BA spelling out what happens to affected customers

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The Independent Online

British Airways has gone to great lengths to shield its passengers from the worst effects of the cabin crew strikes.

But inevitably there will be many thousands of passengers who will not be able to travel with the airline over the next few days.

BA has been urging people to check its official website, where information can be found as to just which services will be operating and what happens to affected customers.

BA has said that passengers whose flights are cancelled tomorrow, Sunday or Monday can rebook on to another BA flight within 355 days of the original travel date at no extra charge, subject to availability.

Passengers with cancelled March 20-22 flights can also cancel their booking and get a refund or rebook on to another BA flight from the nearest alternative airport.

Similarly those passengers whose flights ARE operating from March 20-22 can, if they, wish, rebook to travel on another BA flight on the same route up to 355 days in the future.

Refunds will not be allowed unless the fare rules for that particular ticket allow.

BA has also announced details of customer arrangements for the post-strike period of March 23-26.

BA said that during this period flights to and from London City airport will operate normally as will all long-haul flights at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex.

The airline said that customer on other services between March 23-26 who wanted to change their travel plans could rebook to travel on another BA flight on the same route up to 355 days in the future at no extra charge, subject to availability.

The same rebooking rules apply to those whose flights might be cancelled between March 23 and 26. Passengers whose flights are axed on these dates can also rebook on to another BA flight from a nearby airport or cancel their booking and get a refund.

Customers who did not book through BA are being advised to contact their travel agent or tour operator.

BA said as far as the second planned strike from March 27-30 was concerned, it would finalise its flight arrangements early next week.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has given the following advice:

* BA is responsible for flight arrangements, so contact the airline to discuss the options available;

* Your travel insurance policy will set out what you are covered for. Talk to your travel insurer if you need any clarification;

* If you took out your travel policy before today then you may be covered if your flight is delayed, in accordance with the policy terms. Some policies may pay a fixed lump sum if any delay forces you to cancel your travel plans;

* Travel insurance policies taken out after the actual strike dates were known will not cover you against any delays or subsequent abandonment caused by the strikes;

* Cover under travel insurance for cancellation will vary. Some policies cover against specific risks, such as illness and redundancy, but not industrial action, while other polices may provide this cover.

Nick Starling, the ABI's director of general insurance and health, said: "Anyone who is likely to be affected should discuss their options with BA, who are responsible for flight arrangements, and, if necessary, their tour operator or travel agent.

"Customers should check their travel insurance policy, and speak to their travel insurer if they need to clarify the extent of any cover."