How to win a pay­out if an air­line ru­ins your hol­i­day

As the fight for com­pen­sa­tion af­ter the BA de­ba­cle be­gins...

Daily Mail - - Money Mail - By Vic­to­ria Bischoff and Leah Mil­ner

THOU­SANDS of fam­ily hol­i­days were ru­ined by a mas­sive Bri­tish Air­ways IT fail­ure at the week­end — and now the bat­tle for com­pen­sa­tion be­gins.

Whether you were caught up in the chaos or you are wor­ried about your next trip, here is ev­ery­thing you need to know to win re­dress.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS IF YOUR TRIP IS DE­LAYED

UN­DER EU law you are en­ti­tled to com­pen­sa­tion if your flight is de­layed or can­celled.

How much you get de­pends on how late you ar­rived at your des­ti­na­tion, and how far you had to travel.

The only caveat is that the rea­son for the de­lay must be within the air­line’s con­trol.

Lawyers are con­cerned that BA may try to dodge pay­ing out by claim­ing the de­lays were caused by an ‘ex­tra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stance’.

No one yet knows ex­actly what caused the com­puter fail­ure and how much of the blame lies with BA.

for ex­am­ple, if it had been hit by a cy­ber at­tack it might refuse to pay out, but if it was a rou­tine tech­ni­cal fault it might have no op­tion but to com­pen­sate trav­ellers. How­ever, Bri­tish Air­ways has told Money Mail it will not try to wrig­gle out of com­pen­sa­tion claims.

GET YOUR CLAIM IN AS SOON AS YOU CAN

SPEED is of the essence if you were de­layed over the Bank Hol­i­day.

BA is go­ing to be in­un­dated with thou­sands of re­quests for com­pen­sa­tion over the next few months, so you should get yours in be­fore the back­log builds.

To be el­i­gi­ble for flight de­lay com­pen­sa­tion you must have ar­rived at your des­ti­na­tion at least three hours late, and have ei­ther been trav­el­ling from an EU air­port or re­turn­ing to the EU with a Bri­tish or Euro­pean air­line.

If you were trav­el­ling on a short-haul flight of less than 1,500km — from Lon­don to Madrid, for ex­am­ple — you can claim €250 (£217). Be­tween 1,500km and 3,000km — flights such as Lon­don to Athens — it’s €400 (£347).

If you were trav­el­ling more than 3,500km — Lon­don to New york, for in­stance — it’s €300 (£260) for de­lays up to four hours and €600 (£520) for more than four hours.

If your flight was de­layed for five hours or more and you de­cided not to travel, you can de­mand a full re­fund for the flight on top of this com­pen­sa­tion.

The same ap­plies if your flight is can­celled — but just to con­fuse mat­ters the com­pen­sa­tion amounts may be dif­fer­ent.

If BA didn’t pro­vide you with a re­place­ment flight, you will get the same com­pen­sa­tion as if you were de­layed (see above). How­ever, if you were of­fered an­other flight the amounts vary.

As all of BA’s flights were can­celled within seven days of the de­par­ture date the com­pen­sa­tion is as fol­lows.

If trav­el­ling fewer than 1,500km and your re­place­ment flight ar­rives at its des­ti­na­tion more than two hours later than your orig­i­nal flight, you are en­ti­tled to €250 (£217).

Be­tween 1,500km and 3,500km it’s €200 (£173) if you ar­rive be­tween two and three hours late, and €400 (£347) if you’re more than three hours late.

More than 3,500km, and ar­riv­ing up to four hours late it’s €300 (£260) and over four hours it’s €600 (£520).

If the chaos caused you to miss a con­nect­ing flight, BA should re­fund you the price of the whole jour­ney. you will also be en­ti­tled to com­pen­sa­tion as usual un­der EU reg­u­la­tions.

How­ever, if you booked the con­nect­ing flight separately to your orig­i­nal flight you will likely only be able to claim for the first leg — though it is still worth com­plain­ing and ex­plain­ing why you are hold­ing BA re­spon­si­ble.

To claim, write to BA at Bri­tish Air­ways Cus­tomer Re­la­tions, EU Com­pen­sa­tion Claims, Po Box 1126, Uxbridge, UB8 9XS and re­quest com­pen­sa­tion un­der EU reg­u­la­tion 261/2004. you can also ap­ply on­line at britishair­ways.com.

In­clude your flight num­ber, the date and time of travel, how long and why you were de­layed and all pas­sen­ger names. En­close your board­ing pass — but keep copies. If your claim is re­jected, you can take your com­plaint to the om­buds­man.

Bri­tish Air­ways is signed up to in­de­pen­dent ad­ju­di­ca­tors the Cen­tre for Ef­fec­tive Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion (CEDR). Call 020 7536 6099 or com­plain on­line at cedr.com/ avi­a­tion. If you lose your claim there is a £25 fee.

for a full list of which om­buds­man ser­vices air­lines are signed up to visit the Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity web­site ( caa.co.uk).

MAKE THE AIR­LINE BOOK A NEW FLIGHT

USU­ALLy if your flight is can­celled and you still want to travel, your air­line should ar­range to get you on an­other flight.

BA told pas­sen­gers to try to re-book via the air­line’s web­site or by call­ing its cus­tomer ser­vices num­ber 03444 930 787. Those who booked through a third party were told to con­tact their travel agent.

How­ever, many trav­ellers couldn’t get a re­place­ment flight for days and didn’t want to travel as a re­sult.

If you de­cided to post­pone your trip you have un­til the end of Novem­ber to book an­other BA flight.

If you were due to fly on Mon­day, May 29 or Tues­day, May 30, you also have the op­tion of re­book­ing if you didn’t want to travel dur­ing the chaos.

