Our Fabulous Friday topic this week is about re-booking procedures during irregular operations and airlines who actually fulfill their obligations and rebook passengers to alternate connections without resistance.
One example is my experience with British Airways last week which was delayed by just an hour in it’s departure but would have caused a misconnect in London with no further flights available that day.
Airlines usually shy away from moving passengers to other carrier during irregular operations such as a delay or cancellation and instead try to keep passengers on their own flights as then they don’t have to pay other carriers for the transportation.
Last week I had a revenue based Business Class ticket from Bangkok to Berlin via London Heathrow and the connection time was very tight:
Unfortunately it’s not possible to book a longer connection as this is the last flight of the day and that also meant that my chances of making this connection were zero when the the flight was delayed for 50 minutes in Bangkok.
The counter staff at BKK Airport informed me of the delay as well and offered me two options: Flying to London and getting a hotel overnight or to rebook me onto a different airline. I decided against the London option for various reasons:
1) I’d have to line up at LHR and get a hotel voucher, go through immigration and then take the horrible HotelHoppa bus to whatever hotel BA would book for me (probably some dump).
2) If I would ask BA to rebook me to another carrier I could double dip on mileage if on another alliance.
In any case I’d be eligible for the 600 Euro EC261/2004 compensation as my arrival wouldn’t be until the next morning.
I asked the staff to rebook me to the Lufthansa flight which leaves Bangkok 12 hours later which they promptly did. To be honest I was very surprised about their willingness to offer this option proactively without me having to push for it as it’s usually the case.
If memory serves me right though the airline was recently fined by a regulator for restrictive rebooking service when passengers encountered an irregular operation and maybe BA has sent an internal memo to their stations to follow the rules now.
On top of the Lufthansa flight being much better in Business Class than British Airways (BA uses one of their oldest B777 aircraft on the BKK route) I was rebooked into full J Class which together with the connection flight earned me almost 20,000 qualifying miles and 15,000 award miles on United Mileage Plus. I also immediately filed with British Airways Executive Club for Original Routing Credit which you can always do when an airline rebooks you to another connection based on irregular operations. Their customer service confirmed this credit would be issued soon.
I asked the station staff for proper printouts of the new connection, the new e-ticket number and to make sure that it bears the “INVOL” notation which is important if you want to claim any compensation or original routing credit.
Four days after I filed my EC261 compensation request online with British Airways Customer Service they confirmed that I’d be eligible and the appropriate compensation will be transferred to the bank account quoted.
My travel insurance will also pay $150 on top of this ($75 for each 6h delay) so that’ll turn out be a lucrative 12 hour period.
BA’s connections to Germany ex LHR are very poor to be honest considering the latest flights leave around 7pm which due to the 1 hour time difference let’s them land around 21:30-22:00. It also means that if an incoming longhaul passenger misses this flight due to even a slight delay then it’s pretty much game over for that day.
If you’re a bit flexible and know how the system works this could be a good example of “When life gives you lemons, just make some lemonade” and milk the situation for all it’s worth.
Suggest a routing on a different alliance and especially a better carrier while also making sure that the new connection will let you arrive above the threshold for EC261 compensation. The good thing about European carriers is that you are also covered by this provision when departing from foreign countries. Non-EU airlines only have to pay EU compensation when departing from EU countries.