British Airways mix-up sees couple spend their wedding night in an airport lounge
Matthew and Natalie Hogg might end up in court against airline
A couple who spent their wedding night in an airport terminal because of a series of airline mishaps are still fighting for compensation.
On April Fool’s Day, Matthew and Natalie Hogg boarded an Iberia flight to Cuba via Madrid for their honeymoon, but the first plane was cancelled for brake failure after sitting on the runway for 45 minutes.
Sister company British Airways rebooked the couple onto a connecting flight to Istanbul, from where they could fly to Havana.
Ms Hogg told The Observer that Turkish Airlines said they had no record of their itinerary and they could not get their luggage unless they paid $20 (£16) each for a Turkish visa.
After a night and a day at the airport, they were given seats on a KLM flight to Amsterdam to catch another plane to Havana.
The nightmare continued in Cuba, where they were told their luggage had been misplaced and it would take up to five days to deliver to their hotel, around 140 miles away.
They decided to book another hotel by the airport, having already missed their first pre-paid accommodation due to the flight mix-up.
After media pressure, KLM agreed to pay the hotel, taxi and living expenses while the couple waited for their bags, as well as compensation. British Airways refunded the Turkish visa costs and gave the couple a £200 e-voucher.
Lawyers are still pushing Iberia to refund £530 of compensation under European Commission Regulation 261/2004 which applies to passengers flying from or to an EU airport, compensation depending on how long their flight was delayed.
Iberia responded: “The flight was cancelled due to technical reasons, which was a ‘force majeure’ clause and not liable for compensation.”
The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) set up an ombudsman-style service in 2016 to make legally binding rulings on complaints, but airlines do not have to sign up to the service.
Iberia does not participate in the arbitration scheme, but the CAA does charge non-participating airlines a penalty fee of £150 for each complaint it receives to encourage good behaviour.
Passengers with unresolved complaints are often left to fight it out in court.
“It has proved incredibly frustrating battling so many airlines, all adamant that we had accepted any costs and risks when we accepted the reroute,” Ms Hogg told The Observer.
“Each one was uncompromising, and their pitiless customer service ruined our honeymoon.”