Advice for BA passengers Which? advice to passengers on BA strikes

15 December 2009

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BA workers have voted to hold strike action between 22 December and 2 January. This could affect up to 900,000 passengers planning to travel this Christmas.

What is happening?

BA has announced possible strike action over 12 days, starting from 22 December – 2 January

What can people do?

Unfortunately, until the cancellations are announced, people who have booked to travel during the strike period have to sit tight and wait.

Make sure BA have your details – go to the 'manage my booking' page on the British Airways website and add your email address and mobile phone details so that you can be contacted with information about your flight.

For those passengers booked to travel in the 12 days of the strike period or in the 48 hours either side, BA are offering people to either reschedule or reroute their flight anytime in the next 12 months without charge. 

Just be warned that there may be very little availability until early in January if the strike goes ahead. If it is not essential that you travel during this period, it may be worth considering postponing your flight.  

If you have booked your flight through a travel agent or tour operator, contact them to see whether they are able to arrange alternative ways of getting you to your destination.  

Can I get my money back?

If the strike goes ahead, passengers whose flights are cancelled should get a full refund, but that won’t compensate them for missing out on their Christmas break. The amount of money refunded will be the amount that was paid for the ticket.

Will my travel insurance cover me?

The two words 'small print' will be important here. Some policies exclude industrial action regardless of when the policy was taken out. Other passengers who booked their flights before the strike ballot was announced on 2 November and had travel insurance at the time of booking, may find that they are covered. 

Any flights booked after 2 November are not likely to be covered by any standard policy.

Look for a Which? Best Buy travel insurance policy.

I have to fly next week. What should I do?

If you must fly, you might want to consider booking another flight as soon as possible, but until it’s announced that your flight has been cancelled, you cannot rely on getting a refund. You may end up with two tickets and being left considerably out of pocket.

Seats on alternative flights are likely to be like gold dust – the Christmas season is incredibly busy for all airlines. Being flexible on airport you travel from and being prepared to accept a convoluted journey may help (perhaps it may even be worth considering travelling by train to the airports in Paris, Amsterdam or Brussels).

What about compensation?

Strikes are considered an 'extraordinary circumstance' for the airlines, so it is unlikely that any compensation under the EC Denied Boarding Regulations will be paid to customers who are delayed or who have their flights cancelled.    

It's only once your flight has been cancelled that you would be able to claim a refund. Even then, you are only likely to get back the money that you originally paid. Your travel insurance, if it covers you, may pick up any extra that you'll have paid to get to your destination. You'll need to check the small print for this.

Which? says

Rochelle Turner, Head of Research for Which? Holiday, says: 'These strikes are very bad news for anyone planning a Christmas getaway or a trip home to see relatives.

'If you were planning to fly with BA this Christmas, you should phone the airline or your travel agent for the latest information on the strike before you leave home to avoid a wasted trip. Passengers whose flights are cancelled should get a full refund, but that won’t compensate them for missing out on their Christmas break.'