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Advice required on Eu regs 261/2004

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Advice required on Eu regs 261/2004

Old 13th Dec 2011, 20:37
  #1 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Cleveland
Age: 47
Posts: 58
Advice required on Eu regs 261/2004

Good evening all.

I will try to keep this as short as I can.

I am booked with Virgin in group of 4 to travel from LGW - Las Vegas in Feb 12, staying for 4 nights. We have just found out that for reasons unknown our outbound flight has been cancelled.

Virgin have offered either:
1. A full refund
2. To travel out 1 day early
3. To travel out 1 day late.

We cannot go out 1 day early, and we want more than 3 nights in Vegas. If we get a refund we will be stuck with Delta flights via Atlanta, which is not what we had hoped for.

I had hoped that Virgin would transfer us onto a VS flight from Heathrow via San Francisco, with a connection for the short hop accross.

All Virgin will offer is to transfer onto the LHR - SFO flight, but then they have said it is our responsibility to pay for the onward connection.

Reading the EU Regs from the Virgin website, they state that we have the choice:
To take an alternative flight, under comparable transport conditions, to your final destination, where seats are available at the earliest opportunity.


I have spoke to the passenger complaints department at the CAA, and they feel that we are well within our rights to ask for the LHR - SFO - LAS flights, and that Virgin should accommodate our request.


If anybody can offer any advice, indicate if we are within our rights, or how best to procede then I would be grateful for any time you could spare.
inglebyboro is offline  
Old 14th Dec 2011, 10:55
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Join Date: May 2009
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Inglebyboro.

The article you refer to has never been interpreted as an obligation to interline you to your destination. They would appear to have complied by the regulation by offering either a refund, or a rerouting on their flights. Some airlines do not have interline agreements at all.

Although VS does have interline agreements with many of the US airlines these usually charge the rerouting airline the full economy fare for the sector concerned (i.e. not the walk-up price, but a very high price published for the purpose of ripping off interline carriers)

Before you give up on their SFO offer, have a look at what prices are available on a US carrier. Not the best, but it might not be as much as it seems. You could even try to reclaim the fare you pay from VS after the fact. If it's not unreasonable they might refund it, or offer you that amount as a credit on a future flight.
ExXB is offline  
Old 15th Dec 2011, 01:14
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Join Date: Dec 2010
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SW advertising SFO LAS on Feb 12 for $49 one way . Tax will be another $10
sherburn2LA is offline  
Old 15th Dec 2011, 10:08
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1) If you accept SFO and buy separate SFO/LAS be aware that this SFO/LAS is a separate contract and if you miss it for any reason you aren't covered by Virgin or your insurance or EU regs and may have to buy yet another ticket.
2) Virgin have made a first offer. You have a view from the CAA, go back to VS and argue.
Hartington is offline  
Old 16th Dec 2011, 06:39
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Surely BA have a daily nonstop London to Las Vegas.
WHBM is offline  
Old 16th Dec 2011, 15:40
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Thanks for the advice.

Still no further on. Virgin have again told us that we can fly from Heathrow to Washington / LA / San Francisco on the date we want to travel, but they will not help with any onward connection. They have also offered to give us lounge access.......

The CAA advice is that the contract with Virgin is that they are responsible to get us to the final destination that we have booked.

BA do have a direct flight on that date, but again,Virgin have told us that they will not book us onto that flight, as we can fly with Virgin to America, just not the destination that we have booked.

The annoying thing is that the CAA will not get involved for 28 days, to give Virgin time to "do the right thing" (there words, not mine) by which time the flights from San Francisco will be more than $49, so still not sure how to play things.....


Thanks again
inglebyboro is offline  
Old 16th Dec 2011, 15:54
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Don't forget that the advice from the CAA is only that - advice. Their opinion does not have the force of law. Only the courts can interpret the Regulation and while they will listen to the CAA's view they will likely rule based on precedence.

To my knowledge an obligation to interline a passenger to their destination has not been sustained by the courts and seeing as VS has offered you alternate flights (although not to your liking) to your final destination or a full refund I wouldn't bet the courts would rule that VS is not in compliance with the regulation.

Don't forget that one of your options is a reroute at a 'later date' (i.e. not just the dates offered to you) Can you delay your trip by a week, fortnight, month?

