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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 ba.com 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.

Oops.

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 ba.com 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.

Here is a typical reader story I received yesterday (click to enlarge):

British Airways cancels flights due to strike by mistake

Ho hum.

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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Today, Sunday 25th, is British Airways official 100th birthday
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Comments

  1. Derek Scott says:

    From a PR perspective, I think BA would have wished their Centenary was a different year. Sure, their come up with a new Club Suite, new aircraft, new food and service tweaks, and retro painted aircraft.

    What the public will remember is IT issues, disorganised disaster recovery, strikes, and botched strike planning management.

    Happy Birthday? Meh!

    • Totally agree!

    • The thing is the screw-ups are becoming an annual event. They need to address the IT issues, because that just piles on the misery. Strike is what it is, but the cancellation emails for flights not cancelled is very very poor.

  2. Neil Thompson says:

    I wonder how they decide who gets the birthday points. I flew with them yesterday and received the hard chocolate. It’s my birthday today but no points 🙁

  3. Once upon a time, people understood that the words ‘liar’ or ‘lying’ are powerful words with very specific and profound meanings for an individual or organisation. These days of course, they’re banded around on the back of anyone’s conspiracy theory or when something happens that disrupts or which doesn’t match someone’s personal point of view of how things should be. There is plenty that BA can be criticised for in this. But they haven’t ‘lied’ to anyone. They’re guilty of making IT mistakes – which, undoubtedly, have had serious implications for some people – and they’re guilty of not having the right checks and balances in place to avoid those mistakes. But it’s utterly ridiculous to accuse them of a ploy to deliberately send out emails saying that flights are cancelled when they are not. All the sound and fury from the perpetually disgruntled is really irritating now.

    • I agree. But what they do to put right the consequences of their mistake is how they should be judged.

      • Lady London says:

        Don’t worry IME if they do have to pay out anyone for the cost of the non-recoverable costs they had to pay out due to BA’s notice of cancellation (negligent) , such as non-reimbursable hotel costs, non-refundable travel and local excursion costs, extra cost of higher replacement air fare on another airline, etc., you can be sure British Airways would try their hardest, short of court, to pay out only if they also got a gagging order (and IME it would be a fight to recover all such costs from them).

    • Agree, frustration has got the better of a number of posters who have degenerated into hyperbole and fantasy

      Of course that same behaviour will get you to be leader of a western country, so….

    • Disagree

      BA Customer Services knowingly spread inaccurate falsehoods regarding their liability for compensation under EU261 laws, especially for downgrades.

      Deliberate misinformation constitutes as lying.

      So yeah, Happy Meh Birthday

      • Chabuddy geezy says:

        I agree with trip rep. Other examples would include their lack of transparency over recent other IT failures.
        They also spread misinformation about the pay of mixed fleet cabin crew when they went on strike.
        BA also likes to present service cuts like buy on board as enhancements that customers asked for. Alex Cruz said buy on board was a huge success despite a lack of training for staff and constantly running out of food. He later back peddled on this when it was met with incredulity from customers.
        The management of BA have created a culture of misinformation, it’s not surprising customers are refusing to give them the benefit of the doubt again.

        • Also trying to fob me off by telling me my 5 hour delay in June was not due to a technical issue with the aircraft! I agree that sending emails in error is incompetence rather than dishonesty, but some BA staff are clearly trained to lie in order to avoid their responsibilities on occasion, e.g. “Your flight was delayed due to a problem with the jet bridge”, “We don’t re-route people on different airlines”, “You are not entitled to change mpensation on this occasion”, and my personal favourite (not), “That is not possible” (in response to a request for something which is actually perfectly possible).

          • “Compensation”, even! My iPad has a mind of its own.

