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Forums Other Flight changes and cancellations help BA60 MLE-LHR rerouted, downgraded and delayed

  • highnal 25 posts

    Some fun on our Easter trip back from Male today (14th Apr).

    BA60 flight was originally planned to take the longer route back to London avoiding Iranian/Iraqi airspace, but one of the three pilots went down with food poisoning overnight so due to the flying hours limit of the remaining 2 pilots we had to land at LCA and switch aircraft with a new crew. BA scrambled an Airbus A321 Neo to Cyprus earlier that day to pick us up and then crammed us all into 3-3 economy seats for the remaining 5 hour flight.

    Eventually landed at LHR 4hrs 15mins later than scheduled and were advised by BA to put in claims for delay compensation. To cap it off, our luggage didn’t make it on our flight and the will follow tomorrow afternoon.

    Whilst we are claiming for the 4+ hour arrival delay and the delayed baggage, do we have any grounds to complain about the forced downgrade from Club to Economy when they changed the aircraft at LCA? We flew the first leg in Club as expected. We also paid to reserve seats which we’d also like refunded if possible!

    Jon 261 posts

    I’m sure others will be able to advise better than I, but for what it’s worth, it sounds to me like you should put in three separate claims via BA’s online form:

    1) Delay compensation – hopefully straightforward UK261, and I believe I’m right in saying that pilot food poisoning would not count as an extraordinary circumstance. I suppose they might argue that the extended routing to avoid Iran does – when you say 4h15 later than scheduled, is that the original scheduled time (as booked) or the revised schedule to accommodate avoiding Iran airspace? If the latter, I should think no problem, but perhaps if the former they’ll argue it needs to be calculated from the revised schedule, which may then bring it under the threshold for compo.

    2) Downgrade *reimbursement* (not compensation). 75% of fare paid for the sector(s) affected after deducting government taxes etc. Suspect that’s going to get complicated due to the unintended stop in LCA. But maybe easiest to just claim “75% per UK261” and let BA propose the amount and see if you’re happy with it (assuming they don’t just deny outright in which case you’re probably looking at a CEDR claim).

    3) Refund of seat selection fees, and compo for delayed baggage (could even separate that one into a 4th claim, perhaps, but that feels like overkill to me). Seat selection ought to be clear-cut I would have thought. No idea what they’d offer for delayed luggage (sounds like one for insurance to my mind) – maybe some Avios?

    My thinking re making separate claims is to keep each one as simple as possible and maximise the chances of the easy ones succeeding / not getting bogged down with the more tricky ones. Good luck! 🙂

    JDB 4,515 posts

    @highnal – when there are very specific and unusual circumstances pertaining to a flight, BA will adopt a policy to address your claim(s) and they will quite likely offer an arbitrary total sum in vouchers/cash to settle the matter rather than trying to break down the component parts. Therefore, you should make the claim as advised above, see the response and then decide how to proceed if you aren’t satisfied. Sometimes they err on the side of generosity to clear a raft of cases, but they could elect to play on the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ of the forced initial routing to avoid conflict areas.

    In respect of the delayed luggage, you aren’t entitled to any compensation per se and, when returning home, airlines don’t usually pay for “essentials” as you are expected to have them already. Your travel insurance may possibly offer something, but may also have similar caveats.

    Tracey 221 posts

    Seat selection refund will be interesting, as presumably you were given your selected seat on the first part of your journey?

    Given the circumstances, and not negating your rights, I think BA did well to send an empty plane to meet you at LCA. Again, not negating your rights, maximising the seating rather than giving business class passengers an empty middle seat and leaving some pax behind, does make sense. If BA had put you on one of their standard LCA-LHR flights, bus class passengers would have got exactly the service you had, though with an empty middle seat.

    NorthernLass 7,933 posts

    In the light of a previous thread, I wonder whether if BA will similarly reject the compensation claim on the grounds of staff sickness being beyond their control?

