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Your personal message to British Airways has landed

BA postcard hand-in

3,000 postcards addressed to British Airways chief exec Alex Cruz have been handed to the airline. Unfortunately he didn’t want to meet us. What do you think of BA’s response to our campaign?

Today we were at the British Airways headquarters handing in over 3,000 postcards addressed to Alex Cruz from BA customers whose holidays were ruined by the massive IT failure. We asked if we could meet with a BA representative to discuss the views of their customers and hand over the feedback we collected.

Among the stories we received, many hundreds of passengers faced problems claiming compensation they were rightly due and were unhappy with BA customer service.

We asked BA to automatically compensate their passengers and thousands of you agreed. While we did not get a meeting with BA we were able to hand over three large boxes of your postcards at the security gates to their headquarters.

In return, they provided us with this open letter to share with you:

We appreciate that people have taken time to write to Which? to voice concerns about EU compensation claims. We will read every individual message.

We know how frustrating it can be to experience delays, which is why we work extremely hard to keep them to an absolute minimum. And sometimes, of course, they are caused by factors outside an airline’s control, such as severe weather or air traffic control issues.

We understand that customers would like claiming for compensation to be as simple as possible – that’s why we have a single straightforward form available on ba.com. No-one needs to find a stamp or post a letter – it’s just a few minutes to fill in the form and submit online.

We always meet our obligations, so there is no need for customers to involve percentage-seeking claims firms. The decision on whether a flight meets the criteria for compensation is the same, irrespective of which party submitted the claim.

In the last year, we’ve brought in new technology to speed up claims-handling and we can flex our teams when needed to ensure we can respond as quickly as possible. For simple claims we can compensate customers within a few days. It’s likely to take longer if we don’t have access to up to date contact or bank details – some customers book through third party travel agents, and as flights can be booked almost a year in advance a customer’s details may have changed. Frustrating though it may be, we frequently have to contact customers more than once to obtain the additional information we need.

Claims can be complex. Factors such as whether the customer was travelling on a direct journey or connecting, the timescale in which they reached their destination after a rebooking or rerouting and whether part or all of their journey was on a different operator can all make a difference, especially as we are a global network airline with a number of partner carriers.

We also need to ensure we comply with data protection obligations, for example if one person is claiming on behalf of several customers on a group booking.

In addition to the compensation claim, customers can also apply for the reimbursement of any expenditure on hotels, refreshments, phone calls and ground transport, but we need them to provide receipts and invoices before payment can be made.

We fly nearly 45 million customers a year and the vast majority experience no type of disruption. But things do go wrong sometimes and please rest assured that, when they do, we will always aim to make redress in the right way.

Kind regards,
Saroj Sodi
Head of Service
British Airways

And so our campaign continues. We are calling on British Airways and the wider airline industry to introduce automatic compensation for all those passengers whose holidays, business trips and other travel plans are disrupted by delays and cancellations.

Do you think the airline industry is doing enough to solve the problem of delayed compensation? Do you feel your customer rights are a priority for these companies?

bishbut says:
22 August 2017

British Airways ??? Is it British now or just What ?? Who actually is the owner ??

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How arrogant can one be?
Do we matter to him at all?

I thought BT was run from India, owned and controled by India.

British not British, welcome to reality.

At the security gates?? BA, leaving the representatives of the largest consumer organisation in the UK at the door, our representatives, is shabby. Moreover, your open letter is patronising and a booboo story. Leave your tale of woe at the door and get on with the job. Or are you incompetent?

What “automatic” compensation do you propose – other the the EU obligatory compensation. Surely any other compensation must be decided on its merits, and cannot be automatic?

Perhaps you could comment on the points made in BA’s response so we know where you think they are deficient and what improvements can be made.

Is this particular case more about the unacceptable delays made in BA handling compensation claims rather than denying them? I would agree clear cut claims should be swiftly settled.

@jbamforth, thanks Jen. As BA says, tracking down the methods to repay some customers is not straightforward so as I see it automatic compensation cannot be universal. Airlines could only do this if they have the passengers debit or credit card details, or home address (for a cheque) for example.

Presumably all the compensation would have to go to the group payer if several tickets were purchased together? With flexible tickets some of the travellers may have used a different flight and not be due compensation. So how would this work.

Presumably business travellers would not be compensated personally – it would go to whoever bought the ticket – their company or travel agent?

Automatic is good, but I see circumstances where it is not possible, or less straightforward.

@jbamforth, “offering up problems” could be pointing out the difficulties that need to be overcome. As not everyone will have devices for apps, or smart cards, it would be helpful to acknowledge there are people who may be difficult to compensate quickly rather than continually criticising. Working with people to find these innovative solutions is surely better.

Tim Limbach says:
22 August 2017

British Airways / Gotogate, my travel agent, owe me nearly £10k in respect of cancelled flights on May 27. They both blame each other for the delay.

The CEO needs to go, he was the cause of the IT failures and his cost cutting ways, and bringing down the airline we all used to know, if only there was a petition for him to be removed as CEO

I agree Patrick but he’d just be waltzing off into the sunset with a big fat bonus leaving a broken airline and someone else to pick up the pieces. As a former employee, I have been really saddened to see the changes in BA. Walsh and Cruz have a lot to answer for.

