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CEDR vs MCOL – what to do?

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  • beardysuhz

    Had BA 241 avios flights originally booked LHR to HND for July 2022. Cancelled by BA on 4 April 2022 and I had asked to rebook to April 2023 citing EC261 re-route option. BA of course gave the usual “12 month ticket validity” and only offered to rebook up until 24 December 2021.

    Some context:
    1. I genuinely cannot fly between September and January 2023 as Mrs will be in her final trimester and I don’t think it would be practical/wise/convenient for us to travel in the first 3 months with a newborn. Also the reason for April 2023 is because baby will be around 6 months (which is probably just about alright).
    2. Japan is currently closed and has heavy tourist restrictions even with the potential June 10 opening date with “guided package tours”.
    3. The original flights July 2022 was to celebrate Eid with close family friends in Japan (another reason why April 2023 is a chosen date as it will be Eid)

    I have tried multiple times on different avenues (Twitter, Call Centre, Customer Services) to argue that as per EC261 i should have the right to rebook cancelled flight to April 2023 (business class flights are available to book).

    I am sending a Letter Before Action and giving 14 days for a response.

    If I look at purchasing fully flexible tickets on BA website for my dates the cost is £16.5k. Qatar Airways around £12k (haven’t look beyond these two)..both prices seem ridiculous tbh.

    The outcome I prefer is a rebooking onto BA on desired dates, however i feel I will potentially have to go through CEDR and/or MCOL.

    I am contemplating purchasing the tickets and then seeking to reclaim the costs however the dilemma I am facing is

    CEDR – the limit is £10k as per my understanding which means that would be the upper limit CEDR can ask BA to reimburse (which would still mean I would be out of pocket).

    MCOL – as much as I feel I have chance of winning..is it really reasonable for me to be claiming £16k or £12k given these are the prices on the websites (I don’t want to be seen as mugging it lol). Seems to be a lot more effort involved too.

    I am also considering not booking any tickets..say I want to avoid MCOL as much as possible. Is it “reasonable” to propose at CEDR to request the maximum compensation of £10k (limiting the cost to BA)..and arguing this is middle ground..and then hoping for the best that flight prices reduce.

    Apologies for the long post – I tried to provide enough detail and also the potential options I feel I may have – but would welcome any challenge/sense check or feedback if the great people on here feel I am being a thicko/unreasonable.

    Jon

    Someone correct me if I’ve got this wrong, but I believe the CEDR £10k limit would refer to the value of your original tickets, rather than necessarily the replacement cost now? But given the replacement ticket prices you mention, I think if it were me, I’d be asking that CEDR order BA to provide the re-route (whether that be on their metal or another airline – you could suggest some suitable options, bearing in mind “comparable transport conditions” etc), so the cost is then irrelevant to you – i.e. don’t claim a cash amount, claim a resolution whereby BA provides the tickets. Whereas for MCOL you would need to claim a cash amount and at that level the fee would be high (albeit you’d get it back if you win). I don’t think it’s unreasonable to claim those amounts if that’s what the tickets now cost – but you should make sure you can demonstrate that there aren’t cheaper options *in comparable transport conditions* (i.e. you’re under no obligation to accept a lengthier routing, e.g. with long transits, or a poorer seat, just to get the price down). You could always start with CEDR and then if that fails go to MCOL of course.

    meta

    I’d go with MCOL straight away. As reports showed here, CEDR has been ruling in BA’s favour on ticket validity disregarding the law and EC/UK261 all together.

    Contrary to what everyone thinks, you do not need to purchase new tickts for MCOL. You only need to provide value of claim. So you can work out an average of the new tickets and put that in the claim amount. That way you are only advancing the MCOL fee. Once you win at MCOL, they will award you cash and you actually don’t need to fly at all if you do not wish to. You can just pocket the money and use it on something else.

    I would also suggest to separate the claim to two passengers. Mention this in your LBA! It will cost BA twice more to defend as there are two cases. If you choose to go down the CEDR route you could do that as well which then helps with avoiding upper limits.

    JDB

    @meta I don’t think you can make two claims at CEDR for the same booking, such that the £10k limit is per booking, not per passenger – Rule 1.6. At MCOL, the pax would have to split them in order to keep the claim(s) on the small claims track.

    JDB

    @beardysuhz your claim is precisely the sort of claim that should succeed, especially in the context of pregnancy/Eid.

