Oops: British Airways’ Accidental Flight Cancelation Emails

Filed Under: British Airways

Yesterday British Airways pilots announced that they’re going on strike September 9, September 10, and September 27, 2019. This follows a contract dispute between pilots and management that has been going on for quite a while.

It’s still possible that this strike will be called off, though as of now British Airways is planning on it happening, and they’re adjusting their schedule accordingly. As part of this they’re trimming their schedule on the above dates. On top of that:

  • British Airways is exploring wet lease opportunities, where they could possibly have other carriers operate flights on their behalf over the strike dates
  • They’re working with partner airlines to increase capacity to & from London over the strike dates

But as of now we can expect that a lot of flights will be canceled on the above dates. It’s also possible that we’ll see cancelations on the day immediately following any of these strikes. For example, if a flight from London to somewhere is scheduled to depart on the strike date, the return flight the following day could be impacted as well.

However, it appears that British Airways may not be doing an amazing job communicating with customers here.

There are lots of reports of British Airways sending out incorrect flight cancelation notices. So while lots of flights will be canceled, others are receiving cancelation emails even though their flights haven’t actually been canceled.

C’mon British Airways, you had one job (okay, they have multiple jobs, but you get the point). 😉

So how can you tell if your flight is actually canceled, or if it was a mistake? Go to the “Manage My Booking” section of British Airways’ website:

  • If your flight was actually canceled, you’ll see this clearly reflected in the online itinerary, with struck-through text over the flight details
  • If your flight wasn’t actually canceled, you’ll see that the flights appear as usual

So while I’m sure the disruptions from this strike will be bad, they might not be quite as bad as you’d expect based on the number of emails that have been sent out.

Hopefully this saves some of you a lot of headache. On a good day British Airways’ call center hold times are outrageous, so I can only imagine what they’re like now…

Did anyone receive one of these erroneous flight cancelation emails?

  1. So an interesting one. Flying on the 8th, got the cancellation email, booking seems cancelled yet there are flights being sold on that route. Of course, phone lines are jammed….any thoughts?

  2. I received emails cancelling my flights between LHR and ARN on September 8th and back on the 11th. Spent 2 hours on hold and was finally told to do nothing. What a joke! Very poorly managed.

  3. My MXP-LHR flight was canceled on 9/9 (connecting onward on AA). Waited on hold for an hour to speak to an agent. Painful.

    But since it was paid J, they rebooked us…onto QR Q Suites!

  4. Got cancellation from BA for LHR-PHL on Sep 8. Booking shows flight on schedule with potential disruption. Can’t reschedule through manage booking and call center is a mess. Trying to get rebooked on AA as the ticket is on AA stock.

  5. Yes. Travelling to JFK on 11 Sep. Got a cancellation e-mail early this morning. Flight still shown in Manage My Booking and also available for sale.
    It’s all very well for experienced travellers and those of us who keep up with travel blogs but I wonder how much unnecessary worry these e-mails have caused.

  6. Yep got a cancellation email that my flight from ARN-LHR-JFK was cancelled for Sept 8th.

    Freaked out and used avios to hold AA seat for same day LHR-JFK and United miles for SAS from ARN to LHR. All refundable.

    Then waited two hrs on the phone for agent to tell me nothing has been cancelled. Of course I’m holding on to everything.

  7. It’d be nice if AA would actually get around to issuing a travel waiver / rebooking policy to cover this. I’m on a Sept 27 BA-operated, AA-coded, AA-ticketed TATL, and I sure would like to rebook through AA before all the alternate seats get taken up.

  8. I’ve been flying long haul BA for 20 years in premium cabins and never stepped foot in coach except between European cities etc
    On Board the customer experience is satisfactory sometimes better
    However British Airways in person or on the phone customer service assistance
    is typically horrible even in non strike situations
    Some of it is based out of the UK in another country with unhelpful not empowered agents
    that don’t communicate well
    I can only imagine what it must be like getting a qualified agent on the phone who can share accurate information with passengers
    I have empathy for any of their passengers who will likely experience travel disruptions
    and the chaos know as British Airways customer service

  9. Yup. Got the email yesterday. My first connecting to Dubrovnik Croatia was canceled. They canceled flight from London to Madrid. They could not rebook me so I had to cancel my flight ( 8 weeks refund period!! ) had to rebook myself on Jet2 put of a different airport as well as having to change my airport transfer. Ended up spending over $220 US dollars just 2 weeks before starting my vacation. Luckily my flights from Boston to London and back are still on.

