Question: We have just returned from the USA where we had a fantastic time – until our flight home.
We had booked BA flights and our outward journey was excellent and went without a hitch to New York where we stayed for a week. We then took a train down to Washington DC for a couple of days before flying to Chicago to finish things off.
We were due to fly home on September 2 from O’Hare airport in Chicago to Heathrow. We noticed that we were actually assigned to an American Airlines flight, which was a surprise to us.
We sat on the Tarmac for around two hours to then be told that there was a technical fault with the aircraft and we would have to disembark. We were then told that the flight had been delayed by 16 hours and were given a room and meal vouchers for the Hilton Hotel opposite the airport. Our luggage stayed on the plane. But later a message came through to say that the flight was cancelled.
The earliest flight they could get us on was BA 294 at 6pm on 3 September, about 33 hours later than our original flight. This flight arrived on time, and of course none of our luggage was on the flight.
I have been told by BA that because they allocated the flight to American Airlines they forego any responsibility, and that we are not entitled to any compensation because they are not an EU regulated airline. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: British Airways has correctly advised you.
Even though you booked the homebound flight with BA, the departure you were originally due to travel on was operated by its partner, American Airlines. Because AA is not an EU-based carrier, and the disrupted flight was not from an EU airport, it has no obligation to provide compensation under European passengers’ rights rules – which would otherwise have earned you around £500 (about R8 500) each.
There are two possible avenues that you might want to pursue for recompense.
You say it was a surprise that you were actually assigned to an American Airlines flight.
British Airways makes it crystal-clear on its website, ba.com, if another airline is doing the flying. But if you booked through an agent and were not informed then you would be on American Airlines, then you may be able to make a claim against the agent.
I’m more optimistic that you could claim back losses due to your separation from your luggage. American Airlines should cover your expenses for essentials. And if there was any additional actual financial damage because of the baggage delay, you could also seek recompense for that.