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-   -   Have BA changed the 'Significant Change' from 2hrs to 4hrs (https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/british-airways-executive-club/2027282-have-ba-changed-significant-change-2hrs-4hrs.html)

UKTraveller4Fun Oct 21, 20 10:50 am

Have BA changed the 'Significant Change' from 2hrs to 4hrs
 
Hi,

Just got off the phone with BA as an outbound flight had been moved by 1hr55 and a return by 3hr40 and wanted to cancel as there was no other flight available and the earlier flight meant no way to connect.

I was informed that recently BA changed significant to mean 4 hours rather than 2 hours and as such I would have to pay a cancellation fee (Avios Ticket). I suggested surely the terms of when I booked should be applied but told that it is when the flight is rather than booking date they use to decide if 2 hours or 4 hours applies!

They have sent it away to be queried but it got me thinking if it was a non refundable cash ticket 4 hours really makes a lot of options I may consider non starters for me and find it an draconian change to the rules if indeed accurate. Just wondered if I had missed this update and if others had been advised the same?

golfmad Oct 21, 20 10:56 am

The change to 4 hours was reported a couple of weeks ago here:

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/32709124-post4001.html

PUCCI GALORE Oct 21, 20 11:12 am

I missed that as well. and I am pleased that a separate thread has been launched as I think that this was a bit buried last time.

Tafflyer Oct 21, 20 11:35 am

I think how significant 2 or 4 hours is depends on the traveller and is not really specifically for BA to set. If a 2 hour change means you cannot make a meeting then even that is significant.

In the past, I have shifted flights to months later due to a 1:30 change that clearly no longer served my purpose. That is almost certainly even easier to justify with 4 hours. I would stick to your guns and insist on a free change or cancellation.

In case BA doesn't play ball, couldn't you request an FTV (Future Travel Voucher) under the COVID book with confidence scheme and redeem that for another ticket at a later date?

UKTraveller4Fun Oct 21, 20 12:38 pm


Originally Posted by Tafflyer (Post 32763416)
I think how significant 2 or 4 hours is depends on the traveller and is not really specifically for BA to set. If a 2 hour change means you cannot make a meeting then even that is significant.

In the past, I have shifted flights to months later due to a 1:30 change that clearly no longer served my purpose. That is almost certainly even easier to justify with 4 hours. I would stick to your guns and insist on a free change or cancellation.

In case BA doesn't play ball, couldn't you request an FTV (Future Travel Voucher) under the COVID book with confidence scheme and redeem that for another ticket at a later date?

I fully agree that significant is variable but on the phone both the BA agent and his manager were very sure that it didn't matter how significant it was to me, simply that BA now consinder any schedule change under 4 hours not to be significant and as such not willing to do anything without appropriate fees. There is no now way I can get to Heathrow in time via public transport (or even a BA connection flight from Manchester as there isnt one early enough) without staying the night before they still deemed the change to be insignificant.

The voucher gives an easy way out and to be honest for Avios tickets where they are easy to cancel its not an issue, but once the Covid vouchers don't exist any more to me the risk of making a revenue booking is to great based on BA's new rules for many of the trips I would usually make.

smartytravel Oct 21, 20 12:43 pm

You bought your ticket under specific conditions, and you agreed to specific terms. If you purchased before the 4 hour rule went into effect, then you are entitled to a 2-hour rule, irrespective of the departure date.

Not an attorney, but thatís what I was told.

flyertalker28120 Oct 21, 20 1:12 pm

3h40m must surely qualify as a cancellation in conjunction with an offer of an alternative flight under EC261/04. So you should be able to get a full refund.

KARFA Oct 21, 20 1:17 pm


Originally Posted by smartytravel (Post 32763613)
You bought your ticket under specific conditions, and you agreed to specific terms. If you purchased before the 4 hour rule went into effect, then you are entitled to a 2-hour rule, irrespective of the departure date.

Not an attorney, but thatís what I was told.

told by whom?


