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Involuntary denial of boarding, please help

Involuntary denial of boarding, please help

Old Apr 21, 18, 9:46 pm
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Join Date: Apr 2018
Posts: 50
Involuntary denial of boarding, please help

I have always been a lurker here just reading the forum, but unfortunately I now need specific help and advice.

I was booked to fly on BA0278 from SJC to LHR leaving about ten minutes ago, in first class, confirmed seat 2A.
I tried to check in online when it opened 24 hours ago, but was unable to, so (after checking this forum for the likely reasons) contacted youfirst by email for reassurance that I was definitely correctly booked on the flight and there was no problem with my seat assignment. I received reassurance that all was fine, so guessed from what I read here that I had probably been selected for SSSS enhanced security.

For this reason I went to the airport early, arriving about 3 and a half hours before the flight. When I went to the check in desk there was a long delay whilst the check in person called their supervisor who then came to inform me that I had been subject to involuntary denial of boarding and would not be on the flight. I was very upset to learn this as I am anxious about flying anyway partly due to having multiple disabilities and serious medical problems (which is why I had chosen to fly in first as the first Dreamliner seat is the most appropriate for my disability and medical needs). I was travelling with my husband who we had been able to check in online. He was sitting in economy (I know the contrast is very unfair by we can't afford two higher class tickets and as I said I have disability needs). Our bookings were linked so they were aware that we were flying together (I would never deliberately choose to fly alone as it is so difficult for me).

they offered for us to be rebooked on tonight's flight from San Francisco to London, but because of my disabilities it wouldn't be suitable to make this last minute change and we were not confident that we would have been able to get me to San Francisco in time to make the flight. The alternative was to offer to rebook me on BA0278 but on Wednesday (so a delay of four days) and this is what they did. My husband was completely unable to wait until then as he can't take the week off work. So we had to make the difficult decision of him going ahead with the flight as booked without me.

fortunately I was able to call a family member and arrange for somewhere for me to sleep tonight and that is where I now am, but essentially BA have just left me to fend for myself until Wednesday evening.

I am still very upset about these events, so I haven't had time to fully consider and research it yet, but I have just read EU regulation EC261 and it seems as though BA have totally disregarded it!

I wasn't informed of my rights after being involuntary denied boarding. I haven't been offered any compensation and I haven't been offered care (required under article 9). Article 11 also states that air carriers must give priority to carrying persons with reduced mobility. BA are aware this applies to me as I had wheelchair assistance booked and we made it very clear to the check in staff that being denied boarding would be particularly problematic for me due to my disabilities.

Thank you for reading this long message (and rambling because I am still upset). Can anyone offer any advice? What should I do now? And how do I make sure that BA pay me whatever compensation is due, and get me home safely whilst minimising the problems they have caused with this.

I have always chosen BA because I felt confident that I could rely on them and have always previously found them to be brilliant with regard to supporting passengers with disabilities. It has upset me so much to be essentially stranded alone and unsupported for four days and I still can't quite believe this is actually happening.
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Old Apr 21, 18, 10:26 pm
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A very unpleasant situation indeed. While I understand getting to SFO the same evening under time pressure would have been too difficult, could you get there for the early flight on Sunday afternoon which has one seat left in F? Itís BA284 departing at 16:35, a B744 instead of the Dreamliner but the free seat is 5K where the aisle is fairly wide and the toilets fairly accessible.
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Old Apr 21, 18, 10:38 pm
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Sounds awful. Hope things get better. Make sure to claim. Keep receipts for reasonable expenses.

Ps surely there are other routes they can offer to help you get back earlier. I can't see them refusing any type you choose.
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Old Apr 21, 18, 11:28 pm
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The 278 is airborne with one vacant seat in First?
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Old Apr 21, 18, 11:51 pm
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Absolute speculation, given BA have handled this appallingly and been useless at communicating - could check-in staff have been confused about possible need for a fit to fly letter?

I hope this gets sorted quickly with a suitably grovelling apology from BA and meaningful service recovery (on top of what they owe from EU261). I would also report this to CAA as the National Enforcement Body

(And not being an apologist, I can’t see why F pax would be bumped entirely from a flight- even downgrades are unusual, so highly unlikely to be overbooking. Just trying to guess what reason BA may give )
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Old Apr 22, 18, 12:00 am
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Did BA give a reason for your denial of boarding? Was it due to availability of seating on the aircraft or something else?
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Old Apr 22, 18, 12:01 am
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Maybe an issue with that specific seat, and the easiest thing for the ground staff there was just to deny the OP boarding? Would save the hassle of shuffling others around to accommodate.

Sounds like this has been handled appallingly based on the OP's account, and BA has some work to do to put things that it was obliged to do right.
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Old Apr 22, 18, 12:07 am
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Iím struggling with a few things. What did local BA staff say when you mentioned their duty of care to you? Are you saying that the refuses to put you in a hotel, for example? Also, is it the case that there was no Club seat you could have taken instead?
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Old Apr 22, 18, 12:12 am
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Join Date: Apr 2018
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thank you you for all the replies. V10 guessed correctly, I forgot to say that the reason for the denial of boarding was that the seat is broken (hence why the plane is in the air with an empty seat in first - the broken one).

