No compensation for BA passengers caught in emergency landing disruption

British Airways, a UK-based airline company, is denying its liability to pay compensation to passengers whose travel arrangements were ruined by flight cancellations during last Friday’s emergency landing procedure.

The cancellation of almost 200 flights occurred when a British Airways flight from Heathrow to Oslo was forced to turn back after suffering engine damage. The knock on effect of the incident resulted in the temporary closure of both of the airport’s runways and meant that thousands of passengers had their travel plans cancelled with little notice.

However, BA is of the opinion that its liability to those affected should not go beyond the food and hotel accommodation that it did provide for stranded passengers. Suggestions that the company should also pay the statutory GBP214 under European consumer legislation to anyone delayed while travelling to Europe have been met by BA’s firm rebuttal, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph. The airline is taking refuge behind the legislation’s ‘extraordinary circumstance’ clause, despite the fact that the incident was caused by a problem with one of its own aircraft. In its defence, the company compared the situation with the diversion of a Pakistan International Airlines flight, which also took place last week due to a suspected on-board terrorist incident.

The inclination of airlines to use the vague wording of the clause to sidestep the paying of compensation in all but the most blatant cases will result in new guidelines being issued soon by the European Commission, detailing the specific circumstances when compensation should be paid. While engine failure due to a bird strike is likely to be deemed an exceptional circumstance, failure due to a problem with maintenance is likely to place the liability with the airline.

In a statement a BA spokesman said, ‘We did all we could to offer duty of care including giving out refreshments and providing hotel rooms.’


First-Ever Panic Button For British Business Travellers Launched

Emergency response specialist Skyguard has today launched the first-ever personal emergency service for British business travellers.

Skyguard International gives business executives abroad the power to summon help at the press of a button if they find themselves in trouble overseas. Initially the service is live across 34 European countries, the Russian Federation and South Africa.

The launch comes hot on the heels of the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s British Behaviour Abroad report, which revealed 19,228 Brits have needed assistance overseas during the past 12 months, with Spain producing the most incidents.

Travellers can activate the emergency Skyguard International service using a device the size of a key-fob and the smallest GPS alarm of its kind, which can be discreetly attached to keys, a belt or worn on a lanyard. Skyguard’s service also runs as an app on a BlackBerry, with the handset’s convenience side key acting as the alarm button.

Alarms containing the user’s location and identity go directly to Skyguard’s Incident Management Centre in the UK, where trained controllers can listen in, talk if it’s safe to do so and co-ordinate a timely response by summoning the national emergency services of the country in question, and contacting the victim’s relatives or employers. Skyguard customers can provide detailed personal information through an online portal, such as medical conditions, medications taken and even a photo, which can be passed to the emergency services, often proving live-saving.

Skyguard, which launched in 2000, already offers a similar service nationally in the UK, used by thousands of companies and individuals, and more than half of the UK’s police forces to protect the most vulnerable in society.

Said James Murray, chief executive of Skyguard: “We believe we’ve created the ultimate peace of mind solution for travellers.

“I travel frequently, often with my family, to countries where I’m not familiar with the language or destination. I wondered what I would do if we ended up in a difficult situation that required immediate emergency assistance. That’s why we developed Skyguard International – to give travellers peace of mind, knowing their location is exactly pinpointed and they can communicate immediately in English.

“After years of successfully managing hundreds of life-threatening situations affecting individuals at risk in the UK, we’re excited to be the first company in the world to offer an overseas service with this level of coverage. Initially we’ve got nearly all of Europe covered, together with Russia and South Africa, and we look forward to adding further countries in the months ahead.

“When we receive an alarm we can immediately locate the person using advanced GPS technology and can then quickly assess their needs. Our trained staff can communicate with the individual via their device or Blackberry, or not make direct contact if the situation so dictates.

“We can alert local police, paramedics or fire units to be with our customers as soon as possible.”

Skyguard International is available to existing Skyguard customers as an additional service.

“The service also works across borders so business travellers will have back-up and cover every step of their journey,” added Murray.

Skyguard International is available from £29.95 a month*. To find out more visit or

* Skyguard International is available as an £18.00 per month add-on to Skyguard’s standard UK service, which starts at £11.95 a month based on a three-year contract. Shorter term contracts are also available.