British Airways and flight delay compensation

Over the late May bank holiday weekend, British Airways (BA) had a global IT systems failure, resulting in thousands of flight cancellations and delays for 75,000 passengers. BA has confirmed that it will be paying the flight delay compensation due to passengers under EU regulation EU261/2004, which applies to delays of 3 hours or more on flights departing from an EU state or travelling to an EU state on an EU carrier.

Making a claim

Airlines do not pay out compensation automatically – the passenger has to make a claim to the airline. Since the BA troubles, there have been calls for compensation to be automatically paid without the need to make a claim. The silver lining for the BA passengers affected is that the company has made it very clear that it will be paying the claims, which should mean that claimants will not need to go to court to pursue their claim. Passengers have 6 years within which to make a claim for flight delay compensation.

Options for passengers with unpaid claims

Where a passenger has a claim which is being ignored by an airline, they can take the matter to court to obtain a judgment. This can then be enforced in the normal manner, including by a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO). The judgment will include the court fee and judgment interest, which will make the long-haul compensation claims reach the £600 minimum for enforcement by an HCEO under a writ of control.

Flight delay compensation amounts under EU261/2004

These are the amounts that a passenger may claim under the EU regulations, depending on the length of the delay and the distance of the light.
Delay Flight distanceCompensation
3 hours or moreLess than 1,500 km€250
1,500 km to 3,500 km€400
Over 1,500 km and within the EU€400
3-4 hoursOver 3,500 km€300
Over 4 hoursOver 3,500 km€600

The cost to British Airways

The cost to BA, is estimated at £100 million, although the Guardian suggests it may be far higher than that. The flight delay compensation payout will be compounded by expense claims to the airline, as insurance companies made BA stop telling passengers to claim expenses from their insurance company, as the initial claim should be made to BA.

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