After British Airways reroutes Jane Lyons’ flight from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., a representative promises that the airline will reimburse her for her taxi fare. But when she presents the airline with a bill, it balks.
Q: I need help getting a refund from British Airways. Earlier this year, I flew from Bergen, Norway, to Baltimore via London — at least, that’s what my ticket said. However, the connecting flight from London to Baltimore was canceled due to a mechanical problem, and a day later I was rerouted to Washington Dulles International Airport.
I did not claim reimbursement for the delay or the rebooking. But British Airways had announced that it would refund the cost of transportation between Washington and Baltimore, if the receipt was forwarded to the customer-service department. Accordingly, I submitted the receipt for $211, the cost of the taxi.
British Airways refunded me $50, stating that more would be above its limit. No limit restriction on taxi fare had ever been mentioned — if it had, I would have tried to find alternative transportation. Can you help me get the $161 that British Airways owes me?
— Jane Lyons, Baltimore
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A: If British Airways promised it would cover your taxi fare, then it should have. A receipt should have been sufficient. Case closed.
Why wasn’t it? A review of your correspondence suggests that the airline misread your first request. You appealed in writing (good move!). Then, British Airways responded with an email saying your refund was limited to $50. But no one ever told you about that limit when you were rerouted to Washington. If you’d known, I’m sure you would have found a less expensive way to get across town or accepted the airline’s partial compensation.
I can see that you were dealing with British Airways’ regular customer-service department, which may explain why the airline misread your initial complaint. Its agents review hundreds of messages a day and sometimes have only minutes to decide which form response to send.
You might have escalated this to a more senior customer-service manager. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the British Airways executives on my consumer-advocacy site: http://elliott.org/company-contacts/british-airways/.
Although $211 seems like a lot of money for a cab to Baltimore, it’s actually close to the fares I found online. (The going rate is closer to $155 between airports, but add a tip and change your destination to your home, and you’re in the ballpark.)
After I brought this case to its attention, British Airways refunded $681. That’s no mistake. Since your flight was canceled, you also were entitled to compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004, the European consumer-protection law. Now that’s what I call a happy ending!