Compensation Clinic: British Airways Flight Cancellation & EC 261/2004


A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us a Compensation Clinic-case from a British Airways flight cancellation ex-Los Angeles that lead to EC 261/2004 claim.

Remember that you can always email us, send a message via Facebook or use Twitter and include photos too. We’ll try to cover a Compensation Clinic case here once a week, every Sunday.

Here’s the email from the reader:

In late November a had a Club World return flight from LAX via LHR to DUS, BA 280 (LAX-LHR) scheduled departure at 17.55 local with connecting flight BA 944 (LHR-DUS) departure at 15.50 local. This is what happened (showing approximate times):

– 17.20: Display at the LAX gate telling that boarding begins.

– 17.35: Display at the LAX gate telling that boarding will begin in 15 min.

– 17.55: Display at the LAX gate telling that boarding will begin in another 20 min.

– 18.30: Announcement by BA LAX staff that “aircraft is not operational and unclear if it it will be” – passengers who want to be rebooked can report to the counter at the gate.

– Situation totally unclear. Within the chaos that was to be expected, the BA staff tried to rebook or take care of passengers and did quite a good job in my perception.

– Flight BA 280 cancelled. (Probably due to my BA Executive Club Gold Status) I was rebooked to a later flight that evening, BA 268 LAX-LHR ETD 21.05 local and then rebooked to BA 932 LHR-DUS ETD 17.15 local.

– Boarding in LAX slightly delayed, Departure from LAX at 22.14 local (more than one hour delayed).

– Arrival at LHR 16.36 local. Trying to get to departure gate but being stopped by electronic access control between arrival and departure gates – BA staff telling me that they won’t let me board (“too late” – it was appr. 40 minutes before scheduled takeoff, boarding had just begun when the access control stopped me).

– New information: rebooked again to BA 946 LHR-DUS ETD 19.50 local.

– Slight delay, arrival at DUS at 22.15 local.

– Baggage missing (it was not on the flight from LAX to LHR, although the BA staff had confirmed when we boaded). No BA baggage tracing available in DUS (already end of work). Finally baggage arrived two days later.

After that, I tried to claim 600,- Euro compensation according to EC261/2004. In a first email, BA responded that the entitlement was limited to 50% of the regular amount, since I had reached my destination with a delay less than 4 hours:

“Sie haben Anrecht auf eine Entschädigung für die Stornierung Ihres Fluges BA280 am 25. November 2018. Gemäß EU-Recht wurde die Entfernung Ihres betroffenen Fluges auf mehr als 3.500 km berechnet. Da Sie Ihren Zielflughafen innerhalb von vier Stunden nach der geplanten Ankunftszeit erreicht haben, haben Sie Anspruch auf eine Entschädigungszahlung in Höhe von 300,00 €, dies entspricht 50% des vollen Betrags.”

This is kind of strange: why is a delay of 4 hours acceptable if you are on an odyssey rebooked to several alternative flights, whereas one single (“original”) flight may have a delay of only 3 hours?? But OK, that’s the law.

Even better was the second email from BA after I had claimed the full compensation. As you know the relevant time marker for the arrival and the delay is the opening of the doors, not the touchdown of the aircraft. With my cellphone I took several pictures behind the flight attendant before openeing the door, whose time stamp shows that this was several minutes after the 4 hour mark and I told this the sympathetic BA agent. Here’s the answer (excerpt):

“Ausweislich des (gerichtsfesten) Flugprotokolls ist die Maschine mit 4 Minuten Verspätung um 19:54 Uhr (lokale Zeit) gestartet und um 22:08 Uhr (lokale Zeit) gelandet. Es dauerte weitere 4 Minuten, bis das Flugzeug an der Fluggastbrücke angekommen ist, so dass die Ankunftverspätung 2 Minuten betrug (22:12 Uhr lokale Zeit).  Die Öffnungszeit der Türen ist mit 22.14 Uhr (lokale Zeit) dokumentiert.  Die Gesamtverspätung bis zum Öffnen der Türen betrug also genau 239 Minuten, mithin weniger als 4 Stunden, so dass laut Art. 7 2c. VO (EG) Nr. 261/2004 das ausführende Luftfahrtunternehmen die Ausgleichszahlungen nach Absatz 1 um 50 % kürzen kann.”

The lady referred to the connecting flight from LHR to DUS, saying that the total delay of my journey was “239 minutes, which is less than 4 hours”, giving BA the right to cut the compensation by 50%. In other words: Sorry your delay was one minute too short. And again: OK, that’s the law.

The bottom line is that it feels like a mockery and like a slap in the face of elite tier customers to cut the compensation by 50% because of one minute (or appr. 0,04% of the 4 hours) – provided that this doors-open-time was even accurate and my three Apple-devices show the same wrong time. For the sake of completeness: In the second response I was offered additional 10.000 Avios for the lost luggage and additional parking fees at DUS airport. However, in a similar case with Lufthansa (tier level: Senator) from September 2018, the claim settlement was much faster, easier and customer-friendly than it was with BA.

There is something called “CONFORMANCE” at the Terminal 5 to make sure that passengers have enough time to shop and spend money inside the terminal. You won’t be allowed inside even from the transit area if you don’t meet it without rebooking that the British Airways personnel apparently did.

I truly doubt that BA has correctly documented the doors opening time in Düsseldorf. Perhaps the time is when they opened the gate doors and not the airplane one?


This “conformance” nonsense can be really annoying at Terminal 5. You could have easily made the flight but they won’t let you in because you don’t meet this predetermined deadline even when the flight is leaving late.

Would be interesting to know how BA can be so sure about the exact time opening the doors @ DUS?Glad that the reader got something out of his delay.