British Airways has apologized to passengers whose flights were canceled at short notice for wrongly withholding compensation.

BA is currently canceling more than 100 domestic and European flights a day to and from its main London Heathrow facility due to staff shortages. Passengers who had booked on affected flights were usually warned weeks in advance, but some cancellations were made on short notice.

Under Europe’s air passenger rights regulation, known as EC261, if a flight is canceled less than two weeks in advance, travelers are generally entitled to compensation – £220 or £350 for short-haul trips, depending on the journey less or more than 1,500km.

But the passengers claiming compensation contacted The Independent to say their claim was denied by BA. The only ground for the carrier to deny the claim is if “extraordinary circumstances” are to blame.

After British Airways canceled a Heathrow-Dublin flight on Monday, a passenger claiming compensation was told: “Your claim has been denied as flight BA0828 on 9 May was canceled due to the pandemic worldwide caused by Covid-19.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is an external factor, beyond the control of the airline, and an ‘extraordinary situation’. It was not part of normal airline operations and was not foreseeable.”

The airline went on to say: “The flight cancellation was due to restrictions imposed as a result of a global pandemic.” No travel restrictions have been in place between the UK and Ireland for the past two months.

A British Airways spokesperson told The Independent: “After looking into this matter, we discovered that we had made an error in the original classification of some of our canceled flights.

“We are deeply sorry and we are contacting affected customers to request compensation.”

Passengers on flights canceled by British Airways – or other airlines – with less than 14 days’ notice should claim online.

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