Taylor Swift fan headed to Lyon for Eras Tour is turned away from overbooked British Airways flight

Swift operator: Megan Ridout at the Taylor Swift gig in Lyon (Megan Ridout)
Swift operator: Megan Ridout at the Taylor Swift gig in Lyon (Megan Ridout)

“As soon as I got the tickets I booked my flight to Lyon” – so says Taylor Swift fan Megan Ridout. In July 2023 she scored tickets for herself and her sister to the singer’s Eras gig in Lyon on 1 June this year.

Then she snapped up a bargain £91 return flight from London Heathrow to the southern French city. The morning departure was due to reach Lyon at 10.30am.

“That was going to give me time to fly to Lyon with my sister, get settled in, have some lunch, do a bit of shopping,” said Megan.

Between booking the tickets and the weekend of the concert, Megan gave birth to a boy, now eight months old, named Joel. Ahead of leaving him for the first time alone with her husband, she spent a month organising Joel’s care.

“There was a real lot riding on this trip,” says Megan, a 25-year-old Masters student.

She travelled from her home in Warrington to London Heathrow for the flight she had booked.

But before she arrived at the airport it became clear that there might be a problem. Megan could not check in online the night before, so she arrived extra early to check in at a kiosk. When that failed too, she went to a desk.

“They said: ‘The reason you can’t check in is because the flight is overbooked and there are no seats left.’”

British Airways had sold more tickets for flight BA360 than there were seats available. Megan was selected to be offloaded, even though the rules say that volunteers should be sought.

Megan was sent to the departure gate with a temporary boarding pass to see if she would be able to travel. Her sister, who had not been offloaded, was able to board the plane.

As Megan waited at the gate it looked as though there would be space, because two other passengers had failed to turn up. But just as the gate had closed and a transfer bus set off for the aircraft, the hope crumbled.

“Two girls ran to the gate, saying ‘Please, please, please let us on the plane’.

“They reopened the gate for them and let them on. The bus circled back round for them.

“I was stood there, ready to leave, on time for this flight. I was not allowed on the plane, so that was very frustrating.”

Megan was sent to customer service, and assigned a seat on a later British Airways flight that arrived in Lyon at 8pm – an hour after the concert began.

She explained that the replacement flight would get her to France too late for the event she had been anticipating for almost a year.

Ground staff finally agreed to book her on a BA flight to Marseille, with a connection on Air France to Lyon.

The British Airways flight arrived late. But Air France ground staff in Marseille reopened check-in for her, and rushed her through the airport to make the onward connection.

“Air France were just brilliant – I was so pleased with them,” Megan says.

“I landed at Lyon at 4.15pm and did make it in time for the concert.

“I was in Lyon for less than 24 hours. So I basically went to the concert, went to sleep and got on a flight back to Heathrow, which was not what I was hoping for from the trip.”

Even the journey back was stressful. Megan says she was told: “You’ve been kicked off tomorrow’s flight which is also overbooked – to which I said, I need to come back, my husband has to go to work.”

Eventually she was allowed to travel, but vows: “I won’t be flying with British Airways again – unless I have to.”

Airlines often sell more tickets for a flight than there are seats available. But if everyone turns up, air passengers’ rights rules require the carrier to appeal for volunteers, offering cash or tickets for future travel to persuade them to offload.

This did not happen, and Megan was simply told she could not travel as booked.

She is entitled to denied boarding compensation of £220, as well as the cost of lunch during the six-hour delay getting her to her destination.

A spokesperson for British Airways said: “We’re sorry for our customer’s experience and the delay to their journey. We are in contact with them to put things right.”