compensation for missed flights due to travel agent error

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crabby

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Recently my partner and I missed our flight home from Los Angeles because the flight was rescheduled and we didn't know. The airline rang the travel agent to request our email and phone number but the travel agent only gave our Australian mobile number to the company even though our only point of contact with the travel agent has been via email. The travel agent never tried to contact us about the rescheduling and has admitted this over the phone to us. Because of this we missed our flight and the airline was unable to get us home by the date we originally booked. We then had to purchase new tickets in order to get home at a cost to us of $7100. We are currently trying to put together a letter to the travel agent to try and get our money back for the original ticket ($6300). Does anybody have any advice on how we can go about this or what we can use to convince the travel agents to compensate us? Are there any guidelines or ethics policies that have been breached by the travel agent not informing us of the rescheduling? Any advice is much appreciated as we have a lot of money tied up in this!!
 

coco50

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Flights get rescheduled all the time. I was in the US last year and found out when I rang my TA from Miami over confusion over a hotel booking. She informed me that two of my flights had been rescheduled but fortunately were later rather than earlier and only by no more than half an hour. I would consult a lawyer but only after discussing the situation with the TA to see if some arrangement can be worked out. Is there no way that you can claim through travel insurance? Good luck!
 

MelUser

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Recently my partner and I missed our flight home from Los Angeles because the flight was rescheduled and we didn't know. The airline rang the travel agent to request our email and phone number but the travel agent only gave our Australian mobile number to the company even though our only point of contact with the travel agent has been via email. The travel agent never tried to contact us about the rescheduling and has admitted this over the phone to us. Because of this we missed our flight and the airline was unable to get us home by the date we originally booked. We then had to purchase new tickets in order to get home at a cost to us of $7100. We are currently trying to put together a letter to the travel agent to try and get our money back for the original ticket ($6300). Does anybody have any advice on how we can go about this or what we can use to convince the travel agents to compensate us? Are there any guidelines or ethics policies that have been breached by the travel agent not informing us of the rescheduling? Any advice is much appreciated as we have a lot of money tied up in this!!

Which airline were you with?

Qantas normally bends over backwards to help its passengers by putting them on the next available flight.
 

NM

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It seems really strange that you were required to purchase new tickets in this situation. given the schedule change, I would have expected the airline to accommodate you on the next available flight rather than forcing you to purchase new tickets.

The fact that you forked out the money for the next tickets without some form of agreement from the TA or the airline to compensate will make it difficult for you to convince either to pay out. Did you make contact with the TA before purchasing new tickets and give them an opportunity to sort it out?

Generally if the airline has not been able to contact you regarding a change, they know that you will be arriving at the original time and they make other arrangements such as moving you to the next available flight. In such circumstances, fare rule and change restrictions are generally waived.

Which airline was involved?
 

aybee

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It seems really strange that you were required to purchase new tickets in this situation. given the schedule change, I would have expected the airline to accommodate you on the next available flight rather than forcing you to purchase new tickets.

Generally if the airline has not been able to contact you regarding a change, they know that you will be arriving at the original time and they make other arrangements such as moving you to the next available flight. In such circumstances, fare rule and change restrictions are generally waived.

It sounds like the airline couldn't get them home via first available by the time they needed to be home, so perhaps the OP had to purchase tickets on another carrier that had seats.
"Because of this we missed our flight and the airline was unable to get us home by the date we originally booked."

If the airline generated a change through their system to the agent CRS, then the airline would presume the change has been actioned by the agent as the "owner" of the booking. They wouldn't necessarily know the pax didn't know about the change and in this case the airline seems to have gone "above and beyond" my contacting the agent to try and get a destination contact themselves.
(Who incidentally STILL didn't try and contact the pax themselves).
Would be interesting to know how long after the schedule change went through that the airline called to try and get a contact. If they were monitoring the bookings that were on the original flight and saw no action, a call to the agent usually sorts it out.

