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Forums Frequent flyer programs British Airways Executive Club BA Avios award – flight to Shanghai (Apr 2) cancelled

  • mark29 9 posts

    I have read a number of the forum topics regarding cancelled Avios award bookings, but with this one I’m not having much luck with BA.

    The original booking was made in November 22, London to Shanghai on April 2 out and back on April 15. (Note – at the time of the booking BA we’re due to restart Shanghai flights on March 26, which was put back to April 23). We used an Amex 2-4-1 and a gold upgrade certificate to book the return in Club World, Avios charge was PE as the upgrade certificate was used. Note these both expire in September 2023. We are going for business reasons and it’s the only time my wife and I can coordinate this trip together at the moment.

    The booking was cancelled on December 21, and I checked Qatar and Emirates website and they both were selling tickets to Shanghai for the dates we booked. BA did not offer me an alternative rerouted flight on December 21.

    I rang BA up on January 16 and spoke to a very helpful agent who said that it was BA’s responsibility to book us on another flight around those dates (at my choice) but the agent couldn’t offer me anything, cited lack of policy.

    I rang again three times this week to discuss and BAs offer was to book me on April 28 out and back May 11, when their flights to Shanghai resume; or get a refund. I stated neither of those options was acceptable to me.

    BA are accepting bookings on ba.com for return flights to Shanghai via Hong Kong (BA to HK and CX to Shanghai) for the original dates – April 2 out and 15 return. I asked to be moved to those flights which they couldn’t do. Cited some commercial agreement with CX prevented them from doing this. I also enquired whether they could move me to a partner airline, such as Qatar, which they couldn’t. The agent quoted the lack of policy on the cancelled China flights, which I didn’t quite understand given I thought it was covered by legislation EC261/UK261?

    We still want to travel on those dates Apr 2 and back Apr 15, and was wondering if anybody faced a similar situation to this. From what I understand BA should rebook us on another route on the original dates we requested. Thanks to anybody who can help here.

    Lady London 2,166 posts

    Why is this in Housekeeping instead of the Flight Cancellations and Changes category?

    @Rhys can this be moved to the correct category please?

    Yes you’re right about your rights.
    I hope you kept good evidence of the conversations you’ve had so far and all the (illegal, as you say) denials of BA of your rerouting rights. Date, time, who you spoke to (ideally) if not written/email, screenshotted chat or even recording. Hang on to those records tightly.

    Commercial agreements and policies are entirely BA’s problem. Legally neither of these is an excuse for them to refuse to reroute you. They are indeed supposed to book you on other airlines if they don’t have flights of their own they can sell you, and you have the full right to request to be rerouted as close aa reasonably [for your purposes and the purpose of your trip more than theirs] possible to the timing of your original flights.

    Please review the heap of topics on denied rerouting in the Flight Cancellations and Changes section, which has all the steps in multiple threads.

    Start with a hard copy letter asap headed Letter Before Action sent snail mail to BA Legal at Waterside, signed-for. Give them 28? 21? days from today’s date, the date of your letter, to provide rerouting on your original dates as requested. (attach a written-out list of previous requests and BA’s responses). State that if you are not rerouted by then then you will take further action. Ask them to treat this request with urgency as given the near date of travel you still need, the cost of replacement tickets is likely to be in the region of at least £nn,nnn and if not rerouted you will claim these and all other relevant costs from BA. (Attach 3 or so quotes – screenshot of pricing for similar tickets).

    BA is relying on people not having the money or the time to just go out and buy replacement tickets then follow MCOL process over months (or CEDR, if you like risk) to recover all costs from BA. It’s their nasty policy, anecdotally it seems from the number of cases we get on here, to cynically abuse customera in this way when they know full well what their obligations are (as do you, clearly).

    There are semi-flexible tickets for which the ticket doesn’t have to be issued till near the flight but can be held meanwhile in a travel agent system or you can present, say, 3 example quotes for now.

    Hopefully @JDB may know of things you can do to accelerate BA fulfilling their legal obligations.

    JDB 4,813 posts

    Unfortunately I don’t think there is much anyone can do to accelerate BA’s response although the consequences of their failure to address the matter in a timely manner should be put in the LBA. It really hasn’t helped to leave this hanging for six weeks; it just complicates things. I assume you already have visas? If not you will need flights booked to obtain these, although you could subsequently change that booking.

