One question has been prevalent over the last few days and many emails with reader questions reached us regarding How To Claim Compensation From British Airways For IT Outage related Travel Disruptions.
While British Airways currently doesn’t acknowledge any liability for EU regulation mandated compensation it could be useful to clock in your compensation requests early.
Passengers affected by British Airways IT outage ended up being stranded, delayed, cancelled and/or incurred high expenses to arrange their own replacement travel since BA was unable to serve customers in any capacity.
There are a few things to consider when it comes to decide if you’re due compensation.
What does British Airways have to compensate me for?
Thanks to the EC261/2004 regulation, the guidelines when compensation from an airline is due are pretty clear and there isn’t really a grey area, yet some carriers (including BA) often try and sit the situation out hoping the claimant will just go away.
Escalating the issue to British Airways Customer Relations often brings no result except them either stonewalling or ‘investigating’ the case without reply.
It is however imperative that you open a case with Customer Relations regardless before you go for the nuclear option and complain to the regular and have the compensation request mediated the the Dispute Resolution Center or sue the airline.
BA is currently scrambling to find a legal loophole (likely claiming extroordinary circumstances [force majeure]) to avoid paying EU Compensation to each of the approximately 75,000 affected passengers.
The EC261/2004 says the following:
(14) As under the Montreal Convention, obligations on operating air carriers should be limited or excluded in cases where an event has been caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. Such circumstances may, in particular, occur in cases of political instability, meteorological conditions incompatible with the operation of the flight concerned, security risks, unexpected flight safety shortcomings and strikes that affect the operation of an operating air carrier.
Refusing to pay out the compensation might be hard for them to justify and uphold legally. Their IT systems aren’t covered by force majeure as it’s within the carriers realm to ensure a safe operation of their internal systems. I therefore suggest to lodge your complaint as early as possible as all complaints are processed in sequence.
Under any circumstances BA is liable for the care of passengers which includes
I Incurred expenses or want to claim EU compensation, how do I do it?
British Airways Customer Relations online form is available here.
You can upload receipts there as well if you incurred hotel, transfer or other expenses you wish to claim.
It is also possible to enter your request for a flat EU Compensation and to enter your bank details.
How much compensation am I due?
Here is the EC 261/2004 guideline for compensation the passenger will receive:
Right to compensation [for delays & cancellations]
1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall receive compensation amounting to:
(a) EUR 250 for all flights of 1500 kilometres or less; [delay of 2 hours]
(b) EUR 400 for all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometres, and for all other flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometres; [delay of 3 hours]
(c) EUR 600 for all flights not falling under (a) or (b). [delay of 4 hours]
In determining the distance, the basis shall be the last destination at which the denial of boarding or cancellation will delay the passenger’s arrival after the scheduled time. …
The compensation referred to in paragraph 1 shall be paid in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders or bank cheques or, with the signed agreement of the passenger, in travel vouchers and/or other services.
The distances given in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall be measured by the great circle route method.
Expenses can be claimed in full and you should keep all receipts and documentation for such.
What if British Airways refuses my claim for EU Compensation?
I’d actually expect them to refuse it at the moment. They likely take the risk of a few people suing them or initiate a dispute rather than paying out many millions voluntarily. Imagine they would pay 75,000 x amounts between 250-600 EUR. That’s a fortune. Even for a big company such as IAG/BA.
- Wait for their reply to the complaint lodged.
- If they refuse, answer that you disagree with their decision and you request them to pay the full amount due.
- Should they answer and refuse again you have your final answer and can initiate a dispute or legal proceedings.
In the UK the civil aviation authority has stopped mediating passenger complaints. Those are all being handled by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR).
Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), International Dispute Resolution Centre
70 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1EU
Their website has a form to initiate a binding dispute resolution process. I had one such case earlier this year and British Airways finally settled the case by paying the full 600 EUR due after they refused to pay up for months.
The website allows you to create a very practical case file with communication windows for all parties involved as well as a dropbox to upload supporting documents for your claim (I submitted flightstats screenshots showing the delay, boarding passes and the new passenger receipt showing INVOL (Involuntary) for the rebooking as well as the hotel voucher for Hong Kong.
Basically after you file a case and it is accepted (not all claims are accepted, they have to fall under the CEDR’s actual authority) the airline has 2 weeks to respond, in this case BA responded on the very last day they need a brief extension of time (a total of 5 business days was granted to them).
Note: If your case is totally unsuccessful you are liable to pay CEDR a 25 GBP fee which is probably to avoid people making frivolous claims. Not sure how they would enforce that payment from complainants abroad but anyway people should only claim a specific amount if it has a solid basis of being a successful claim. It’s still much cheaper and simpler than hiring an attorney.
British Airways then took 3 days to upload a settlement offer, confirming they are liable to pay me 600 EUR per EC261/2004 regulation – something they have denied on multiple occasions before.
Bottom line: BA totally dropped the ball here and it will be hard for them to get out of their responsibility to compensate passengers adequately as mandated by law. Their cost cutting finally caught up with them!
Airlines lie and cheat all the time, even when it comes to cases where compensation to the passenger is clearly due based on the EU regulation in place. They do it because there are no consequences for them doing so and it’s cheaper to sit complaints out and have 95% of the passengers/complainants go away. The 5% that are left over and go through the hassle of taking the airline to court or the regulating agencies are nothing more than calculated cost in a big financial chess game for the airlines.
Sure you could give the case to one of the known agencies who complain and sue on your behalf but why taking a large cut of the compensation (~25%) when you’re due the entire amount. It’s likely that BA will also have to pay a processing fee to the CEDR which is probably still cheaper for them than court costs and attorney fees should they lose a case.