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BA cancelled my EDI-LHR flight with a mail sent 13 days and some hours before departure. From LHR I was meant to take a Lufthansa flight (to Europe) on the same day, which has not been cancelled.

Now, I don't know what to do: normally, I'd just claim for compensation and use the money to travel to London e.g. by train. But now compensation sounds very difficult to obtain due to covid (although COVID wasn't mentioned at all in the cancellation mail from BA). I understand that right to care is easier, but this normally applies to the time up to a subsequent flight. Since BA is apparently offering the chance of free rescheduling for the day before (which would allow me to catch the Lufthansa flights), I was wondering whether I could both take the rescheduling and claim expenses (e.g., under EU261's duty to care) for the one-night accommodation between the rescheduled flight and the original date of the cancelled flight. I am trying to call BA, but I'm on a queue, so I thought to ask here about any advice or feedback about this problem. TIA

PS: I bought all the tickets myself directly on the airlines' websites, in case this matters

  • You say you bought the tickets directly on the airlines websites, but did you buy them as one itinerary? If not, then BA has zero responsibility for you catching the Lufthansa flight, duty of care doesnt apply here. – Moo May 22 at 21:41
  • Sorry: I'm lost. How can you buy tickets from different airlines as one itinerary? – anon May 22 at 22:45
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    Codesharing. Plus I wanted you to be explicit that these were not a single PNR, and so the EU261 situation would be clearer. – Moo May 22 at 22:49
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    you probably couldnt have - but it was worth confirming that wasnt the case here. BA codeshares with lots of airlines, and sells those flights via BA.com but you probably wouldnt notice it. – Moo May 23 at 9:06
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    "I think ba.com only sells flights operated by BA": it sells flights ticketed by BA, which includes codeshare flights operated by codeshare partners. For example, on the BA site, you can buy a seat on BA 1504 from Heathrow to Dallas-Fort Worth on 10 December. The site notes that the flight is operated by American Airlines. Sure enough, on the AA site, you can buy a seat on the same plane as flight AA 51. I don't think BA and Lufthansa do any code sharing, though; they belong to different alliances. – phoog May 23 at 22:30
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Unfortunately you are almost certainly due nothing.

Under normal circumstances, you would be due an amount of between 250 and 600 Euro under the "compensation" section of EU261, however the airline will almost certainly claim that the cancellation was caused by "extraordinary circumstances", which absolves them of paying compensation.

"Extraordinary circumstances" does NOT absolve them of the "right to care" provisions of the legislation. That section states :

Right to care

1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall be offered free of charge:
(a) meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time;
(b) hotel accommodation in cases
- where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary, or
- where a stay additional to that intended by the passenger becomes necessary;

The problem in this circumstances is that no "stay" is necessary. If you agree to the earlier flight, then you will arrive at your destination (as far as BA is concerned) 1 day earlier than planned. It is not BA's concern that you have a connecting flight the (now) following day - once they have delivered you to your destination (LHR) their commitment is completed.

If you had purchased the two tickets as a single itinerary, then you WOULD be due a hotel in London, as in this case the commitment of British Airlines would be to get you to your final destination, not just to London (this would be the case regardless of which airline the 2nd flight was book on, as long as the flights had been booked as a single ticket/PNR).

Despite no hotel or other compensation being due it would not hurt to at least ask for one. It is certainly possible that BA will provide you something as a customer service gesture, even though it's not required by EU261.

(And before someone points it out, although the UK is no longer a member of the EU, part of the legislation around them exiting means that the legislation behind EU261 is still in effect and enforceable in the UK for a period of time)

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  • Great answer, thank you! Very clear and helpful. "it would not hurt to at least ask for one": what do you think is the best way to ask them? Through a standard EU261 claim? Or by phoning them? I called the BA number in my cancellation e-mail and they excluded the option you suggest: the person sounded quite brusque, probably they're under lots of pressure. Do you by any chance know if there's a more appropriate BA section to contact? – anon May 23 at 8:59
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If a flight is cancelled due to COVID-19, duty of care and re-routing or a refund is still due; only compensation isn't.

So request it from the airline, quoting EC261 if need be. They'll likely push you to go for a voucher instead, but you have every right to refuse it.

EDIT: didn't notice this is an early arrival. Doc's answer is thus correct.

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  • (+1) We have been reading and writing this for weeks now, while airlines and some EU member states pushing for more leeway and the EU commission stating that the law still applies but do we know if anybody is actually getting their money back? – Relaxed May 22 at 20:44
  • @Relaxed If all else fails, a chargeback works at least with the right bank. My friend was assured by a third-party agent that they had sent a refund request to the airlines. 2 months later I had him email one of the airlines. Guess what, they hadn't received any refund request at all. I now had him request a chargeback (his bank didn't have a function to attach files as evidence, but will send him a letter in case they want evidence). I for one have been issued chargebacks up to ~EUR 200 with zero fuss in these situations. – Crazydre May 22 at 22:17
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    Except there is no duty of care due for an early arrival! – Doc May 23 at 2:50
  • @Doc Agreed, you're right. I admit I may not have read the details carefully enough – Crazydre May 23 at 11:02

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