    On the basis of the repeated refusals by BA to rebook/reroute you, I would send an LBA today or tomorrow by Special Delivery for Monday (not just Signed For) stating that the airline has already messed you around for six weeks, setting out the case and giving them until the end of the week to respond (specify time/date). There’s no actual need for an LBA; it’s just their last chance. I would also copy to CAA and CMA chairmen (with suitable individual cover letters) as this isn’t a subjective case of deciding whether rebooking a year later is reasonable. With a bit of luck that might conceivably spur them into action. If they don’t respond you would need to issue proceedings at MCOL or CEDR but you almost certainly won’t get a resolution until after your travel date, so it would involve buying tickets and claiming for them which is a big step.

    mark29 9 posts

    Thanks @Lady London @ JDB for such prompt and comprehensive replies. I have drafted and sent the LBA with the relevant wording and quotes you both suggested to the Head of Legal at BA.
    @Rhys please could you move this post to the flight cancellation section as I may have inadvertently posted in the wrong place.

    Lady London 2,166 posts

    @mark29 please keep us informed even if this gets rough.

    If I was BA and received what @JDB has suggested you send I’d be calling you to reroute you. I hope you did give them till 4pm Friday or something similar but realistically give it up to a week longer for them to call?

    I really hope they see sense and reroute you.

    Good luck.

    mark29 9 posts

    GOOD OUTCOME – thanks @Lady London and @JDB for your help.
    After receiving the LBA –
    BA rerouted us via Hong Kong on BA flight and then up to Shanghai on CX and back again. Original dates we booked, timings a bit different but are fine as night flights rather than day ones.
    If anyone has similar problems getting rerouted on a 2-4-1, try and resolve, keep good notes of the calls, use the on line chat as you have a transcript at the end, and don’t worry about issuing a LBA.
    I guess BA didn’t want to pay £14k for the QR or CX flights. Also, saves me having to book those tickets and claiming back through MCOL.
    @Rhys – please repost in flight cancellations when you have a minute thanks M

    JDB 4,813 posts

    That’s a great result and even better to have it resolved within a week of your original post. Have a wonderful time in Shanghai; such a great city.

    mark29 9 posts

    Yes @JDB very quick resolution which is good – I would imagine lack of defence at MCOL and cost of the other airlines were the overriding factors here.

    Lady London 2,166 posts

    This was the outcome I expected.

    Luckily for BA the journey via Hong Kong then a connection on CX was acceptable to you even though not as convenient as the flight they cancelled.

    I’m guessing that BA was unwilling to rebook you onto Cathay at the start as they would either have to pay Cathay the (fraction of what you paid) interline fare to Cathay, or someone in BA would have had to ask Cathay to help BA out by releasing an award or other cheaper-to-BA seat.

    So until they found out you meant business thanks to how @JDB advised you to communicate with them, BA did their usual illegal stonewalling and expected you’d cave or go away due to their blocking, with the stress of your flight being imminent etc.

    Fortunately they’ve now weighed up doing what they should have done in tbe first place, and rerouted you adding the very-cheap-to-BA legs from and to Hong Kong, instead of taking the risk of a much higher cash cost to them – if their refusal had forced you to obtain replacement flights elsewhere that could then be recovered at MCOL under your EC UK 261 rights.

    Sense has prevailed and I’m very glad for you and grateful @JDB is around to help.

    mark29 9 posts

    Just an update – the flight BA31 was delayed (2/4) due to 2 tyres needing replacing and the additional delay that caused to refuelling the aircraft. The delay into HKG was 1hr 19 and meant that we missed our onward CX connection from HKG to Shanghai. This connection was on the same ticket no.
    Right now (due to CX’s heavily reduced flight schedule from HKG to Shanghai) the last CX fight to Shanghai is at 1725 (our booked flight left at 1500) and when we arrived in HKG the BA agent said they could only rebook us on Economy (i.e., an involuntary downgrade) as there were no business class seats. I stated that we needed to fly on the next available flight where BA could source tickets in business class. This was the next day (today 3/4) at 0720, due to arrive at 1010 (3/4). Anyway the agent asked us to go on standby for the 1725 in business class, we waited till 1640 and the BA agent said that there were no standby seats as all passengers had shown up. The agent then gave us a voucher for the Regal Airport Hotel for one night. We spent about £45 on food and had a relaxing time in HK.
    We then took the CX flight at 0720 (today 3/4) which was a bit delayed and arrived around 1030 which was almost 17 hours behind our original schedule.
    From reading the forum I know I can claim the dinner costs, and I am pretty sure that I can claim EU261/UK261 compensation for 2 (even if it’s an Avios booking with 241 voucher). I will put a EU/UK261 claim and let you know how I progress.
    The irony is when I dealt with BA after the difficulty of getting this cancelled flight rerouted, following some great advice from @JDB and @Lady London, was that when I spoke to the BA agent who rebooked the flight and I suggested taking the later fight (1725) due to the risk of a missed connection, BA basically said take the earlier one or leave it as they can’t predict flight delays in the future.
    Having said that it’s great to be back in Shanghai and life here is almost back to normal. Quite a lot of masks around, but this will wear off over time.
    I will keep you posted on the claim, I will see what tactics BA uses to try and deny this one.

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