Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: What does BA owe me for my snow-bound hell at T5?

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Q. I was one of the many hundreds of people who had to sleep on the floor at Terminal 5 last Friday night. Because of the snow – and a whole sequence of problems – we sat on the plane to Houston for hours and then ended up going back to the terminal, where we were told there were no hotel rooms for us. What does British Airways owe us?

Name withheld

A. Beyond an apology, probably nothing. While BA was technically liable to arrange accommodation for every passenger who was obliged to stay overnight, the sheer numbers meant that it was unfeasible for the airline to do so – and to organise the necessary transport. The EU rules say the airline must meet the cost of the accommodation – but if it was zero, then I understand BA has no liability.

If you had out-of-pocket expenses for items bought during your stay at Heathrow, then it is likely that you can claim them back. It is also possible that BA may make an ex-gratia award of cash or Avios points. But if you have decent travel insurance, about the best you are going to get is the standard £25 or so for each 12 hours of delay.

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