I got on the wrong plane and wound up in the wrong country. Am I owed anything by the airline?
February 20, 2008 7:39 AM   Subscribe

I got on the wrong plane and wound up in the wrong country. Am I owed anything by the airline?

Back in September 2007 I was supposed to fly from Amsterdam to Barcelona on ClickAir/Iberia Air; the short version is that due to some confusion* over a gate change and a very-delayed charter flight, I wound up getting on the wrong plane (TransAvia, but my Iberia ticket says " AviaPartner" so it didn't raise any flags) and wound up in Faro, Portugal instead. The gate attendant didn't take my ticket and whomever did the headcount botched it. The flight crew was apologetic but unhelpful as they were going to be staying there through the weekend, and it was after midnight so nothing in the airport was open. I had to take an overnight bus to Lisbon and fly to Barcelona the next day at my own expense (~$150). I was traveling throughout Europe for the next two weeks and did not have my luggage; Iberia botched the delivery instructions for Europe and finally delivered one of my bags to me in October after I returned to the US, and the other one in late December. All belongings were intact.

Iberia said that they will reimburse me for expenses incurred from traveling without luggage- clothes, toiletries, etc... purchased along the way as long as I have receipts, which I do for most stuff. Transavia on the other hand has been terrible- I sent them a (non-angry) e-mail explaining what happened and asked them to follow-up, they responded with a reference# and asked for scanned copies of documents, which I provided. I've heard nothing from them since, they don't respond to e-mails, and they have no way to easily call from the US. I've e-mailed them politely three times asking for an update and gotten nothing.

I guess my questions are:
-Does Transavia owe me anything? Reimbursement for my return flight, bus trip, lost night (pre-paid for the pension) in Barcelona?
-If Transavia doesn't respond to my e-mails what are my other options? Is there a higher authority to report them to? Legal action?

If it makes any difference I'm a US citizen and may be going back to Europe later this year.


*not high.
posted by Challahtronix to Travel & Transportation (51 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
(If you don't find your answer here, be sure and ping Christopher Elliott.
posted by nitsuj at 7:48 AM on February 20, 2008


Did Iberia do the little speech where they tell you what plane you're on? If they did, I doubt they owe you anything. If you still think they might, I recommend tracking down their terms of service, which usually spell out most of the eventualities of air travel and what duties the airline has if any of them occur.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:41 AM on February 20, 2008


Did Iberia do the little speech where they tell you what plane you're on?

It was actually a Transavia flight I was on, the Iberia/ClickAir flight was the one I was supposed to be on. From what I've seen while traveling in Europe, normally the airlines do the speech in multiple languages- typically one for the departing country (Dutch) , one for the landing country (Portugese) , and one in English. I'm not positive but think that they did not do it in English because it was a Dutch charter flight and not sure if/how it is applicable.

My other problem is that I'm not sure how the "terms of service" apply when I did not have a contract with them; it was a ticket/contract with another airline.
posted by Challahtronix at 8:58 AM on February 20, 2008


Yeah, what randomstriker said. You got on the wrong plane. And they always announce what plane you're on and where it's going. It's also always posted at the gate. Yes, they made an error in letting you on, but it's your responsibility, assuming you're an adult.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:59 AM on February 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


I did not have a contract with them; it was a ticket/contract with another airline.

That's sort of the point. As far as they're concerned, you got a free flight on their dime, due to your error. Why would they owe you anything for that?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:00 AM on February 20, 2008


the only people that might owe you something are the ones that could get you your luggage in a reasonable time. but, if you were travelling around europe, that might not even be the airline's fault, if they couldn't track you down.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 9:18 AM on February 20, 2008


but think that they did not do it in English because it was a Dutch charter flight

Your account of things seems to assign blame to everyone and everything except where it rightfully belongs. Last time I checked, gate numbers, flight numbers and departure times were the same in all languages. Come on. You don't seriously think that your mistake should come out of someone else's pocket, do you?
posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 9:24 AM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah, what randomstriker said. You got on the wrong plane. And they always announce what plane you're on and where it's going. It's also always posted at the gate.

You realize you've now posted twice in this thread and each piece of advice has been more worthless than the last? In order:

-You got on the wrong plane.
No shit. I pretty much said that exact thing in the first sentence.

-And they always announce what plane you're on and where it's going.
and they always check the tickets of the passengers when boarding and they always perform a headcount. Except they didn't do that and, as I stated, the announcements weren't in English. Yes, if I knew Dutch it could've been avoided. They did several non-standard things due to the fact that it was a charter flight. Apparently the flight had been delayed due to mechanical reasons and everyone had boarded, deplaned, reboarded, more than once which is why they were lax about the gate check.
It's also always posted at the gate.
At the gate it said my flight was on time and leaving in 30 minutes when I got there, the other flight leaving from the gate (Faro) was over 3 hour delayed. It still said that when I was boarding. Though I guess it is somehow possible that my flight could've left on time 10 minutes later from the same gate that a plane was in process of boarding.

