BA fined $1.1m by US Government over COVID refunds

British Airways 777
By Lisa James
02/06/2023
Home » BA fined $1.1m by US Government over COVID refunds

British Airways has been fined $1.1m (£877,000) by the US Government for failing to pay ‘timely refunds to passengers’ whose flights were cancelled during COVID.

The US Transportation Department said it received more than 1,200 complaints since March 2020, while BA received thousands more directly from customers.

The department said that, between March and November 2020, BA’s website told customers to contact the carrier by phone to discuss refund options, yet many were unable to get through.

“There was also no way to submit a refund request through the carrier’s website during this period,” the department said.

It added the failure ‘caused significant challenges and delays in thousands of consumers receiving required refunds’.

BA will be credited $550,000 (£438,793) towards the penalty because in 2020 and 2021 it paid more than $40m in refunds to customers with non-refundable tickets.

BA said: “We’re very sorry that at the height of the unprecedented pandemic – when we were unfortunately forced to cancel thousands of flights and close some call centres due to government restrictions – our customers experienced slightly longer wait times to reach customer service teams.

“During this period, we acted lawfully at all times and offered customers the flexibility of rebooking travel on different dates, or claiming a refund if their flights were cancelled.

“To date, we have issued more than five million refunds since the start of the pandemic.”

Other airlines also received fines, including LATAM, which was ordered to pay $1m.

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