I can only agree, Lady Janey, but am appalled that this now seems to be the norm for failure in so many operations we used to hold dear, both corporate and “public”. Screw up, take the money and run … to the next highly paid (whether by shareholders or taxPAYERS, but never by senior officers) disaster. Repeat, and repeat, and repeat …

nicholas humby says:
23 August 2017

The fish stinks from the head and BA’s CEO comes from Vueling a budget carrier and seems to determined to take it in the same downwards direction

ah…sadly with the smurf running iag and the ceo running ba it will be a downword spiral to worse than budget airlines…sad to see a once great airline run in to the ground by rampant greed…

Carole Moore says:
23 August 2017

When our flight from Rome was cancelled and we arrived at Gatwick at midnight having no choice but to go by taxi home, BA customer service only offered us £25 each which hardly covered the cost of our train tickets that we didn’t use. After trying to get a better amount and failing, I wrote to Keith Williams who was then Chief Exec. I was offered £100 which I accepted. Sometimes it is advisable to go to the top to get a result.

I always book seats by a window because of an old, genuine, whiplash injury which adds significantly to our costs. On long haul trips this year not only have I been refused the seats I had booked and paid for – with other people sitting in them who hadn’t paid, I have been made to produce the Doctor’s letter confirming the situation. On the last flight from HK to London after 40 minutes wrangling I was reluctantly given a window seat – behind the seats I had paid for 6/7 months earlier and to add insult to injury I could not stretch out my short legs because of a large long metal box.

Personally I am very disappointed with BA and will be reluctant to fly with them in future. The food is lousy and the staff often miserable.

Hi, why is every body complaining, do not use BA. There is a lot of other airlines, probably just the same, it is your choice.

My comments are based upon my own experience of dealing with BA ‘s attitude.
They come up with myriad excuses which amount to nothing, and at the end of the day, unless in exceptional circumstances, the most one can get are Avios points in lieu of financial recompense; their “reason” being that they treat everyone alike, so unless there are 100% claims for a particular complaint, they pay out nothing.
I wish you luck in what you are trying to achieve, but I’m very wary of using them in future, so the avios they “awarded” me are not seen as compensation, but are simply an inducement to fly with them again, and I’ve no wish to repeat my last 12 hour trip with them.

Roy haines says:
23 August 2017

All my friends who fly regularly avoid BA . I used to be a fan but will not fly BA ever again if I can help it due to all the reasons posted here and my own experience. BA really are an awful airline and Walsh should be sacked.

James says:
23 August 2017

I always flew on BOAC from the early days – proud to fly on our British airline. However, I will never fly on British Airways again – owned by foreigners, only interested in money – disgraceful service

Melissa scott says:
24 August 2017

I will never fly with British airways again reason being on my trip back from Miami the aircraft was American Airlines we delay for 5hrs they gave us nothing to eat , the communication was bad we just sit waiting to hear what’s going on top of that I try to claim compensation they say I can’t because American Airlines is under the EU therefore it’s a lost but I purchased my ticket from British airways. My son return ticket was cancel until now they haven’t sort it out.

British airways disgust me, they are akin to a second hand car dealer…. well dodgy
RIP… Freddie Laker

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Christopher Taylor says:
24 August 2017

After travelling to and from Rome in June this year, I would not wish to fly with BA again. Cabin staff were depressed. Food was poor quality – when it was available., and expensive. On both flights – over lunchtime supplies ran out.During a delay of over an hour in Rome on one of the hottest days of the year, water was not on offer. Credit to the Captain, who offered visits to the cockpit to younger passengers.
This was a third-rate experience and not worthy of our ‘national’ airline

Gosh, visits to the cockpit these days?! On the ground or whilst it was flying? If the latter, (s)he’ll get the sack, if BA find out!

Three? years ago we travelled from U.K. to Vienna. My husband is totally blind and I am ‘walking disabled’. I left my walking aid with luggage and was taken to the aircraft in a wheelchair. When we arrived at Vienna airport we were told that our luggage + walking aid was still in U.K. We were offered a manual wheelchair to use until our luggage + walking aid arrived and were told to go to our hotel and concert. When asked how my husband was expected to steer the wheel chair we were told that such circumstances weren’t catered for. We taxied to our hotel but going to the concert was out of the question. We saw the funny side to this as they profess to enable ‘all disabled’ to travel. Compensation was given but we still laugh at them.

I had a nightmare with BA and American Airlines and they still are trying to fog me off..
I had to go to the newspaper to get some attention but still nothing from both airlines, no compensation even though they said they would pay.. Its been 7 weeks now..


They will be straight in the bin then,and I will no longer be using B(loody) A(wful).

We’ve actually heard from BA a couple of times since the hand-in to tell us that how they are doing with the reading of the postcards @will-2 . It’s refreshing, and reassuring, to know they’re being read.

Phil Whitehead says:
24 August 2017

Have not used B.A. and the awful terminal 5 for about 5 years. Over packed, over priced, rude staff and living on its old reputation. No better than a budget airline, probably worse.

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Flying Singapore – Heathrow and not hungry when food was being served, asked between meals for something more than a ‘nibble’…..what was offered? A pot noodle. Good thing the doors didn’t open!! Never again BA, now a third rate carrier with a first rate tariff.

Stuart says:
24 August 2017

Does it as a company really care. Lack of leadership and proactive management ensures that the buck stops with the core ground staff, flight crew and pilots. It always them that have to deliver apologies on behalf of incompetent and indifferent managers. When we do get a response all we are given is procrastination and unnecessary rhetoric blaming the customer for not using the right forms. BA is resposible for delivering a service that customers pay for, they are often in breach for failing to deliver an advertised service. Any decent company would be proactive in addressing these issues. What is worrying BA,s indifference is starting to make American Airlines look good.