Flight delays, cancellations, mechanicals etc. are “cost of doing business” when dealing with the airlines. Sometimes getting the airline to make it right is rather maddening experience, however.
I was supposed to fly on Alitalia coded Air France flight to Bangkok on Wednesday, but got information less than a week earlier that the flight no longer operated on that date and that I was booked on the same flight two days later.
European Union Passenger Rights define what the airlines are required to do in situation like this and the courts have further clarified them (airlines have fought hard not to pay compensation and interpret the rules on their favor mostly without success).
I was informed about by this change less than 7 days before the scheduled departure according to the airline (important due to possible later compensation liability).
Alitalia (ticketing and marketing carrier) should have rerouted me to Bangkok from Rome at the earliest opportunity and here where the problems started.
I was “protected” (probably entirely automated process) on Air France flight two days later and the call center plainly refused to entertain any idea of rerouting me claiming that they cannot change the route (false), I must follow the original routing rules (false) or my only other option was to get a refund (false). My only option according to the agent would be to wait two days in Paris at my expense and contact Customer Relations later.
Here’s what I did:
– Upon arriving to FCO went to the Alitalia transfer desk and lady suggested flights on Etihad (minority owner of Alitalia). After she contacted the ticketing desk, they told me to go to Air France ticketing due to its being the day of travel “disruption”.
– Air France ticketing just rebooked me on direct FCO-BKK Thai Airways flight.
I just hate dealing with misinformed airline telephone agents that are not equipped to get anything else done beyond booking a simple return round trip.
The European Airline Passenger Rights are clear that it is their requirement to rebook/reroute me to the final destination using the most convenient option (for me) and not strand me in Paris for two days.
The agents at the airports are usually better with these reroutings than those over the phone because 1. the passenger is in front of you (difficult to hide) and 2. they usually have better tools and experience compared to phone agents.
It shouldn’t have been this difficult to get a simple rerouting done and dealing with Alitalia over the phone was rather miserable experience.