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British Airways cancellations: How to claim compensation for missed flights after IT failure

After 200,000 passengers were affected, compensation costs could top £100 million

Scores of Britons heading overseas for the long weekend and half-term school holidays faced global flight disruption after British Airways' IT system failed.

Holidaymakers trying to fly out of both Heathrow and Gatwick airports faced a wave of cancellations, delays and disruptions as they set off on Saturday (May 27) morning.

BA is facing huge compensation costs, with reports suggesting the bill could top £100 million, after 200,000 passengers were affected.

The airline announced a "global system outage" on Twitter and 300 flights around the world were cancelled until further notice.

On Saturday, a spokesman for the airline told The Mirror: "We have experienced a major IT system failure that is causing very severe disruption to our flight operations worldwide....we have cancelled all flights from Heathrow and Gatwick before 6pm UK time today, so please do not come to the airports."

 

British Airways was expecting to run an almost full schedule from its London airports on Tuesday May 30, although "significant number of customers" remained without their luggage as a result of the chaos - and BA admitted it still had "work to do" reuniting bags with passengers.

Compensation: What the law says you ARE entitled to

If you’re one of the unlucky ones caught up in the disruptions over the weekend, then you will probably want to know what your rights are.

Of course, in situations such as this, the sooner you act the better, as it could take months to get your claim finalised.

Flight delay legal manager at Bott & Co law firm, Coby Benson, said: "British Airways have had several IT glitches over the last couple of years but nothing quite on the scale of this latest crisis. Passengers who have had flights cancelled will be eligible for compensation as we don’t consider this event to be an extraordinary circumstance.

"The specific criteria for amounts and delay lengths depend on whether alternate flights were offered or not and how long the delay ultimately lasted for. BA can’t get away with refunding passengers and hoping that’s the end of the matter – they are obliged to provide compensation under Regulation 261/2004 and we’re preparing for a busy week helping passengers recover that compensation."

Is this an 'extraordinary circumstance'?

If a flight is cancelled or delayed due to an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ (which is out of the airline's control) - such as extreme weather or strike action - then the airline does not have to pay compensation to passengers. In such cases, you'll have to claim through your travel insurance provider.

In the case of BA, the issue has been described as a 'technical problem' and not a cyber attack, therefore the airline is responsible for compensation under EU regulation 261/2004.

How the airline MUST treat you in the event of a cancellation or delay

In all cases where there is a disruption of two hours or more, the airline must maintain its duty of care and assistance to the passenger. They must provide (for free):

  • Food and drink in reasonable relation to the waiting time
  • Overnight accommodation where necessary
  • Travel to and from the airport and accommodation
  • Two free calls, emails, or fax messages

Food and accommodation is only paid by the airline if you are flying with an EU company or you are departing from an EU airport.

If you're travelling to a non-EU country, the airline must refund you or try to issue an alternative flight ticket but they are not entitled to provide food and drink.

You could claim these expenses on your travel insurance. Accommodation can be provided but it does depend on the individual case, for example where you are stuck and how long for.

Compensation in the event of a delay

A flight is legally considered as delayed if the take-off happens two hours or more after the scheduled time.

In the event of a delay, passengers can expect to be offered free meals as well as refreshments. They have the right to make phone calls free of charge or to send two faxes, telex or emails to inform others about the delay.

In the event of a delay lasting at least five hours, passengers can request the reimbursement of their full ticket price within seven days, regardless of flight distance.

If the flight is delayed by 3 hours or more at the final destination, then compensation is due according to European Regulation No 261/2004. It will be calculated based on the distance and airport of origin and/or destination.

Compensation for a cancelled flight

If your flight has been cancelled, the airline must offer you the choice of a refund or alternative flight. You are also entitled to compensation.

You can either a) get your money back for all parts of the ticket you haven’t used or b) choose an alternative flight. British Airways is currently in the process of replacing flights for all passengers affected by the technical crash who wish to continue their journey.

When it comes to compensation, the amount payable is dependent on the distance of the flight and the length of the delay. The rules are set by EU Regulation 261/2004 and compensation is in Euros.

The levels of compensation are as follows:

  • 250 EUR for flights of up to 1,500km
  • 400 EUR for flights within the EU of more than 1,500km, and for all other flights between 1,500km and 3,500km
  • 600 EUR for all other flights

These amounts are reduced by 50% if BA can offer you an alternative flight route to your final destination with a new scheduled arrival time that doesn’t exceed the original scheduled arrival time by:

  • Two hours for flights of up to 1,500km
  • Three hours for all flights within the EU of more than 1,500km, and for all other flights between 1,500km and 3,500km
  • Four hours for all other flights.

If BA is unable to replace your flight, this is what you can claim for:

  • Up to 1,500km: 250 Euros
  • 1,500km to 3,500km: 400 Euros
  • Over 1,500Km and between two EU States: 400 Euros
  • Over 3,500km: 600 Euros

The quickest way to find out if your particular British Airways flight qualifies for compensation is by using a free tool such as refundme's flight compensation calculator. Law firm Bottom Line also has a similar free to use flight compensation calculator, but you'll need your flight number to hand.

When you cannot claim compensation

  • If the delay is less than 3 hours.
  • "If we informed you of the cancellation 14 days or more before your planned departure date. We will contact you using the details you, the person who purchased the ticket or your travel agent have provided us with in connection with your booking."
  • If you choose to travel from a different departure point or to a different destination than your original booking, you can't claim compensation for any expenses incurred for travel between these or any other consequential expenses, e.g. car hire, parking costs, etc.

How can I start my claim with BA?

British Airways told Mirror Money it's actively providing information to affected passengers on how to apply for EU compensation and expenses.

A spokesperson said: "We are doing everything we can to help our customers. Our priority right now is to help as many customers as we can to get to their destinations.

"We always meet our requirements under EU261 and are providing customers with information on how to apply for EU compensation and to claim for reasonable expenses."

To check the status of your flight, rebook it, make a claim or get in touch with BA, click on the following:

 

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