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Flight Delay Dispute for Compensation - Grey Area?

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I was recently on a flight from Vienna to Gatwick. The distance is 1250km (775 miles). The delay was exactly 3 hours, 4 minutes (184 minutes).


Under Flight Regulation EC 261/2004 I am entitled to compensation of 250€ per passenger (2 of us) for flight delays longer than 3 hours. The delay was due to a technical fault.


I contacted BA via email for compensation. They responded stating that 175 minutes was due to technical fault, and the remaining 9 minutes was due to ATC as they had to wait for a slot to take off, therefore since less than 180 minutes was their fault, they reject the claim for compensation.


My friend, on a different BA flight had exactly the same issue - his flight delayed by 200 minutes, and BA claimed 175 due to technical fault, and 25 due to waiting for ATC to let them go. Suspicious.


From my point of view, if there was no technical fault, the flight would have taken off in the allocated time and the delay would have been 0 minutes. The technical fault caused the ATC delay, and therefore the delay is entirely BA fault, all 184 minutes of it. So they should pay me compensation.

Also, does "ATC waiting for a takeoff slot" count as "extraordinary circumstances" ?

I know an ATC strike, or ATC staff shortages may do, but there is nothing improper or out of the ordinary about the operation of ATC at this time - it is entirely correct operation, they are just waiting for the next free slot because obviously they cant just let a plane go immediately when its ready, so there will always be some kind of delay here, so how can it be classed extraordinary?


It seems there is a grey area on the Air Traffic Control and airlines can use it to get out of paying compensation.


Please can someone give me advice on this?




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You are spot on.

They always refuse all claims unless you threaten them with court action and they pay out after you issue a lba.

You need full info for your flight, not from ba because they will talk as much [email protected] as they can.

Get in touch with CAA and ask for details of the flight explaining that BA are denying that there was a delay which would grant compensation and you need the official records.

Don't go into much details, just state the above.

Once you get the flight info (they will send you a very detailed report stating the exact take off time and reason for delay) send a copy to BA and ask again for your compensation.

Give them 14 days and tell them you will start court proceedings if they don't comply.

On day 15 issue a lba and magically they will change their mind.

Since this phenomenon of Alex Cruz took over, BA has become worst than Ryanair.

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Hi King,


Thanks for the response - do you know which address I should contact the CAA on, or which phone number to ring to contact them?


Also, what is an LBA?


LBA is letter before action - the formal letter you write before commencing a legal claim. A court claim will take some time to progress - and will cost you some money in the initial outlay (which you get back if you win). So it's worth exhausting quicker options first.


If you contact the CAA, they will tell you that BA is signed up to an Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme - for BA it is CEDR. So worth going through them first. Details here: https://www.caa.co.uk/passengers/resolving-travel-problems/how-the-caa-can-help/alternative-dispute-resolution/


I agree by the way with your logic: BA cannot start attributing parts of the delay to different causes, with temporal proportions. Either the delay is caused by extraordinary circumstances or it is not. If the delay is compounded by other factors - as it usually is - that's just tough for BA. A real shame that BA treat their customers with such contempt - but almost all the airlines seem to resist these dealing with these payments properly, unfortunately.

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Email address: [email protected]. uk


Make sure you clearly state that you are not complaining, but you need flight information.

Whatever you do, do not go to CEDR.

They are similar to Ombudsman and apart from wasting a lot of time they side with the airlines.

Write to caa and very nicely ask for the flight records.

Last year I wrote to them something along these lines:


The flight in question is BA518/IB3177 on 27/05/2017 from London Heathrow to Madrid scheduled to depart at 15:50 hrs.


I would be extremely grateful if you could supply the following information:


1. Official operating air carrier

2. Confirmation of flight cancellation or

3. Confirmation of flight delay with timing.

Thank you for your assistance.


They replied to me in a couple of days with a full a4 page of indisputable record about my delayed flight.

That's all you need to start a claim.

BA paid up immediately after I issued the lba.

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My understanding is that CEDR have a good record of dealing with these claims fairly, and much more quickly than a court process. I also understand that when this BA argument has been put before them - that only part of the delay was caused by non-extraordinary circumstances - then CEDR have generally rejected this defence and found in favour of the passenger. Perhaps King has more specific information that I am not aware of though?


Of course you could write a LBA to BA, but you should only do that if you intend to follow through with the threat. And given that there is a cheaper and quicker alternative to try first, I’m not sure why you would rush to court. In the unlikely event that CEDR doesn’t give you satisfaction, you would still be at liberty to start a legal action.

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Thank you all for the responses. I have started by putting my case and reasoning to BA to see if they will just resolve it anyway. Unlikely though I guess.


I have also emailed infoservices @ caa . co .uk with your template King, and asked for full flight information. Once I have this, I will go to CEDR and see what they will do, and if that fails, I'll go with the lba.