    NorthernLass 7,933 posts
    PeteM 724 posts

    I am pretty impressed with BA’s operational solution to what is a challenging and changing situation to be fair…

    Richie 1,020 posts

    BTW This morning’s BA62 LCA-LHR flight is being operated by the B789 that operated BA60 MLE-LHR, not sure if it has passengers on board.

    Richie 1,020 posts

    In the light of a previous thread, I wonder whether if BA will similarly reject the compensation claim on the grounds of staff sickness being beyond their control?

    They will mix it in with the routing issues for obfuscation perfection.

    Richie 1,020 posts

    I am pretty impressed with BA’s operational solution to what is a challenging and changing situation to be fair…

    It seems some Dreamliner pilots and cabin crew weren’t available to be flown in so the B789 was away from LHR for longer and won’t be back until about 1pm today.

    nike85 26 posts

    BTW This morning’s BA62 LCA-LHR flight is being operated by the B789 that operated BA60 MLE-LHR, not sure if it has passengers on board.

    BA62 isn’t a normal flight number for LCA-LHR so I suspect it’s the positioning of the empty aircraft.

    Lady London 2,112 posts

    I don’t think any compo is due at all as after the Middle East divert BA can argue the part of the delay caused by pilot sickness is under the threshold.

    Re the downgrade it’s not worth claiming as such for short haul as the % reimbursement is low and often best thing is to mention to BA and see if they will toss you some (=better value) avios. If LCA legbhad been on your ticket they might have offered refund of diff in avios, thus is generally not a high amount on shorthaul but often better than to 30% or so reimburse.

    Prsonally the most I would do is write nice message about what a good job BA did to get you back via Larnaca for which you are grateful, mention your luggage has not arrived back yet, your seat fee paid obvs did not work in the Economy style seating LCA-LON which was understandable given the equipment change and ask if any oartial reimbursement might be due to you. I’d say it’ 5000-10000 avios if they are feeling kind.

    Richie 1,020 posts

    The block time for MLE-LHR is 11 hours 20 mins, it’s a shame BA don’t have a fourth pilot requirement for flights of this length.

    highnal 25 posts

    Thanks all for your comments and suggestions. Just thought I’d provide an update.

    I ended up submitting a claim with three issues attached:
    – 4+ hour delay to arrival at LHR due to diversion/crew sickness
    – Compensation for involuntary downgrade from Club to Economy
    – Refund for seat booking fee

    No claim is payable for the delayed luggage (which I got back via courier 3 days later) and I couldn’t claim on travel insurance as there are specific exclusions for the final leg of the journey.

    BA responded today:
    Your claim’s been refused because BA0060, on 14 April was delayed due to: A member of the cabin crew reported sick and wasn’t well enough to operate the flight. This then meant the crew operating hours were limited for the remaining crew. Because Male isn’t the main airport we operate from we didn’t have a standby member of cabin crew available. The delay was out of our control and caused unforeseen disruption to our schedule. I’m afraid you would not receive EU Compensation on this occasion.

    Regarding your change of cabin due to the aircraft change from Larnaca, we apologise we could not re-book you on a flight with the chosen cabin previously booked. I’ve forwarded this to our Refunds Team who will process any applicable refunds to the original form of payment. This may take up to 21 working days.

    I’ve further requested a refund for your pre paid seating due to the aircraft change. I’ve forwarded this to our Refunds Team who will process any applicable refunds to the original form of payment. This may take up to 21 working days.

    I will wait to see how much they offer to refund for the downgrade given that we had flown half the trip in Club already.

    Regarding the refusal due to crew sickness, do I have any ground to dispute this? I note the other thread where @LauraR had a claim refused in similar circumstances. There’s reference to another thread where @JDB provided some text to respond. I wasn’t able to find that thread. Does it apply in my case also?

    Jon 261 posts

    The fact they say ‘refund’ for the downgrade immediately gets my heckles up. You’re not after a refund, you’re entitled to UK261 downgrade *reimbursement*, which is (more or less) 75% of the fare paid for the sector, and very definitely not fare difference, which I suspect is what they’re hinting at. But you never know – maybe they’ll ‘refund’ the statutory amount. Keep an eye on it 😉

    Interesting that re the delay, they make no reference to the Middle East airspace diversion aspect, so the whole thing rests entirely on whether crew sickness downroute is an extraordinary circumstance. I’m fairly sure it is not, but others will know better. I’d probably be inclined to push back on that in any case.

