BA IT crisis – what compensation travellers can get if their holidays have turned into a disaster

Posted on 31 May 2017

31 May 2017

BA IT crisis – what compensation travellers can get if their holidays have turned into a disaster

Over the bank holiday weekend, British Airways (BA) suffered a serious systems failure caused by an IT meltdown which left thousands stranded. BA was unable to issue boarding passes, check in baggage, or manoeuvre its aircraft into their assigned take-off and landing slots.

Around 75,000 people were affected by the crisis, many of whom missed their connecting flights with some having to cancel their holiday entirely.

But what can you do as a casualty of a serious travel delay? Is the airline obligated to cover the cost of your flight and when does your travel insurance kick-in? 

Stephen Howard, director of Postcard Travel Insurance, gives advice on what compensation consumers are entitled to and how to claim:

When is a flight legally classified as delayed?

Usually if take-off happens two hours or more after the scheduled departure time.

What if the delay is longer than two hours?

If the delay lasts five hours or more, then the passenger can ask for the reimbursement of their full ticket price (provided they do this within seven days), regardless of the flight distance.

The thing to bear in mind here is that Regulation 261/2004 (which emanated from Brussels and is designed to provide compensation to passengers for delayed and cancelled flights in certain circumstances) only applies if you are flying with an EU company or departing from an EU airport.

If you are travelling to a non-EU country the airline must refund your ticket or try to provide an alternative flight, it does not have to provide refreshments but in this instance travel insurance would step in.

What happens if the airline cancels the flight?

Airlines have to offer a choice of either a refund of the ticket or an alternative flight. They will also have to pay some compensation.

What is BA doing?

At the moment BA passengers are being offered a refund for all unused parts of the ticket, or they are being offered alternative flights.


What compensation is available to BA customers?

Regulation 261/2004 sets out the rules for compensation, which depends on the flight distance and the length of delay. All compensation is calculated in Euros.

These amounts are reduced by 50% if BA can offer an alternative flight route to your final destination with a new scheduled arrival time that doesn’t exceed the original scheduled arrival time by:

If BA is unable to replace your flight, this is what you can claim for:

One way you can find out if your particular British Airways flight qualifies for compensation is by using a free tool such as refundme's flight compensation calculator.

When is compensation not available?

Compensation is not available if:

People who booked a package holiday through a tour operator should be compensated by the tour operator under the Package Travel Regulations. This also puts the onus on the tour operator to provide bed and breakfast accommodation for those who are stranded abroad.

For people that have booked their flights and accommodation themselves separately, they often find themselves without support in cases such as this.

Travel insurance policies only provide cancellation cover for ‘specified’ reasons, such as death, injury or illness – insurers will argue that if the trip is cancelled by the tour operator or airline then it is up to them to provide compensation.

Howard adds: “European Regulations are designed to provide compensation to passengers for delayed and cancelled flights in certain circumstances.

“Most travel policies will provide cover for ‘Travel Delay’ or ‘Trip Disruption’ – this would normally provide a limited benefit (usually £20 to £30 per 12 hours of delay) to allow you to purchase refreshments. Should the delay last for more than 12 or 24 hours, then the travel policy will usually reimburse you for unrecoverable costs should you decide to abandon your travel plans.

“While most travel insurance policies do not cover additional unforeseen costs, Postcard travel insurance does and will refund any element of the pre-booked trip that cannot be recovered from anywhere else should you have to cancel for any cause that is outside of your control.

“Also Postcard travel insurance provides a contribution towards additional unforeseen costs should travellers be delayed on their return journey.”


For further information, please contact:

Georgia Pacquette-Bramble

Account Executive


Tel: 0207 280 0658

Mob: 07788 150495

Email: [email protected]

Notes to editors:

Postcard Travel Insurance ( was launched by Infinity Insurance Solutions (IIS), which created brands such as,, and

At Postcard we believe that everyone, whether you are young or old, should have the opportunity to head away on a sunshine or winter holiday.

We are based in Kent and are proud to be unique in the way that most aspects of our company are in-house. By working alongside the Underwriting, Claims, Emergency Assistance and Customer Service teams at tifgroup, we are committed to making Postcard one of the best travel insurance brands out there. Providing you with the best customer service at all times.