I'll keep this post updated with progress


Thanks again,


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The problem with any Ombudsman is that they're funded by members, in this case, CEDR is funded by airlines.

Obviously they can't side with customers too often.

Every time I complained to any Ombudsman, despite having evidence of wrongdoing and in some cases downright fraud, they have sided with the company or given them a slap on the wrist saying that lessons should be learned.

I never obtained any monetary compensation through the Ombudsman or even a full moral victory.

So I stopped using them.

The other more important reason why I discourage using the Ombudsman for refunds and compensation is that if you let them rule that no money is owed to you, the company involved would have some ammunition in case of court proceedings.

Imagine being in front of a judge and trying to explain that the Ombudsman is a useless system.

The company would say that the case has already been thoroughly assessed by trained officials and dismissed.

So, forget about CEDR in my opinion.

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  • 1 month later...



So I finally got a response from the CAA for my flight times..


"Our response


Having considered your request in line with the FReedoms of Information act 2000 (FOIA), we are able to provide the information below:


According to information recevied from Gatwick Airport Authroities, who are provided with data by handling agents, or the airlines themselves, we hold the following:


Vienna - Gatwick 17th December 2018 British Airways Flight BA2659


Planned gate time: 1945

Actual gate time: 2249

Actual runway time: 22:41 (wheels on the runway)


Please note the times are quoted in GMT. "


..and that was it. I asked for the time that the flight left the gate in Vienna, but apparently that is not information they hold. I then stated that I need the time such that I can prove if there were any ATC delays / when the plane took off, and they came back with:


"The CAA do not hold information relating to the departure time of flights from overseas airports.


Claims for compensation under EU 261/2004 are based on time of arrival of flight after the scheduled arrival. If you arrived at your destination over 3 hours after the scheduled time, then you would potentially be entitled to compensation."


...So what should be my next steps? Write an LBA.. or go to CEDR with this?




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Further to this, the CAA stated:


Generally, flight time is calculated on ‘doors closed’ to ‘doors open’.


The CAA are not provided the time at which the doors are opened to the aircraft, only the time they arrive at the gate.

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Ok, they gave you the gate arrival time which is 3 hours and 4 minutes late.

Surely they can't open the doors before arriving at the gate, so i would say that you now have evidence of the delay going over the 3 hours mark.

Write to them and tell them that their interpretation of the delay is clearly incorrect because they wouldn't have lost their slot if they didn't have a technical fault.

Give them 14 days to pay.

Do not reply to any nonsense, whatever they say apart from "here is your compensation " must be ignored.

Day 15 issue a lba.

Then they will pay.

If they don't it will cost you very little to take it to court, but i can't see them wasting legal fees for €500.

It's not commercially viable even if they think they could win (difficult IMO)

In your request don't forget to convert the €500 in pound with bank of England rate on the day of delay (records online).

This will avoid any "surprise" later and make the claim easier.

Edited by king12345
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I should send something like this? Would you make any changes?


Good Morning,


As per previous contact, My Flight BA2659 (1250km) from Vienna Airport(VIE) to London Gatwick(LGW) was delayed by 3 hours 4 minutes on 17th December 2018 causing significant distress and inconvenience from the delay, causing multiple travel issues.


Having been in contact with the CAA regarding gate time, I can confirm the

Planned gate time: 19:45 (GMT)

Actual gate time: 22:49 (GMT)


This agrees with your confirmed 184 minutes delay of arrival. (3hr 4min) due to a technical fault, resulting in you losing your ATC take-off slot.


I can also confirm from that CAA that according to EU law, it is generally accepted that the 3 hour delay is from close of doors, until opening of doors of the aircraft. Therefore, you are in breach of the 3 hour delay by 4 minutes.


Please pay me compensation of €500 Euro (£449.48 according to conversion rates on 17th December 2018 Bank of England) within 14 days.


Kind Regards,


Edited by RyanB96
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Dear Sir or Madam,


Following my previous communication dated xxxx, I have had confirmation from the Civil Aviation Authority of your delayed flight BA2659 on 17th December 2018.

The CAA recorded the following delay:


Planned gate time: 19:45 (GMT)

Actual gate time: 22:49 (GMT)


This amounts to 3 hours and 4 minutes and pursuant to EC 261/2004 I am entitled to a compensation of €250 per person.

Your explanation of split delay is not acceptable as i believe that you are responsible for the technical fault which then resulted in missing the take off spot.

I request payment of €500, converted to pound sterling at 17/12/2018 rate of xxxx, totalling £xxx.

I expect this payment to be made within 14 calendar days.

Should you refuse to comply to my request i will start legal proceedings against you.

This will inevitably increase your liability for costs.


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Got a reply today..


Dear Mr


Thanks for coming back to us about your claim for compensation. You're clearly unhappy with our previous response, as we've rejected your claim. I'm sorry you feel let down.


