/ Travel & Leisure

What will it take for British Airways to act?

British Airways

One month ago today we launched our campaign to upgrade airline compensation following BA’s catastrophic IT failure. We’re not happy with the airline’s response and so today we’re upping the pressure and asking passengers to send their message to BA’s CEO.

Update: 20 July 2017

There’s been a huge response from our supporters to our British Airways postcard campaign. Thank you to everyone for sharing your messages to BA CEO Alex Cruz.

All-in-all we received over 3,000 personal messages from passengers and supporters who feel strongly that British Airways should introduce automatic compensation following their huge IT failure in May.

Here’s just one of the powerful stories we’ve received:

“I am a widow and travel alone to see my friends where my husband and I used to live in Spain. I am also disabled and find sitting on airport seats for any length of time very painful. I have always found BA to give the best assistance for anyone disabled but if I had to go through what those poor passengers did I just don’t know how I could have coped, and then to arrive home to beg for compensation is so degrading.”

In the coming days we will be collating your stories, printing the postcards and delivering them in person to the airline’s chief exec.

Original Convo: 7 July 2017

In the wake of British Airway’s catastrophic IT failure on the last bank holiday weekend we couldn’t stand by and leave passengers being treated so poorly. Over 75,000 people were affected and we called out the airline for failing to do more than the legal minimum by automatically issuing passengers with compensation.

Passengers whose holidays were ruined have been left jumping through hoops to claim compensation after the stress of having their plans upended by a failure that was BA’s responsibility to resolve.

While the IT failure may have been unforeseen, we’re dismayed by the reaction since from BA. We wrote to BA’s chief executive Alex Cruz after the failure and challenged him to automatically compensate all affected passengers so that no one was left out of pocket. His response showed no desire to take that extra step to do right by his passengers and introduce automatic compensation. Instead he merely outlined BA’s approach to compensation so far, claimed many customers are satisfied with the process and stressed that the airline will continue to ensure claims are handled efficiently.

Colin was treated ‘abysmally’

BA’s refusal to engage in a discussion about how to improve the compensation process for its passengers is not acceptable. From the stories we’ve heard so far on claiming from the bank holiday chaos, BA’s passengers will clearly agree.

Take the story of our supporter Colin. Colin’s BA flight back to Heathrow was delayed on that bank holiday weekend. He says he was made to queue for seven and a half hours to re-book his flight home, with no explanation of the consumer rights to compensation for delays under EU regulations.

After applying for compensation he received a cheque in the post with just half of what he requested and received nothing at all from BA for his partner who was also on the flight. Colin described the process of applying for compensation as ‘difficult’ and believes BA handled the crisis ‘abysmally’. He’s still to this day waiting for the rest of his compensation as well as his wife’s.

Send BA’s CEO a postcard

For passengers like Colin, we’re making it easy for you to send your message to BA’s CEO. He needs to hear from his passengers directly, and so we’ve created a tool for you to send your message on a postcard direct to Alex Cruz.

Send BA a postcard

Send BA a postcard

Have you had your holiday ruined by BA’s delays? Left stranded by a BA cancellation? Spent many a frustrating hour trying to claim compensation from BA?

Tell Alex Cruz why his airline should upgrade compensation by sending him your message on a postcard. No passenger should be left out of pocket for delays or cancellations now or in the future.


The postcards are coming in! We’ll share what we can with you as we collect people’s messages to BA. We’ve added our supporter Colin’s story to this post now:

Colin’s BA flight back to Heathrow was delayed on that bank holiday weekend. He says he was made to queue for seven and a half hours to re-book his flight home, with no explanation of the consumer rights to compensation for delays under EU regulations.

After applying for compensation he received a cheque in the post with just half of what he requested and received nothing at all from BA for his partner who was also on the flight. Colin described the process of applying for compensation as ‘difficult’ and believes BA handled the crisis ‘abysmally’. He’s still to this day waiting for the rest of his compensation as well as his wife’s.

Barry K says:
10 July 2017

British Airways “The Worlds favourite Airline” is now an accountants dream , A near monopoly on direct long haul flights , The management is abysmal and the lack of motivation of their cabin staff is now apparent. BA will rue the day they decided that profits are more important than customer service

Indeed. Since Alex Cruz took over, British Airways has gone downhill very quickly. He’s from a budget airline background, and he’s trying to run BA like one. The sooner he’s gone, the better.

I know I’m breaking an off-topic rule, but I just wanted to say it’s nice to see you around here again @nfh 🙂

I avoid flying with BA, even if it means taking indirect routes which add on a few hours to my journey or costs a little extra. This is mainly because when I do fly, I can’t afford to be stuck in an airport for days due to strikes. Service is usually better with other carriers too.

We were left standing at the check-in desk at Venice from 20.00 to 21.30 before BA staff came to help us and re-booked us on alternative flights before taking us to a hotel at 23.45. We were told the restaurant and bar were closed as BA had told them we had eaten at the airport. Not possible while standing in a queue, last meal lunch at 13.00. Staff were polite and helpful when dealing with us but as the incident at Gatwick happened at midday they had plenty of warning and should have dealt with us earlier.

