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British Airways questioned by CAA about its strike rebooking policy

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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​.”

British Airways CAA complaint

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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Comments (117)

  • Ed says:

    OT: I’m flying from NYC next week in Club World and received an email that my flight has been changed to an Evelop Airlines charter. Would you recommend trying to switch to a different BA flight or is Evelop alright?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Does it say aircraft type? They have an A350 but I’m not sure there are many business class seats on it and what type.

  • tony says:

    Re the BA/CAA thing. Is there potential for this to apply to other BA routine cancellations? I’m still trying to resolve the fact they cancelled my INN-LHR flight at Christmas and tell me I’m on my own to make good with ground arrangements INN to SZG then LGW to LHR.

    That seems wrong to me but customer service is adamant it’s my liability.

    • JamesLHR says:

      EC261 wording is quite clear under Article 8.

      3. When, in the case where a town, city or region is served by several airports, an operating air carrier offers a passenger a flight to an airport alternative to that for which the booking was made, the operating air carrier shall bear the cost of transferring the passenger from that alternative airport either to that for which the booking was made, or to another close-by destination agreed with the passenger.

      • tony says:

        BA have already told me where to go – twice – when I pointed this bit out to them. Their default position is to say “well, we can give you your money back”…

        • John says:

          Well if you still want to go, then just pay for it yourself and file an MCOL afterwards.

        • JamesLHR says:

          Again, there is legislation on this.

          Article 5

          Cancellation

          1. In case of cancellation of a flight, the passengers concerned shall:

          (a) be offered assistance by the operating air carrier in accordance with Article 8; and

          There isn’t a timescale to the relevance of Article 8 through Article 5.

          You can either raise a small claims case or file a complaint with the CAA.

        • Lady London says:

          Iberia would only refund and not do a reasonable reroute under eu261 at V
          Christmas. That’s why I’m pi$$ed off with them.

          This systematic, planned, deliberate failure to meet obligations under EU261 looks like a general IAG thing as we’ve now seen both IB and BA systematically failing to provide under passengers rights.

      • Lady London says:

        And by the way that includes LGW to LHR, whatever BA says.

    • Lady London says:

      They are completely and utterly wrong. Call them again in a day or few with 3 or so options (specific flights and dates)you could accept, giving them an opportunity o rebook you on BA or Oneworld if you can. Timing is to give their procedures time to catch up.

      • tony says:

        With the demise of Air Berlin, that bit of central Europe is very poorly served by OneWorld beyond BA’s operations now.

        I mean it’s not difficult for them to agree a price/allowance for a taxi (there are 5 of us travelling). Anyway, have replied to my last note from CS with a link to the CAA article. Let’s see what they come back with.

        • Lady London says:

          Dont forget to charge them the interest of 8% pa accrued up to the date they pay out to you. Delay May be one of their délibérante tactics so they need to know it costs them money.

  • David Haws says:

    Will EC261 compensation still be applicable from 1 Nov onwards as it under an EU law or will I have to book with an airline based in mainland Europe to be covered by EC261 compensation ?

    • Nick_C says:

      All EU law has been incorporated into UK law.

      • JamesLHR says:

        The statue in UK law is; The Civil Aviation (Denied Boarding, Compensation and Assistance) Regulations 2005 (SI 2005/975)

        • Genghis says:

          Thinking back to my A level Law days, regulations (secondary legislation) are not statute (primary legislation)?

          • ChrisC says:

            SIs have the same force as primary legislation and it will remain as UK law until repealed or replaced.

            What will happen is that future ECJ decisions won’t automatically apply to the UK so in future our version could be different from the EU version.

          • NigelthePensioner says:

            Regulations refine Laws by Statute to make them workable, thereby having legal obligation and in specific instances, punitive repercussions.
            Codes of Practice are not legally enforceable as they are simply codes of practice and not Law by Statute……the Highway Code being a prime example – “please let buses pull out” – not on your nelly!

    • John says:

      In any case, it will unambiguously still apply to all flights departing the EEA and Switzerland (including BA flights *to* the UK).

      Also note that EC261 does not apply to all airlines “based in mainland Europe” – such as Aeroflot, Ukraine International Airlines, Belavia and Turkish (based in Istanbul, which is in mainland Europe) – however Turkey has its own flight compensation regulation which is almost equivalent to EC261/2004.

  • TripRep says:

    OT Hilton

    Anyone else getting errors booking, getting this error when I select my preferred room

    Access Denied
    You don’t have permission to access “http://secure3.hilton.com/en_US/ch/reservation/book.htm?” on this server.

    • John says:

      I couldn’t access the Hilton website at all since yesterday afternoon, app searches work but not tried booking yet.