    I would be amazed if BA didn’t respond positively to your LBA as I think they are walking into a pile of trouble. If they don’t respond positively, prior to making a claim at CEDR or MCOL (using the @stillinthesun template) which is a bit tricky for the reasons you have highlighted, principally the size of the claim, I would first write to BA head of press/PR and Sean Doyle/board director responsible for compliance with the Equality Act 2010 + the CEO of the CAA citing discrimination on grounds of both religion and pregnancy/maternity (which is a protected characteristic albeit generally in a slightly different context). All this in addition to failing to honour 261 rights. I would also ask for compensation for what they are making you go though. It will be much quicker, easier and cheaper to embarrass BA if their legal people are stupid enough to play dirty. You could if you wish, send an additional letter to the legal team saying you are adding this to your claim.

    • This reply was modified 52 years, 7 months ago by .
    meta

    @meta I don’t think you can make two claims at CEDR for the same booking, such that the £10k limit is per booking, not per passenger – Rule 1.6. At MCOL, the pax would have to split them in order to keep the claim(s) on the small claims track.

    You’re right about CEDR! I was focused on MCOL, my bad.

    Lady London

    @beardysuhz I presume you are claiming for each person as a separate claim? you can ask for the claims to be considered together.

    Lady London

    @beardysuhz your claim is precisely the sort of claim that should succeed, especially in the context of pregnancy/Eid.

    I would be amazed if BA didn’t respond positively to your LBA as I think they are walking into a pile of trouble. If they don’t respond positively, prior to making a claim at CEDR or MCOL (using the @stillinthesun template) which is a bit tricky for the reasons you have highlighted, principally the size of the claim, I would first write to BA head of press/PR and Sean Doyle/board director responsible for compliance with the Equality Act 2010 + the CEO of the CAA citing discrimination on grounds of both religion and pregnancy/maternity (which is a protected characteristic albeit generally in a slightly different context). All this in addition to failing to honour 261 rights. I would also ask for compensation for what they are making you go though. It will be much quicker, easier and cheaper to embarrass BA if their legal people are stupid enough to play dirty. You could if you wish, send an additional letter to the legal team saying you are adding this to your claim.

    Excellent tactic, @JDB!

    memesweeper

    If you do want to bag a ticket, and potentially for much less than fully flex, there’s refundable ‘select’ and ‘select plus’ fares available through agents such as Amex. Very similar terms to an Avios booking in terms of “like for like” when making a claim.

    JDB

    @beardysuhz I presume you are claiming for each person as a separate claim? you can ask for the claims to be considered together.

    Unfortunately you can’t separate the passengers for a CEDR claim so you are limited to £10k. With MCOL, if each passenger’s claim is over £5k (ie total over £10k) you need to separate them so as to remain in the generally no costs small claims track. You can later ask the court to consider, on its own motion, to hear the claims together but you will be paying two sets of fees which is a big outlay.

    The good news is that in the very particular circumstances of this case, they will cave once a senior enough person gets wind of it.

    MingTheMerciless

    My recommendation would not to book with an alternative carrier but book
    Fully flex With ba via amex travel. Once you have reacolbed via MCOl you can dance the flex and book
    An alternative with the return. You may even make
    A Profit…

    Lady London

    This could be a nice opportunity to fly on JAL instead.

    beardysuhz

    Firstly just want to say thank you to everyone as usual for all of the useful information/advice/ideas – this is why headforpoints is in my opinion the best.

    I have sent the LBA so hopefully will receive a response within 14 days and will find out the BA position on this matter.

    I am not a lawyer and have never been involved in any court cases and so I do want to avoid MCOL as much as possible. The other issue I face is I have to travel internationally for work during the week so there is the risk that I will be out of the country whenever a potential hearing date is set. Are there any options to attend a hearing remotely via zoom/teams (not sure if covid helped introduce this). This is also why a part of me is considering potentially using a solicitor if it is absolutely necessary and there isn’t a practical way for me to defend myself at MCOL (even though it will just add more costs..). With MCOL can everything be resolved without ever going to a hearing (assuming this is only the case if BA accept the claim and don’t want to defend it).


    @JDB
    – I will definitely consider reaching out to the individuals you mentioned if BA refuse and hope that can help ensure we avoid going to the courts. Hopefully they too would want to avoid it too for the reasons you mentioned.


