US slaps fine of $1.1m to British Airways

The United States government has levied a charge against British Airways for $1.1 million (or £878,000), alleging that the airline did not give passengers refunds for flights that were cancelled during the pandemic.

The Department of Transportation of United States stated that the airline had not offered “timely refunds to passengers” for flights that had to be rescheduled or that had to be abandoned. These flights entered or exited the United States.

It was reported that more than 1,200 customers had filed complaints against the airline.

The airline company BA stated that it had “acted lawfully at all times” in response to the allegations that were made.

According to the transport department, the British Airways (BA) website advised customers, beginning in March 2020 and continuing through November 2020, to call the airline by telephone in order to explore refund alternatives, including for flights that the airline has either cancelled or severely altered.

However, consumers were unable to reach customer care agents when phoning the carrier during this time period for several months due to BA’s failure to maintain proper operation of its customer support phone lines, according to the report.

According to government, “During this time period, there was also no way to submit a refund request through the carrier’s website.”

In addition, it was said that between March and November of 2020, clients had accidentally requested travel vouchers rather than refunds due to deceptive material that was published on BA’s website.

It was stated that British Airways had received hundreds of additional complaints and requests for refunds directly from customers, in addition to the 1,200 that had been received by the department.

According to the statement made by the agency, the lapses had “caused significant challenges and delays in thousands of consumers receiving required refunds.”

In addition, it stated that the fine created a “vigorous disincentive to future unlawful practices of a comparable nature.”

Due to the fact that it refunded more than $40 million to consumers who had purchased non-refundable tickets in 2020 and 2021, BA will receive a credit in the amount of $550,000 toward the penalty.

At the height of the extraordinary pandemic, when we were regretfully obliged to cancel thousands of flights and close several call centers due to government limitations, the airline issued the following statement: “We are extremely sorry that during this period our customers had somewhat higher wait times to reach customer support teams.

“During this time period, we operated lawfully at all times and provided customers the flexibility of rebooking travel on alternate dates or seeking a refund if their flights were cancelled if their flights were cancelled.

Since the pandemic broke out, our company has processed more than five million returns up until this point.

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