I've yet to see a travel insurance policy that covers gross stupidity by the agent, although such a policy should be mandatory when booking via one of the new breed of ticket sellers from a certain chain with no previous industry experience, as opposed to using a true old fashioned travel consultant. :)

That's all semantics however and doesn't help the OP with his question. The agent has admitted fault, it seems the airline did everything right and perhaps went beyond, apart from not having a "first available" that was suitable. If mediation doesn't work, then maybe a small claims case may do the trick?
 

Travel Guru

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I think you're going to be lucky to get anywhere near full compensation out of even the biggest agency.

Despite the airline contacting the agent and the agent failing to make any attempt to contact you, ultimately you need to take some responsibility for failing to reconfirm your flight times hadn't changed, as the agent really can't be held liable when your only contact point is an email, because who's to say you were going to be checking it anyway.

Depending on which agency it is, if its one of the larger ones (FC Group etc), they have a 24 hour emergency assistance department which would have been able to provide some assistance on the spot and given some indication on who should be paying for your ticket (assuming of course you used FC or the like).

I agree they should have emailed you, and for that they should come to the party and reimburse part of your costs, but by purchasing a new ticket without any agreement in place by the agent to cover the expense, it's going to be a long road trying to squeeze the money out of them.

Whatever happens, use it as a learning experience, confirm your flight times, the airline might stipulate reconfirmation of bookings isn't needed, but I ALWAYS recheck flight times 24-48 hours out.

Good luck with it.

TG
 

MelUser

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most of us are perpetually on checkmytrip in the last 24 hours to see if that upgrade has come through so would have seen it!
 

simongr

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ultimately you need to take some responsibility for failing to reconfirm your flight times hadn't changed, as the agent really can't be held liable when your only contact point is an email, because who's to say you were going to be checking it anyway.

I guess this doesnt apply when flying BA or CX as their phone message explicitly says that you dont need to reconfirm flights...
 

Travel Guru

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I guess this doesnt apply when flying BA or CX as their phone message explicitly says that you dont need to reconfirm flights...

Most airlines will tell you that you dont need to reconfirm your flights, which means confirming your bookings, but it's still wise to jump online and reconfirm that there's been no time changes.

TG
 

Evan

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I have found out a couple of times when SQ cancelled my return bookings (long story, the reason i dont like SQ that much since it was there fault) when doing internet check-in's.

In any case i alwasy try to hit the web site a couple of days before just to confirm the flight details before i head to the airport.

I guess most airlines may even charge a change / missed flight fee but usually not the whole cost. But sounds like the OP needed to get home sooner.... i would say a difficult flight if the airline was willing and you needed to be home sooner.

E
 
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Platy

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Most airlines will tell you that you dont need to reconfirm your flights, which means confirming your bookings, but it's still wise to jump online and reconfirm that there's been no time changes.

TG

I totally agree with everyting that had been posted in response to the OP, BUT, not every traveller is a regular and now that reconfirmation is NOT the norm, I can't help feeling that the airline holds all the cards and the customer is an afterthought.

Agents, also, perhaps, presume the client is in the know and do NOT fill in the gaps on purchase.

Legally, one suspects the situation is not positive for the OP. Crazy as that is...
 

Travel Guru

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Agents, also, perhaps, presume the client is in the know and do NOT fill in the gaps on purchase.


That is certainly true, especially in the bucket shop type agents such as FC where sales pressures ensure the agents are thinking of making the sale first and ticking all the boxes and investing time with clients comes a distant second.

I guess like anything you get what you pay for, we make a point of instructing the clients on what to do, including emailing us (yes they are welcome to contact us after departure for anything they might need, it engenders great loyalty) to reconfirm flight times are all ok, and as such it alleviates preventable issues such as this one.

I also suspect they don't have much of a legal leg to stand on, the airline surely has to take as much responsibility as the agent, but its a tough one without knowing more about the situation.

TG
 
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Platy

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That is certainly true, especially in the bucket shop type agents such as FC where sales pressures ensure the agents are thinking of making the sale first and ticking all the boxes and investing time with clients comes a distant second.