-Yes, they made an error in letting you on, but it's your responsibility, assuming you're an adult.
Fact, opinion, snark, thanks for that.

That's sort of the point. As far as they're concerned, you got a free flight on their dime, due to your error. Why would they owe you anything for that?
Thank you for the airlines point of view. I'm really lucky that it wasn't too far off, I had the means to get back where I was supposed to be, and it wasn't a country where I'd require a visa or is sketchy about undocumented travellers showing up. Not to be melodramatic, but if your grandmother was supposed to fly to DC and wound up in Alaska because no one checked her ticket and the airlines said she was responsible for getting back home, would you still be saying "looks like granny got a free vacation out of it"?

Note that my post was titled "Am I owed anything?" not "how do I get these jerks to PAY ME?"
posted by Challahtronix at 9:29 AM on February 20, 2008


Am I owed anything?
Probably not.

And if you were, you'd likely have to fight the airline for it, and you gotta really ask yourself if it's worth it? You got on the wrong plane, and it ended up costing you about $150 and lost time. You got (or are getting compensation) for having to travel without your things for a few weeks.
posted by smitt at 9:39 AM on February 20, 2008


I'm also going to go ahead and point out that while the litigious nature of Americans is not common in Europe, and not looked kindly upon for frivilous matters (which this really is). I doubt you'd get too far on that path.
posted by smitt at 9:42 AM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I can't believe how unhelpful people are being. If this had happened to me, I would shit a brick. When I am flying, I expect the airline to take care of me, as would any reasonable person. Ensuring that one gets on the right flight is paramount.

If I was in your position, I would continue to pursue the case, although I don't know what result to expect. IANAL, but I don't think there is any legal recourse available to you.
posted by ydnagaj at 9:42 AM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


(shoulda previewed and removed the word 'while' from that last post)
posted by smitt at 9:43 AM on February 20, 2008


It's more important to you than to them that you get on the right plane. If there were empty seats on the plane, you weren't shorting anyone else out of a flight, and your weight did not actually cost them any significant amount.

They are not particularly invested in your issue, and it is, in the end, your responsibility to check that you are getting on the right plane in the right place. The flight number should have been labeled at the gate, and the 3-hour delay should have been a clue to make you ask.

I don't think that they owe you anything.
posted by that girl at 9:54 AM on February 20, 2008


The argumentative attitude you are displaying here is not likely to get you very far with the airline. (I'm not saying you're right or wrong, dumb or smart. But you're being argumentative.)

Lose the attitude. Compose a very nice, friendly, reasonable request and send it to the appropriate office at the airline. Say nothing that will get anyone's blood pressure and hackles up. Test drive it with some friends. Get it translated, maybe, for their convenience. Send it snail mail, not email, certified, return receipt requested. Copy the CEO and whoever else you can track down.

If that works, great. If not, chalk it up to experience.
posted by beagle at 9:54 AM on February 20, 2008


And if my grandmother were to have not gotten on the correct plane and somehow ended up in Alaska, I would look into getting her gate assistance from then on, as this would have been a sign that she was no longer competent enough to do it herself.
posted by that girl at 9:58 AM on February 20, 2008 [5 favorites]


If they wanted to, they could probably easily turn this into something that's your fault. Yes, really.

...so IMHO your best bet is to turn it into an amusing tale you can break out at parties, and walk calmly away from the mess while you still can.
posted by aramaic at 10:00 AM on February 20, 2008


Surprising tone in some of these responses.

Under EU regulations the airline must "reasonable skill and care" when providing the service, and failing to do a proper headcount, if that's what happened, is appalling, and has safety and security implications too. If you decide to take the confrontational route these things might be worth pointing out. But, yes, for sheer stress-reduction reasons, based on previous experiences dealing with airlines, I wouldn't bother unless the money means an enormous amount to you.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:05 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


beagle: The argumentative attitude you are displaying here is not likely to get you very far with the airline. (I'm not saying you're right or wrong, dumb or smart. But you're being argumentative.)

From my OP: "I sent them a (non-angry) e-mail explaining what happened and asked them to follow-up, they responded with a reference# and asked for scanned copies of documents, which I provided. I've heard nothing from them since, they don't respond to e-mails, and they have no way to easily call from the US. I've e-mailed them politely three times asking for an update and gotten nothing."

