British Airways faced large scale flight cancellations during a historical pilot strike in September. Many customers were left stranded or had to book alternate flights. During the trying time, British Airways promised that customers would not have to pay anything out of their pockets. The reassurance of full compensation placated perturbed passengers. However, not all customers seem to have received the compensation that the organisation promised.

A passenger from the United Kingdom had booked tickets with British Airways to Canada. The passenger received an e-mail from BA a week before the flight to Vancouver. The e-mail informed him that the flight that was scheduled had been cancelled due to the strike. In the e-mail, the passenger was assured that he would receive compensation for the cancelled flight.

Apart from the assurance of a refund of flight fares, British Airways had promised that customers would be paid the difference if they booked their flights with any other airline.

British Airways' apology
BA says sorry to over 200,000 passengers. AFP / Ben STANSALL

Fearing a shortage of flights, the customer immediately booked a flight to Vancouver with Air Canada. However, the customer soon received another e-mail informing him that the cancellation notice was an error. The British Airways flight to Vancouver had not been cancelled. The customers had apparently received the notification by mistake.

British Airways refunded the £1,400 that the customer had paid for the BA tickets which they had to cancel due to the communication error. The replacement tickets that the customer booked with Air Canada had cost him £346 extra. British Airways refused to pay the difference in the airfare.

The customer contacted The Guardian's consumer champion. Even after they tried to contact British Airways and mediate the compensation, British Airways maintained that they were not liable to pay the difference. According to the customer's e-mail to consumer champion, British Airways claimed that they had given the customer more than 14-days notice so they were not legally responsible for the extra cost incurred.

The consumer champion concluded that the airline had reneged on the promise that no customer would be paying out of their pocket due to the airline's shortcomings. He pointed out that the lack of support offered to the customer by the airline would have its share of repercussions. In the closing lines of the e-mail, the customer did claim that they would be steering clear of the airline after the bad experience.