The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - Travel
BA won’t refund my late codeshare flight
QIn January I booked return flights to Seville for our family of four directly with British Airways through the airline’s app. I paid BA for the tickets and received confirmation from the airline for the flights, which all had BA flight numbers.
So it was a surprise to find that our return flight was with Vueling, a budget “sister” airline.
After 30 minutes in the air, the captain announced that the aircraft had a technical problem and would be returning to Seville. Eventually another plane was found and we arrived back in Gatwick, more than four hours later than scheduled.
I filed a compensation claim with BA for £350 each (under the EU Directive) and received this response: “I’m afraid your claim for compensation has been refused because British Airways didn’t operate BA8091 on 12 April 2023. If you contact Vueling airlines they’ll be able to consider your claim.”
Surely my contract is with British Airways and not Vueling?
Yours is a common misunderstanding, especially nowadays when airlines increasingly act as travel agents selling tickets on behalf of partners with whom they have codeshare agreements.
In this case, British Airways is part of International Airlines Group (IAG), which also owns Iberia, Vueling and Aer Lingus. To increase choice, it sells tickets on behalf of its sister airlines and on behalf of its One World partners, such as American Airlines, Qatar Airways and Japan Airlines.
When you book a ticket on the BA app or on its website the name of the operating airline is mentioned. On BA’s app, Vueling appears in tiny print at the top left of the flight selection (BAoperated flights have the BA ribbon logo), so it is easy to miss.
Under aviation law – and in particular under EU/UK Regulation 261/2004, which covers your rights if a flight is delayed or cancelled – your contract is with the operating airline, which is responsible for its proper performance. BA is only acting as the booking agent so it was correct to tell you to apply to Vueling for compensation in this case.
Like you, I tried over a number of days to apply for compensation using your six-digit PNR reservation code and email address. The chatbot always responded by saying: “Sorry, a connection error has occurred. Please try later.”
Following my intervention, Vueling has agreed that you are due compensation and a customer care agent will be in touch in the next few days to arrange payment. Vueling says its chatbot requires a Vueling PNR booking code (not the BA-issued one on the flight confirmation), which is found on the Vueling boarding pass issued at check in.