Originally Posted by funkydrummer (Post 32763676)
3h40m must surely qualify as a cancellation in conjunction with an offer of an alternative flight under EC261/04. So you should be able to get a full refund.

under the scenario outlined by the OP, EC261 doesnít allow for a full refund.

flyertalker28120 Oct 21, 20 1:26 pm


Originally Posted by KARFA (Post 32763686)
under the scenario outlined by the OP, EC261 doesnít allow for a full refund.

Well, I don't know what is the itinerary and therefore don't know what is the jurisdiction. But courts in more than one European country have ruled, for example, that a schedule change of as little as 30 min ahead of the departure time booked qualifies as a cancellation. Of course, there is no right to compensation unless you were notified short-term. But you should have the right to choose between reimbursement, re-routing at the earliest opportunity, and re-routing at a later date of your convenience.

Often1 Oct 21, 20 1:36 pm

BA well aware of those few jurisdictions where there is precedential authority overriding policy.

KARFA Oct 21, 20 1:40 pm


Originally Posted by funkydrummer (Post 32763710)
Well, I don't know what is the itinerary and therefore don't know what is the jurisdiction. But courts in more than one European country have ruled, for example, that a schedule change of as little as 30 min ahead of the departure time booked qualifies as a cancellation. Of course, there is no right to compensation unless you were notified short-term. But you should have the right to choose between reimbursement, re-routing at the earliest opportunity, and re-routing at a later date of your convenience.

could you point to the court rulings and where it says that in EC261 please?

EDIT: just to add I only ask since I have retiming of my own come through today of about 3hrs too and a refund would be preferable

lcylocal Oct 21, 20 1:56 pm

I do think that BA risk shooting themselves in the foot with changes like this and the other thread about the tightening of BA holidays policies in another thread.

BA need to build the confidence of travellers to travel - particularly leisure which is more directly in consumers hands and is discretionary. I have taken a single flight since March, and a last minute change because of changes to travel corridors was handled well (phone hold times aside due to crap IT). Confidence that flexibility to deal with changing situations over the next year is what I need to be convinced to book, and Iím sure it is the same for many others.

I get the airline is in a very difficult position. But I donít think this flexibility is being particularly abused and these type of changes undermine the confidence BA need to build right now.

Im a new user Oct 21, 20 2:18 pm


Article 6

Delay

1. When an operating air carrier reasonably expects a flight to be delayed beyond its scheduled time of departure:

[...]

passengers shall be offered by the operating air carrier:

[...]

(iii) when the delay is at least five hours, the assistance specified in Article 8(1)(a).
The right to a refund is "the assistance specified in Article 8(1)(a)" so it seems that BA won't have to refund you unless the delay is at least five hours. If BA offers a refund already after four hours, BA actually offers more than what is required.

KARFA Oct 21, 20 2:25 pm


Originally Posted by Im a new user (Post 32763822)
The right to a refund is "the assistance specified in Article 8(1)(a)" so it seems that BA won't have to refund you unless the delay is at least five hours. If BA offers a refund already after four hours, BA actually offers more than what is required.

that would be for a delay to the scheduled departure time tho.

For advanced notice retiming of a flight like the OP received (and like I have received today for a November booking) the scheduled departure time has been changed. Itís a change of the scheduled departure time rather than a delay to the scheduled departure time.

flyertalker28120 Oct 21, 20 3:13 pm


Originally Posted by KARFA (Post 32763754)
could you point to the court rulings and where it says that in EC261 please?

EDIT: just to add I only ask since I have retiming of my own come through today of about 3hrs too and a refund would be preferable

IANAL. EC261 is a HUGE mess. For instance, the law is NOT explicitly saying that a delay of 3+ hours (not caused by extraordinary circumstances) entitles you to compensation. Instead, it was an ECJ ruling from 2009 (?) which declared that such a delay is equivalent to a cancellation with regards to compensation. Even more so, the regulation doesn't even define what is an "extraordinary circumstance", courts had to define that, too. Those are just two examples of the vast incompleteness of that regulation.

