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TL;DR: British Airways caused me to miss a connecting flight with Aer Lingus. Who do I claim compensation from?

I had a flight from Rio de Janeiro (GIG) to London Heathrow with British Airways, and a connecting flight to Shannon with Aer Lingus - they were booked on a single reservation.

Although the BA flight landed on time (slightly ahead of schedule actually), it was forced to wait on the tarmac as its docking station was in use, and as a result we disembarked late. Despite this, we quickly made our way through security and to the other terminal from where the Aer Lingus flight was to take off.

At this point, however, our boarding passes were denied. We were told to step aside and wait while everyone else boarded the plane. Then we were informed that because of the afforementioned delay, British Airways had cancelled our boarding passes, and we no longer had seats.

I'll skip all the activity in between, but eventually, the agent at the BA desk confirmed that someone in BA had indeed cancelled our tickets and we had been rebooked to the next day.

Because of this, we are supposedly entitled to compensation of either €250, €400 or €600 per passenger. (Depends on the distance of the flight but I'm not sure if it's just the missed connecting flight or the entire journey that's considered).

But my real question is, who is liable for this? British Airways or Aer Lingus?

Since the delay and the mistake was on the part of British Airways, I would have expected it to be them. However after contacting them, they refused the claim since they didn't operate EI385 (the Aer Lingus flight), and said I should claim the compensation from them. I will contact Aer Lingus, but I have a feeling they will just send me back to British Airways (the people at the boarding gate were adamant that the fault was with BA)

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    I'd agree that the people who cancelled the ticket are at fault. But I don't understand why or when the ticket was cancelled, as you obviously made it to the Air Lingus gate on time.
    – Peter M
    Aug 27, 2023 at 21:12
  • @PeterM - indeed we did. Wasn't sure myself, but I can only guess that someone at British Airways believed that due to the delay in deboarding the British Airways flight that we wouldn't and cancelled it in advance.
    – komodosp
    Aug 27, 2023 at 21:36
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    In terms of the amount of the compensation this is based on the distance from origin to destination for the whole trip. However I believe it’s unclear who you should claim from (and they’ll probably try to shift the blame from one to the other). Still, since the original delay was from BA (and they additionally rebooked you even though you were able to reach the gate in time), it probably makes sense to claim from BA.
    – jcaron
    Aug 27, 2023 at 22:01
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    "booked on a single reservation": booked with which company? What airline is indicated in the e-ticket number? (Aer Lingus is 053; BA is 125, and other airlines' codes can be found at kovrik.com/sib/travel/airline-codes.txt)
    – phoog
    Aug 28, 2023 at 0:34
  • @PeterM a BA flight manager told me last month that if you're due to arrive late enough, the system automatically cancels your connecting flight and rebooks you (no humans involved). In my case, I was able to log into the BA app and see my new flight details while my delayed first flight was still in the air.
    – perigon
    Aug 28, 2023 at 1:03

1 Answer 1

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EU 261 is well intended but not particularly well written. It doesn't specifically cover your case.

This being said, I think any court would easily determine that BA is liable. As a general general rule the "operating" carrier of the delayed flight is on the hook. The only flight that was delayed was the BA one, they are the responsible party.

they refused the claim since they didn't operate EI385

That is clearly a false argument. EI385 wasn't the problem. It departed on time and EI didn't do anything wrong, so they are not liable. Your BA flight was delayed and as a consequence of the BA delay you missed your on-time connection. Hence BA is liable.

BA will most likely try to argue next that their delay wasn't big enough and you could still have made it. Your counterargument would be that as result BA's delay, BA cancelled your onward tickets which made you miss the connection.

Any court is very likely to rule that BA is liable here, but that doesn't mean that BA will give in without a fight. You may have to elevate. See for example: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/holiday-cancellations-and-compensation/if-your-flights-delayed-or-cancelled/

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    "that doesn't mean that BA will give in without a fight. You may have to elevate": in my experience airlines will resist paying even when the facts are clear because there is no penalty for doing so; the cost of doing so is only a few more customer interactions. I suppose that enough customers give up that the airline saves money overall.
    – phoog
    Aug 28, 2023 at 12:37
  • "It departed on time and EI didn't do anything wrong, so they are not liable." Yeah, but delayed/cancelled flights is not the only thing EU 261 is about; denied boarding is also covered by it. BA might try to drag matters on by claiming that their flight was neither cancelled nor delayed for long enough to be covered by EU 261, and that denial of boarding was done by EI, not them (caused by them, yes, but not done by them... It all smells like lawyers to me).
    – walen
    Aug 29, 2023 at 7:54
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    Just a quick note to say that it is surprisingly easy to sue an airline in the UK. File a claim on the small claims track of the county court, write a "pleading" with the legal argument, a witness statement (you are a witness!), enclose tickets and the like as documentary evidence, and pay a fee proportional to the cost you are claiming (if you win, you get it back). Costs are not awarded so if you lose, you've just lost the fee and not the airline's costs. Nine times out of ten they will settle out of court as it is cheaper than going to trial – and in this case you're bang to rights anyway.
    – Landak
    Aug 29, 2023 at 9:04
  • That sounds wholly right and other than legal bills, what stops you claiming against both airlines? Aug 29, 2023 at 19:42

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