Published on Tuesday, August 27, 2019

BA strike: Airline 'working tirelessly' to deal with flight queries

British Airways has apologised to thousands of passengers who were wrongly told their flights had been cancelled around the dates of the airline's upcoming pilots' strike.

The pilots union BALPA announced on Friday evening its members would strike for three days next month, on September 9, 10 and 27.

BA responded immediately, saying strike action was 'completely unacceptable' and it was making schedule changes, promising: "We will do everything we can to get as many people away on their journeys as possible.

"However, it is likely that many of our customers will not be able to travel and we will be offering refunds and re-bookings for passengers booked on cancelled flights."

But an email blunder saw thousands due to travel on dates around the strike days receiving messages on Saturday saying their original flights would not operate and they needed to rebook.

They were later contacted to say the original email had been sent in error and their tickets were usable. However, by then, many had already booked new tickets.

In the second email, passengers were not given a link to automatically rebook onto their original flight, meaning they had to contact BA directly.

Some customers spent hours trying to get in touch with BA's customer services without success.

One woman, told the BBC she called the airline 67 times, while another said she'd rebooked flights to Orlando, but was then told by BA she was not entitled to a refund because the flight was now operating.

In response to one passenger on Twitter, a BA representative said: "We're extremely sorry that you're having difficulties trying to rearrange your flights.

"Our teams have been working tirelessly to help as many of our customers as possible, in these unprecedented circumstances."

A BA spokeswoman said customers who were told their flights were cancelled in error and had booked alternative flights or incurred other expenses would be entitled to refunds if they submitted receipts.

BA said it received 38,000 calls and 33,000 tweets in first 24 hours of the strike being announced; contact centres stayed open 24 hours to help resolve issues, with 70 extra staff and around 100 staff working to answer Twitter queries.

Meanwhile, the Independent reveals rival airlines are hiking flight prices for services on the day of the strikes. For example, easyJet has priced its Nice-Gatwick flight on September 10 at £676 one-way, excluding luggage. The same flight the following week is £112.

Emma Coulthurst of Travelsupermarket described the situation as 'such a mess'.

Adam French, of consumer watchdog Which?, said: "It is vital that the airline ensures that any customer who was initially informed that their flight was cancelled and has booked an alternative flight is not left out of pocket."

BALPA estimates each strike day will cost BA £40m. The union said: "Three days will cost in the region of £120m. The gap between BA's position and BALPA's position is about £5m. Our proposal remains on the table should BA wish to reach agreement prior to strike action."

BALPA warned more strike dates could be announced this year.

Meanwhile, BALPA's general secretary has been criticised for jetting off on holiday the day after the strike dates were announced.

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  • Now that I'm retired

    I can't look at a GDS so I have a question. Did any of you receive a PNR on Q for a BA flight that showed cancelled that was subsequently restored to booked or was the error purely down to e-mail?

    By Graham Harrison, Wednesday, August 28, 2019

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