Flight delays and what you can do when 'sorry' isn't enough

Slumped on the floor or sitting on suitcases in increasingly hot airports, constantly scanning screens for information that doesn't appear'¦ is there anything more frustrating than hanging around waiting to board a delayed plane to go on holiday or to get home?

You may be entitled to more than you think if your flight is delayed.
You may be entitled to more than you think if your flight is delayed.

BA passengers know that feeling only too well. Recent problems with the airline’s computers left thousands of passengers stranded and out of pocket.

All flights from Heathrow and Gatwick were cancelled over the first weekend of the recent half-term holiday, and passengers described the scenes at the airports as “chaotic”.

While BA apologised for its IT problems which hit passengers around the world, it doesn’t help those who found their travel plans severely disrupted if not outright cancelled.

Nor does a “sorry” put the money spent on tickets and other necessities back in your pocket.

However, there is good news for those who were affected, as there are ways to claim compensation.

Under the Denied Boarding Regulation, you’re entitled to meals, refreshments, a free overnight hotel stay if required, free phone calls and emails if your flight meets certain criteria.

So if you forked out for any of these, then you can claim these costs back – as long as you have receipts.

In fact, BA has said that customers displaced by the problems can claim up to £200 a day for a room (based on two people sharing), £50 for transport between hotel and airport and £25 a day per adult for meals and refreshments.

The airline is no doubt getting used to dealing with compensation claims – last September passengers were affected by check-in desk computer “glitches” which again caused cancellations and delays.

And that’s why Which? believes BA should just automatically compensate passengers affected by this latest issue – taking the burden off customers.

An apology and a form to fill out is simply not good enough. By simplifying the compensation process, BA could minimise the stress and inconvenience for passengers – and ensure that they’re not pushed into using claims management companies, who will take a large part of the money they are owed.

Disruptions like that during half-term only highlight that it is time for all airlines to introduce measures so that, where possible, passengers are compensated automatically for delays and cancellations.

You can use the Which? compensation for flight delays tool and our compensation for cancelled flights tool for free to help start your claim.

You can also use our flight distance mileage calculator to help figure out what you can claim. Visit www.which.co.uk for all the advice you need.

* Remember and email me with your consumer queries at [email protected]