If not, then I would go with the SFO option. But once you are home to send them copies of the receipts and ask them to reimburse you. And take the lounge option as well!! That alone could cover your extra costs.
ExXB is offline  
Old 16th Dec 2011, 18:21
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: london
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Hi Ingle

I am surprised at Virgins stance, but I don't think 261/2004 is the way to go. I stand to be corrected, but if the airline offer an alternative or a refund 2 weeks or more prior to booked date of travel then they are off the hook.
The regs are available online so you can check for yourself , but from a regulatory point of view I think they are in the clear. [email protected] customer service though.....
Good luck
ohitsmonday is offline  
Old 16th Dec 2011, 20:44
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Join Date: Oct 2007
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We did think about changing dates, but the hotel we have booked in Vegas will not change the dates for us, so we would have to rebook the hotel.

On the Virgin Atlantic website they have a page giving you your rights under EU regs 261/2004. If your flight is cancelled, they say you have 3 choices. One choice states:

To take an alternative flight, under comparable transport conditions, to your final destination, where seats are available, at the earliest opportunity.

To me, with my understanding is that:
Virgin are to assist me in getting to my final destination as soon as possible, not 24 hours later.

They must get to to my final destination (Las Vegas), not Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, or anywhere else they choose.

Under comparable transport conditions indicates that I could ask to be placed onto the direct BA flight from Heathrow. I am fully aware this will cost more for Virgin, so I believe my request to fly Virgin via San Francisco, then onwards with Virgin America is, and should be acceptable.



I appreciate all of the comments, and it is beneficial to understand how others read into our problem.

What I find most annoying is that when I called Virgin customer services the other night, the person I spoke to said he would be happy to transfer us onto flights to Las Vegas via San Francisco, but as we booked through a travel agent, they would have to make the request on our behalf. My travel agent unfortunately has not received the same response.


Many thanks once again
inglebyboro is offline  
Old 17th Dec 2011, 08:44
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Inglebybro,
I certainly understand your frustrations as it appears that VS is not prepared to get you to your destination as originally booked.

When the Regulation was being drafted this article caused a lot of discussion and the basic airline groups diverged significantly on what their obligations should be. The LCCs, for example, refused to consider that they should be obliged to put the customer on another airline. Their view was that their obligation in law was limited to them transporting the customer on their next available flight, or to give the passenger a full refund. They said that no other industry was compelled to give their customers to their competitors or to buy a competing product, in similar circumstances.

The network airlines were more flexible and envisioned that under certain circumstances the passenger might be rerouted wholly or partially on another airline. What we ended up with is a article that neither requires it or bans it.

This leaves it to the courts to decide.

From VS perspective they believe they have complied with the Regulation as they have offered you a reroute to their next (or previous) available flight (i.e. their earliest opportunity) or a full refund. Their offer of an alternate destination is over and above the requirements of the regulation. It is relevant to point out that the regulation does not define 'earliest opportunity', but other articles of the regulation stipulate fixed times that the airlines must comply with.

I realise that none of this helps you in your particular situation, it is just an attempt to explain why VS may have decided to do what they have done. (Also please note that these are not my views, I'm just guessing what VS's views are)

You hadn't mention previously that you had booked this through a travel agency. If you booked the hotel and flights together I believe that you have additional protections under the EU's Package Travel Directive. (Council Directive 90/314/EEC of 13 June 1990 on package travel, package holidays and package tours.) The first thing I would do would be to get in touch with the travel agent and to tell them they must sort out the problem. Either they must give you a full refund (hotel, flight and anything else) or to get you to LAS as you originally booked.
ExXB is offline  
Old 17th Dec 2011, 09:53
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Join Date: Jun 2003
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MAN

Inglebybro,

What about flying Virgin MAN - LAS on 12th Feb? If you're location is Cleveland then surely this would due better anyway?

Just a thought.
dwshimoda is offline  
Old 17th Dec 2011, 11:06
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Join Date: Oct 2002
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Originally Posted by inglebyboro View Post
BA do have a direct flight on that date, but again,Virgin have told us that they will not book us onto that flight, as we can fly with Virgin to America, just not the destination that we have booked.
But you did say Virgin will (of course) give you your money back. Virgin don't have to do it; just rebook yourself on another carrier.
WHBM is offline  
Old 17th Dec 2011, 17:01
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We did look at going from manchester, but for the dates we could travel did not match with flights available from Man.

