Compensation Clinic: SAS Flight Delays & Missed Connection

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This week the Compensation Clinic-case comes from a canceled SAS flight that a friend of mine took back in September.

SAS

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Here’s the email from the reader:

This happened in September, when I was traveling home from a multicountry trip. The return flight was booked from Amsterdam via Stockholm to Helsinki on SAS.

As we watch the gate next door boarding the direct flight to Helsinki, we get the message that the flight from Stockholm to Helsinki is cancelled. At this time also our flight to Stockholm is already showing delayed.

Naturally, the first thing we do is to go talk to the personnel at the gate. Can we get booked directly to Helsinki, as our connection from Stockholm, the last flight of the day, is cancelled? The personnel just stated they don’t work for SAS and they will only handle this flight from Amsterdam to Stockholm, that is their only responsibility. “You will need to sort this in Stockholm” they said. We could’ve gone to the ticket counter to see if we could get our tickets changed, but as our flight was already supposed to be boarding, there would be no time for that because the outcome was not certain.

I also tried calling the airline customer service, and basically got the same answer. “We cannot book you on any other flights as your flight is already boarding.” Also, at the gate, they more or less blamed it on us paying too little for our tickets for the airlines to be able to keep dedicated personnel at different destinations to help the passengers.

At 6:55pm we finally started boarding and arrived in Stockholm …late. As Amsterdam has several direct flights daily to Helsinki, it felt especially frustrating to get onto our flight knowing our final connection was not there.

At Stockholm, we got basically one option: we were booked on a flight at 6:45am, so instead of getting home at 11:45pm, we had to stay the night in Stockholm and we got to Helsinki next morning at 8:50am. When I inquired about other flights to anywhere in Finland, there would have been still an evening flight to Turku (only a 2-hour car drive away from Helsinki), that would have made us only a couple of hours delayed. But I was told that SAS would not cover the taxiride although there were maybe a dozen passengers with same problem.

All in all, I would have expected rebooking us from Amsterdam immediately when it was obvious that our last leg was cancelled.

PS. Please remember to keep your (paper-only) boarding pass as it is required to claim the cash compensation. The SAS mobile app never showed the change of flights, but the award was posted for the final flight. Compensation arrived promptly.

Conclusion

You would think that it had been cheaper for SAS to rebook affected passengers on the direct Finnair service to Helsinki rather than paying each 400 euros in compensation and a night at the Radisson BLU Hotel at Arlanda Airport?

I hate when airlines have dumbed down the systems and use outsourced employees who basically don’t give a f… and merely push buttons.

At least SAS appears to have systems in place to promptly pay EC 261/2004 claims that is a positive.

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