I am being "argumentative" with people who cannot follow AskMe guidelines and are giving absolutely worthless advice.

misanthropicsarah: the only people that might owe you something are the ones that could get you your luggage in a reasonable time. but, if you were travelling around europe, that might not even be the airline's fault, if they couldn't track you down.

For the record, Iberia botched the delivery twice- I gave them my itinerary and told them if they could deliver it to me at any of these places/times it would be great, otherwise hold it for me at AMS and I'd pick it up when I passed back through. They missed me in Barcelona by a day so I told them to hold it for me in Amsterdam and I'd get it the following week, it was not there as promised. As a result they delivered one of my bags to me in the US in October and the other at the end of December. But otherwise they have been helpful and courteous. What is your authority or reasoning for saying "the only people that might owe you something are...."?

runningdogofcapitalism: Your account of things seems to assign blame to everyone and everything except where it rightfully belongs. Last time I checked, gate numbers, flight numbers and departure times were the same in all languages. Come on. You don't seriously think that your mistake should come out of someone else's pocket, do you?
that girl: The flight number should have been labeled at the gate, and the 3-hour delay should have been a clue to make you ask.

The title of this post begins with "I GOT ON THE WRONG PLANE"- what else should it say?!? Yes, I fucked up. But I was at the correct gate (after they changed the original departure gate), both flights were leaving from that gate, and they did not update the board with correct departure times. When I got up to board it said my flight leaving in 15 minutes on time, the other flight still was massively delayed. My point about it being in Dutch was in regards to the spiel they give you ON THE PLANE.
posted by Challahtronix at 10:21 AM on February 20, 2008


OP, one of the hazards of asking for advice/opinions is that you may not get the sort that you were looking for.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:27 AM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


OP, one of the hazards of asking for advice/opinions is that you may not get the sort that you were looking for.

To an extent I can deal with that. While it doesn't directly answer my question "I wouldn't bother unless the money means an enormous amount to you" or "ask yourself if it's worth it?" are decent answers, "Shit happens" or "They ALWAYS follow their own procedures and therefore it's your fault, stupid!" with a touch of "assuming you're an adult" or implying that I'm incompetent to the point of being senile are unhelpful to the point of assholery. Or calling it "frivilous", whatever the fuck that is.
posted by Challahtronix at 10:33 AM on February 20, 2008


I should clarify that I understand your being annoyed, and the whole mess was definitely an expense for you and an inconvenience.

...my "walk away while you still can" remark is predicated on the possibility that if you push them they will decide you must have intentionally circumvented security in some way. Or that you were trying to sneak on to a more expensive flight, and that therefore you should be charged an extra fee. Or any one of the many other ways they can make this difficult for you, especially nowadays.

It is unlikely you will get anything from Transavia; they will simply stall you until you either go away or you lose your cool and say something you'll regret (in person, on the phone, or via email). I've personally seen people arrested by men with automatic weapons because they started yelling at the ticket counter. You don't want to be that person.

(which, doubtless, comes across as unduly paranoid/cynical -- but really, when you see a mom with three kids get hauled off to jail because she temporarily lost her cool, ya tend to develop a certain level of paranoia. Even though she probably wasn't charged, in the end, it's still a lousy way to spend your vacation time)
posted by aramaic at 10:37 AM on February 20, 2008


or implying that I'm incompetent to the point of being senile are unhelpful to the point of assholery.

See, you're just being way more argumentative than the people who are trying to be helpful in some way, but also trying to point out that this might be your fault. I don't believe anyone said you were "incompetent to the point of being senile are unhelpful to the point of assholery", or implied anything remotely close to that.

As I said, lose the attitude, write a letter, you might get somewhere, you might not. That's the most anybody is going to be able to tell you here, it seems to me.

I rest my case, no need to respond to me. Feel free to keep fighting the rest of the people responding to your request for assistance.
posted by beagle at 10:41 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just to clarify, Challahtronix, is this what happened:

-you got to the gate where you were directed for your flight
-the board at the gate did actually say that your flight would be leaving from that gate
-there were some changes due to delays and such where another flight was boarding at that gate around the time that you were told your flight would be departing
-any announcements about the changes were being conducted in Dutch, a language which you do not speak
-the ticket agents did not check your ticket as you were boarding the plane
-the flight attendants did not do a headcount
-the announcements about the flight made on the plane were not in your native language

If so, I can totally understand your confusion. Years ago, I flew between cities in China on local airlines and I was always biting my nails about being on the right plane at the right time. The signs and announcements were not in my native language, changes were frequently made last minute, and some of the procedures for boarding were somewhat relaxed and confusing.