    @meta
    – splitting the claims is another option but again will not work for CEDR it seems. I could be wrong but when I calculated the fee cost for splitting the claim (assuming 5-8k each claim) it would end up being slightly more than 5% of a combined

    In my LBA I haven’t specified that I will be claiming separately- if this does make more sense is it a case of sending another Letter to BA after receiving a desdlock letter and letting them know that I will raise 2 claims for each passenger. Does this also mean my wife would then have to represent herself for her claim (Mrs beardysuhz doesn’t have the time or energy to go through this and I also wouldn’t want to put her through this given she already has enough on her plate to worry about)


    @MingtheMerciless
    and @memesweeper – I will definitely have a look at the all of the different options for booking thanks for the tip.

    @LadyLondon – I wouldn’t mind flying JAL (prices are the same as BA)..although I also wouldn’t mind Qatar (and get to try to Q-Suite)


    @Stillinthesun
    – i have to give a shout out to @stillinthesun as I probably wouldn’t have bothered to go down this route without seeing your posts and extremely useful templates.

    I will keep everyone updated and inevitably will seek out advice when necessary.

    Thank you all

    JDB

    @beardysuhz don’t worry about a solicitor; if you have a friend who is a solicitor or has legal training, run it past them to reassure yourself/check everything, but it’s not necessary and you can’t claim the costs. Just keep it very clear/precise but simple and unemotional. Also, make a chronology of all the relevant events, date on the left, brief description on the right including original booking date, cancellations, attempts and refusals to rebook/claim 261, LBA, issue of claim, due date, Eid 2023 etc. The judge won’t have much time, so (s)he just wants all the key facts quickly.

    In respect of a hearing date, yes, you should be able to specify dates to avoid and it is also likely to be a remote hearing (BA would prefer as saves some cost vs physical attendance) or even just a decision on the papers with no hearing.

    Anyway, I really would focus on getting it sorted by applying pressure. Less cost outlay, less stressful and much quicker. Based on the info you have provided, the idea of refusing your 261 rights when the selection of your ‘convenient’ dates is so reasonable while simultaneously discriminating against you on two grounds is quite a compelling story. If it hasn’t been too long since you sent the LBA I would send a follow up tomorrow by Special Delivery re the discrimination angle.

    beardysuhz

    @JDB thanks for the advice. The LBA has been delivered and signed for so it’s now just a waiting game.

    I have been reading MCOL guidance in the meantime and it clearly specifies that only one claimant is allowed.

    In my situation where there are 2 passengers on one booking does this mean that I have to separate out each passenger into 2 seperate MCOL submissions (or have I misunderstood the guidance).

    JDB

    @beardysuhz you should perhaps call the CCMCC for further details, but yes I think you can only have one claimant if issuing online, but you can have more than one if you make a paper claim on Form N1. There used to be a small discount for online issuance, but I think the fees may now be the same. In theory, you could make two claims online, but that is a bit cumbersome and you would need to ask, either in the claim or later (albeit later might require the payment of an application fee, the price of which has gone up a lot) to have the two cases heard together. Either way, keep the total claim inside £10k.

    While it is sensible to be checking on these details in the event BA doesn’t agree to settle, in the circumstances of your cases, I would focus very strongly, even if the legal department says no, on embarrassing them into settling. I really don’t think they will want this to get to court.

    Also, given the long bank holiday and general chaos at the company, give them time after the 14 days (or whatever limit you gave them) as if you decided to issue in too much of a hurry after the deadline and they write agreeing to settle a few days later, you won’t be getting your court fees back which would be more than a bit annoying.

    beardysuhz

    Update: bA received (signed for) the LBA on 31 May. I gave 14 days to respond and also factored in the bank holiday weekend. Still planning to give them until Friday to see if I receive anything.

    I guess if I don’t is that reasonable enough time to then go for MCOL?

    points_worrier

    Update: bA received (signed for) the LBA on 31 May. I gave 14 days to respond and also factored in the bank holiday weekend. Still planning to give them until Friday to see if I receive anything.

    I guess if I don’t is that reasonable enough time to then go for MCOL?

    Legally, yes, enough time. But this letter is your best chance at coming to a settlement with BA without the massive hassle of taking them to court. I would give them a full 28 days to see if they reply, as if they just settle (or come up with a reasonable offer), then it is the best for all involved.

    I would also -today- email BA CEO, Sean Doyle, just explaining the situation, and saying that even if you don’t agree on the position/resolution, it really is not reasonable to not respond as this guarantees court action. Also point out that if there is a fundamental flaw in your claim, it stops BA from disclosing this to you, and you withdrawing claims at an early point (escalating costs for both BA and yourself). His team have a bit of clout, and probably will get you a response (even if you don’t agree with it…), but from my experience BA do reasonably settle at this stage for well argued claims. You want to ensure you are going to court because BA disagree, not because BA have just been slow.

