue says:

        Cheers Rob! Could be in serious trouble here, i’ll be interested to see what our travel insurance company says

        • Shoestring says:

          a refund ends the contract with BA and they have no further interest in re-ticketing you

          but you *can* insist on being re-ticketed by BA (instead of accepting a refund) and they are obliged under EC261 to find you another way to get to your destination in the same class and without undue delay

          trouble is, that might not be on the ideal day for you, it’s a negotiation of sorts combined with availability

          the best thing is to understand what the re-ticketing options are (read the FT strike thread, from memory it was quite good, ie all Oneworld airlines and a few others, not just BA) – research the availability on the route alternatives you might accept – then contact BA and ask to be re-ticketed on that day/ route – you’re putting yourself in a better position than the BA agent by doing a bit of route research

          there are quite a few people over on FT strike thread getting a better seat on a better carrier than BA, for free

  • Josh says:

    OT but bits

    I need to book some infernal flights from Las Vegas to Maui then back to Los Angeles next summer, these show up with a change in LA on the outbound on the American Airlines website but I just get an error on BA, is there any way to book these via BA as I have the BA amex and triple avios on BA bookings.

    Failing that are there any tricks to getting more airmiles or other savings when booking American?

    Thanks in advance

    • Jonathan says:

      BA will only sell you tickets on another airline (codeshare or not) if the booking includes at least 1 BA flight. Best bet is to buy off AA using a Curve/Revolut etc. The triple Avios would be cancelled out by the 2.99% currency fee that Amex apply anyway. It may be worth looking at Avios availability though as can often be good value on internal flights in the states and minimal taxes/fees. Search on AA site and if you can see availability of sAAver awards then should be available to book with Avios on BA website though sometimes you have to call BA if not visible on partner redemption search.

    • DaveL says:

      If you’ve got the Avios, I think you’ll find Alaska fly Maui to LA…an absolute steal at 7,500 avios + £5 taxes…

  • Paul says:

    Happy birthday from British Airways, 100 years of staggering incompetence.
    The more I fly with other airlines the more I understand just how badly served the U.K. is by BA and VS.

    • Lady London says:

      TBH Let’s be fair to BA.

      Their planes fly safely and they feel a very safe airline. If something has to fail i’d rather it would be the IT than the planes.

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