It has been left to the courts to decide which schedule changes are to be treated analogously to a cancellation (article 5 covers the latter). My understanding is that a substantial schedule change gives you the rights of article 8 (reimbursement and, if applicable, return to point of origin, re-routing at earliest opportunity, or re-routing at the convenience of the pax) in several countries to which EC261 applies. And article 5 of EC261 gives an orientation as to what is substantial, which is then extrapolated outside the realm of compensation. So some federal courts have ruled that, for example, a -2h schedule change you were informed about, say, 21 days before departure, gives you the right to reimbursement. (Obv, no compensation as you were informed 14+ days in advance.)

EDIT: I guess it's a little more than "my understanding is". I've won cases vs. several airlines in this regard using a lawyer from Berlin. Like, LH, FR, or IB refusing to rebook on another carrier after a schedule change. So I requested a rebooking on another carrier, setting a time limit. They usually don't react or offer an unacceptable change on their own metal. You have to rebook on your own dime and get your money back in court.

Often1 Oct 21, 20 4:59 pm


Originally Posted by funkydrummer (Post 32763919)
IANAL. EC261 is a HUGE mess. For instance, the law is NOT explicitly saying that a delay of 3+ hours (not caused by extraordinary circumstances) entitles you to compensation. Instead, it was an ECJ ruling from 2009 (?) which declared that such a delay is equivalent to a cancellation with regards to compensation. Even more so, the regulation doesn't even define what is an "extraordinary circumstance", courts had to define that, too. Those are just two examples of the vast incompleteness of that regulation.

It has been left to the courts to decide which schedule changes are to be treated analogously to a cancellation (article 5 covers the latter). My understanding is that a substantial schedule change gives you the rights of article 8 (reimbursement and, if applicable, return to point of origin, re-routing at earliest opportunity, or re-routing at the convenience of the pax) in several countries to which EC261 applies. And article 5 of EC261 gives an orientation as to what is substantial, which is then extrapolated outside the realm of compensation. So some federal courts have ruled that, for example, a -2h schedule change you were informed about, say, 21 days before departure, gives you the right to reimbursement. (Obv, no compensation as you were informed 14+ days in advance.)

EDIT: I guess it's a little more than "my understanding is". I've won cases vs. several airlines in this regard using a lawyer from Berlin. Like, LH, FR, or IB refusing to rebook on another carrier after a schedule change. So I requested a rebooking on another carrier, setting a time limit. They usually don't react or offer an unacceptable change on their own metal. You have to rebook on your own dime and get your money back in court.

But, that is the nature of law in most Rule of Law nations. Legislatures enact law, courts interpret those laws and the decisions of the courts, at least at sufficiently high enough levels, are precedential.

This won't get easier with the passage of time. The UK has adopted the Regulation into its domestic law and "it" will thus survive Brexit. But, once the UK has exited, ECJ precedent won't bind the UK courts. Thus, should the ECJ choose, once again, to define what is an "extraordinary circunmstance," UK courts might well not find that persuasive.

The Geek Oct 21, 20 5:18 pm


Originally Posted by KARFA (Post 32763754)
could you point to the court rulings and where it says that in EC261 please?

EDIT: just to add I only ask since I have retiming of my own come through today of about 3hrs too and a refund would be preferable

Somehow I don't think a voucher would go to waste in your case. :D

Just read this article on MSE about this very subject, and it seems that it's up to the airline what is a significant change.

My mild understanding of contract / consumer law is you are bound by / agree to the T&Cs / CoC in force when you've booked as long as they are not deemed unfair. They shouldn't be able to move the goalposts in their favour beyond that.

FWIW I had a flight re-timed 1:50 earlier some time ago & a couple of weeks back some 48 hours out I rang the gold line and asked them if a free change was possible onto another flight 20 minutes later than time of the original flight. They obliged. { The latter flight was more expensive to change to online. }

flyertalker28120 Oct 22, 20 3:24 am


Originally Posted by Often1 (Post 32764116)
But, that is the nature of law in most Rule of Law nations. Legislatures enact law, courts interpret those laws and the decisions of the courts, at least at sufficiently high enough levels, are precedential.