WHBM
We could get a refund and book with a different carrier, but to be perfectly honest I do not have the spare funds to pay the current fare with BA. The way I read the followign from both EU regs & the Virgin Atlantic website:

To take an alternative flight, under comparable transport conditions, to your final destination, where seats are available, at the earliest opportunity.

I honestly feel that I should not have to. The EU Regs are there to protect the travelling public. I do not feel like we are asking for anything that does not meet with that statement. If Virgin understand EU Regs differently to me then I am more than willing to to proceed to the small claims courts & I will let somebody else decide who is right.
inglebyboro is offline  
Old 17th Dec 2011, 20:11
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Join Date: Nov 2010
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I would just be wary of "cutting my nose off to spite my face".

Personally I think I would book those flights from LA to Las Vegas now, and keep them as a "banker". Then hassle the living daylights out of your travel agent, and if you get no more joy out of them or Virgin for that matter, at least you know you will get to Las Vegas on time. Then try to get the money for those LA to Las Vegas flights out of someone.

If Virgin do re-route you on the way out just make sure that they don't cancel the return from Las Vegas on you, due to you not been on the outbound leg.

BA pulled that trick on another PPRuNe members better half recently due to an admin screw-up.
Avionker is offline  
Old 23rd Dec 2011, 08:51
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Join Date: Dec 2008
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Your main course of action here should be via your travel agent, but first of all you need to understand if what you booked via them is classed as a "package", or if the agent dynamically packaged (booked the flight & hotel seperatly via different providers) the arrangements on your behalf...

The key here is that if you believed you were buying a package (ie you advised the agent of your requirement - 4 night stay in Las Vegas) you are covered under the package holiday regs, and will be covered for both flight & hotel/transfers if applicable. If however the agent booked the arrangements via 2 seperate suppliers and you knew this, then you are not covered by the package regs.

An easy way for you to figure this out is if your invoice/quote from the agent gave you the cost as a combined total (ie 800 p/p for VS flights and 4 nights at the XXX hotel), as this would be deemed as the agent having supplied a package under the EU regs (note - some agents will dynamically package as this is generally cheaper - BUT if they do and then give the impression to you that you have bought a package they are liable) - also worth noting here that if the agent has done this, then they should have sold the trip under an ATOL...

If however you recieved an invoice/quote from the agent which clearly shows that the flights & hotel have been purchased through seperate suppliers, and the cost for each is seperated, then this doesnt form a package under EU regs and you are up sh*t creek without a paddle as far as trying to get a refund/change of the hotel...

I worked in the tour operating business for almost 20 years, and VS are complying with their interpritation of the regs, to my knowledge it has never been proved in court either way.

In my opinion, you have a couple of choices:
1) Continue your battle with VS, but I doubt you will get anywhere.
2) Rebook with another carrier (you may wish to seriously concider this, as in my opinion VS do not offer the most comfortable seats in economy, and also their LGW fleet is way behind that of the LHR fleet in terms of decor/IFE etc. Also, although another carrier will not be direct, you may find that a break in the journey en-route will give you a chance to strech your legs, plus you will have cleared customs/immigration at your stopover point.
3)If you are determined to fly with VS, then speak to your agent about picking up the cost of the onward ticket (from SFO/LAX), as $49 may be a very cheap option to sort out what could be a major problem for them, depending on the above package/dynamic package argument.

Finally, given all of the work that you have put in, your agent hasnt really provided any service/value to you whatsoever - happy to take your money, but not happy to sort out when you have an issue!
GroundedSLF is offline  
Old 26th Dec 2011, 14:34
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by which time the flights from San Francisco will be more than $49, so still not sure how to play things.....
Remember you will need to pay for baggage etc with Southwest so it's highly unlikely you'll get the flights for $49
smith is offline  
Old 26th Dec 2011, 17:49
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Join Date: Apr 2002
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Actually Southwest is one of the few US based airlines that does NOT charge for baggage.

Travel Services and Fees - Southwest Airlines
Hartington is offline  
Old 28th Dec 2011, 10:44
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Join Date: Nov 2004
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Well spotted Hartington
smith is offline  

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