A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me a question regarding the involuntarily denied boarding by Etihad of two teenagers and then delayed/lost luggage.
Here’s the reader email:
My kids (17 and 15) were supposed to fly from Hyderebad to Abudabhi to SFO on Etihad airlines and in Hyd, they were told that they were having some printer issues due to which they were only able to issue boarding pass till Abudabhi and the connection boarding pass in Abudabhi. Kids being kids, didn’t question them on how printer selectively printed boarding passes only till Abudabhi?? They got down in Abudabhi to find out that flight from Abudabhi to SFO is overbooked and so they have to be put on Airberlin which will routed them through Dusseldorf and will be delayed by 12 hours arriving to SFO. My son had a pre surgery appointment for his tonsils surgery scheduled which was missed because of this. Coming back to the story, they reached SFO and none of their luggages came with them 🙁
India trip was for 6 weeks, so all the nice branded clothes, suits, shoes etc were taken there and a lot of Indian clothing was purchased there and we all were so disappointed that luggage went missing. Kids reached SFO on July 27th 2016. We tried reaching out to Etihad and they left multiple voice mails, sent multiple emails and finally heard from them after 10 days that we have to reach out to Air Berlin. But before that I think in a week or so, we were delivered one bag. We reached out to Air berlin and after 13 days another bag got delivered (this bag is opened with some items missing) and after about 17 days I get a call from an agency saying that they found another bag and I asked them for description and he said trash bag!! I was confused and asked him what? He reponded saying that looks like bag si so damaged that they shoved everything into a trash bag..That bag was delivered the same day and its a Nautica bag ripped apart with so many items missing and so many spoiled items. We are still waiting for another bag, no one cares to call or respond to the emails, not sure what to do or who to reach out to.
Contacted Etihad and they offered 15K miles for each passenger and said that its Air Berlin’s responsibility about the baggage..I am so frustrated. Given that we have to drop off our son to his first year college, we dont know whether to buy everything or not? We started buying little by little in terms of clothes, jackets and shoes and everything is so expensive..For something which is not our fault, we are paying for it.
Please let me know what my rights are and how to deal with airlines.
There are two separate issues here:
1. Involuntarily denied boarding in Abu Dhabi
2. Lost & delayed luggage
Involuntarily Denied Boarding
When they weren’t issued boarding passes for the AUH-US segments in HYD, they were probably already offloaded at that point but the agents weren’t willing to deal with the rerouting issue here and there and just decided that Abu Dhabi must deal with the issue.
I would assume that they were chosen for Involuntarily Denied Boarding due to the age of the passengers. They were likely not going to put up resistance.
Unfortunately there is very little consumer protection in UAE and likely they are not by law required to pay compensation to by Etihad.
You should, however, request Etihad to pay for the doctor appointment that had to be rescheduled due to their incompetence.
Lost & Delayed Luggage
I have personal experience dealing with Airberlin when it comes to delayed luggage and getting appropriate compensation. You can access my piece here.
You should keep all the receipts for clothes and other items that you purchase due to the delay of getting your bags, and request Airberlin to cover the costs plus the value of lost items that you haven’t replaced.
Etihad is correct here that the claim must be filed with the last airline in your journey; in this case that was Airberlin per your email.
Send the claim to Airberlin’s office in the US by registered mail with return receipt. The airline will likely offer a discount voucher for a future flight (scam basically) instead of monetary compensation. You then need to escalate the case to the DOT Aviation Consumer unit that you can do over the web here.
The recourse that is the likeliest to offer you the most adequate compensation is to take both Etihad and Airberlin to small claims court in the United States and let the judge to decide who is responsible for the compensation.
Both Airberlin and Etihad are difficult to deal with when it comes to collecting cash for their mess ups. There just isn’t any customer service culture in the UAE and Airberlin is bleeding money.
I wish that I had something more positive to write about the compensation that you should get but I don’t. Take them to small claims court.