    • TripRep says:

      Looks like it could be related to currency conversion, I’m trying to pay in GBP to avoid foreign exchange charges

    • fivebobbill says:

      If you are using a VPN make sure you have it turned off when accessing the Hilton site, otherwise, whilst the site will still let you login ok, it throws up an error page when trying to search and book.
      Well it does for me anyway…

      • RussellH says:

        I got the impression that most hotel booking sites objected to VPNs.
        I clearly remember the Starwood site always failing to even log me in when connected through Tunnel Bear.. As soon as I turned TB off. I was able to log in and use the site normally.
        I had less severe problems with Hiton + IHG (and many other sites) too.

        • Lady London says:

          You should report any failure like this to the vpn. A lot of thé VPN game is cat and mouse and there’s a good chance the vpn can tell you a way to connect now or that they might relatively quickly be able to fix it.

          Certain compagnies are known to be suite agressive about blocking vpn’s but i havent seen Hilton as a particular case.

    • A270 says:

      I didn’t have an access error message but kept saying there was an error pretty much all day yesterday.

    • Leigh says:

      Same web error when I tried to make a booking yesterday, but successfully booked using APP.

  • Richard says:

    Has anyone with 11th Sept flights and cancelled / not cancelled emails had their flights cancelled today? As now within 14 days (depending on time of flight) so EC261 due if subsequently cancelled

  • John says:

    OT got a Halifax 10% back offer for HI and HIX, may help a bit with Accelerate if your offers are worth going for

  • George K says:

    I was refused an easyjet booking which would have been the ideal resolution to our cancelled flight on the 9th. Would that essentially be a breach of the CAA rules?

  • Combatjohnny says:

    I visited Sarajevo a 2 years ago. An interesting place and the most hospitable people I’ve ever met

    • Genghis says:

      I went around 10 years ago and found it really interesting. Mostar too. There’s some amazing scenery on the train journey between the two. I remember going to an abandoned school in Mostar still with all the stuff there which was used as a sniper vantage point.

      • RussellH says:

        It was 1980 when I was in Mostar. Both very attractive place and interesting culturally. I was very struck by the way the culture changed after crossing the (original) bridge from the Roman Catholic to the Muslim side. The catholic side felt much the sameas all the bits of theAdriatic coast we had visited, while across the bridge it was like entering a souk in Marrakech or Tunis.

        • Lady London says:

          Daft question but is it upsetting to see so recent a war zone? There’s a couple of places i cant visit in Europe because I know I’m not strong enough, Dachau being one.

          • Craig says:

            That is an incredibly complex question to answer and the only way to know for certain is to bite the bullet and go. You will see the best and worst of humanity but I usually manage to take something positive from it. A good example would be Hiroshima, my wife had to leave the museum as several of the pictures were too graphic, however, the peace park was beautiful and very moving. What is essential is to research thoroughly the place you are visiting and its significance in history.

          • RussellH says:

            We were in Vukovar and Osiek (eastern Croatia) in June. Local guides pointed out the war damage, and we met local people who had been evicted from their homes by the Serb army. The day before we had been in Serbia. No mention of the war there, I do not think there was any infantry activity in those parts of Serbia though, though certainly Belgrade was bombed by NATO.
            Vukovar looked still really run down, having been literally on the front line. Serbia is the other side of the Danube and Vukovar was shelled from just across the river.
            OK, the Danube is wider than the Thames, but imagine Windsor being shelled from Eton…

            My partner insisted around 25 years ago that we go to Dachau on one of our many research business trips to Bavaria.
            The Czechs took all of us on an Educational some years ago to Theresienstadt / Terežin (the concentration camp that the Nazis, at least early on, were happy to allow the Red Cross into as their ‘show’ concentration camp), though this was not a ‘Vernichtungslager’ (= destruction camp) like Dachau or Auschwitz. I featured it in my description of a cycling trip from Praha to Dresden that I used to sell.

            And a tour operator friend of mine found that Auschwitz was among his very best sellers for school trips.

            Particularly at times like the present, I do think it essential that people visit these places and see for themselves just what man’s inhumanity to man will lead to. I rather suspect that few, if any of the current crop of cabinet ministers have really seen what has happened in any of these and many other places.

          • Shoestring says:

            you have to man up

            I drove around Croatia/ FRY etc with my wife in around 2000 – 2001 – lots of villages with burned out houses where it was obvs they’d killed somebody or just burned their house to the ground

            the potential for man to do evil to man was very apparent

            neighbours they’d had many years of laughs with in the village pub – war comes along so they kill them instead

            which is partly why this stupid Brexit is so wrong

          • Lady London says:

            You are all stronger than me.

    • Craig says:

      Several times in the 90’s for me, unfortunately not for sightseeing.

      • Lady London says:

        I did work briefly for the guy that ended the Yugoslav war though. A very interesting guy who really knew about international affairs. Even he said it was scary to go in there.