Lousy options after missed flight

This item appears on page 28 of the April 2010 issue.
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Editor’s note: In the following account, ITN has agreed to withhold the name of the subscriber and tour company. Nevertheless, we feel readers can benefit from the lessons imparted.

A subscriber wrote in and described how, following an Adriatic cruise-tour that he and his travel companion took, they and the ship’s passengers headed to the Dubrovnik airport, where they learned that, except for two couples in business class, all their names were not on the manifest for the Croatia Airlines flight to Frankfurt.

It was discovered much later that that happened to be the day that the airline switched from paper tickets to electronic ticketing, which contributed to the error. For everyone in their group, there still were seats on the plane, but check-in took so long that departure was delayed an hour. The couple arrived in Frankfurt with 40 minutes left to catch their flight to the US. They missed that flight but did catch one 1¼ hours later.

The subscriber wrote, “Upon arriving at Washington Dulles Airport, well before our scheduled afternoon departure, we found that once we missed our Frankfurt flight we had become wait-listed on all our subsequent flights and we would have to wait at least four more days to have a confirmed flight back to Syracuse, New York. (All our flights on this tour had been booked by the tour company.)

“Choosing not to rebook a confirmed flight and wait several days, we were told that we would have to be present to be called for standby. The airline would not pay for any lodging or food expenses.”

The subscriber continued: “We tried calling the tour company, but, as it was the weekend, we reached only an answering service, which was of no help. We called our travel insurance company to no avail as well. For over 40 hours, we stood in many airline service counter lines and tried to get some sleep at the airport.

“At that point, we decided to use Amtrak to get home. We purchased the last two available tickets to Syracuse.”

“Our out-of-pocket expenses, after arriving in the US, totaled $368 ($50 for food, $80 for taxis in DC and Syracuse and $238 for Amtrak).

We had bought our travel insurance through the tour company from the insurance company they recommended. The insurance company declined our claim (for $368), saying that all segments of our flights had been ticketed correctly and that our flight had not been delayed or canceled due to any reason listed in the policy. They added that our meal expenses had been incurred after our arrival at Dulles airport, at which time our trip was no longer delayed and travel was possible.

The subscriber offered the following advice for ITN readers: “Make sure that you have all of the emergency contact numbers with you, including ones for the tour company and/or insurance company at which they are available 24/7.”

Something else to remember — if you have missed a connection and are rebooking on another flight, as this couple did in Frankfurt, be sure to tell the booking agent about any other flight segments that are scheduled and that you would like your seats on those flights to be verified.

In some cases, the agent may not be able to accommodate you, depending on the type of ticket you have or the reservation system available, but, in an effort to avoid being wait-listed at your next destination, all subsequent flight legs should be discussed while rebooking your missed connection. Never assume the agent knows about all of your ongoing flight segments. — DT

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

Editor’s note: In the following account, ITN has agreed to withhold the name of the subscriber and tour company. Nevertheless, we feel readers can benefit from the lessons imparted.

A subscriber wrote in and described how, following an Adriatic cruise-tour that he and his travel companion took, they and the ship’s passengers headed to the Dubrovnik airport, where they learned that, except for two couples in business class, all their names were not on the manifest for the Croatia Airlines flight to Frankfurt.

It was discovered much later that that happened to be the day that the airline switched from paper tickets to electronic ticketing, which contributed to the error. For everyone in their group, there still were seats on the plane, but check-in took so long that departure was delayed an hour. The couple arrived in Frankfurt with 40 minutes left to catch their flight to the US. They missed that flight but did catch one 1¼ hours later.

The subscriber wrote, “Upon arriving at Washington Dulles Airport, well before our scheduled afternoon departure, we found that once we missed our Frankfurt flight we had become wait-listed on all our subsequent flights and we would have to wait at least four more days to have a confirmed flight back to Syracuse, New York. (All our flights on this tour had been booked by the tour company.)

“Choosing not to rebook a confirmed flight and wait several days, we were told that we would have to be present to be called for standby. The airline would not pay for any lodging or food expenses.”

The subscriber continued: “We tried calling the tour company, but, as it was the weekend, we reached only an answering service, which was of no help. We called our travel insurance company to no avail as well. For over 40 hours, we stood in many airline service counter lines and tried to get some sleep at the airport.

“At that point, we decided to use Amtrak to get home. We purchased the last two available tickets to Syracuse.”

“Our out-of-pocket expenses, after arriving in the US, totaled $368 ($50 for food, $80 for taxis in DC and Syracuse and $238 for Amtrak).

We had bought our travel insurance through the tour company from the insurance company they recommended. The insurance company declined our claim (for $368), saying that all segments of our flights had been ticketed correctly and that our flight had not been delayed or canceled due to any reason listed in the policy. They added that our meal expenses had been incurred after our arrival at Dulles airport, at which time our trip was no longer delayed and travel was possible.

The subscriber offered the following advice for ITN readers: “Make sure that you have all of the emergency contact numbers with you, including ones for the tour company and/or insurance company at which they are available 24/7.”

Something else to remember — if you have missed a connection and are rebooking on another flight, as this couple did in Frankfurt, be sure to tell the booking agent about any other flight segments that are scheduled and that you would like your seats on those flights to be verified.

In some cases, the agent may not be able to accommodate you, depending on the type of ticket you have or the reservation system available, but, in an effort to avoid being wait-listed at your next destination, all subsequent flight legs should be discussed while rebooking your missed connection. Never assume the agent knows about all of your ongoing flight segments. — DT