Hats off as BA bows in dispute

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The Independent Online
IF YOU PAY for a ticket for a flight, you expect to have a seat - either to sit in, or, as in the case of a woman from Surrey, for your hat box.

Earlier this year, Georgina Ash Rogers bought four air tickets for her family in a 'two for the price of one' Sainsbury's promotion. They were to travel between London and Paris on British Airways.

Some weeks before the departure date Mrs Ash Rogers decided her youngest son would not go along. 'Reservations staff at BA explained that the ticket, which cost pounds 145, was fixed and did not allow a refund. My travel agency confirmed this, but did tell me we were at least entitled to that seat. empty though it may be,' she said.

'I considered this quite useful, since we were attending my brother's wedding and the seat would be useful for my hat box.' However, when the family got to Heathrow, BA staff would not honour the ticket. In fact the seat was eventually occupied by another paying passenger who had been called from the stand-by list.

Mrs Ash Rogers complained to BA. She asked for a voucher for the ticket they had refused to honour. 'BA would not let me use the seat - they had sold it twice, once to me and again to someone else. The least they can do is give me a voucher for a return flight to Paris,' she said.

BA said the ticket was in her son's name, and only he could travel on it. The hat box had no right to a seat. It refused the refund. But after the Independent spoke to BA, it adopted a more benevolent attitude to flying hats. A spokesman said: 'We have decided in the circumstances to give her a refund. If people take the trouble to complain, then obviously there is a reason in their mind why they should.'