A consumer group has told British Airways to “sort out this mess” after mix-ups with flight cancellations ahead of next month’s pilots’ strike.
The call comes after the airline apologised for an “email error” which meant some passengers were wrongly told their flights had been cancelled due to a pilots’ strike.
Adam French, consumer rights expert at Which?, said the issue had caused “a lot of confusion and anxiety”.
He added: “It is vital that the airline ensures that any customer who was initially informed that their flight was cancelled and has booked an alternative flight is not left out of pocket.
“British Airways must now put all resources necessary into sorting out this mess as soon as possible.”
Thousands of passengers were left furious after British Airways sent an email warning their flights might be cancelled or disrupted due to three days of strikes next month.
Weddings, anniversaries and holidays could all be disrupted when flights are grounded on 9, 10 and 27 September.
But some passengers – the exact number is not known – were told their flight would be cancelled despite them wanting to fly on non-strike days. They were told to re-book.
A spokesman for airline said: “We are sorry that some customers received an email in error to say that their flight had been cancelled on non-strike days. We are getting in touch with all those customers this afternoon to clarify that their flight will go ahead as planned.
“We are sorry for any confusion and inconvenience this has caused.”
He said anyone who went on to spend money on alternative arrangements should contact British Airways “and we will deal with each case on an individual basis”.
The spokesman clarified that some flights on non-strike days would be affected, but that the bulk of those cancelled were on the three strike days.
The airline’s customer service lines were jammed on Saturday morning after passengers booked on flights had received emails overnight warning of “a large number of delays and cancellations”.
The walk-outs were announced by the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) on Friday night after 93% of its members rejected an 11.5% pay rise across three years.
Scott Kishere, a film-maker and police community officer, said: “My wife and I have been told that our flight to Toronto has been cancelled.
“This was a full package we booked through BA for our 10-year wedding anniversary. I have made over 100 attempts to contact them for a refund and they’re not answering.
“Until we get a refund we do not have the money to re-book our trip of a lifetime.
“With the days counting down it now looks unlikely we will be able to celebrate our 10-year anniversary as expected.”
Chris Deverell, 36, from Bedford, said his “trip of a lifetime” to watch the Rugby World Cup in Japan with his father, which he had spent four years planning, was in doubt.
He said: “At the moment I have not heard anything from BA as to whether it’s going to be cancelled or not.
“They have just basically been saying ‘keep checking the website’ and they will email and let us know if it’s going to be cancelled.”
He said they have been able to use air miles to book an alternative flight three days after their planned outbound flight on 27 September but said the threat to the trip was “totally gutting, I’m furious”.
“I’m not going to be able to repeat that experience again,” he said, adding arrangements when he arrived in Japan have also been affected.
“It’s not like a holiday I can do next year, there’s never going to be another Rugby World Cup in Japan in my lifetime.
“The pilots should not be asking for anything more than anybody else.”
A proposed pay deal has been accepted by members of the Unite and GMB unions, which represent engineers, cabin crew and ground staff, according to the airline.
More strike dates could yet be announced, Balpa said, adding they are “a last resort and with enormous frustration at the way the business is now being run”.
Peter Dempsey, 41, who is due to fly to Spain on 5 September for his wife’s cousin’s wedding, said: “It’s the return that has completely screwed us up as we are flying back with our in-laws and we cannot move the dates.
“We have no option but to completely cancel both legs and rebook or they won’t give a refund.”
The replacement flights could cost between £200 and £330 each, compared to the £550 they paid for all four, he said.
Mr Dempsey described the service since the announcement as “shocking”. He added that BA “clearly don’t have enough people to handle such a crisis”.
The airline said it will offer refunds and re-bookings and added: “We will do everything we can to get as many people away on their journeys as possible.”
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