  10. Intriguingly, they waited until Friday evening before sending out cancellation notices – on a public holiday weekend here in England, so anyone who booked via a traditional travel agent won’t be able to change anything until Tuesday. By when I imagine all the possible alternative seats will have been booked.

    I’ll be on a homeward trip from Costa Rica and, allegedly, the final leg MAD-LHR is cancelled. Though for me, frankly, being stranded for a couple of days in lovely Madrid is a rather pleasant prospect. I imagine for many others it’s a horrible prospect.

    Interesting that BA keeps insisting that it is “doing everything it can” to avoid the strikes. Well, “everything” except paying the pilots what they’ve asked for, of course. So not “everything”, then?

  11. @Paul – calculated plan by BA to avoid cancelling flights within 14 days and thus being liable for EU261. Call centre staff only found out about the strike when pax started to call in and ask about rebooking. No one at BA thought to advise the staff!

    BALPA actually gave them more than the 14 days notice required. Perhaps BA can use the savings on EU261 to top up the deal (apparently the difference between BA and BALPA is only £5m and it’s costing BA £40m a day because of the strike)

  12. I got the cancellation email for 11th September, booked on another airline asap (I’m quick) as dates were non-negotiable (daughter joining univ), they deducted charges for seat selection and return flight, we paid a higher amount for economy +1 stop, rather than the premium economy, direct…who bears the brunt – we! Then we put in a cancellation request on BA. Now, 8-9 hours later, they send a mail saying the flight is “now operating as planned”. This amount of financial loss + uncomfortable travel (not to mention the high BP) is something I will not let go – not because of understandable ‘out of control’ circumstances but because of the incompetency and lack of liability of BA. So upset!

  13. Received the email, and our BA booked through AA flight PHL to CPH via LHR flight initially seemed to be OK but called AA Exec Plat desk and they found it to be indeed canceled. Have to give them a shout-out for expeditiously rebooking us on another route (one paid J and one miles J) …

  14. Received the email, flying JFK to London City on 10th. Rebooked through Amex agent and had to downgrade from Business to Economy 🙁 Another email from BA this evening saying original flight operating as normal. Now on phone with Amex to get back on original flight, 20 minutes and counting…..

  15. I was advised by BAC to rebook my flight on the 12th as my flight was either going to be CX or suffer disruption. Decided to move it to 13th, BA website took three hours to just spit the changes back, then moved date to 14th. Bingo new flights

    THEN found out the 12th September flights still on sale at €459 one way. Tried phoning….. ring ring… ring ring..your call is important to us NOT tweeted sent DM at 10pm last night heard nothing. The additional days have cost extra in car parking , loss of wages and childcare costs

  16. Just got an email that the flight has not been canceled and will operate on normal schedule. Would pilots fly long haul on Sep 8th ? BA states EU261 won’t apply as they are proactively canceling flights. How many days in advance do they need to cancel to void EU261 ? Compensation and few more days in London would be great !

  17. It’s bizarre an airline would even cancel flights so far ahead in case of a possible strike . Negotiations are still going on and how would they know which flights would be affected now

    Something is amiss here

  18. The irony is that if there is industrial action, they’ve told customers their flights are reinstated only to be cancelled closer to the time

  19. @Icarus because when BALPA told BA of the strike dates it also has to tell them who will be going on strike hence BA would know which flights they could operate (or not). Cancellign now more than 14 days in advance also means no EU261 cancellation compensation is payable. BA should be thanking BALPA that they gave them more than the 14 days notice requied by law

    The flights this particular email was about were those on the dates around the strike so 8th/11th/12th September not the strike dates themselves. The poor wording has caused more confusion for passengers and work for BA call centre staff. It was a generous offer to allow people to rebook or cancel for full refund on a non strike day but it was done in such a cack handed way it has cost BA even more money and lost them even more goodwill that a properly worded would have avoided. Some people have felt that BA forced them to cancel their flights when that wasn’t the case

    BA has now sent out ‘forget that last email your flight is operating’

    The ineptitude of BA Management is easy for all to see.

