ritish Airways has been fined nearly £1million by the US government for allegedly failing to pay out refunds on canceled flights.
The U.S. Department of Transportation said in a legal document the airline “failed to provide timely refunds for canceled or postponed flights in and out of the country” to passengers during the coronavirus pandemic.
British Airways said it “acted lawfully at all times” after the company was fined $1.1 million (£878,000) on Thursday, and dismissed the claims.
A statement from the Department read: “From March to November 2020, the British Airways website instructed consumers to contact the airline by telephone to discuss ‘refund options’, including for flights that the airline has canceled or significantly changed.
“However, consumers were unable to reach customer service representatives when calling the airline for several months during this period as British Airways failed to maintain adequate functionality of its customer service phone lines. During this period, there was also no option to submit a refund request through the carrier’s website.
“Also from March to November 2020, British Airways had misleading information on its website which led to consumers inadvertently claiming travel vouchers instead of refunds.
“Since March 2020, the Department has received over 1,200 complaints alleging that British Airways failed to issue timely refunds after consumers’ flights to or from the United States were canceled or significantly altered.
“British Airways has received thousands more complaints and refund requests directly from consumers. British Airways’ failure over several months to provide consumers with an easily accessible way to request refunds for flights that the airline has canceled or significantly changed has caused significant challenges and delays for thousands of consumers getting the refunds they need guided.”
The ministry said the fine “consists of a strong deterrent against future similar illegal practices”.
British Airways will face just under £500,000 towards the fine for paying more than $40m in refunds to customers with non-refundable tickets in 2020 and 2021.
The airline said: “We are very sorry that at the height of the unprecedented pandemic – when government restrictions have sadly forced us to cancel thousands of flights and close some call centers – our customers experienced slightly longer waits to provide customer service reach.” teams.
“During this period we have acted lawfully at all times, offering customers the flexibility to reschedule trips or request a refund where their flights have been cancelled.
“To date, we have issued more than five million refunds since the pandemic began.”
https://www.standard.co.uk/business/business-news/british-airways-fined-almost-ps1-million-by-us-government-over-covid-refunds-b1085119.html British Airways fined nearly £1million by the US government over Covid refunds