The Civil Aviation Authority is investigating whether British Airways has complied with its legal obligations during its strike mitigation actions over the last few days.
Under UK consumer law, airlines are required to do one of three things when a flight is cancelled:
Refund the customer within 7 days, for either the full ticket or for those sectors not flown
Re-route, under the same conditions (ie. class) to final destination as soon as possible
Or re-route to final destination at a later date agreed with the customer.
If your flight is cancelled within 14 days of departure you will also be due EC261 compensation under EU law, but this is totally separate to the UK regulations quoted above.
The CAA – see here – seems to have decided that British Airways has not been as forward about these options as they should have been.
In particular, British Airways is being accused of not offering to re-route some affected passengers on other carriers. If British Airways does not have a re-route agreement in place with an appropriate carrier for your journey, rebooking will not be cheap and is clearly something that the airline would prefer to avoid.
If the CAA believes that British Airways has been encouraging call centre agents to not offer re-routes where a discounted deal was not available – or blocking such functionality in the booking system – it would represent a breach of its legal obligations.
Edit: British Airways has issued the following statement:
“We appreciate the frustration and inconvenience that this strike action has caused our customers and our teams are working tirelessly to help them.
As soon as we were issued with dates, we contacted airlines across the world to support with rebooking agreements, and since Friday we have been providing customers with the option to travel on other carriers.
Our contact centres are operating 24/7, and we have brought in additional resource, with over 500 colleagues working to support customers during this time.
Our teams are providing customers whose flights have been cancelled with options to seek a full refund or rebook, including to a different date of travel, or flying with an alternative airline.”
But a plus point ….. BA is now allowing multiple changes to cancelled flights
As the days go on, British Airways is agreeing deals with more airlines, and indeed UK train companies, to accept its passengers. Malaysia Airlines is one of the latest to sign up, along with LNER trains.
This means that if you agreed a change last weekend when the strike was first announced, you may not have got the ‘best’ deal.
British Airways has now agreed that “Multiple changes will now be permitted for customers travelling on cancelled flights, if space becomes available on an earlier flight.” This is not usually the case – once you have accepted a flight change, BA will usually refuse to discuss it further.
If you are not totally happy with your new flight options, I suggest giving BA another call in a few days. You may find something better is on offer.
…… and a 2-4-1 extension
I also heard from a HFP reader who had managed to secure a six month extension to her British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher. Interestingly, she had not actually got a flight booked but the voucher expired in two weeks and she was planning a last-minute break – something not now possible with most availability pulled.
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