Every traveller will inevitably experience flight delays and cancellations at some point in their life. Unfortunately, they are just part of the deal, especially with the growing popularity of low-cost carriers. In such cases, replacements must be arranged by the airline; otherwise passengers are entitled to a full refund of their ticket price.
If replacements are arranged, it is the airline’s responsibility to ensure passengers eventually reach their final destination.
For some very unfortunate travellers, further complication can arise during re-arrangements and some may find themselves struggling to finally get to where they’re going.
Katherine and John Grey were flying home from Barcelona to New York with an overnight stopover in Dusseldorf. The operating airline was Air Berlin. While their first flight did take off on time, they were surprised to find themselves unexpectedly forced to sit apart from each other. This is because they were travelling with an emotional support animal, and according to Air Berlin, there was another couple with a dog sitting near their booked seats.
The dogs were not allowed to sit close to each other, so Katherine was forced to sit at the rear of the plane in a single spare seat with her pet, while John sat at the front. They had booked their seats together and notified the airline about their four-legged companion months in advance. To make things worse, they noticed the other couple happily sitting together for the entire flight. Katherine and John’s journey was off to a bad start already… but unfortunately, their troubles did not end there.
During their layover in Dusseldorf, the travellers received an email while they were asleep at 1:00AM: their flight from Dusseldorf to New York was cancelled.
Air Berlin replaced this with a British Airways flight departing 2 hours later to London Heathrow, followed by a connecting Air France flight to New York JFK. Thankfully, Katherine had the intuition to contact Air Berlin before leaving the hotel to ask if they had notified British Airways about her support animal. The Air Berlin operator stated he had no way of knowing and that it was her responsibility to contact British Airways to check their animal policy.
She was finally able to reach someone at British Airways, who informed her that no dogs are ever allowed to travel on this carrier.
She was directed back to Air Berlin, and it then took them over an hour to find another route back home. They eventually managed to find a Lufthansa flight with another layover in Frankfurt, and were forced to wait in Dusseldorf for 3 more hours. During this time, they were denied a meal voucher and only given a bottle of water, juice and a granola bar as compensation.
Katherine and John finally arrived in New York 7 hours and 30 minutes later than planned.
Thankfully, EU Regulation (EC) 261/2004 ensures airlines are liable for cases such as these. Under this regulation, both passengers were eligible for compensation as the cancelled flight originated inside the EU. Being a transatlantic flight over 3500 km in distance, the refund amount was €600 per passenger.
The disgruntled couple opened a claim with refund.me, and their €1200 compensation was secured within 3 months.
It might not make up for the engagement party that Katherine missed as a result, but perhaps the cash can go towards a future (delay-free) vacation.
Had a similar travel nightmare? Enter your journey details to see how much you’re entitled to.