More than half a million British Airways data hack victims could be in line for pay-outs as the airline launches its own class action lawsuit.
However, according to lawyers, the airline has been accused of “swerving responsibility” by trying to limit compensation pay-outs for victims.
They have imposed a strict 17-week time limit for claimants to join which critics claim is a bid to reduce the £3 billion pay-out.
Up to 600,000 customers were affected by the 2018 cyber-attack after hackers managed to intercept the details of those who made bookings through the BA website, threatening their financial security.
The High Court in London will hold a hearing in the Chancery Division on October 4 to decide if BA’s class action can go ahead.
Lawyers branded the move “unprecedented” and warned the “cynical” action was designed to limit a potential £3bn pay-out to customers.
If the lawsuit is successful, it could take at least two years before claimants receive their money.
More than 185,000 BA customers are believed to have had their details compromised between April and July last year, while a further 380,000 were affected by the breach between August and September.
Details taken included their name, billing address, email address and card payment information, including in tens of thousands of cases their cvv security code.
The breach affected customers who made a booking – or updated or made a payment – on BA.com or the BA app between August 21, 2018 and September 5, 2018.
The airline, was fined a record £183million by the Information Commissioner’s Office in July for the cyber-attack.
One of the law firms mounting class action cases against the airline, Your Lawyers, claim victims of the data breach could get as much as £16,000 where physiological injury is severe.
The consumer rights law firm said the average pay-out is thought to be around £6,000 each.
It might also be possible for some victims to claim back financial losses resulting from the data hack.
Those affected by the BA data breach should have already been contacted by the airline.
The airline has recently been struck by strike action and a further 24-hour walkout is planned by the union Balpa for September 27.
Director Aman Johal told the Telegraph: “This is a new low for British Airways, a disgrace. It has let down hundreds of thousands of customers by losing their card payment details. Now it is failing them again by giving everyone affected just 17 weeks to claim rightful compensation for the distress caused.
“Never mind ‘To fly, to serve’, BA should change its tagline to ‘To fly, to swerve responsibility’. I encourage everyone affected to act quickly to ensure they don’t miss out.”
A British Airways spokesperson said it had been working continuously with specialist cyber forensic investigators and the National Crime Agency to fully investigate the data theft.