British Airways bumped me from a flight – then denied me compensation

British Airways claimed it was not responsible for compensation because your flight was cancelled due to operational reasons
British Airways claimed it was not responsible for compensation because your flight was cancelled due to operational reasons - Florida Chuck

Gill Charlton has been fighting for Telegraph readers and solving their travel problems for more than 30 years, winning refunds, righting wrongs and suggesting solutions.

Here is this week’s question:

Dear Gill,

My wife and I spent the February half-term in Florida. We booked flights through an online agent, Kiss&Fly, which issued tickets on American Airlines (AA) from Gatwick to Tampa. However, the flights were on British Airways (BA).

The day before we were due to return, February 23, I received a text from British Airways saying we were being thrown off the flight because it was using a smaller aircraft. No alternative was offered.

When I finally got through to BA’s customer services I was told to go to the airport anyway and try our luck getting on the flight!

We handed back our rental car and arrived at Tampa Airport to find that the flight really was full. Eventually someone from AA rebooked us on a flight leaving two days later.

No other help was offered by either AA or BA. We didn’t know what to do or what we could claim. Fortunately our neighbours at the Airbnb came to our rescue.

I applied for compensation and £66 of expenses on our return but BA replied saying: “Your claim has been refused because BA2166 was cancelled due to operational reasons”. I am furious that we were left stranded in the US and everyone is washing their hands of us. Can you help get what we are due?

– Simon Tyler

Dear Simon,

Your experience of being “bumped” reflects poorly on both AA and BA. This is clearly a case of involuntary denied boarding. However, if the flight had been operated by AA you would not be due compensation because its Conditions of Carriage say that it doesn’t have to compensate bumped passengers if it has to operate a smaller aircraft “for safety or operational reasons”.

Fortunately for you, BA was the operator and so is responsible for compensation under UK Regulation 261/2004. This says that if you are bumped from a longhaul flight, the airline must pay compensation of £520 as well as reimbursing accommodation, a “reasonable amount of food and drink” and transport to and from the airport until it can fly you home.

Even if AA staff couldn’t help secure accommodation, BA’s customer services staff should have told you of your entitlements so you could claim the costs back (though this can take a couple of months).

I suspect some of the miscommunication was due to having an AA ticket for a BA flight but that doesn’t excuse either airline for leaving customers stressed and stranded through no fault of their own for two days.

I contacted BA to find out why it had refused such a clear-cut claim. BA has now apologised to Simon and is paying the entitled compensation, his expenses and extending a goodwill gesture.

– Gill Charlton

Your travel problems solved

Gill takes on a different case each week – so please send your problems to her for consideration at Please give your full name and, if your dispute is with a travel company, your address, telephone number and any booking reference. Gill can’t answer every question, but she will help where she can and all emails are acknowledged.