Any right to cancel for reduced service?

Old Jun 4, 20, 3:19 am
  #1  
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Any right to cancel for reduced service?

In January I booked a flight departing in mid-August for myself and my family to Vancouver. Obviously at this stage we have no idea if the flight will go ahead and we're not in the window where we can apply for a voucher or refund.

I have been reading the information BA has released around their 'return to the skies'. This outlines significantly restricted service offerings on flights.

I booked my flight outbound in First, returning in Business as much for the flight experience as for the destination. I chose that class of travel based on the advertised amenities and benefits in that class of travel - the meal service, the alcohol served, the on-board service, the lounge experience, etc.

With the COVID-19 restrictions almost all my reasons for booking that class are no longer being provided (no premium meal, no alcohol, no first lounge, no business lounges, greatly reduced on-board service). As such the flight offered no longer reflects the flight I booked at a significant premium cost.

I'd really like to try and push them for a refund, but I'm sure they'll just come back and say no. I wondered what my options would be then?
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Old Jun 4, 20, 3:51 am
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Although I presume BA will tell you to take a jump or just give you a few Avios to try to placate you, I think you could well have a case to reclaim what you paid via your credit card company by making the same arguments. IMO it's a reasonably clear legal position that if you bought a service based on advertised claims, and these weren't delivered, you should be entitled to a refund. In my experience credit card companies are far more willing to take the side of the customer (it's your credit card company that makes the decision) as you are their customer and they obviously want to keep you.
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Old Jun 4, 20, 4:08 am
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Hi c_hri_s and welcome to FT.

Tbh I think a lot depends on whether you want to travel at all at the end of the day. If not then if any of the flights in the booking get cancelled or significantly retimed you can get a full refund anyway - no need to request any chargeback with your card company, if nothing else BA have been pretty prompt in most cases issuing refunds. If a flight gets cancelled and you do want a refund you would have to call BA to request this, the online functionality for requesting refunds has been turned off atm.

If none of the flights are cancelled or significantly retimed then at the moment the future travel voucher option doesn't cover your travel dates - I think my expectation is that will be extended to cover August anyway so at some point you would be able to take that route, get a FTV, and use it towards any future booking up to April 2022.

If you do want to fly then I do not think going to your card company and asking for a refund is not a good idea since you may end up with a cancelled booking albeit with your money back. There isn't anything formally about the reduced service, and we don't even know exactly what that would look like in two months time since things are changing all the time. I think when we get closer to the date, and the details are clearer, if you are feeling short changed the first steop would be a complaint to see where that goes.
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Old Jun 4, 20, 4:41 am
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Thanks - good advice.

I don't think we really do want to fly, nor do we want a voucher. My expectation is that pirces will shoot up in the future and we'll struggle to get an equivalent flight without a significant top-up.
I'd rather have the money and the options.

I'll wait until nearer the time and see how I feel about things then, and see exactly what the service is that's been offered.
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Old Jun 4, 20, 4:43 am
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I donít believe youíll have any right to cancel upfront if the service isnít going to be what you expected. However, if you travel and donít experience what was advertised when you booked, then you would have grounds for a complaint afterwards. If you are unhappy with any response you receive there are avenues you can take to push it in terms of the Consumer Rights Act, though you would potentially be relying on a court to determine whether what you are requesting as compensation is reasonable.
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Old Jun 4, 20, 5:01 am
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There are a lot of unknowns here, not the least of which is the question of whether the Canadian border will be open to you (assuming you are not Canadian citizens or PRs). I agree with what KARFA says upthread, which is that, if the flights go ahead, the best you can realistically hope for is a voucher for future travel, but there is a reasonable likelihood that the flights are cancelled anyway. A chargeback against your credit card will almost certainly fail if the argument is about onboard service. If it is about not being able to enter Canada it will also fail. The only instance in which a chargeback will be successful is if BA cancelled the flights and offered you nothing. Card issuers have become much more resistant to chargebacks in recent weeks.
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Old Jun 4, 20, 5:41 am
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This is very simpleó BA has already notified you that it is unable to offer the product advertised.

Hereís what you need to do:
  1. Contact BA and tell them the above.
  2. Ask for a refund (in writing if possible)
  3. If BA refuses, file a chargeback

You definitely do not have to fly and seek compensation later.
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Old Jun 4, 20, 5:41 am
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I am certain that the Lounge Lawyers among us will argue this to death. However, when one has booked Club World or Europe in the past; it has always been part of the "come-ons" that the meals and drinks (as ultimately that is what has changed) are included and available. I think that to then effectively say that they have been withdrawn when people have expectations based on the "come-on" means that the product as purchased is not available. It's like me ordering a black dress with white buttons and them sending me one with yellow buttons and saying "it's all that we are providing at the moment" . There seems to be a take-it-or-leave-it attitude to which we are all expected to accept in the name of reduced customer contact. Since other carriers seems capable of providing service, I cannot see why British Airways finds itself incapable except on grounds of costs. Whilst there are other threads where this is being debated, my view is that if British Airways are unable or unwilling to provide the service for which people have paid, then they should be given the option to have their money refunded so that they can patronise other carriers that can and do.
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Old Jun 4, 20, 6:05 am
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A warm welcome to Flyertalk and the BA Board c_hri_s.