I need to get some sleep now, but in the morning I will call BA and ask about other possible flights before Wednesday (like Airprox suggested).
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Deniedboardinghelp is offline  
Old Apr 22, 18, 12:15 am
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Hi London elite,

I didn't mention the duty of care as I was quite shocked and upset at the time and just accepted what they said and let them rebook me for Wednesday. It was only after it was over that I had a chance to think a bit more and search the internet and check the forum here, that I found out about EC261 and duty of care etc.
Edit: I just didn't think to ask for a hotel or anything like that and nothing was offered, if anything the staff seemed a bit lost and confused about what to do too. Also the flight was full (I think because yesterday's and Mondays if I remember correctly are both cancelled).

Last edited by Deniedboardinghelp; Apr 22, 18 at 12:20 am
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Old Apr 22, 18, 12:20 am
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Make sure you keep all your receipts and file a claim when you are home. Can you call BA to see if you can get on a club seat leaving before Wednesday?
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Old Apr 22, 18, 12:44 am
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“Shuffling people is hard” has got to be the lamest excuse possible - but understandable financially if CW also full. Two lots of 75% refunds vs. duty of care costs (if the pax finds out when BA don’t proactively inform as required) and a few hundred quid.
Can‘t expect miracles, but this sense of laziness will kill a reputation
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Old Apr 22, 18, 12:54 am
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Without details of what info was contained in the booking it is hard to be certain but on the face of it the presence of a wheelchair should have alerted the airline that articles 9 and 11 of EC261 may well come into play. It is also unclear whether the airline sought volunteers under article 4 before offloading the OP.

Unfortunately seats do break from time to time but for the staff at SJC to wash their hands of the OP is quite unacceptable.

It sounds like the priority should be to focus on transportation back to the UK and then a serious discussion with BA should take place. There are legal options available and it is the type of case involving travellers with disabilities that the media may well be interested in.
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Old Apr 22, 18, 1:07 am
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
Make sure you keep all your receipts and file a claim when you are home. Can you call BA to see if you can get on a club seat leaving before Wednesday?
I agree with this, i think that the best thing to do is to is contact BA directly, as i doubt the local staff will have as much experience dealing with this as the proper service desk will. they can advise you better and hopefully get you on a sooner flight. definitely keep receipts if you have to stay the whole time, and get on to your insurance to see if this is covered.

good luck getting an earlier flight and i'm sorry to hear this has happened because it is seriously poor show that they couldn't find someone else to maybe do a swap for miles/money.
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Old Apr 22, 18, 1:22 am
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I need to welcome you to Flyertalk Deniedboardinghelp, and welcome you - in these very difficult circumstances - to the BA board. It must have been very distressing for you and waiting until Wednesday seems off the scale in terms of where you should be.

You are quite right that your needs are very specifically mentioned in EC261, and though there is no specific remediation for a breach, what should have happened is that any of the other 7 presumably able-bodied passengers should have been marked for IDB, not you. And this is the sort of situation where a good station manager would go through the lists and see if there is someone who actually wouldn't mind a few hundred dollars and a transfer over to SFO or an indirect routing via dozens of alternatives. I can see what happened, the ground staff having been told that the seat wasn't working meant that you were offloaded since any shuffling of passengers could have led to the same painful discussion that you had, plus resentment for all those shuffled around the cabin to fit you in, particularly if there were family groups involved. The unfortunate reality is that very few airline employees understand EC261, and probably very, very few understand the requirements for those with special needs. All the staff at SJC work for ground agents, not BA, and I think the BA staffer, known as the airport manager, is shared with SFO, so perhaps not on site.

That isn't due to any complexity, the two clauses in Article 11 are crystal clear and quite short:
Persons with reduced mobility or special needs
1. Operating air carriers shall give priority to carrying persons with reduced mobility and any persons or certified service dogs accompanying them, as well as unaccompanied children.
2. In cases of denied boarding, cancellation and delays of any length, persons with reduced mobility and any persons accompanying them, as well as unaccompanied children, shall have the right to care in accordance with Article 9 as soon as possible.
So you can see that actually they have twice failed you since the second recital is that they should have prioritised your access to Right to Care (Article 9) which also didn't happen.

Damage done, what can you do about it? And I would certainly urge you to take control of the situation, one of the difficulties about these cases is that one is often left feeling helpless.
1) If you want to move to a hotel now - for what ever reason really but perhaps to relieve the strain on the family member that came to your assistance - then you can do so. Just arrange it yourself and BA will pick up the bill for that, reasonable meals, communication costs (wifi) and taxis. Their internal guideline is US$280 per room per night at current exchange rates but I don't think you should be too worried if it goes a bit over that.
2) If you can work a way in which SFO would be OK for you before Wednesday then I would ring YouFirst (details should be in your booking, but it's available online under BA.com/First, choose the UK site) and ask them to rebook you. Seat 5K on Sunday's BA284, a 747, is available, for example.
3) I would certainly ring up YouFirst and make a specific complaint about IDB and Article 11, follow up with a complaint webform from the Contact Us section of the website. Keep it as short as possible (which takes longer to write!) but make sure you make the key point clearly. Take a screen shot before pressing the send button.
4) And don't forget to claim your 600€ (US$737) compensation for IDB under EC261, details in the relevant thread in the Dashboard, but that should not be controversial.

This is an particularly painful case to read about, defective chairs on full flights do happen, that can lead to massive disruption on a personal level, and BA are struggling with equipment shortages at the moment due to industry wide problems with 787s. Though this sort of thing is thankfully quite rare, I doubt that will give you much reassurance. I hope you can be on your way to England soon, and your username will be the only reminder!
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