Tuulikki D says:
29 July 2017

My daughter was due to fly to Avignon during the computer problem, flight was cancelled and she travelled with Eurostar and TGV instead. B.A. Refunded the the cancelled flight but none of the additional costs; she had booked a car to be collected at Marseille airport , had a special price , as it was in her name her boyfriend could not collect it, car hire had to be cancelled , caused a cancellation fee, and he had to get an other car, more expensive and not as nice. These costs were not covered and nor were they covered by the travel insurance. So she ended up out of pocket, because someone at B.A. could not fix the computer. Why should this additional cost not be repaid ?

My friend a year ago suffered severe delays by Thomas Cook airline. She was given a voucher for £420 by way of compensation, which sounds fine till you learn that it had to be used within a time limit. When she tried to use it on another flight she was told she had to purchase the flight first, complete the return journey then claim for a £420 refund. This would take up to 28 days to process.

She hasn’t yet been able to claim as she is still completing the return journey, but has been inconvenienced further, obviously. She never wants to use Thomas Cook’s again. Neither do I.

I was booked to fly to. Tunjs via Paris. M/ c check in could not print them to passes, but phoned Air France and was told my ticket would be in Paris. There I was told I was with 1- others on Stand bye. How could this be? I had transfer paid for and needs to get that plane. Got the one and on.y seat after a lot of fuss. Luggage left in Paris had to be collected from Tunjs next day. Round trip if 500 kms, hope to get o going ohone costs etc fipirvthechassld and stress called reached destination 4 am schpter leaving home at 1 30 previous

John Allan Pickup says:
29 July 2017

My family were delayed 10hrs on a flight from Manchester to Malaga in 2010, when I put in a claim I got the extra ordinary circumstances reply, I wrote to the CAA who just upheld that.
Fed up I applied to the small claims court, Monarch paid up within 4 weeks, I had been trying for 2yrs.
I would advise anyone to put in a claim and if they get the same response, go to the small claims.

We flew last October from London to Detroit via Toronto with Air Canada.
When we checked in at Heathrow we were issued both sets of boarding passes.

All appeared to be going well, we arrived in Toronto. We cleared US Immigration there, and went to the Boarding gate for the short flight to Detroit.
After about 10 minutes waiting,we were called forward to the desk. Bit odd!
Apparently Air Canada had sent me an email whilst we were in the air, advising us we were going to miss the connection to Detroit. Although we had Boarding Passes and were clearly there at the right time, we were simply told to ‘Go away’ and ‘come back for the five o’clock ‘.
No negotiation whatsoever It really was that brutal an instruction! The reason being we were not allowed to travel without our checked in baggage and they couldn’t be sure where our bags were.
Because of a spinal condition I made a request for a lounge pass, so I could at least spend the next four or 5 hours lying down. That was denied as Air Canada apparently has no lounge in Toronto. (Yeah right!)
We were given a $20 food voucher.

I made a few International telephone calls whilst waiting, in an attempt to warn family in Detroit we were going to be late.

Needless to say that the 5o’clock flight was delayed by another 2 and a half hours.

Air Canada’s treatment on the day and since has shown me how important customers really are to Air Canada . OK, we only had economy tickets, but Air Canada have shown us our true value to them.
No contribution offered for telephone costs and a half offer of 15% off my next Air Canada ticket.
I will not of course be accepting that discount any time soon!

Sheila says:
30 July 2017

We voluntarily got bumped from la Guardia to Toronto. $600 each given and flight to Montreal ,then Toronto.
To redeem Air Canada voucher,only flight cost is covered ,the airport tax and taxes have to be paid by me.
What seemed like a brilliant offer to get to Toronto ,then Los Angeles from UK would cost me so much more as this isn’t the cheapest airline!

How would airlines know the bank account to which any compensation (usually denominated in EUR) should be paid? Not everyone is a simple consumer with only a GBP bank account paying for their own flight with a UK debit card. Take the following examples of why the airline cannot simply refund to the original card used to pay for the flight:

1. The tickets were paid for with a credit card that earns points, airmiles or cashback etc. Any refund to the same card will cause a cancellation of those benefits, which could exceed the amount earnt for purchasing the flight.
2. Refunding to a credit card gives a cost saving for the airline in that it receives a refund of interchange fees; this cost saving causes the loss of benefits described above.
3. The party who paid for the flight might not be the inconvenienced passenger who is entitled to compensation. It is the passenger who is inconvenienced and therefore legally entitled to compensation, not the party who paid for the flight.
4. Although the flight might be paid for in GBP, compensation is usually due in EUR. In many cases, the passenger will have a EUR-denominated bank account and will want to receive compensation in the original round EUR amount without conversion to another currency such as GBP.
5. The passenger might no longer be using the credit card used to pay for the flight, particularly for flights booked many months in advance. A refund to it would cause a credit balance on that credit card.

The only practical way for this to work is for each passenger’s bank details for EUR compensation to be specified at the time of booking. For example, I would give my German bank account details, even though I pay for my flights with a British Airways branded GBP-denominated American Express card. How else could this work?

We were due to leave Faro for Heathrow at 8 p.m.on May 27. Filed a claim the following week.
Since then no acknowledgement at all . Seems that would be too much to ask. Will not be exposed
to such amateur experience in future.