This week’s Compensation Clinic is a continuation of the Reader Question Case we featured in December (details here). British Airways downgraded passengers on award tickets issued by American Airlines.
I have access to BA here.
British Airways deems the compensation to you to be only $200, despite the fact that you are legally required to pay approximately $1,500 based on the calculations I have presented in this article. You can read the original lawsuit.
Reader Question: Downgrade Coverage for British Airways AA Award Tickets?
A reader contacted us last week to report positive results on this matter.
Dec 11, 2022: Booked flight LHR-IAD on flight BA0217 and booked using 57.5K AA miles + US$671.65. It was downgraded to PE at the check-in counter (I heard business cabins are oversold).
After landing at IAD, I made an email complaint to BA.
Dec 19: Received an email from BA offering £300 flight credit or £200 cash (“Sorry to hear you had to downgrade”). They also asked me to address this matter with AA as the booking was made through AA.
I replied that this was not worth the pain it would cause (I suffer from lower back pain and had difficulty sitting up straight all the time). BA also pointed out that I owe her $190.70. The tax on the business ticket was $190.70 higher than the tax on the PE ticket, so the offer of £300 voucher and £200 cash was pointless. I asked them not to ask American Airlines to take up the matter. I didn’t do anything wrong. The only party that has done anything wrong is British Airways and it is up to you to take responsibility for the matter. “
I also contacted AA through their website and requested a refund of my miles.
December 21: BA responded that it “understands the reasons for asking for an increase, but the amount of compensation offered in the event of a downgrade is non-negotiable.”
I emailed BA (and cc’d the CEO of BA) as follows: “My flight departed from the UK on a UK airline, so as you know, in my case the UK Subject to regulation UK261.
Responsibility is 100% BA and not any other carrier.
According to the law, the flight between LHR and IAD was well over 3,500km (it was 5,917km), so I am entitled to a refund of 75% of the flight fare.
57,500 miles currently cost $1,622 when purchased from AA, 75% of which is $1,217.
In addition, the lower cabin owes a portion of the tax of $190.70.
The total “refund” (not “compensation”) paid to me by BA is $1,407.70.
It was unethical for the check-in agent, gate agent and you to not inform me of my rights under UK261. BA had (and missed) several opportunities to do this.
Fortunately, CEDR and MCOL do exist. “
Dec 22: I received an email from AA saying they had refunded 35,000 miles to my account (difference between 57,500 miles paid and 22,5000 miles required for non-peak economy). (Sorry, I wrote earlier that he refunded 57.5,000 miles, but now I double-checked the correspondence and realized he had 35,000 miles.)
BA responded, “I have thoroughly reviewed all the information you have sent me and can confirm that I believe we have dealt with your matter fairly and appropriately.”
December 23: Submitted a “Request for Arbitration” to CEDR.
February 14, 2023: CEDR contacted BA to (a) resolve the dispute with me, (b) object “on grounds of eligibility”, or (c) provide a written defense. I was emailed a reminder that I had 15 days to submit.
Early May: Received an email from CEDR to send bank account information to BA as BA did not respond within 15 days.
May 24: I received an email from BA stating that my account has been credited with GBP1,200.
I am glad that the reader followed my suggestion and brought the matter up to the CEDR, who took the side of the passenger after BA did not respond.
The initial downgrade offer was a joke, but they know very few follow up with CEDR or MCOL to get BA paid what they are legally required to pay.
Based on anecdotal evidence, it’s clear that BA is keen on award tickets and downgrading passengers using upgrades and 2-4-1 vouchers.
You really need to know your rights and “fight” to get the compensation you are due.
If more passengers just do this, it’s costly for BA and other airlines to continue overselling cabins because they know they can always push passengers up with minimal cost. would be too expensive.
Have you ever been notified by an airline of your rights regarding delays, cancellations, downgrades or bumps? Yes. We know the answer – never.