    Also the email is a great chance to play up why you need certain dates – bring up (again) the new arrival, and the fact it is Eid. Really go for it – first Eid with new baby and the first time you’ve managed to see rest of family since covid etc. Try and put it as positively as possible (how much you are looking forward to it, rather than how disappointed you are at missing it), as I reckon teams respond better to positivity than negativity (when they can get defensive). These CEO support teams can really respond to a good emotional story!!

    • This reply was modified 52 years, 7 months ago by .
    beardysuhz

    Thanks @points_warrior.

    I have sent an email to Sean Doyle so let’s see. You are right it would be a lot less headache to resolve this outside of MCOL.

    Lady London

    @JDB has got it right. They will cave. You are lucky enough that your situation pushes 2 public reputation buttons.

    If they don’t cave I would suspect your comm landed with the summer intern.

    Boltonsam

    For me cedr requested the 2nd booking reference for the 3rd and 4th passengers. I had said I expect ba to duplicate cedr’s ruling for all 4 of us. When I won, ba have accordingly rebooted all 4 of us outwith ba s fabricated validated to allow rebooking on any currently available seats

    beardysuhz

    UPDATE: BA has still not responded to my LBA (they received it on 31st May).I also emailed Sean Doyle and got an acknowledgement email that they will look into the matter. I received an email response as follows:

    Our final response

    I’m sorry to hear you’re still unhappy with how we’ve dealt with your case.

    I’ve thoroughly reviewed all the information you’ve sent us, and I can confirm that we believe we’ve dealt with your case fairly and appropriately. We’re unable to respond to any further requests.

    If you’re still unhappy with the outcome, and want to take it further, you can refer your complaint to the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution. CEDR is an independent dispute resolution provider, which is certified by the Civil Aviation Authority. They decide on any disputes between airlines and passengers that can’t be resolved using the airline’s own complaints procedure.

    A few notes about contacting CEDR:
    Please contact CEDR directly to check whether they cover your dispute, there are some disputes they cannot deal with.
    Please check their website here for contact details.
    If CEDR take on your complaint, we’ll withdraw any previous offer of settlement we’ve made. If CEDR make a judgement on the issue, their decision will be final.
    Once again, I’m sorry we weren’t able to resolve this between us this time. I hope this information is useful to you.

    Looks like I will have to MCOL seeing as this is BA’s final response and i have reasonably exhausted all options to try and settle this outside of any Arbitration/Court proceedings.

    beardysuhz

    Couple notes..seems like a standard email response and CEDR judgement is not final (only if I accept the decision does it become binding on BA..but doesn’t become binding on me if i disagree..that’s my understanding).

    I am ready to MCOL to be honest but only thing I am uncertain about is..whether I have to make 2 seperate claims for myself and my wife…or just do a paper claim to do it jointly. I called the CCMCC but everytime I asked a question the guy said we can’t advise what you should do as we can’t give any legal advice..all I asked was..how do I claim for more than 2 people at once :/.

    As stated before (i think) the cost of booking fully flexible tickets on BA for 2 passengers is £16.5k..I personally would prefer doing one application for MCOL rather than 2 seperate but would want to take the advice of everyone here on what the best way forward is.

    JDB

    It’s a shame you didn’t use the routes previously suggested within BA, but there we are.

    Most of the questions re one claim/two claims were answered previously. For there to be two claimants you need to make a paper application, but if you are seriously claiming £16,500 then you are taking yourself out of the small claims cost regime, limited to claims up to £10k, and will incur an application fee (before any hearing fees) of £825. If you make two online claims of £8,250, they can’t sensibly be heard separately, but you will pay two sets of fees (£455 x 2) and I really don’t know how that might be treated in respect of costs; BA might get funny and what is essentially a back door way of getting on to the small claims track might not go down well with a grumpy judge in the event you lose. Therefore you really need to keep your claim under £10k which also gives you the option to go to CEDR as that is their limit and you can only make a single claim per booking.

    meta

    They will be heard separately if you submit the claim separately at MCOL. Two different individuals. I have done this a few times. BA settled as soon as hearing approaches as they would be running double legal costs. I now make a point of it in my LBAs.

    • This reply was modified 52 years, 7 months ago by .
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