  20. My flight LHR-NCL Sept 27 has not officially been cancelled but I called the call centre and just obtained a refund. ( could not do online ) They offered to buy me a train ticket instead but the fare was 2x the cost of a 1st class rail ticket so I just bought one on line directly.
    I was on hold 50mins on the regular call line the agent was very friendly and helpful but yes, they are overwhelmed .

  21. Bottom line: avoid BA if you can. It is a joke. They think “apology” is enough and solves the problem. Airline is deteriorating dramatically. Service is horrible. Never again.

  22. The communications team really has messed this up, upsetting both passengers and employees. Received cancellations yesterday for LHR-EDI on Sep 8 and for EDI-LHR-VIE on Sep 11. During my entire time on hold, I rebooked our tickets on train, and Star Alliance to VIE with other points [fares at such short notice are crazy] and just hung up and requested refunds. And 4 weeks to process a ref7nd for their problems? And today, the emails state the flights are operating. I’m not taking chances with the ineptitude or possibility of a strike. BA just is Bloody Awful these days.

  23. What a mess! We’re flying CDG back to North America on the 8th, received the cancellation email yesterday and couldn’t get through to BA- the phone lines wouldn’t even connect to customer service. Received an email today that the cancellation no longer applies, but our flights are shown in red text online (not a strike-through). No idea if that means cancelled or not and couldn’t get through to BA again today due to wait times. I also didn’t want to clog the line for those travelling on actual strike days. Tried Twitter but no response from DM to BA yesterday. If we end up in Paris for a few days at the end of our trip, no harm, but the confusion and lack of communication is ridiculous.

  24. I received the 2nd erroneous email from BA saying that my Sept. 11th flight from SEA to LHR in F is, in fact, not canceled. The flight still shows up in RED but no “strike through text” within Manage My Booking. I called Priceline because I couldn’t get through to the BA call-center and according to Priceline, my flight is still operating. Hmmm… I still have a bad feeling about this.

  25. I’m flying DUB-LHR on the 28th on a plane that overnights in DUB. I called BA tonight and they said the flight will operate. I have my doubts (I tried to get rebooked on EI).

  26. I was supposed to fly ARN-LHR-BOS in first class on 9/11.
    I got a cancelled email on 8/23 at 8:47pm.
    Called 12 times to get connected and then after an hour on hold, I gave up. Thankfully I gave up because I got an email from BA on 8/24 at 12:32pm telling me that my flights were not cancelled and were operating as originally planned.
    I bought three pair of tickets on BA this year and there were issues on every single round trip flight including delay baggage on a nonstop flight because they left a container of bags in SFO, a major delay because they decided that they did not need to tow the plane to gate early and did not take advantage of a eight hours down time to clean the plane, and now this cancelled and un-cancelled episode. BA really needs to get their acts together.

  27. I’ve had exactly this issue. Got an e-mail 23:44 Friday night (of a Bank Hol weekend) saying flight (Gatwick to Genoa) was cancelled. No ambiguity in that; ‘has been cancelled’. Same e-mail says you can ‘rebook or refund’ online.

    Aware that alternative flights could fill up quickly and rise in price, I took action on Saturday morning. The ‘Rebook’ option on BAs website is very limited; only allowing you to select other flights to Genoa on different dates (no use to me). The contact centre was no use; ‘sorry we’re too busy’. So I cancelled online, and rebooked flights to Milan with a train to Genoa. £100 more expensive than original flights, and 4 hours more travel time.

    Fast forward a few hours and I get another e-mail saying flight is actually ‘operating as originally planned’ (!) and I can ‘view my booking’ online. On ‘manage my booking’ it says that ‘cancellation is being processed – please contact us’ Call centre uncontactable again. So I’m not quite sure where I stand.