    Jon 261 posts
    Richie 1,020 posts

    I’m not sure if TAP Portugal v flightright GmbH (C156/22) can be considered under UK261.

    ChrisBCN 261 posts

    So as not to complicate things, I would wait the ‘up to 21 days’ to close the two issues, then go full steam ahead with UK261 for the delay.

    NorthernLass 7,933 posts

    I still suspect that BA staff have been told to resist claims in respect of sickness until the current court case is settled (Lipton?) They are paying out pretty quickly these days for other claims (I got delay compo in less than 3 weeks recently), so I can’t think of another explanation.

    IIRC, @JDB advised another reader to contact BA again and suggest that they are mistaken (and why), then if they still refuse compo, go to CEDR. This is quite straightforward, although I think wait times can run to several months these days.

    JDB 4,515 posts

    I don’t believe this is correct. BA has been using crew illness as a reason to deny claims for years and its modus operandi in respect of paying claims hasn’t changed in recent years. It pays some very quickly and resists others for months on end on all sorts of tenuous grounds with new reasons being invented all the time. One reported here this week was a ‘startup delay’ whatever that means. BA continues seemingly quite successfully to avoid paying out full downgrade reimbursement in different scenarios.

    The problem with the crew illness excuse is that BA is often able to put together a good enough story to bamboozle CEDR (as they do in other situations) in a way that wouldn’t get past a judge, so CEDR hasn’t necessarily been the answer. Hopefully the Supreme Court judgment will clarify the position. It will certainly be rather chaotic if the decision is different to (ie waters down) the ECJ decision cited a couple of posts upthread but there are senior retired judges who suggest judicial overreach by the ECJ. It is certainly difficult to know what airlines are supposed to do about crew illness at distant outstations.

    This case is particularly unusual, but the OP is right to get the downgrade and seating monies back first before responding to the delay compensation refusal as BA will quite likely change tack on that aspect.

    highnal 25 posts

    Thank you all. In that case, I will wait the 21 days for the two claims to be settled first before proceeding.
    How should I respond to BA for the delay claim rejection? I’m unable to find the previous thread with the sample text provided to a poster in a similar situation.

    JDB 4,515 posts

    @highnal – there’s no right or wrong way to go about this and no certainty as to the outcome, but on reflection, you may as well challenge the rejection of your delay claim now. I know many if not most will disagree that in these specific circumstances BA went to considerable lengths to mitigate an unfortunate compound issue of the flight routing and staff illness such that chasing for compensation seems quite harsh.

    However, if I were in your position and I wanted to pursue the claim, I would respond saying something like : thank you for your response of xx date agreeing the reimbursements for downgrading and seating although as I have not yet received such reimbursements, I cannot confirm whether the calculations are correct.

    I was however, surprised that you have rejected my delay compensation claim on the basis of crew sickness when the CJEU and the Court of Appeal have consistently held crew illness, even at outstations, to be an inherent part of an air carrier’s activity and not an extraordinary circumstance. I am sure that you know this within the Customer Relations team that deals with UK261 claims and your legal team will also clearly know the correct legal position, as will any County Court judge or CEDR adjudicator. As I’m sure BA would wish to comply with the law and guidance from the Civil Aviation Authority, please can you now correct this erroneous decision and confirm payment of the sum of £x x 2 = £y within 14 days, no later than 16.00 on 6 May 2024 failing which I will issue a claim in the County Court for the above sum plus court fees and interest without further reference to you.

    [keep a copy of what you send as the BA system doesn’t. If the Supreme Court decision in Lipton is handed down while this is in process and adversely changes the position re sickness, then all bets are off anyway, but if the position remains you are ahead of the game and you can point out the decision to BA!]

    highnal 25 posts

    Thanks @JDB – that’s very helpful.