          • Shoestring says:

            you can be sure there are plenty of charts in the BA compo office detailing what % of compo claims have been dismissed without payment this month etc

            ‘And star employee of the month in August was Josh, who managed to knock back 93.5% of compo claims and came up with some novel BS procrastination for reply #1 that has been adopted as a template by the whole team’

  4. OT – I’ve got an Amex Platinum which I know is good for car hire benefits. I am a non driver but going on holiday with a family member who will be hiring a car for us for a couple of days. I’m guessing the answer is now but is there anyway I can book or use my car hire status benefits/platinum insurance for the car hire?

    • Harry T says:

      The driver won’t be covered by the car hire insurance that comes with Platinum unless they are the primary card holder or a platinum supplementary card holder. And their name will need to be on the rental agreement, if they are a platinum/supp platinum card holder.

      As to status benefits, I am unsure. Usually the person booking is a driver.

      • Genghis says:

        I suggest having a look at the policy (Harry T included).

        “These benefits apply to drivers named on the rental agreement which You are named on, subject to a maximum of 5 drivers.“

        Where “you” means the “insured” and

        “Insured” means (i) Cardmembers and their Families, (ii) Supplementary Cardmembers and their Families and (iii) grandchildren of the Cardmember or a Supplementary Cardmember who are under the age of 25 and travelling with anyone insured under the Card Account.”

        • That does imply, however, that Andy will have to hire the car and a second driver will then need to be added (or the main driver is the family member and Andy is second driver – same result). That often carries a premium, though there are some ways to get around that. I cannot remember off the top of my head whether the Hertz status that you get with Plat gives a free second driver? BA status (all or just Gold/Silver?) gets you a free second driver when you hire with Avis through avisba.com.

          • Genghis says:

            Only one of the “insured” needs to hire the car, not necessarily the OP himself. We don’t know who the family member is or whether they are indeed “insured”.

        • Harry T says:

          Thanks, I stand corrected.

        • But if th OP doesn’t drive I fail to see how he will be named on the rental?

          My emphasis, your quote genghis:

          “These benefits apply to drivers named on the rental agreement **which You are named on**, subject to a maximum of 5 drivers.“

          • Where “you” means the “insured” and

            “Insured” means (i) Cardmembers and their Families, (ii) Supplementary Cardmembers and their Families and (iii) grandchildren of the Cardmember or a Supplementary Cardmember who are under the age of 25 and travelling with anyone insured under the Card Account.”

            Understand that bit as well!

          • Genghis says:

            Some people… no wonder all of the questions on here to do with insurance when people can’t even read basic agreements.

          • Genghis says:

            To explain further, OP doesn’t need to drive if you read the agreement properly. If he is the main card holder, hmay have given a supp to his brother and the brother’s son aged 19 can be a named driver and be covered.

  5. Their handling of this is shambolic. I’m one of those flying on the 11th and got a cancellation message. Looked at the options online and the red flight made me suspicious because it did not appear cancelled despite the email. Tried calling BA Bronze line and could not get through.

    Checked other flight options for contingency and sure enough the flight is still going but at 3 times the price. Figured it must still be going so left it at that. Later yesterday got an email about error.

    IT issues are ongoing but how they handle them abs make whole customers who cancelled and rebooked elsewhere will be how they get judged. In wondering if they did it accidentally intentionally to free up space on the first day after strike but may be I’m too cynical.

  6. Their penny pinching approach to their IT systems is clearly still going well.

    • That not Rupee pinching??

      • Given that the rupee is getting stronger to the failing pound, I believe it would be more appropriate to call it penny pinching. The rupee and the denizens of the country that has the currency are benefiting from the smartly turned out incompetence of the Walsh Cruz Model!

  7. The Original Nick says:

    My flight LHR-DUB on the 10th was cancelled. It took me 16 attempts to get through via Silver phone number and Gold. Automated system would ask the usual questions of how you booked etc, etc and then all of a sudden there would be an engaged tone for you to be cut off. I luckily got through to speak to an agent who to be fair was really nice and re-booked me out on another carrier for the same day at roughly the same time. No seat free selection or fast track and I can’t take a guest in to the lounge either at T2. Ummm, Flying Aer Lingus.

