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27 Aug 2019

British Airways cancellation confusion - what it means for passengers

What you should do if you're affected by the pilot strike, or wrongly received a flight cancellation email.
British Airways plane at stand

British Airways customers have been left feeling confused after the airline told them their flights were cancelled, with hundreds being contacted by mistake.

British Airways (BA) pilots are planning to strike on 9th, 10th and 27th September.

Affected customers were emailed over the weekend about flight cancellations but the same email was also sent in error to customers whose flights are unaffected.

Many passengers quickly re-booked flights and accommodation believing their flights had been cancelled, but later found out they didn't need to.

What can you do if your travel plans are affected?

Days after the announcements were made some passengers are still unclear whether their travel plans will go ahead unaffected.

If your original flight was unaffected, but you've booked another flight or accommodation because you believed it had been cancelled, you can:

  • Contact BA and ask for your re-booked flights to be refunded.
    Claim for the cost of any alternative travel or accommodation arrangements you've had to make to catch your re-booked flight.

If your flight cancellation has been confirmed contact BA and ask to be booked on another flight for free (airlines call this 'rerouting'). BA have a legal duty to book you on an alternative flight as close to your original flight time and airport as possible - even if this involves using a different airline.

  • You're entitled to a refund of all reasonable costs of travel or accommodation involved in catching your rerouted flight, including travelling at another time or day, or from a different airport.

If you're near your travel date, but BA hasn't rerouted your flight you can book your own flights and claim the money back from BA later, as long as the cost of the new flight is a reasonable alternative.

  • For example, if you've booked an economy class ticket from London Gatwick to Cape Town, you should re-book an economy class ticket on a similar date from London Gatwick to Cape Town, rather than a first class ticket.

If the flight cancellations have affected a package holiday you booked (for example, a trip that includes both flights and hotel accommodation booked via the same travel agent), you need to contact your travel agent in the first instance to find out how it might have changed your plans.

How to find out if your flight is affected

Keep trying to contact BA and check its website regularly for updates on affected flights.

Because BA informed passengers 14 days in advance of the flight cancellations, it isn't liable to pay passengers flight delay or cancellation compensation, but it still has a duty of care to ensure passengers reach their destination

Which? Consumer Rights Expert Adam French said: 'British Airways has caused a lot of confusion and anxiety in the way it has handled these cancellations.

It is vital that the airline ensures that any customer who was initially informed that their flight was cancelled and has booked an alternative flight is not left out of pocket.

'British Airways must now put all resources necessary into sorting out this mess as soon as possible.'

Panicked passengers out of pocket

One passenger who received the cancellation email told us she spent almost £1,500 on alternative travel to Bali, before being told her flights weren't affected after all.

Fiona received the email in the early hours of Saturday morning informing her that both her outbound and return flights from Leeds Bradford Airport to Singapore were cancelled. She also got a notification that a refund was being processed.

Unable to get through to BA and expecting a refund on her cancelled flights, Fiona re-booked two return flights with Emirates from Manchester Airport for £1109 in a 'panic.' She also had to pay to change her connecting flights to Bali and for parking at Manchester Airport, at a total cost of £313.

However, BA later sent her an email confirming that the original flights were not cancelled. As a result, her bank holiday weekend was 'wasted stressing, re-booking and worrying about whether I'll be reimbursed.'

BA has now confirmed it will refund Fiona for the original flights, but needs to assess whether it will cover the extra costs of the new flights and changed travel plans.

Have your travel plans been affected?

For more advice on your rights and what you can do , you can read our guide to your rights if your flight has been cancelled due to a strike.

Have your flights been cancelled, or did you wrongly think they were cancelled?Or are you still struggling to contact BA?

Share your story with us by contacting travelexperts@which.co.uk.