Compensation Clinic: British Airways Five Hour Delay For Cargo Door Coming Off & EC 261/2004


This week the Compensation Clinic-piece comes from a Reader Question that we had last month (access here) where British Airways had denied a valid claim under the EC 261/2004 legislation.

Compensation Clinic British Airways

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Here’s what happened:

Here’s the email from the reader:

My plane was delayed 5 hours due to the molding on the cargo door that came off. I followed up with a letter to BA asking how molding that came off of a very old 747 was not their fault, but I received no reply. see below

How do I pursue the damages under the EU program?

BA’s flagrant disregard for the EU policy should come with consequences?

Failure to even respond to a Emerald level one world member seems disrespectful as well.

Who else should I write to?

Here’s the reply from BA Customer Relations:

Thanks for letting us know what happened when you were travelling from New York on 24 February. I’m sorry for the delay in my response. I completely understand how frustrated you must have been when your flight was delayed. I’m so sorry for the problems we caused you.

We always want to maintain a stable operation and we’ll only delay an aircraft if we really have to, particularly as it affects our customers and their plans. If you speak to a staff member at the airport, or call our contact centres, we’ll do our best to rearrange your travel plans to suit you.

Your claim’s been refused because BA0178 on 24 February was delayed because of aircraft damage which wasn’t caused by us which prevented the aircraft operating as scheduled. Under EU legislation, I’m afraid we’re not liable for a compensation payment in this situation.

We take all reasonable measures to avoid delaying a flight and we always consider if there are any operational options available before we make a decision. We’re very sorry the delay was necessary in this case.

We’re very grateful you’ve taken the time to let us know what happened.

Thanks again for getting in touch with us and I hope you’ll see an improvement in our service soon. I hope we can welcome you on board again soon. Please feel free to contact me directly using the blue link below if I can help you with anything else.

Best regards

Ashita Sureshbabu
British Airways Customer Relations

It is not a surprise that British Airlines Customer Relations representative is basically trying to lie to the consumer what their legal obligation is under the EC 261/2004.

EU court has long time ago ruled that mechanicals are not extraordinary circumstances under which the airline would not need to provide monetary compensation under this legislation.

Following was my suggestion what the reader could do:

1. Try the third party dispute resolution service CEDR that British Airways subscribers to. It is free for the consumer (access here)

2. Open a Money Claim online in the UK

3. Sue British Airlines to Small Claims court in the United States

Personally, I would start with the option number 1.

And Here’s an update from the reader:

I did write to the European Commission as you suggested and it worked

Response from the British Airways:

Thanks for coming back to us about your claim for compensation.  I apologise for the delay in my response.

I’ve reviewed your claim and I’m pleased to advise you’re entitled to compensation for the delay to your flight BA0178 on 24 February.  The distance of your disrupted journey was over 3,500km and this has been calculated in accordance with EU legislation.  This means you’re entitled to €600.00 in compensation.

The total amount of compensation you’re due is $728.98, which is equivalent to €600.00 as there’s only one passenger included in your claim.  I’m arranging for $728.98 to be transferred to your bank account using the details you provided.  It’ll be in your account shortly.

Thanks again for getting in touch.  Please feel free to contact us if we can help you any further and we look forward to welcoming you on board again soon.


I find it very unfortunate that many European and other airlines basically dodge these valid EC 261/2004 claims with nonsense reasons knowing that probably 80% to 90% of the claimants won’t follow up.

I am glad that the reader followed up with the suggestion that he should open a case with the CEDR that is voluntarily dispute resolution service in the UK that many airlines including British Airlines subscribe to.

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