This won't get easier with the passage of time. The UK has adopted the Regulation into its domestic law and "it" will thus survive Brexit. But, once the UK has exited, ECJ precedent won't bind the UK courts. Thus, should the ECJ choose, once again, to define what is an "extraordinary circunmstance," UK courts might well not find that persuasive.

For EC261, what matters is the departure airport.

We don't know what kind of ticket the OP holds. But if it's an itinerary UK-EU, and in light of the fact that the inbound was changed by by substantially more, it might be legally more promising to force BA to a full refund based on the change to the inbound. I admit this is a purely academic discussion at this point. It seems OP is located in the UK. And few lawyers from the UK will take on a case which requires them to work with a legal jurisdiction of, say, Spain because the inbound is MAD-LHR. So for all practical purposes, the better option is to pay the relatively low fee for cancelling an avios booking.

UKTraveller4Fun Oct 22, 20 4:39 am


Originally Posted by funkydrummer (Post 32764906)
For EC261, what matters is the departure airport.

We don't know what kind of ticket the OP holds. But if it's an itinerary UK-EU, and in light of the fact that the inbound was changed by by substantially more, it might be legally more promising to force BA to a full refund based on the change to the inbound. I admit this is a purely academic discussion at this point. It seems OP is located in the UK. And few lawyers from the UK will take on a case which requires them to work with a legal jurisdiction of, say, Spain because the inbound is MAD-LHR. So for all practical purposes, the better option is to pay the relatively low fee for cancelling an avios booking.

The flight is UK-EU and outbound changed by just under 2hrs and inbound by just under 4 hours. The argument they made was now any change under 4 hours they do not classify as significant and as such I can pay the fee to cancel or take a voucher and this rule applies apparently to all types of bookings. In this case it is not an issue my concern is more down the line that essentially BA are saying if I had a ticket booked in First or Club as a revenue ticket I would not be able to do anything once Covid vouchers are withdrawn!

gcuk Oct 22, 20 5:47 am

4 hours is a very long requirement.
Iíve had a schedule change to a domestic flight meaning I arrive on a long haul flight at 1525, and my connection which did leave at 1640 now leaves at 2050. Fortunately itís 10 minutes over the 4 hours so I could cancel but if it had been 10 minutes less, Iím sure some would consider arriving at 10pm to be a significant change from arriving at 6.05pm, particularly if onward car or public transport travel was required at the destination.

guym4c Oct 22, 20 8:40 am

Particularly embarrassing for BA is the fact that a certain pink low cost carrier allows refunds for any and all schedule changes

rossmacd Oct 22, 20 8:45 am

For those of us who are daytrippers or who do short in and outs of London, a 4 hour change is significant. Imagine a business traveler ex-FRA or ZRH on the early 7am flight to LON, then on the evening 5-7pm flight back - a 4 hour change makes the trip almost unfeasible. I cannot imagine that the business community would be very forgiving when indeed they start to travel again in large volumes compared to now. It could be a temporary change in the current circumstances, but will BA will find themselves uncompetitive in future.

lewincg Oct 23, 20 10:36 am

It could be even worse...! I was looking at the BA Holiday T&Cs (https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb...and-conditions) and they seem to define "significant change" as 12 hours or more:


8.3. We are only liable to you for cancellations or significant changes to your booking by us. A significant change is one that we make to your booking before your departure that affects an essential term of your contract. Examples of a significant change includes changes by us to:

your destination area;
your booked accommodation to that of an alternative property of a lower rating;
your departure times or accommodation occupancy periods by more than 12 hours.

SW7London Oct 23, 20 11:25 am


Originally Posted by lewincg (Post 32768108)
It could be even worse...! I was looking at the BA Holiday T&Cs (https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb...and-conditions) and they seem to define "significant change" as 12 hours or more:

Surely, say a 10 hour schedule change is material change to what the customer is buying. Similar to the day tripper example above, where 3 hours would be material and BA essentially saying only changes 4 hour or more are significant.

