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Which? tells British Airways to pay up on compensation

Airline should compensate passengers automatically

The more than 75,000 passengers affected by bank holiday disruption on British Airways will need to lodge complaints with the airline to get the compensation they are legally entitled to for delays and cancellations. That means passengers who are unaware of their rights, and don’t claim, could miss out.

Which? is calling on British Airways to automatically compensate passengers, where possible, so that all those inconvenienced get the money they are due – and get it quickly.

Which? letter to British Airways

Alex Cruz
Chairman and chief executive
British Airways Plc
2 June 2017

Dear Mr Cruz,

It is now a week since the catastrophic IT failure that caused disruption to more than 75,000 British Airways passengers, with many having had their flights cancelled or delayed.

​You have ‘profusely’ apologised to passengers, many of whom have had their holidays ruined,​​ and have ‘committed’ to following the rules on compensation. This does not go far enough and is simply not good enough. ​You have failed your customers once, and are in grave danger of doing it again.

Opting to do the bare minimum when compensating your customers for your failure to deliver the service you promised will undoubtedly cause further stress, inconvenience and financial hardship for passengers and, of course, further damage to BA’s reputation.  

As you will know, the rules around compensation in this sector are out of step with other markets, such as energy and water, where compensation is automatically awarded to customers for severe disruption to, or complete absence of, service. Given the scale of the problem BA has experienced, we strongly believe it is only right that you do more than the legal minimum.

By simplifying the compensation process, you have an opportunity to minimise the additional stress and inconvenience you cause your customers, and ensure they are not pushed into the arms of claims management companies, who will take a large part of the money they are owed. British Airways can, and should, seek to automatically issue statutory compensation to all affected passengers.

This would reduce the burden on passengers, and mean they more quickly get back what they are legally entitled to. It would also allow you to focus on dealing with the individual additional expenses ​​incurred by affected passengers on a case-by-case basis.

Disruptions, such as the one last weekend, only highlight that it is time for all airlines to introduce measures so that, where possible, passengers are compensated automatically for delays and cancellations.

Yours sincerely

Alex Neill
Which? managing director of home product and services

British Airways reply on automatic compensation

In response to our letter, British Airways didn’t address automatic compensation but did tell us:

We have updated our website and it is now on very top of the homepage; we have also added some simpler links to make the claims.

We are meeting our obligations under EU compensation regulations and are organising the relevant payments to the claims being made against us.

We are very sorry for all of the difficulties and frustration customers have faced, and would encourage them to send any claims for the disruption to us.

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