    • Lady London says:

      Better lounge(s) at T2 though!

      I’d call that a win 🙂

      #summerholidays

      • The Original Nick says:

        @ Lady London. I did think that but as my friend is on the same booking I’m not sure of the best lounge to visit with him. He has no status but I do and I also have PP. What lounge would you go for in my shoes?

        • Lady London says:

          If you have Star Alliance status then you can go to any.
          If you have PP I think it;s the Plaza Premium there.

          My preference of the lounges there (best to less best) is
          – United Airlines. Stunning bar, good breakfast, nice location to be
          – Singapore Airlines
          – some would put the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge here, I haven’t been in there
          – Lufthansa Lounge – divided into Gold/First and Silver/J areas (doesn;t make much difference, the lounge is a really OK Lufthansa lounge).

          All but the Lufthansa Lounge are a strenuous walk quite a long way from the main shopping area which the Lufthansa lounge is right next to. but if you are fit they are worth the walk..

          • Lady London says:

            PS no idea where the Plaza Premium lounge is in T2 as I;ve not used it but think it’s not far from the LH lounge

          • Lady London says:

            But if you are on EI will you get access to Star Alliance lounges even with Star Alliance status? I am sure sure an EI ticket is accepted by Star Alliance lounges generally. If any of them will accept an EI ticket with a Star alliance status, I would guess it’s United.

            so you might find it’s Plaza Premium (which will be fine) or whichever lounge an EI flight will get you into…

          • The Original Nick says:

            Thanks very much Lady London.

  8. Absolutely shocking service from BA. Spent over 100, yes 100 times trying to get through to their call centre. Either got an engaged tone, the system hanging up on me, or an automated message saying they couldn’t take my call right now. Like many others, receiving an email at 23.47 on a Friday night left us scrambling to rebook. We tried the US call centre at night to no avail. And we are not even flying on a strike day, but understand the planes might not be in the right place for LHR-DUB. Booked for an extra £150pp on Emirates as a last resort as didn’t want to cancel hotel booking. Then to get an email the next day saying it was going ahead. Website was still showing the flights as for sale. Now leaves us trying to get a full refund from BA. I don’t have any confidence that the flight will go ahead on the Sunday anyway. Seriously regret booking with them in the first place now. I doubt BA will refund us the extra, but going to be writing a strongly worded complaint to them anyway.

  9. David S says:

    Ah yes. To fly, to serve.
    You can’t fly due to strikes (or you might possibly do depending the failing IT error messages) and I will leave the serving bit to you all to decide, based on the incompetence so far yesterday.
    Awaiting with interest for end of September flight disruptions since it will likely affect us. Will give the benefit of doubt to BA to see if they sort the mess out before that.

    • Didn’t Señor Cruz drop that slogan because he didn’t want it to be something for the airline to aim for?

      • Shoestring says:

        not a very compelling slogan

        ‘the world’s favourite airline’? – much more compelling, though you can see why they dropped that as well

        British Airways – Made by Britain – is OK IMV
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=90&v=O2w2bCMhc9k

        • Shoestring says:

          OK only in the sense that this is the 100 year anniversary year (so they say) – next year they will need a new campaign

      • IAG’s share price is down by around 40% versus a year ago…..

        • Shoestring says:

          before that actually means anything much, you’d have compare BA’s share price evolution over the last couple of years with that of Ryanair, EasyJet, Lufthansa, Wizz, AF/KLM etc

          BA probably comes out best or second only to Wizz

      • Lady London says:

        I think use of “To fly, to serve” has got less used from soon after I saw it reworded by one passenger “Two flies, to serve” after flies were on his food in the care of the airline apparently.

  10. For people who’ve booked elsewhere where are you crediting the points? I’m interested in hotel stays rather than building up numbers for a flight award but that may change as BA have also cancelled(allegedly) a couple of my December flights.

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