No flight, meals, phone or bags from British Airways — and no compensation

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By Christopher Elliott

Whoever said, “Any landing you can walk away from is a good one” must not have known David Youngquist. And they aren’t familiar with the current service level at British Airways — at least, not as he experienced it.

Youngquist’s troubles started when his return flight from Copenhagen to London was oversold, which started a domino effect that lasted weeks And yes, British Airways got him to his destination safely, but it may have bent or broken a few rules along the way.

Has British Airline done enough for him?

Youngquist and his family had been on a Baltic cruise that arrived late in Stockholm, the final port of call, because of a mechanical problem. Fortunately, his family was supposed to fly to London the next day. Unfortunately, many of the late-arriving passengers on his ship were rebooked on his flight.

The Youngquists checked in and arrived early, but it did them absolutely no good.

“An airline agent there told us that we were standby passengers because the flight was oversold,” he recalls. ” She told us that we had been randomly selected by the computer, which was difficult for me to believe since we were on three different records.”

EU 261 Consumer Protection Regulation

Let’s press “pause” for a moment. EU 261, the European consumer protection regulation, addresses a situation like this. British Airways owed him and his family a ticket on the next flight and compensation, depending on the length of the delay.

“After the plane left we were given seats on British Airways Flight 817,” he says. “I asked about compensation and was told by the same representative that we would receive compensation at Heathrow. I now know that this was a lie, and that it violated EU regulations that state that compensation must be offered immediately. The service staff at Heathrow confirmed this.”

Youngquist asked for meal vouchers for his four-hour delay and was told British Airways’ “system was down” and that she could not provide vouchers — another violation of EU 261, he says. He asked if he could make a phone call to London to notify his vacation rental in London that he’d be late. The same representative told him British Airways  didn’t do that — yet another EU 261 violation.

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Things just went from bad to worse

When the Youngquists arrived in London, they couldn’t find their luggage. They filed a claim for the lost luggage. After days of delays, the luggage didn’t turn up. Several phone calls later, they discovered that the airline had crossed its wires on the luggage claim.

“None of the bags had ever left Copenhagen,” he says.

The bags turned up at the end of their family vacation, but it was too little, too late. The Youngquists want British Airways to pay them $8,209, which covers the cost of buying new clothes and toiletries, additional transportation and lost vacation time. (Related: A legitimate complaint wrapped inside a frivolous one — should I let this case go?)

BA’s offer, even after our advocates tried to help? A 250 euro check for the delay, in accordance with European consumer regulation.

After our advocates asked about his case, he also received the following update from the airline:

Thanks for sending me your bank details and receipts of your essential items.
I can confirm €1000.00 in EU compensation will be transferred to your bank account. Converted into your local currency this is $1118.81. I’ve assessed the receipts you’ve uploaded and these can all be reimbursed. The total value in your local currency is $1243.65 for your essential items and $85.18 for the additional baggage charge. I’ve arranged a transfer and these amounts may take up to 5-7 working days to appear in your account.

Is that enough?

Well, if you’re a by-the-book kind of person, you’d probably side with British Airways. Consider that the airline was trying to accommodate an influx of passengers on a completely full flight. Meal vouchers for a four-hour delay? Compensation for lost vacation time? C’mon. It reminds me of that time when a reader paid an extra 40 pounds for a seat that would not recline.

If you’re sympathetic to the Youngquists, however, then you’ll see that British Airways really needs to do more than throw a few euros at them. The airline sold seats it didn’t have. It didn’t offer compensation it should have, violated EU regulations, lost their luggage and didn’t even apologize. What is this world coming to?

Did BA offer David Youngquist enough compensation?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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