Rival airlines are set to cash in during the British Airways pilots' strike by dramatically hiking prices on the affected days. In another blow to hun
Rival airlines are set to cash in during the British Airways pilots’ strike by dramatically hiking prices on the affected days.
In another blow to hundreds of thousands of customers, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic have hiked the cost of flights on the days the pilots are set to walkout.
A Virgin Atlantic flight to New York on the date of the walkouts will cost more than four times the normal rate.
EasyJet – one of BA’s main competitors across Europe – has also increased the prices on many popular short haul routes.
A Virgin Atlantic flight from London Heathrow to New York JFK on September 20 currently costs £313
A Virgin Atlantic flight to New York on the date of the walkouts – September 27 – will cost more than four times the normal rate. On the last day of strike action the Virgin Atlantic price has rocketed up to £1,354 – four times as much as the previous Friday
Passengers who paid for new flights after BA mistake to be refunded
British Airways has been ordered to reimburse passengers who booked alternative flights after they were wrongly told their BA journeys had been cancelled.
The Civil Aviation Authority said those affected ‘should not be left out of pocket’ for extra expenses, including travel, food and accommodation, incurred as a result of the mistake.
To make matters worse, the airline emailed many unaffected passengers in error, telling them their flight had been cancelled and that is ‘it is likely that you will not be able to travel’.
These holidaymakers later received another email saying that, in fact, their flight would go ahead as planned – prompting fury from those who swiftly acted on the first message, and booked another flight.
BA said it will reimburse passengers on a ‘case by case basis’, but this had many fearing they will be left out of pocket. The incident could have ramifications for similar gaffes in the future.
Compensation remains a grey area, and the CAA stepped up the pressure on BA yesterday, saying: ‘Those consumers that took action should not be left out of pocket, and any reasonable costs of re-booked flights should be claimed from the airline.’
Passengers who have seen their flights cancelled should be offered a refund or alternative travel arrangements. They also have the right to a later flight.
The airline said it has drafted in extra staff after passengers complained over the weekend of being forced to wait for hours to get through on helplines.
This comes as BA is facing a mounting compensation bill after the plans of hundreds of thousands of customers were thrown into disarray by three days of strikes scheduled for September 9, 10 and 27.
It is thought this will affect hundreds of thousands of passengers.
Airlines’ pricing algorithms can push costs up when there is high demand.
A Virgin Atlantic flight from London Heathrow to New York JFK on September 20 currently costs £313.
BA is also running flights on that day which will set travellers back £337.
However a week later on September 27 – the last day of strike action – the Virgin Atlantic price has rocketed up to £1,354 – four times as much as the previous Friday.
Flights with Norwegian Air to New York have stayed at a similar price.
On a different BA medium-haul route to Barbados, Virgin Atlantic had almost doubled the price.
Flying from Gatwick on September 20 currently costs £493, compared with £853 on September 27.
EasyJet has also hiked prices for Brits looking for city breaks across Europe.
For holidaymakers flying to Gibraltar, the afternoon flight from Gatwick will cost £68 on September 20.
During the pilots strike a week later, the price has skyrocketed to £164 – without any baggage checked in.
For passengers travelling to Venice Marco Polo Airport, the 6.10pm flight price has jumped from £96 to £164.
Ryanair flights have remained at a similar price to the Italian city.
Which? said it was important for customers who had booked flights with BA on strike days not to cancel them.
For passengers travelling to Venice Marco Polo Airport, the 6.10pm flight price has jumped from £96 to £164
easyJet prices are markedly different on the day of the strikes
By law, BA has to offer to pay for tickets on the same day, even if it’s with a different airline.
However if customers cancel and ask for a refund they will have to pay for alternative flights.
A British Airways spokesman said: ‘Our teams have been working tirelessly to help as many of our customers as possible, in these unprecedented circumstances.
‘Our teams have been providing our customers with as many options as possible, as quickly as possible, including a full refund or re-booking to a different date of travel or airline.’
For holidaymakers flying to Gibraltar, the afternoon flight from Gatwick will cost £68 on September 20
During the pilots strike a week later, the price has skyrocketed to £164 – without any baggage checked in
EasyJet said it did not artificially increase prices.
A spokesman explained: ‘Our pricing is demand-led, our fares start low and rise as more seats are booked on a flight.
‘Ticket prices around these dates are led by a strong demand for flights around this time, we do not artificially increase prices.
‘We offer value for money fares all year round with 50 per cent of our passengers paying on average less than £50 and an average fare of only £43 over this winter.’
Virgin Atlantic has been contacted for comment.
More than 3,000 Balpa members who fly for BA – including captains paid £167,000 a year on average – are threatening to strike on September 9, 10 and 27 (pictured, holidaymakers at Heathrow)
It comes after the Mail tracked down strike leader Brian Strutton – who earns £167,000 a year – as he enjoyed a break on a luxury liner with his wife, Sue
Q&A: Why are pilots striking and what do I do if I am affected?
Why are the pilots striking, and when?
Balpa announced the strikes on August 23 after 93% of its members rejected an 11.5% pay rise across three years.
More than 3,000 Balpa members who fly for BA – including captains paid £167,000 a year on average – are set to strike on September 9, 10 and 27.
Who will be affected?
The walkouts could trigger the cancellation of around 850 BA flights on each of the three strike dates.
The action by the pilots could ruin the travel plans of 450,000 people.
What are your rights if a flight is cancelled?
BA passengers will be offered a flight on the same day with a different carrier; the chance to rebook in the next 355 days; to use the value of the fare to fly to a different destination; or a full refund.
What if my flight home has been cancelled?
Again, you should be offered an alternative flight and, if necessary, food, drink and accommodation until the new departure time. If the airline is unable to do this, you have a right to buy your own and claim the money back.
Is there a right to compensation?
If you are booked on to an alternative flight which arrives later than the original, you can claim for the delay. Under EU rules, travellers who arrive more than three hours late in a journey of less than 1,500km (932 miles) are entitled to 250 euros (£240) each in compensation – on top of a refund – from the airline.
The figure is up to 600 euros (£577) each on long-haul flights. These rules relate to flights originating in the EU, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland. Compensation would be due if the problem results from a strike by the airline’s own staff, but not if they are the result of ‘extraordinary circumstances’, such as a strike by workers for a third party.
What if an airline fails to abide by the rules?
Airlines and airports should advise people how to make a complaint to an approved alternative dispute resolution (ADR) body. If they do not, complain to the Civil Aviation Authority. Alternatively, it may be possible to reclaim losses and expenses from your credit card company or bank using Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act or the Chargeback system.
Which? offers advice and template letters on how to pursue this.