When dis­rup­tion is se­vere, air­lines may ad­vise you to make your own travel ar­range­ments and of­fer to re­im­burse the cost. If you booked flights to your des­ti­na­tion through an­other air­line, BA says you should sub­mit the re­ceipts when you claim.

How­ever, in the midst of the con­fu­sion and hav­ing had very lit­tle guid­ance from BA, some pas­sen­gers may have made book­ings for which they won’t be re­paid.

If you called a travel agent for help you might not be cov­ered. And if you had to book a higher cabin class be­cause there were no other seats avail­able BA has not con­firmed if it will pay the dif­fer­ence.

ASK YOUR TRAVEL AGENT TO HELP

If yoUR flights were part of a pack­age hol­i­day your con­tract is with your travel agent, rather than the air­line them­selves.

This means the agent is re­spon­si­ble for ar­rang­ing al­ter­na­tive travel to get you to your des­ti­na­tion.

Un­der the Pack­age Travel Reg­u­la­tions 1992 they must of­fer you a sim­i­lar trip or re­fund you the cost of the hol­i­day if this isn’t pos­si­ble.

The al­ter­na­tive doesn’t have to be an ex­act match — you may be of­fered a dif­fer­ent ho­tel or even a slightly dif­fer­ent des­ti­na­tion.

If you’re not happy with the so­lu­tion they of­fer, you can de­mand a re­fund in­stead.

If you missed the first few days of your hol­i­day as a re­sult of the de­lays you can ask for a par­tial re­fund from your agent, at their dis­cre­tion.

How­ever, if you booked the flights through a third-party web­site or travel agent and the ho­tel separately, you should claim your re­fund di­rectly from BA as usual.

DON’T CLAIM FOR LAV­ISH SPEND­ING

UN­DER EU reg­u­la­tion 261/2004 your air­line must pay for care and as­sis­tance dur­ing de­lays of more than two hours. for short-haul flights (to Europe), af­ter two hours you should be given food, drinks and, if you are de­layed overnight, ac­com­mo­da­tion. If you are fly­ing fur­ther afield on medium-haul flights — of around four hours — you have to wait three hours be­fore qual­i­fy­ing for help. for long-haul flights it’s four hours. BA says it gave out vouch­ers for pas­sen­gers to use at shops and restau­rants in the ter­mi­nal. But be­cause sys­tems were down many trav­ellers had to buy their own food and drink. you should be able to claim the money back if you have all the re­ceipts.

But be rea­son­able — BA will not re­im­burse you for a three- course meal and a bot­tle of wine. fliers given out by the air­line sug­gest a fig­ure of £25 per per­son per day to be a rea­son­able amount to claim.

Thou­sands of hol­i­day­mak­ers also had to ar­range their own overnight ac­com­mo­da­tion. In re­sponse, ho­tels near Gatwick and Heathrow hiked their prices to as much as £1,000 per night or more over the week­end.

BA wouldn’t say how much pas­sen­gers could claim for ho­tel costs, but forms handed out at the air­port sug­gested around £200 a day.

It will help your case if you can pro­vide them with a screen­shot of the ho­tel web­site show­ing that there were no cheaper rooms avail­able when you booked.

If you had to travel home and then back to the air­port when your flight was can­celled you can claim for petrol, train fares and the cost of call­ing to ar­range lifts.

you will need to pro­vide the re­ceipts and you must, again, be rea­son­able. BA will not re­im­burse you for a £200 taxi ride if there were trains run­ning.

Some travel in­sur­ance poli­cies will

cover ex­tra costs but not all of them (see be­low).

BE­WARE TRAVEL COVER LOOP­HOLES

IF yOU booked your ac­com­moda-tion as part of a pack­age hol­i­day your travel agent is re­spon­si­ble for re­or­gan­is­ing your whole trip, in­clud­ing car hire or any ex­cur­sions booked through them.

If you ar­ranged your ac­commo-da­tion separately and the book­ing is non-­re­fund­able your air­line is not obliged to cover the cost un­der EU law.

So your best op­tion is to try to claim on your travel in­sur­ance for the days you missed. Many holi-day­mak­ers will also have paid for car hire and day trips in ad­vance. your travel in­surer may cover these costs, too.

Some hol­i­day poli­cies will pay out on what is known as ‘conse-quen­tial loss’ as a re­sult of flight de­lays or can­cel­la­tions. James Da­ley, of Fairer Fi­nance says: ‘Most travel poli­cies have a provi-sion for things such as missed ex­cur­sions or choos­ing to aban­don your hol­i­day due to a lengthy de­lay. ‘ But the devil’s al­ways in the small print, and many travel poli­cies are rid­dled with ex­clu­sions.’ Di­rect Line says it will cover af­fected BA passen-gers up to £5,000 per per­son for costs such as ac­com­mo­da­tion, missed ex­cur­sions, un­used car hire, park­ing charges and ex­tended ken­nel and cat­tery costs for pets while their own­ers are away. you must pay the first £75 of any claim per per­son for a sin­gle trip pol­icy or £50 per per­son if you bought an­nual cover.

How­ever, if you chose the cheap-est, no-­frills cover you may strug-gle to re­coup all your losses

And you can’t claim dou­ble com­pen­sa­tion. So if the air­line pay­out cov­ers all your costs your travel in­surer will not com­pen­sate you on top of that.

If your in­surer won’t pay, then you should con­tact the ho­tel or car hire com­pany and ex­plain the sit­u­a­tion to them. They may al­low you to re-­book.

A spokesman for BA says: ‘ We are pro­vid­ing cus­tomers with in­for­ma­tion on how to ap­ply for EU com­pen­sa­tion and to claim for rea­son­able ex­penses. We will fully honour our obli­ga­tions.’

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