Likely this wouldn't stand up if taken to court. I'd just raise a dispute on the credit card.

Globaliser Oct 24, 20 5:30 am


Originally Posted by lewincg (Post 32768108)
It could be even worse...! I was looking at the BA Holiday T&Cs (https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb...and-conditions) and they seem to define "significant change" as 12 hours or more:

Isn't that pretty common on package holidays?

The apparent oddity of that provision may come from the way that some bookings now qualify to be "package holidays" even though they are a long way from what package holidays were when those T&C were first written.

hearingdouble Oct 24, 20 6:56 am


Originally Posted by rossmacd (Post 32765335)
I cannot imagine that the business community would be very forgiving when indeed they start to travel again in large volumes compared to now. It could be a temporary change in the current circumstances, but will BA will find themselves uncompetitive in future.

I sort of agree with this, although business travel is typically booked at relatively short notice and often full fare (with full flex) - so Iím not sure how likely most business travellers are to be impacted.

alex_b Oct 24, 20 7:24 am


Originally Posted by hearingdouble (Post 32769708)
I sort of agree with this, although business travel is typically booked at relatively short notice and often full fare (with full flex) - so Iím not sure how likely most business travellers are to be impacted.

Outside of financial services I don't know how much business travel is really in full fare/full flex. Everywhere I've ever worked (in technology) has always required we book lowest cost fare (even when permitted to fly premium cabins). One of the reason the SDC benefit for elites on the US carriers is so liked is it gives some of that flexibility of full fare tickets for free.

You're correct that the more short notice type of business bookings does limit the impact somewhat as I guess schedule changes are less frequent close in. Although I have had 2+ hr shifts of flight times the night before a flight, which on a day trip can make the whole journey unviable.

aks120 Nov 1, 20 1:24 am

So my flight to Istanbul was cancelled and I was put on a different flt number 3:35 hr earlier. Is this still classed a significant change? Ie not just retimed but flight cancelled and put on another one?

I am assuming I will only be entitled to a voucher but just wanted to check understanding!

aks120

Dave Noble Nov 1, 20 2:29 am


Originally Posted by aks120 (Post 32786915)
So my flight to Istanbul was cancelled and I was put on a different flt number 3:35 hr earlier. Is this still classed a significant change? Ie not just retimed but flight cancelled and put on another one?

I am assuming I will only be entitled to a voucher but just wanted to check understanding!

aks120

My understanding is that your flight was cancelled and so you are entitled to a refund regardless

aks120 Nov 1, 20 2:44 am

Thanks - will phone and ask! I will let you know how I get on.

aks120

cosmo74 Apr 27, 21 9:38 am

Has this now changed to 5 hours? I was told this was the case when I phoned earlier to cancel an Avios HKG flight where the time had changed. First they said I wouldn't get the £35 refunded because I had accepted the time change, which I hadn't. Then I was told that the change needed to be more than 5 hours, I questioned this as I recalled seeing this thread, and said I thought it was less but they seemed pretty adamant it was 5 hours. I then pointed out that my flight had changed by 10hrs and 25 mins, and they said oh yes, so it has, we'll have to override the system as it's not allowing the refund automatically.

KARFA Apr 27, 21 9:42 am

Standard guidelines, Schedule changes, - BA, option 3, screenshot done just this moment. 240 minutes.

https://cimg8.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.fly...47ffc39994.png

cosmo74 Apr 27, 21 9:54 am

Thanks, good to know the call centre staff are on the ball :rolleyes: Shame about the change to 4hrs.

yellow_peril Apr 27, 21 1:45 pm

On this, I had a great experience when they retimed my Larmaca flight in October (by around 3hrs) and ANY retiming seems to allow a change to another flight the same day. Ended up being able to join friends moved from LGW flight onto the best timed 1145 dep from Heathrow so our avois redemption is now sitting in a B class bucket!


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