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Denied boarding over pregnancy fit to fly letter - who is right?

Denied boarding over pregnancy fit to fly letter - who is right?

Old Aug 19, 19, 10:31 am
  #1  
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Denied boarding over pregnancy fit to fly letter - who is right?

Would appreciate advice on whether or not we have grounds to make a claim for EU261 compensation based on the below circumstances.

Mrs JH is 30wks pregnant, and we were both booked on BA218 DEN-LHR yesterday, 18th August. This was our return leg, following the outbound LHR-SFO on 7th Aug.

To make sure we have the right documentation, I consulted the BA website about travelling when pregnant. The key paragraph reads:

We recommend you carry a letter or statement from your Doctor or Midwife [...] The letter should be dated as close to your travel date as possible and covers you for your entire journey (outbound and return) provided you do not require any medical care during your trip.
We travelled outbound fine with a letter dated 5th Aug. On arriving at the Denver airport, the check in agent would not accept our letter, saying we needed a second letter which said that my wife was fit to fly specifically for this flight. We subsequently waiting at the airport for 2.5hrs and were eventually rebooked for free onto today’s flight, although we need to find somewhere to get a letter. Suffice to say, not a nice experience for a 7monfh pregnant lady!

I emailed the BA Passenger Medical Clearance Team this morning, with a copy of the letter but no background - just asking if it was sufficient for a return flight today, which they confirmed it was.

It seems to me we were involuntarily denied boarding incorrectly. Do you think we have grounds to make an EU261 claim, plus the expenses incurred staying another night in Denver, and a doubtless expensive fit to fly letter from a US doctor.
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Last edited by Jamieharvey; Aug 20, 19 at 1:38 pm
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Old Aug 19, 19, 10:33 am
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Think you may want to correct the title!
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Old Aug 19, 19, 10:37 am
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Originally Posted by johnaalex View Post
Think you may want to correct the title!
Thanks, edited.
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Old Aug 19, 19, 10:40 am
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Before you go to a US doctor, it may be worth speaking to the BA Passenger Medical team with all of the details as you've posted here.

If they are happy for your wife to travel based on the original letter then they need to communicate that to the check in staff at Denver before you got to the expense of a US doctor.
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Old Aug 19, 19, 10:41 am
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Just to be clear, did you send the copy of the original letter dated 5th August to the BA Passenger Medical Clearance Team or the letter you received today in the US? If the former then prima facie it would seem you were denied boarding when you should not have been. How unpleasant. Good luck with the next couple of months
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Old Aug 19, 19, 10:42 am
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I would definitely go ahead and apply for both EC261 comp and expenses for additional night. But I would also set my expectation low on this. BA will counter with 'elf and safety argument. But you've got a case in the sense they did accept the original letter for your re-scheduled flight. Be prepared to take it to CEDR and MCOL.
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Old Aug 19, 19, 10:47 am
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Did the original letter say fit to fly entire trip or just fit to fly on the outbound date?
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Old Aug 19, 19, 10:48 am
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Originally Posted by golfmad View Post
Just to be clear, did you send the copy of the original letter dated 5th August to the BA Passenger Medical Clearance Team or the letter you received today in the US? If the former then prima facie it would seem you were denied boarding when you should not have been. How unpleasant. Good luck with the next couple of months
Yes, I sent all the travel details and copy of the original letter to PMCU and they said it was sufficient to fly. To quote their one line reply to my email:
The letter used for your outbound flight is valid for the return journey too.
And thanks for the best wishes!
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Old Aug 19, 19, 10:49 am
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Edit: Nevermind, misread. Should’ve finished my coffee first!

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Old Aug 19, 19, 10:51 am
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Originally Posted by phenombr View Post
They denied you boarding because the letter wasn’t good enough, but then they rebooked you...because they decided the letter was good enough? What the what?
No, they rebooked them to give them time to obtain a local letter that she is good to fly. Which they did. They also sent the original letter over to the medical team, etc.
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Old Aug 19, 19, 10:52 am
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Did the original letter say fit to fly entire trip or just fit to fly on the outbound date?
It said “This is to confirm that Mrs JH is 28wks 3days pregnant on the day she is due to fly to the USA”. Then goes on to say fit and normal etc. The letter doesn’t actually say “fit to fly”, it just confirms how far the pregnancy is, and that there have been no complications.
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Old Aug 19, 19, 10:52 am
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Based on the information posted, this appears to be IDB and compensation due. BA have provided all the evidence necessary to proceed.
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Old Aug 19, 19, 11:03 am
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Some direction and guidance needed from Waterside to BA’s agents in DEN I think. It’s not as if pregnancy is exactly unheard of.
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Old Aug 19, 19, 11:06 am
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Originally Posted by krispy84 View Post
Some direction and guidance needed from Waterside to BA’s agents in DEN I think. It’s not as if pregnancy is exactly unheard of.
Are they real BA employees or airport contract workers? If they handle check ins for different airlines, they could be confused about BA versus other carrier requirements for flying while pregnant.
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Old Aug 19, 19, 11:07 am
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I think the OP has a strong argument, but BA will also have an arguable case too. The relevant phrase is:
‘denied boarding’ means a refusal to carry passengers on a flight, although they have presented themselves for boarding under the conditions laid down in Article 3(2), except where there are reasonable grounds to deny them boarding, such as reasons of health, safety or security, or inadequate travel documentation;
And "reasonable" in this context should be read as "rational". On the other hand, the note from BA.com does say "recommend" rather than "require". Plus there is another often overlooked clause in the pre-amble which says:
Passengers denied boarding against their will should be able either to cancel their flights, with reimbursement of their tickets, or to continue them under satisfactory conditions, and should be adequately cared for while awaiting a later flight.
I would apply as per the main EC261 thread, I think you would probably get the hotel costs back in the circumstances. Whether you would easily get the full Article 7 amounts for both of you, well that may require further work by the OP. One advantage of pursuing the matter is that the DEN ground agents, who are not BA employees, will be asked about it via the Airport Manager. That said, I would assume that the AIrport Manager would be involved in any IDB cases.
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