    BA were quick to respond and they’re standing their ground:
    Thanks for contacting us. We’re sorry you’re unhappy with the outcome of your claim and we understand why you needed to get back in contact with us about this.

    I’ve had another look at your claim for EU261 compensation and I’ve taken time to make sure our response is accurate and up-to-date. Based on this, our decision hasn’t changed and the response you’ve received about the eligibility of your compensation claim are correct.

    As your flight was delayed due to a member of the cabin crew reporting sick and wasn’t well enough to operate the flight, and this then meant the crew operating hours were limited for the remaining crew. Because Male isn’t the main airport we operate from we didn’t have a standby member of cabin crew available. This means you’re not eligible for compensation.

    Article 5.3 of the EU Regulation 261/2004 and The Air Passenger Rights and Air Travel Organisers’ Licencing (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 states a carrier is not obliged to pay compensation if it can prove the delay or cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances, that couldn’t have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. In Recital 14 and 15 of EU Regulation 261/2004, extraordinary circumstances include weather, strike and the impact of an air traffic management decision which gives rise to a long delay. This means you’re not entitled to compensation under the EU Regulation for your delayed flight.

    However, due to your change of cabin, we’re able to offer you downgrade compensation for the amount of £300.00 cash or £400.00 eVoucher, per person. Please can you advise which offer you ‘d like to receive. Once we hear back from you, we’ll continue with your claim at the earliest opportunity.

    Basically the same generic waffle response as the other thread. None of the extraordinary circumstances listed include crew sickness!
    Should I respond to ask if this is their final judgement before going to CEDR/MCOL?
    I also feel the downgrade compensation is also light given we had originally paid 75,000 avios (plus 241 voucher) and £860 taxes for this particular flight. They’re essentially giving us the taxes back, but foregoing the Avios.

    Lady London 2,112 posts

    So BA is trying to say they shouldn’t have to put themselves in a position to still be able to operate a scheduled flight in case of crew sickness if the flight is from one of their outstations? And that a problem with a flight from an outstation makes that problem extraordinary?

    Imagine where BA could go with this. From a crew sickness problem, to problems if the crew originally rostered doesn’t get to the airport on time because of traffic problems. To avoiding compensation of any sort for any problem at an outstation.

    A bit dropped off the engine on tbe plane at an outstation? It will take longer to ship a replacement part to an outstation “so that makes the occurrence of needing a part at an outstation, an exceptional circumstance.” Yes, some more effort is required when that normal operational risk happens to crystallise when the plane is at an outstation. But the risk and its crystallisation are normal operational risks to be expected in the operations of an airline.

    And as outstations are at least half of the places BA flights operate at/to/from…. And if you include 5th freedom flights, outstations are more than half of the places BA flights operate at…, Then anything occurring that is not extraordinary at a base location is not an exceptional event at an outstation either.

    Flights have a departure point and an arrival point. At least one of those is always going to be an outstation. So the same operational risks at each end are not exceptional even if, depending on how an airline chooses to arrange its business, the airline may put itself in a position where the consequences of that risk crystallising may be more costly or even require what the airline decides in an exceptional cost or effort, if it’s at an outstation. But the airline made the decision to put themselves in that position. And business-wise it makes sense to have decided to accept that risk rather than incur higher ongoing cost to eliminate it.

    Let’s hope judges do not allow BA to move the definition of ‘exceptional circumstances’ to include any efforts BA has decided would be exceptional by them, should something that is not exceptional in their business, such as crew issues or mechanical failure, occur.

    Richie 1,020 posts

    The block time for MLE-LHR is 11 hours 20 mins, it’s a shame BA don’t have a fourth pilot requirement for flights of this length.

    BA B789 aircraft operate BA’s longest route to Santiago SCL at over 14 hours, with four pilots and appropriate pilot rest areas on the aircraft. The same set of B789s operate LHR-MLE. The B789 is a great aircraft and performs very efficiently, ’tis why they’ve bought them.
    They are just saving a bit of money by not having a fourth pilot on sectors such as LHR-MLE and risking inconvenience to passengers, plane operationally daft.

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