LONDON (Reuters) – The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is questioning British Airways after it enraged thousands of travellers by telling them their flights had been cancelled after its pilots announced they would strike for three days next month.
Last Friday, the BALPA union said it would strike over pay on the 9th, 10th and 27th of September, prompting the airline to tell passengers by email that flights on or around those dates had been cancelled.
The emails led to widespread confusion and anger as many people rebooked costly flights unnecessarily.
The CAA is exploring whether British Airways, part of the International Airlines Group (IAG), failed to comply with European rules about airline passengers’ consumer rights.
It said in a statement: “We have been in contact with the airline to determine what has happened and are seeking an explanation to confirm how it complied with its rerouting obligations to consumers.”
It said passengers whose flights have been cancelled should be offered the choice of reimbursement for cancelled flights, alternate travel arrangements under comparable conditions or a new flight at a later date.
“We also expect airlines to proactively provide passengers with information about their rights when flights are cancelled,” it added.
Passengers who were told their plans would be disrupted took to social media to complain.
“Disgraceful service by @British_Airways cancelling our holiday, then, after we booked alternative flights, they have now emailed saying the original flight isn’t cancelled after all!” said one user.
Some claimed to have waited hours on hold without getting through to a staff member.
In response to the CAA, British Airways said: “Our contact centres are operating 24/7 and we have brought in additional resources, with over 500 colleagues working to support customers during this time.
It added: “Our teams are providing customers whose flights have been cancelled with options to seek a full refund or rebook, including to a different date of travel, or flying with an alternative airline.”
(Reporting by Molly Millar; editing by Stephen Addison)