Thousands of people were stranded at airports after British Airways flights to the United States were delayed due to a technical problem.
Chaos comes as passengers try to get home for Christmas, with the airline blaming a computer glitch with a ‘third-party flight planning provider’.
British Airways said the issue has now been resolved, but passengers have already had to wait several hours inside airports – with some saying they waited on planes only to be escorted back to the departure lounge.
If your plans have been affected, what can you do?
What are my rights if my flight has been delayed?
To qualify for statutory compensation, a passenger must have arrived in the UK or EU with a UK or EU airline – which is British Airways – or left the UK with any airline . The delay must be the fault of the airline.
If the trip was 1,500km (932 miles) or less and delayed for three hours or more, customers can claim £220. This increases to £350 for flights between 1,500km and 3,500km and for all journeys over 3,500km the payment is £520.
If the flight is delayed by five hours, customers are entitled to a full refund within seven days, provided they do not take the flight. If they catch the flight, they can still claim up to £520 as long as the delay is the fault of the airline.
Customers are only entitled to these payments if the cancellations are not due to “extraordinary circumstances”, i.e. situations over which the airline had no control, such as bad weather and terrorist scares.
What are my rights if my flight has been cancelled?
If a flight is cancelled, passengers are entitled to either a full refund or an alternative flight to take you to your destination. The charity Citizens Advice says that if a passenger is halfway through a journey and does not wish to take an alternative flight, they are entitled to a return flight to their original departure airport.
Passengers also have a legal right to help with “reasonable expenses” if a cancellation results in delays of more than two hours for flights under 1,500 km, three hours for distances between 1,500 km and 3,500 km and four hours for anything over 3,500 km. km.
These costs may include food and beverages, access to phone calls, accommodation if delayed overnight, and transportation between the airport and hotel. Airline staff can give you vouchers for these, but be sure to keep all your receipts and proof of payment.
Can I claim the cost of a flight with another airline?
In some cases yes, but this tactic is risky. If the airline does not offer a suitable alternative flight, you can try to rebook with a competitor and claim it as an expense from the originating airline.
But which consumer group? only recommend it once all other options have been exhausted.
He warned that requesting an alternative flight with another airline could only work if the reason for travel was “exceptionally urgent”, such as a funeral, a job interview or the wedding of a close relative. A claim can also be accepted if you have to wait more than two days for the rescheduled flight offered by the originating airline.
Which? said: “It’s important not to cancel your existing booking, this will leave you in a much stronger position to claim the cost of your alternative flight.”
A British Airways spokesperson said: “Our teams have now resolved a temporary issue which affected some of our long-haul flight planning systems overnight, which caused delays to our schedule. We apologize for the disruption to our customers’ travel plans.