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Customer anger at ‘dreadful’ BA service

British Airways

An angry British Airways customer has urged the Bermuda Government to consider replacing the “dreadful” airline for direct flights between Bermuda and London.

Annie Sousa condemned BA’s service after enduring a compensation battle with the company over a cancelled flight from Gatwick to L.F. Wade International Airport.

After visiting Britain on a business trip, the insurance broker was scheduled to take the 3.05pm flight on Wednesday, April 27.

However, after reaching the airport and checking in at BA’s business lounge, she was informed that the flight had been delayed.

In the coming hours, she claimed that BA staff gave contradictory accounts when asked by different passengers about the delay.

“I was told that the engine had been fitted with a new part, while a friend was told that our plane was being used by another flight,” she said.

Eventually, at 4.45pm, the flight was cancelled without explanation and the carrier booked its passengers into a nearby hotel.

Upon arriving at her hotel room, Ms Sousa checked her e-mails and discovered that BA had sent her a message at 11.40am informing her that the flight had been cancelled.

After waiting for 24 hours, she took the 3.05pm flight back to Bermuda, where Ms Sousa had to deal with the knock-on effects of returning to the island a day late.

“In addition to the inconvenience and aggravation of not getting home as planned, I had to pay a $100 ticket because I was a day late in picking up my car from the long-term parking, had to pay an extra day’s boarding for my dog, inconvenienced my employer and missed a very important meeting,” she said.

When she contacted British Airways after the ordeal, the carrier refused Ms Sousa’s request for €600 (about $665) in restitution.

In a letter, it said: “[The flight] was cancelled because of aircraft damage which wasn’t caused by us and prevented the aircraft operating as scheduled.

“Under European Union legislation, I’m afraid we’re not liable for a compensation payment in this situation.”

Ms Sousa pointed out that, according to EU regulations, air passengers must be financially compensated if their flight is cancelled or overbooked, unless the cancellation is because of extraordinary circumstances beyond the airline’s control.

However, she said her repeated requests for BA to prove either extraordinary circumstances or damage caused by another party had fallen on deaf ears.

“I have received a couple of e-mails with condescending platitudes, but denying my request for compensation and ignoring my request for proof,” Ms Sousa added.

The Devonshire resident pursued the matter through the online legal service EUclaim, and will receive $460.

“BA have deceived me by accepting fault and agreeing to compensation through this channel but not doing so directly.

“That’s the way I see it,” Ms Sousa said.

“This is neither fair nor just and is an appalling way to treat their customers.”

Ms Sousa e-mailed tourism authorities this week to share her frustrations over British Airways, the only airline that offers direct flights between Bermuda and Britain, as well as contacting The Royal Gazette.

“The whole of Bermuda needs to know what service British Airways gives to its customers,” she said.

A spokesman for the tourism ministry did not offer a response to the matter.

A BA spokeswoman said: “British Airways has contacted the customer relations team at its corporate headquarters overseas for review.”