Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 19 September 2019

Passenger confusion as British Airways cancels and reinstates flights

The airline admits wrongly cancelling passenger flights on the same day it should be celebrating its 100th birthday

Thousands of passengers received emails from British Airways incorrectly cancelling upcoming fights. The airline said the emails were an IT error. Courtesy British Airways  
Thousands of passengers received emails from British Airways incorrectly cancelling upcoming fights. The airline said the emails were an IT error. Courtesy British Airways  

Today should have been a good day for British Airways.

It should have been a day of celebrations as the British airline turns 100. It should have been centenary festivities and a 100th birthday party to commemorate 100 years of flying since its predecessor Air Transport and Travel launched the world's first international scheduled air service between London and Paris.

Instead, the British airline is facing a storm of criticism after confusing airline customers by sending emails to thousands of passengers that incorrectly advised travellers that their upcoming flights were cancelled.

British Airways turns 100 today but the airline is facing criticism after incorrectly advising passengers that upcoming flights were cancelled due to pilot strike action. Courtesy BA
British Airways turns 100 today but the airline is facing criticism after incorrectly advising passengers that upcoming flights were cancelled due to pilot strike action. Courtesy BA

Emails sent in error

Ahead of pilot strike action scheduled for September 9,10 and 27, British Airways sent many passengers emails advising them that their flights were cancelled.

The emails instructed affected customers to rebook flights or apply for a full refund.

A few hours later, after many passengers had taken the recommended actions, another email was issued advising passengers that their original flights had been reinstated.

The second email read: We are pleased to tell you that your flight will now be operating as originally planned.

Many travellers received the emails after spending time and money making alternative travel plans. Filmmaker Paul DuBois spent an additional $800 (Dh2,938) rebooking his summer holiday after being informed his original flights were cancelled.

BA has admitted that the emails were sent in error and apologised to travellers for the IT mistake.

What to do if you're flying with BA in September?

If you're one of the passengers scheduled to fly on the affected days, British Airways says it should be in touch. The airline advises checking your booking has your current contact details to enable this.

British Airways' Frequently Asked Questions page has been updated to reflect the industrial action. Customers can call the customer contact centre on +44 203 250 0145, if you're outside the UK, or 0800 727 800, from within the UK

Many passengers have been unsuccessfully trying to get in touch with British Airways to reconfirm upcoming travel. Twitter users took to social media to detail spending hours on the phone to the airline trying to confirm flight status.

The airline did not appear to be responding to any passenger requests for assistance or information on its social media pages.

Passengers with flights that are confirmed as cancelled will be offered the option to rebook on partner airlines, to change date or place of travel or can request a full refund.

Strike action was confirmed after British Airways and the British Airline Pilots Association failed to reach a solution in a long-standing dispute over pay rates.

When are the strikes?

The strikes are set to take place on September 9, 10 and 27 but British Airways has also advised passengers that there could be disruption to flights on 8, 11 and 12 September.

The airline said “during times of widespread disruption, there is a significant knock-on effect on to flights on other days.”

Travellers who have already flown to a destination and face their return flights being cancelled can claim hotel compensation of up to £200 (Dh899) per night per two adults sharing.

Updated: August 25, 2019 12:48 PM

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