We're investigating your case further, so there might be a short delay in replying to your correspondence. Please be assured we'll contact you as soon as possible.


Thanks again for contacting us, and we appreciate your patience during this time.


Best regards


[name removed - HB]


...is that a good sign, or bad?

Edited by honeybee13
Staff name edited
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Don't play soft and don't speak to them over the phone.

They will now test your credibility probably trying to delay your deadline.

Play hard, day 15 you issue a lba via email and recorded delivery letter to their registered address.

They will pay out, trust me.

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Not much and fully recoverable from other side.

Mind you, even with the best sealed case in the wo rtld there's always a chance of losing, but on small claim they can't make you pay their costs, so your risk would be minimal.

Don't be afraid, this will never go to court, they'll pay up as soon as they understand that you mean business.

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Not much and fully recoverable from other side.

Mind you, even with the best sealed case in the wo rtld there's always a chance of losing, but on small claim they can't make you pay their costs, so your risk would be minimal.

Don't be afraid, this will never go to court, they'll pay up as soon as they understand that you mean business.


Unless you are on benefits, it will cost you about £150 for a claim worth between £500 and a Grand (claim fee plus hearing fee). As King says, the other side pays for this if you win. If you don’t win, you’re £150 down.


I am not a professional in this field, but I have a lot of experience of helping people in your situation. I also won my own case against an airline - which went all the way to the hearing.


If you pursue this in the courts, there is definitely a chance (not a infinitesimal one either) that you get a District Judge not familiar with EU Regulation 261/04 or the binding case law, and that you get the wrong result.


In my experience - and this is where a I think King is wrong - airlines do not simply “give up” when you send a LBA. They wait until you file a court claim, and pay the hearing fee. Then they usually - but not always - settle.


But as well as carrying some risk, this process also takes ages. Probably six months, or more depending on court pressures in your part of the world. So I really would not recommend this course of action, when there is a pretty good arbitration alternative offered which - as I understand it - has a reasonably good record of dealing with claims fairly, at minimal cost to you, and much more quickly.


Good luck with whatever you decide to do next. I don’t think the airline’s case has any legal merit.

  • Haha 1
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I claimed 4 times for myself and helped friends a couple of times.

In my experience airlines and especially British airways know that they have little chance in court, so they pay up when you send a good lba.

But as said, one must be prepared to go all the way.

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  • 2 weeks later...

To the OP,

I was on the same delayed flight as you and had a similar set of knock back responses from BA.  My last communication to them was about a month ago, asking them to confirm that their final word was ‘no’ and if so then I was willing to go to to CEDR - their reply was the last standard one you got (“we’re continuing to investigate”).

Anyway, the good news is that without me doing anything else I got this reply yesterday;


I felt the need to write back to you, as we've completed our investigation about your delayed flight.  I'm sorry for the delay in replying to you.

I’m pleased to advise you’re entitled to compensation for the delay to your flight BA2659 on 17 December 2018.

The distance of your disrupted journey was 1,500km or less and this has been calculated in accordance with EU legislation.  This means you’re each entitled to €250.00 in compensation.  The total amount of compensation due to you is £430.94, which is equivalent to €500.00, as there are two passengers included in your claim.


I don’t have any experience in these matters but my guess is that their grounds for refusal has been tested via somebody taking the same case further and they have lost, so they will lose all other cases for this flight.

Anyway, hope this is a bit of positive news.


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Good morning, 

Thanks for the post. Interesting though - I got the good news this morning: 



Dear Mr 

I felt the need to write back to you, as we've completed our investigation about your delayed flight.  I'm sorry for the delay in replying to you.

I’m pleased to advise you’re entitled to compensation for the delay to your flight BA2659 on 17 December 2018.

The distance of your disrupted journey was 1,500km or less and this has been calculated in accordance with EU legislation.  This means you’re each entitled to €250.00 in compensation.  The total amount of compensation due to you is £428.30, which is equivalent to €500.00, as there are two passengers included in your claim.

I’m arranging for this amount to be transferred to your Halifax bank account using the details you've provided.  You’ll receive it soon.

Thanks for getting in touch.  We value your business and I hope we can welcome you on board again soon.  If you need help with anything else, please feel free to contact me directly using the blue link below.

Best regards


So I won the compensation - thank you King + others for all the help! 


Interesting though, that they have 

a) Not given the specified £449.48 that I requested based on Bank of England rates from the 17th December. (Rate was 1.1124) 

b) Given a different amount to me, as they have to you, although minimal. 

Edited by RyanB96
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Nice one!

If you want to annoy them, after they pay up start asking for the £20 odd they shortchanged you.

If you don't mind sending many emails and post on Facebook/twitter , i'm sure they'll eventually give you the score. 

That if you feel like annoying them

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