I see your question has been answered and of course I, as everyone else would want too, is for it all go back to a full 'normal' soon in terms of what we experienced before this outbreak.

However, I don't see that happening anytime soon, who knows there may even be a 2nd spike of Covid (please no!) but it's still over 2 months away yet and a lot could change between now and then. Fingers crossed for you and other affected travellers. If you do decide to go ahead and fly then I am sure you will still get some limited enjoyment from the F cabin in some ways but not entirely the same as before.
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Old Jun 4, 20, 7:18 am
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In terms of the flight taking place I have an avios booking on July 7. The A380 was changed out to a 777 suggesting BA is getting ready to fly. Maybe it will be cancelled and pushed back or dates changed ie no daily flights as there were pre Covid. Date change may result in cancellation but I would be upset if I paid that kind of money for that experience and was told I can only have a voucher. Contractually what could be more of a breach of contract of carriage than that? You may have the lie flat experience but everything else has been removed.
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Old Jun 4, 20, 7:21 am
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Originally Posted by PUCCI GALORE View Post
It's like me ordering a black dress with white buttons and them sending me one with yellow buttons and saying "it's all that we are providing at the moment" . .
It's more like the dress arriving with no buttons at all, and a note suggesting you dig up a stout rubber band to hold the garment together round your middle.

A dress has buttons; F/J have amenities.
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Old Jun 4, 20, 7:36 am
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I must bring up an old FT maxim that transportation services are not easily compared with dresses, Coke multipacks, Happy Meals, and the like. It should be obvious that, reductio ad absurdum, a chargeback based on the ancillary services will fail, because it will always be a point of subjective contention. Perhaps you were promised 'the finest wines in the sky' but received only Castelnau and Oyster Bay. You expected the finest Egyptian cotton sheets only to find you got something out of a plastic bag. BA has chosen to pare down its service for the stated reason of minimising contact and, of course, to save costs. I agree that this is disappointing and hopefully short-lived (other airlines are managing to continue this service) but not the basis for a chargeback on the basis of a contract not being fulfilled.

OP - assuming you are able to get into Canada (unlikely unless a citizen/PR in August is my sense from locals) would you be prepared to accept a downgrade or has this service reduction turned you off from the vacation completely?
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Old Jun 4, 20, 7:45 am
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Does canada even allow tourists to enter now?
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Old Jun 4, 20, 7:47 am
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Originally Posted by zack14 View Post
Does canada even allow tourists to enter now?
Currently not. But it is not known what the situation in August will be.
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Old Jun 4, 20, 8:07 am
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
a chargeback based on the ancillary services will fail, because it will always be a point of subjective contention. Perhaps you were promised 'the finest wines in the sky' but received only Castelnau and Oyster Bay. You expected the finest Egyptian cotton sheets only to find you got something out of a plastic bag. BA has chosen to pare down its service for the stated reason of minimising contact and, of course, to save costs.
Sure, I appreciate anything subjective couldn't be argued, but even today their description of First says it includes all of the following, none of which is being provided:

(can't post URL as I'm too new, but it's britishairways -dot - com/en-gb/information/travel-classes/first/first)
  • From your own stylish suite, to exclusive access to spa treatments, fast-track security, and excellent service, it’s the finest way to travel.
  • Delicious, indulgent fine dining with exclusively designed crockery, cutlery and glassware from the finest British designers, William Edwards, Studio William and Dartington
  • Access to luxurious lounges and spa treatments
  • Priority boarding, straight from an exclusive First lounge
  • We've worked with some of the world's top chefs and British designers to bring you the full restaurant experience at 35,000 feet.
  • Luxury meals including a new delicious ŗ la carte menu, plus a range of lighter options that focus on fresh seasonal ingredients of British provenance
  • New signature afternoon tea service, showcasing the great British tradition of high tea. The menu will include a selection of sandwiches, delicate pastries and scones, as well as a wide range of tea infusions
  • A wide selection of Champagnes, wines, spirits, and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Flexibility to order whenever suits you best
  • Indulge in a luxury complimentary massage or facial treatment, with acclaimed British spa and skincare brand Elemis

This isn't some disagreement about a quality of wine, it's fundamental parts of their offering and the experience I purchased not being delivered.

I'm not really keen to accept a downgrade, because I'm not desparate to take the vacation right now and would prefer to do it when more normality returns - this applies to both the travel and destination aspects.
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