You might try resending your documentation as a certified letter (instead of email) and request a response with at least an explanation of what might have happened. You may not be entitled to compensation but you would at least let the powers that be know that they need to tighten up their procedures and you might receive acknowledgment of the situation, for what it is worth.
posted by jeanmari at 11:00 AM on February 20, 2008


You aren't owed anything by the airlines. Even if you were, displaying this sort of attitude is likely to get you absolutely nowhere.

It's almost certainly not worth pursuing this. In the future just be more careful.
posted by Justinian at 11:02 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


beagle I have to disagree, unless there's another way to read "And if my grandmother were to have not gotten on the correct plane and somehow ended up in Alaska, I would look into getting her gate assistance from then on, as this would have been a sign that she was no longer competent enough to do it herself."

Pretty much all of the responses are argumentative and uninformed. Challahtronix would probably be better served by ignoring/flagging them, but he/she's not wrong.
posted by Skorgu at 11:06 AM on February 20, 2008


[A couple things removed. Folks, maybe try to approach the asker's situation with a little more grace; Challahtronix, your frustration is understandable, but it'd be better to flag noise comments than to get into an argument with the answerers.

Let's try to focus on answering the question, and save the meta-argument for metatalk if necessary.]

posted by cortex (staff) at 11:27 AM on February 20, 2008


jeanmari:
-you got to the gate where you were directed for your flight
correct.

-the board at the gate did actually say that your flight would be leaving from that gate
correct.

-there were some changes due to delays and such where another flight was boarding at that gate around the time that you were told your flight would be departing
What happened was: I cleared security with about 45 minutes to departure time. I checked the monitors which gave me a gate # for my flight. I made my way to the scheduled gate, I get there, and no one is there save for two flight attendants at the desk. I asked if this was the correct gate for the flight to Barcelona and they told me to check the monitor. Not yes or no, but "check the monitor". I checked it and saw that there was a gate change, made my way to the new departure gate with 30 minutes til departure time. I asked someone if it was the correct gate for Barcelona, it was. I put on my iPod (tuning out! My fault!) and watched the monitor. An announcement was made and I took my iPod off but didn't catch it, it is now 10-15 minutes til my planes departure time and the monitor still says my flight is on time and the Faro flight was still 3+ hours delayed. I queued up with passport and ticket in hand, they were not checked and I still have the ticket.

-any announcements about the changes were being conducted in Dutch, a language which you do not speak
not quite- see above.

-the ticket agents did not check your ticket as you were boarding the plane
correct.

-the flight attendants did not do a headcount
Actually they did (I think they may have done it twice) but did not get the correct results.

-the announcements about the flight made on the plane were not in your native language
Correct.

You might try resending your documentation as a certified letter (instead of email) and request a response with at least an explanation of what might have happened. You may not be entitled to compensation but you would at least let the powers that be know that they need to tighten up their procedures and you might receive acknowledgment of the situation, for what it is worth.
I will likely go this route but wanted to know if there were any other avenues to explore, a EU group for air travellers rights, or some precedent for something like this. The details about how it happened were supposed to be secondary to "what are my options going forward?" but it didn't turn out that way:(
posted by Challahtronix at 11:34 AM on February 20, 2008


It's more important to you than to them that you get on the right plane.

In the interest of security and operating cost, I would argue this.
posted by tdischino at 11:48 AM on February 20, 2008


Justinian: You aren't owed anything by the airlines. Even if you were, displaying this sort of attitude is likely to get you absolutely nowhere.

As for my "attitude" Here's what I had sent them back in September:
I have a rather unique situation that I would like to bring to your attention. On September 14th I was scheduled to fly from Schipol to Barcelona on a different airline (ClickAir). That did not happen as planned and the following details are to give you an idea of why it did not and what exactly occurred. I'm not sure what action I expect to be taken.

There was a last minute gate change for my scheduled flight and I made my way to the new gate where my flight was listed on the monitor as being on time and a flight to Faro was listed as being 2+ hours delayed, both from the same gate. I asked someone if this was the correct gate for Barcelona and they said yes. An announcement was made for boarding which I heard in Dutch only, and I asked someone else if we were boarding and they said yes. Unfortunately the boarding flight was a Transavia flight to Faro that was apparently a chartered flight (in the US it is common for different carriers to sometimes handle other flights, and the ticket says Aviapartner so the Transavia/Clickair difference did not register) and the monitor was not updated. I had my ticket and passport in hand the entire time and they were never checked (apparently due to the fact that it was a charter flight that was extremely delayed and everyone had previously boarded and deboarded). The flight crew performed a head count but did not catch that I was not supposed to be on the plane.

