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British Airways hasn’t had a particularly good few weeks. Just a few days ago a shortage of staff at Heathrow Airport meant that hundreds of passengers were left unable to reclaim their checked bags, and hundreds of passengers were left sitting on aircraft for unacceptable lengths of time waiting for someone to operate the jet bridges.
That was pretty bad, but there was a worse issue not so long ago.
A few weeks ago, BA had one of its bigger meltdowns of recent years when an unspecified IT failure meant that, among other things, BA crews (both air and ground) could not be scheduled correctly which led to the airline canceling most of its short-haul flights on Saturday 26 February.
I was supposed to be flying on that Saturday but woke up to see that FlightAware was already showing that my flight wasn’t going anywhere.
Brtish Airways IT caught up a little bit later and confirmed what I already knew.
At the time, there was a later flight that still hadn’t been canceled but as I was soon getting reports of the chaos unraveling at Heathrow, I knew better than to rebook myself on to that flight. Instead, I chose to fly a couple of days later to give BA time to clean up its mess.
Needless to say, I filed a claim for compensation (under EC 216) for the cancelled flight and I put in a claim for a new PCR Test that I had to take (because my original test would have been considered out of date). I also put in a claim for airport parking because Joanna was no longer going to be able to drive me to/from Heathrow as originally planned thanks to my changed flight dates.
This is what I asked for:
- €400 in compensation for the canceled flight (the flight was between 1,500km and 3,500km long).
- £52.50 for the new PCT test
- £77.90 for Heathrow parking
I had no idea what to expect because, believe it or not, this was the first EC/EU261 claim that I’ve ever had to file with BA and it’s been a few years since I’ve had to file a claim for expenses with the airline.
Since then, I’ve had two emails from British Airways apologizing for the length of time it was taking to process my claim but today, finally, I got a proper reply:
Dear Mr XXXXX
Thank you for contacting us about your claim for compensation.
Please accept our sincere apologies for the time it has taken us to respond to you. We’re currently experiencing an incredibly high demand for our help from passengers all around the world and we know that this is not the level of service you would usually expect from us.
We’re sorry it was necessary to cancel your flight to [XXXX] on 26 February 2022. We don’t underestimate how much this must have disrupted your travel plans. We take all reasonable measures to avoid cancelling a flight and we’ll always consider if there are any alternative solutions available before we make a decision.
I’ve checked the details of your journey and I’m pleased to advise you’re entitled to compensation for the cancellation of flight [XXXX] on 26 February 2022.
The distance of your disrupted journey was between 1,500km and 3,500km and this has been calculated in accordance with EU legislation. This means you’re entitled to €400.00 in compensation.
The total amount of compensation you’re due is €400.00 as there is one passenger included in your claim. I’ve raised a bank transfer for this amount in your local currency, which will be paid directly to you.
I have also assessed your expenses claim and I am happy to contribute towards them.
With that in mind, I’ve arranged another bank transfer for £55.20 which will reach you at the same time as your compensation payment.
Finally, whilst I appreciate your reasons for the request, we’re unable to reimburse the cost of car parking for your rebooked flight since it’s not something for which we’re liable as it is a consequential loss.
I’m afraid that since your car parking was not part of your contract with British Airways, we are not liable to award compensation for this.
Please accept my apologies if this has caused further frustration although you may wish to consider submitting a claim for this through your travel insurance provider.
Thank you once again for taking the time to get in touch with us and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
As much as I would have preferred to travel on my original flight, I’m happy that British Airways didn’t try to wriggle out of paying the mandatory EC261 compensation and I’m happy that the airline agreed to cover the cost of my second PCR test. The fact that I’ve had to pay £77.90 in parking that I wouldn’t have had to pay originally is something I can live with. I may take a look at my travel insurance to see if the parking charge is something that I can claim for but I suspect that an insurance claim for that amount may not be worth my while even if I’m covered.
Ordinarily, this isn’t something that I would have written about but over the past 7-10 days I’ve seen a few people mentioning (on social media and possibly even on a blog) that British Airways was not paying out compensation for flights affected by the chaos on 26 February. For some people that may be true, but I don’t know why that would be the case because I don’t appear to have had any issues getting what I was owed.
If you’re still waiting to hear from BA about your claim, don’t let any negative reports that you see or read lead you to believe that you’re definitely going to have to fight the airline to get what you’re owed. Yes, you may have issues (apparently some people have had their claims rejected) but equally, things may go smoothly and you may not have anything more to do but wait for your money.
Note: If anyone reading this has had their claim from 26 February rejected, please let me know in the comments, and let’s see if we can figure out why your claim was rejected and mine was not – that may be of help to others.