I guess like anything you get what you pay for, we make a point of instructing the clients on what to do, including emailing us (yes they are welcome to contact us after departure for anything they might need, it engenders great loyalty) to reconfirm flight times are all ok, and as such it alleviates preventable issues such as this one.

I also suspect they don't have much of a legal leg to stand on, the airline surely has to take as much responsibility as the agent, but its a tough one without knowing more about the situation.

TG

Yes, I totally, agree.

I would imagine there are agents and there are agents. Perhaps your good self and certain others are the latter.

It would be all too easy for the casual traveller to book through the former...albeit that legally of little comfort.
 

Travel Guru

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It would be all too easy for the casual traveller to book through the former...albeit that legally of little comfort.

Absolutely, and unfortunately (and not suggesting this is the case on this occasion), on alot of occasions, its those same casual travellers who inadvertently book with an average agent by shopping on price alone rather than asking friends, family or colleagues for a referral to a good agent.

I don't have alot of sympathy for those who screw agents down to save $20 only to find it comes at the price of reasonable service (again not suggesting this is the case with the OP, just an observation.)

TG
 

Moody

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Absolutely, and unfortunately (and not suggesting this is the case on this occasion), on alot of occasions, its those same casual travellers who inadvertently book with an average agent by shopping on price alone rather than asking friends, family or colleagues for a referral to a good agent.

I don't have alot of sympathy for those who screw agents down to save $20 only to find it comes at the price of reasonable service (again not suggesting this is the case with the OP, just an observation.)

TG

I find that even when the agent is horrendously expensive ($150 per ticket) the service is lacking and they just get in the way (as this poor unfortunate found out). I haven't used our mandated agent for this reason for the last 6 months and have saved my company thousands in fees and excessive airfares. I would only use a TA if there was absolutely no other choice.

But what seems to have happened here is that the pax turned up at the airport unaware of the change and by that time it was too late to organise a suitable replacement with the original airline. They then bought new tickets with someone else so they could get home quicker.

I am not sure how a travel insurance company would deal with that one - it might depend on the length of delay.
 

simongr

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I am still struggling with the issue that the traveller is somehow responsible for missing a flight when the airline makes a change and teh airline does not require the pax to reconfirm the flight... I am not blaming the agent in the case - more the process.

I guess I always give the airlines my contact details phone/email and have the BB/mobile at hand so I expect to be told of a change in advance of it happening so may not be such an issue for me...
 

docjames

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See, it depends on the agent.

Our wonderful agent got us on the next flight into Cuba after ours was cancelled. Cubana were zero help, Mexicana not much better (they were full so i guess not really their fault), he did all of this at all hours calling around the world trying to sort it out.

Made a very stressful situation a lot easier.

Oh, AND got a refund out of Cubana.


It would be interesting if the OP would pst if it was a major chain or an independant. I suspect the former. And as someone else pointed out, travel insurance?
 

Nigelinoz

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From my point of view this is the situation.
Airline reschedules flight-nothing unusual there-airline attempts to contact passenger via only known contact method who was the TA.passes on details of flight change to agent and also asks for contact details of passenger so they can alert passenger themselves-agent gives airline the
Australian mobile number of a passenger who they would have known would probably be unable to be contacted on that number as the passenger was clearly in another country,and the agent makes no attempt to contact passenger.
Therefore agent has failed to provide proper service to customer.
I am also wondering whether it was a large travel agent chain or an independent,but makes no difference really,still appalling standard of service.
 

simongr

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so they can alert passenger themselves-agent gives airline the Australian mobile number of a passenger who they would have known would probably be unable to be contacted on that number as the passenger was clearly in another country,and the agent makes no attempt to contact passenger.
Therefore agent has failed to provide proper service to

I get frequent calls from Oz based peeps when I am overseas without a single thought for the fact that I am not in Oz so that should not be a factor.
 
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