All announcements were solely in Dutch (again, something that could have tipped me off) but as a foreigner in a foreign land I did not want to cause a commotion, especially since "check the monitor" was the most common answer to my inquiries. Coincidentally the seat I was assigned to on my scheduled flight was open on this flight as well. I realized that it was not Barcelona and this was brought to the flight crew's attention. They were apologetic and realized that this was a problem but were ultimately unhelpful. At that point I was stranded in Faro, Portugal after midnight with no luggage, no place to go, nothing was open, and no way to get back to either Amsterdam or Barcelona. I was ultimately able to figure out on my own using the internet that I could take a overnight bus to Lisbon and then a flight to Barcelona the next day from there at a cost of 130 euro overall as well as losing a day of lodging I had paid for in Barcelona (100+ euro).

Getting on the wrong flight was my fault and I fully acknowledge that. However, Transavia should have caught it but did not due to not following proper procedures. I received no assistance in getting back to either Amsterdam or Barcelona and had to do so by myself and at great expense. As stated earlier, I don't really know what I expect you to do in this situation but would like to make you aware of this and give you a chance to respond.


they responded with:
Dear Challahtronix,

Thank you for your e-mail.

A copy of your e-mail has been forwarded to our Customer Relations Department. Someone from this
department will contact you regarding your e-mail.

then followed with:

Dear Challahtronix,
Thank you for your reaction, which we received on 2 October 2007. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience.
To be able to investigate what happened we kindly request you to send us your flight details of the Clickair flight you were supposed to take. Please mention file reference number [xxxxx].
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.


I sent the information as requested and never received a response, even after several follow-up inquiries. I have been nothing but polite with them, mostly because they have yet to give me unhelpful off-topic information.
posted by Challahtronix at 11:53 AM on February 20, 2008


Yeah, what randomstriker said. You got on the wrong plane. And they always announce what plane you're on and where it's going. It's also always posted at the gate.

You realize you've now posted twice in this thread and each piece of advice has been more worthless than the last? In order:

I just adore people who ask for help, and when they're told what they need to hear (as opposed to what they want to hear) they get combative and rude.

-You got on the wrong plane.
No shit. I pretty much said that exact thing in the first sentence

Yes. But you're missing the point: you got on the wrong plane. They didn't put you on the wrong plane. And reading further.. you didn't hear the announcement, and it would seem you didn't do anything like finding someone and saying "Hey, what was that announcement?"

-Yes, they made an error in letting you on, but it's your responsibility, assuming you're an adult.
Fact, opinion, snark, thanks for that.

It wasn't meant as snarky, so I'm sorry that it came across that way. My point is, when you're an adult you are responsible. I've heard of kids traveling and having issues with getting on the right plane. In those situations, the airline is responsible. I'm assuming you are an adult, and therefore you are.

That's sort of the point. As far as they're concerned, you got a free flight on their dime, due to your error. Why would they owe you anything for that?
Not to be melodramatic, but if your grandmother was supposed to fly to DC and wound up in Alaska because no one checked her ticket and the airlines said she was responsible for getting back home, would you still be saying "looks like granny got a free vacation out of it"?

No, I'd be saying "Fuck, she got on the wrong plane because she didn't do anything to ensure she was getting on the right one, and now we have to help her get to the right destination."

Note that my post was titled "Am I owed anything?" not "how do I get these jerks to PAY ME?"

Note that the last sentence of what you quoted from me was: "Why would they owe you anything?"

Your account of things seems to assign blame to everyone and everything except where it rightfully belongs. Last time I checked, gate numbers, flight numbers and departure times were the same in all languages. Come on. You don't seriously think that your mistake should come out of someone else's pocket, do you?


Quoted for truth.

If they wanted to, they could probably easily turn this into something that's your fault. Yes, really.


Um, well, that's because it is.

I am being "argumentative" with people who cannot follow AskMe guidelines and are giving absolutely worthless advice.


Really?

"Please limit comments to answers or help in finding an answer"

I provided an answer. You not liking it isn't the same as not following the guidelines.

What is your authority or reasoning for saying "the only people that might owe you something are...."?


The same reasoning that the cool heads answering your question are using, namely, that your error caused your problem. Iberia is trying to help with the part that they screwed up. But I hasten to add that their screwup only happened when they tried to go above and beyond what they actually owed you, and tried to have your luggage meet you where you were going. The only thing they would have owed you was getting your luggage to Barcelona. After that, in very real terms, it's up to you.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:02 PM on February 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


I just adore people who ask for help, and when they're told what they need to hear (as opposed to what they want to hear) they get combative and rude.
Thanks for taking the time to come down off the mountain and telling me what I "need to hear". You have no knowledge of European airline regulations, you don't know what the contracts entail, you have no knowledge of what the airline is or isn't legally obligated to do but you'll come in here and tell me that it's my fault based on your own gut feeling. Let's take your last paragraph:

"Iberia is trying to help with the part that they screwed up. But I hasten to add that their screwup only happened when they tried to go above and beyond what they actually owed you, and tried to have your luggage meet you where you were going. The only thing they would have owed you was getting your luggage to Barcelona. After that, in very real terms, it's up to you."

