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British Airways passenger represents herself in court battle over flight refund and wins

A British Airways passenger represented herself in a court battle with the airline over a flight refund and won the case.

Jennie Barber booked two return tickets to Japan in January 2020, and her flights were set to depart in May that year. However, they were later cancelled because of Covid restrictions.

The airline offered Ms Barber travel vouchers in March 2020.

By December it became clear that Japan – where Ms Barber had previously lived – would not reopen its borders again that year. She subsequently asked BA for her money back instead of the vouchers, but the airline refused this request.

Ms Barber repeatedly requested a ticket refund throughout 2021, with no success. She decided to bring forward a legal case against British Airways in February 2022.

Ms Barber represented herself in court in January 2023, after discovering the Law Reform (Frustrated Contracts) Act 1943 during research at her local library. The only legal qualification she has is an A Level in law.

The Act outlines that, as her ticket is deemed “a contract governed by English law” which then became impossible to use, Ms Barber was legally entitled to a full refund.

In an interview with BBC News, Ms Barber said: “If you’re an ordinary person, who is not a legal professional, going up against someone like British Airways is scary – and it is intimidating.”

Ms Barber’s case was heard on 20 January 2023 at Redditch Magistrates Court. The court awarded her £2,523.42, which covers the flight tickets, interest accrued and additional costs.

Explaining she “didn’t feel it was right” that her refund request was denied by British Airways, Ms Barber now hopes to help others facing similar problems in Facebook forums.

“If I can get more people their refunds… I think that is the ideal outcome,” she said.

British Airways told The Independent: “We were the first UK airline to offer customers the unprecedented flexibility to change their plans during the pandemic by providing them with vouchers for future travel. Customers can use these vouchers up until September 2023 to give them as much time as possible to re-schedule their trips.”

Japan’s borders fully reopened in November 2022.

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