    This morning I tried contact centre again; got through after 50 minutes; explained situation to agent who confirmed my booking as cancelled. I asked that it be ‘uncancelled’ she asked to put me on hold and then cut me off (!!).

    What a disaster, I just hope their engineering and safety departments are run better than their Ops and Customer Services.

  28. Got the cancellation E mail. Also showed up in red as cancelled in My Bookings.
    Hunted around and rebooked with Ryan Air, having to fly back 1 day later. Tried officially cancel/unbook the BA flight, but it would ’t refund my extra baggage (£130 for 2 bikes), only the flight. Couldn’t get though by phone.

    Then 7 hours later I got an E mail saying the flight was still on…

    Come on BA, WTF!

  29. Hmmm. We did not get an email (though perhaps our travel agent who doesn’t work on the weekend has) that our September 8 flight from Manchester to Heathrow is/was cancelled. However, I just happened to be checking all our flights and noticed the alert regarding strike. That said, our flight shows up in red type as alluded to by others without any strike out through it – our first time on BA – so not sure what the red type face is. Anyone aware of the meaning?

  30. Someone please explain: what are the pilots’ union and UK rules on strikes and why those dates? In the US, unions declare a strike starting on a certain date and everyone works toward avoiding a shutdown. Got the email that the first segment of my return home, BRU-LHR was canceled and no follow up email. No longer shows up on BA.com, isn’t offered for sale on other web sites but does show as AA code share (this tkt booked on AA.com). I’m thinking AA will eventually rebook as they have in the past. But what’s the logic behind the pilots’ union thinking?

  31. My issue with BA is even more bizarre, after purchasing tickets several months ago and receiving E Ticket Confirmation Numbers, I was all set to check in 24 hours prior to my flight. Suddenly, my Confirmation Number showed my wife and I departing from New York instead of San Francisco and on a different day. After hours and hours on the phone, getting a variety of messages such as our lines are overloaded, I was placed on hold hearing a repeated taped message telling me “Thank you for continuing to hold. All our agents are busy at the moment. You call is important to us. Please hold the line and we will answer your call as soon as possible.” I have waiting hearing this electronic excuse for almost 3 hours now… I actually thought British Airways was better than this…

  32. BA is just awful in every way. Luckily, I didn’t re-book or refundmy flight before they “uncanceled” it – but only because I couldn’t get through to them – the call centers would just hang up on me. And this as a Executive Club Gold member. Really a shambolic excuse for an airline. Still waiting for an apology.

  33. If you book BA flights through a travel agent , you can get straight through to your agent and they can rebook, reissue, process refunds etc on behalf of BA. AMAZINGLY HOWEVER…. BA refuse to accept phone calls from agents except via a premium cost number AND they priorise their normal customer number …so the premium number answers with a all-our-agents are busy message “please try again later” . Absolute madness considering that in one short B to B call the agent takes a lot of work off the airline ….

  34. I called the Gold Desk and waited for over an hour and got disconnected. Tried again and another hour was disconnected. Last try got through after 70 minutes on hold. The agent was very apologetic and basically said it was a mistake.
    Would you have thought it was easier to send a blast email that a mistake was made and the individuals would be notified.
    Lots of trouble for a blunder that could have been avoided.

  35. Flying LHR to SYD on 9 Sep. Got the cancellation email Friday evening, then got the not cancelled email 24 hours later. Website always shows it’s cancelled. Today (26th) I got the ‘please contact us ASAP’ email. Well I would if they’d either answer the phone or not hang up on me.Sometimes the voice tells me to re-book online, except it won’t let me.
    And very manipulative to not send the original mail until last thing Friday evening on a long weekend. I think it’s back-fired on them-more people are annoyed with BA than they are with the pilots.

  36. I am shocked that BA would cancel flights like this, I previously had this impression it was a premier airline, and that impression is totally gone. They cancelled my Sep 10 flights, like it was “no big deal … we will refund your money” ignoring someone’s time off scheduled, hotels, childcare, all the costs associated with one travelling on a holiday. Shocking. I will endeavour to avoid BA as much as possible in the future. BA – you suck big time. Pay your pilots properly and care about your customers before you have none left. I hope your negotiation bites into your bottom line nicely.

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