They did not try to go "above and beyond", they were doing what they are LEGALLY required to do under the terms of the contract. When I spoke to the Iberia rep I gave them my itinerary and said "this is where I will be over the next week. If you can deliver it to me at any of these places/times it would be great, but if it is not likely to happen please hold it for me in Amsterdam and I will pick it up on my way back through". THEY made the choice to try and deliver it, THEY did not follow the itinerary as described so it was not delivered, and then THEY did not have it waiting for me in Amsterdam as promised. So how does what you wrote even begin to apply? While frustrated, I'm not angry at Iberia as they have responded when contacted and made good-faith efforts (note: for my trip they said that they only had found the one bag. When they called me in late December saying they had my other bag that was the first time they claimed to have possession of it).
posted by Challahtronix at 12:56 PM on February 20, 2008


I think your boned. If both flights were with the same airline you might be able to argue for compensation but not in this case. Try to look at it from the respective airlines point of view:

1) The airline you were supposed to fly with thinks you missed your flight (because you did) and they have very little to no responsibility to make sure you show up at the right gate at the correct time. Whether you're stuck in the bathroom with the runs or stowing away on another flight you still missed the flight they were willing to provide you. No recourse there.

2) The airline that whisked you away to places unwanted thinks you stowed away on the flight. The fact that their procedures didn't _catch you_ stowing away on a flight you hadn't paid for in no way obligates them to compensate you for taking you to where that flight was going. This should be self evident.
posted by Mitheral at 1:22 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


[this is getting off track - metacommentary about the topic needs to go into metatalk, please]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:02 PM on February 20, 2008


Against my better judgment, I'm jumping back in and re-pointing you to my advice that you write a letter, snail mail, certified and return-receipt-requested, to management. I read the e-mail you inserted in the thread above. You're right, it's not argumentative. But it's not asking them for anything, so it didn't get you anything. So, sticking precisely to your questions:

-Does Transavia owe me anything? Reimbursement for my return flight, bus trip, lost night (pre-paid for the pension) in Barcelona?
Legally? Probably not, since they can easily argue and demonstrate that you goofed, by your own acknowledgment. But as a PR thing, moral obligation thing? Sure, it's worth a shot.

-If Transavia doesn't respond to my e-mails what are my other options? Is there a higher authority to report them to?
Write a letter in which you tell the tale succinctly (maybe bullet points); tell them specifically what you think they should do for you; get some people to review it to make sure it's clear and complete; send it to the CEO, marketing director, customer service manager, etc. by name or title.

Legal action?
Not worth the time, effort and money.

The CEO at Transavia:
Mr. O. P. M. van den Brink, President
Transavia Airlines CV
Westelijke Randweg 3
Postbus 777
1118 ZM Schiphol Centrum
Netherlands

Good luck.
posted by beagle at 2:21 PM on February 20, 2008


Oh, and, higher authority to report them to?
No, for the same reason that they don't legally owe you anything because it's your mistake, not theirs.
posted by beagle at 2:23 PM on February 20, 2008


I've seen similar confusion in Malaysia. The Low-Cost Carrier Terminal had opened the day before, and AirAsia did all their flights from there. There were major delays, which resulted in about 3 flights that were meant to go at separate times all boarding from the same gate at the same time. With the chaos that ensued, many people got on the wrong planes. The only way they were found was when (a) one family reported their son missing (he got on the wrong plane) and (b) headcounts didn't match and passengers realized "oh, this isn't my flight".

I did write a long complaint letter (I was on one of those flights) but didn't get a response back. I also suggest certified mail asking your options. At the very least, they could tell you what you could do about it.

Is it worth contacting the airport as well, since part of it was airport procedure?
posted by divabat at 3:04 PM on February 20, 2008


At the point you didn't turn up on the right plane, what should have happened under EU aviation regs is the flight would be held at the gate while the airline located and removed your luggage from the flight to Barcelona.

Their legal (sorry, I mean LEGAL) obligation is to prevent a bag getting airborne without its owner.

Your bag should never have left Schipol. Any attempt on the part of the handler to get it nearer to you is to the handler's credit and legally must not have begun until after you landed and made contact.

If somehow your suitcase went to Barcelona on its original flight, the airline screwed up in a very severe way. That may or may not prove useful to you when dealing with them.
posted by genghis at 3:08 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


[And just so anyone who's still feeling meta-argumentative is aware, there is now in fact a metatalk thread open on the subject if you need to go there.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:10 PM on February 20, 2008


Challahtronix, I think your frustration is understandable here. I have no idea what happened in this thread but I'm sorry for it. Anyway.

To me, this is not like getting on the wrong city bus and ending up in the wrong neighbourhood and, like, tough cookies. Airlines and airports have very strict processes to maintain safety and security and something was obviously lost in the confusion here -- either they were understaffed or someone wasn't doing what they should have been. There's no excuse for tickets not to be checked or heads not to be counted. Getting the correct passengers on and off the plane and correct seat are the very most fundamental functions of gate agents and flight attendants. That this happened is, to me, a bit alarming and completely bogus.

If I were you I would pursue it, at least to the extent that the error is fully acknowledged.
posted by loiseau at 3:19 PM on February 20, 2008


You seem to be really searching for legal advice here. Unfortunately not speaking the language will be a problem unless you want to either pay for that advice or make international phone calls - but I googled information and looked through several sites that directed me here for information on legal aid in the Netherlands. You might try finding a firm near you that deals with international law and see if you can get advice that way.

Getting any kind of compensation from American airlines is difficult - add to that you have to deal with international firms in your case. You might simply want to ask yourself what your own time is worth to you, and whether future investment of such time in this matter will be worth it.
posted by batgrlHG at 3:25 PM on February 20, 2008


(oops and by American airlines I meant those in the United States, not the one named American)
posted by batgrlHG at 3:26 PM on February 20, 2008


You mistakenly got onto a charter flight (i.e. a plane that was privately booked and not "open" to the general public).

The flight was essentially 'private' and not a 'common carrier' flight.

The procedures for boarding, especially in regards to the circumstance you mention may have deviated from those one expects when normally boarding a 'regular' flight.
"They did several non-standard things due to the fact that it was a charter flight. Apparently the flight had been delayed due to mechanical reasons and everyone had boarded, deplaned, reboarded, more than once which is why they were lax about the gate check."
I can imagine that the airline may not be liable for your error of boarding. How about investigating who chartered the flight? A tour company? Who? You might appeal to them. But, in the end, I can imagine that they'd have no interest in compensating you.
posted by ericb at 3:31 PM on February 20, 2008


genghis: Your bag should never have left Schipol. Any attempt on the part of the handler to get it nearer to you is to the handler's credit and legally must not have begun until after you landed and made contact.

If somehow your suitcase went to Barcelona on its original flight, the airline screwed up in a very severe way. That may or may not prove useful to you when dealing with them.


No, my bag was deplaned in Amsterdam when I wasn't on the Barcelona flight so they followed procedures. When I contacted Iberia the next day they said they would attempt to deliver it to me in Barcelona, I told them to only do that if they were positive they could get it to me before my next flight, otherwise I would get it at Schipol (which didn't happen). But as it stands Iberia is taking care of that, I'm trying to figure out what (if anything) I can do about Transavia.

batgrlHG and ericb, Transavia is a Netherlands-based airline that doesn't have a US office that I know of. So the problem is trying to get customer service from thousands of miles away when they don't respond to e-mails and only have European phone numbers.
posted by Challahtronix at 3:49 PM on February 20, 2008


Does the airline owe you anything because almost six months ago you got on the wrong plane? Probably not, but you may get some frequent-flier miles depending on how big a stink you're willing to make. Is that worth it? Well, that's up to you. Challahtronix, maybe you could let us know exactly what it is you want out of all this.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:41 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd like:
1. Acknowledgment that they made a mistake.
2. Some steps taken to prevent it from occurring again. Don't know if that means procedural changes in re-boardings or what. I was lucky we went to a country that didn't require visas.
3. Compensation for my expenses and inconvenience.
posted by Challahtronix at 5:05 PM on February 20, 2008


Challahtronix, when you realized you weren't in Barcelona, I can imagine how stressed, confused and lost you must have felt, especially as someone who didn't speak the native language. I can understand that you feel procedures weren't followed in the way they should have been. Legally, though, I think fandango_matt is right in that all you are likely to end up with, if anything, is frequent flier miles on a Nethelands-based airline. So that would be my answer to "What, if anything, am I owed?"

Also, beagle has (twice now) given you what I think is excellent advice: snail mail the airline with photocopies of the documents. And, and this is VITAL, decide what you think is appropriate given your own culpability and the airline's negligence, and tell them WHAT YOU EXPECT in the letter. You must be SPECIFIC. I have dealt with situations in the past where the compensation was directly related to what the complainant requested; in other words, when no specific request was made, the absolute minimum was done.
posted by misha at 5:12 PM on February 20, 2008


You might be better off pursuing the terminal -- it appears that it was their boards that were out of whack
posted by bonaldi at 6:06 PM on February 20, 2008


It would be the airline currently making use of the gate that would be responsible for updating the information at the gate, and the airline reporting current flight information to the central airport info system that would ensure the accuracy of the information on the monitors that Challahtronix was told to look it.

That's the part where things fall apart for me. When a traveler, obviously foreign, comes up to agents at a gate with a question about a flight that's been moved and delayed, why would the agents refuse to provide service and instead say "go look at the monitors" for information? That moment of laziness/unwillingness to assist, if it was perpetrated by ClickAir agents, rather set the ball rolling.

If it was a ClickAir employee who refused to provide help, Challahtronix, this is something worth mentioning. There was a moment when they had an opportunity to help their customer get on the right flight and avoid the whole horrific thing, and someone fell down on their duties.
posted by Dreama at 7:33 PM on February 20, 2008


Hmmm, is this "Click Air" industry wide? Seems I was flying in Mexico on something called "Click-" (something or other) a couple months ago. Small planes, low occupancy, probably lax standards. Caveat emptor.
posted by telstar at 12:01 AM on February 21, 2008


this is VITAL, decide what you think is appropriate given your own culpability and the airline's negligence, and tell them WHAT YOU EXPECT in the letter. You must be SPECIFIC. I have dealt with situations in the past where the compensation was directly related to what the complainant requested; in other words, when no specific request was made, the absolute minimum was done. - misha

Speaking as an ex Complaints Manager working in Europe, this is the best advice in the thread. Your first letter was fine, but it was slightly washy in what you wanted to be done. Not excusing the lack of reply, it is not really clear what you wanted in return. We all know here what you wanted, but have the luxury of your additional explanation.

Also, with no response to your initial letter, you have some leverage on the customer service angle and the opportunity to be more firm in what you expect.

Finally, you need to address your letter to the person at the highest authority at the airline. Write the letter, have it recorded delivery if you can, call to make sure it has been delivered, follow up three days later. I doubt you'll be able to speak to the CEO, but their assistants will certainly push it towards them if you're persistent. If you want to follow this through, they have to first understand that you are serious. Good luck.
posted by triv at 2:38 AM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


nitsuj : (If you don't find your answer here, be sure and ping Christopher Elliott.)

I did and he responded that he contacted Transavia on my behalf, we'll see what comes of it. Thanks!

divabat: Is it worth contacting the airport as well, since part of it was airport procedure?

That's a good point I had not thought of, investigating that now. As I said in the OP I may be in Europe later this year so I may go to them (and Transavia) directly then if nothing has happened by then.

bonaldi : You might be better off pursuing the terminal -- it appears that it was their boards that were out of whack

I looked at it just prior to lining up to board the plane (about 15 mins before takeoff), for all I know they could have updated it immediately after I checked. And even if they didn't I couldn't prove otherwise.

Dreama : If it was a ClickAir employee who refused to provide help, Challahtronix, this is something worth mentioning. There was a moment when they had an opportunity to help their customer get on the right flight and avoid the whole horrific thing, and someone fell down on their duties.

Not to stereotype, but it seemed to me that was the standard for customer service in the Netherlands. Make sure that you have exhausted all other avenues of finding the information before bugging the person behind the counter. It's not viewed as rude but more "efficient", otherwise you are wasting the person's time. That was just my observation and someone from there or who has spent more time than I can probably do a better job of describing it, by my guess is that it would be shrugged off.

telstar : Hmmm, is this "Click Air" industry wide? Seems I was flying in Mexico on something called "Click-" (something or other) a couple months ago. Small planes, low occupancy, probably lax standards. Caveat emptor.

ClickAir is Air Iberia's lower-end carrier, I think they only fly within Europe but am not positive. Transavia is KLM lower-end, intra-Europe airline, and KLM is related to Northwest Air somehow, but they don't deal with issues from their sister companies.

I've also re-sent my e-mail but this time more firmly-worded (but NOT angry) and will be drafting a letter to send to them. Beagle & Triv, you're right that it is very wishy-washy and indirect about what I wanted or expected. At the time I wrote it I was still pretty confused (and still am) about what their responsibilities/obligations are in a situation like this and was at least expecting a response from them to work off of.

And as I said I'll likely be in Europe in a few months and can visit in person, though at some point it will likely reach the "is it really worth it?" point. I would still like to file a complaint with the appropriate regulatory body about this as it really could've turned out a lot worse.

Thanks everybody.
posted by Challahtronix at 2:22 PM on February 22, 2008


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