British Airways/American/ Travelocity trouble

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Feb 3, 2019
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#1
We bought 4 tickets to travel from Albuquerque, NM to the UK back in March of 2018 from Travelocity. I paid for these tickets in full at that time. May 25th we were due to leave on our 7 week trip to the UK. We arrived at the airport after car trouble an hour before our flight was due to take off. We were dropped off and went directly into the Albuquerque airport strait to the AA counter, which was just inside the door. We were obviously later than ideal but getting to the counters is quick from drop off and I walked strait to the check in Kiosk while my husband settled the kids in line. We were still in the zone of on time. The kiosk was not working and so we had to wait in line. When we got to the counter the chatty AA agent scanned our passports then said she couldn't check our bags. She never really gave us more info than that, just that now it was too late (the flight had not left and we had arrived at check in before their cut-off.) Said we were welcome to call AA right there, who also told us they couldn't help us. We still had time to get to the flight but upon calling Travelocity and British Airways we found they had cancelled all our flights including our return 7 weeks later. They were not helpful in trying to get us to the UK at that time, although I appreciated how long the Travelocity customer service agent tried to help us she said it was out of their hands and all flights were cancelled.
It was recommended that I try to resolve this situation through Capitol One, the card on which I'd bought the tickets. I initiated the process and was given the return money while they disputed. We decided to take the risk of paying twice and drive 8 hours to a bigger airport, incurring more expense from car rentals, hotel to save on the flight to the UK. Our original flights cost 2-3 times as much now from our airport.
Upon trying to handle the dispute from overseas I received British Airways version of events in which they said "we cancelled the flights" and were "no shows" at the airport, and that we are "trying to get out of paying a fee". Nobody at any time even offered for us to pay a fee, which we gladly would've to keep our flights etc. I responded to these lies with truths and Visa decided in our favor. Capitol One refunded us the money. I thought it was over. Suddenly I start getting emails from Travelocity saying that we did not fulfill our commitment to pay them for our tickets to the UK and they would be sending it to a collection agency. I had several email correspondences with them in which I explained the situation and that this case had been decided by Visa in our favor AND that I had paid Travelocity already when I bought the tickets from them originally. They decided we still need to pay and sent it to collections. I have tried to get help locally from a lawyer but can't seem to find the right help. I feel that British Airways is way out of line here and in speaking to other people that this is not right, but have no clue about a next step. Im so frustrated as Ive never had anything sent to collections, and especially that we had to buy our second round of tickets from BA as well was a real slap. I really hope to resolve this in a fair way but feel powerless against these big companies.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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#2
It sounds like you arrived at the airport after check in was closed for your flight.

Recommended time to arrive at the airport is 3 hours before an international flight and 2 for domestic.

The computers actually lock down 60 minutes before your flight is scheduled to leave. You say you arrived after car trouble 60 minutes before your flight. By that time checkin was closed and you are marked as no shows.

If that’s what happened, you aren’t due a refund I’m sorry to say.
 
Jul 13, 2016
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#3
As Neil says, you arrived too late, the computer had already closed the flight. Your "fee" from BA would have been new tickets at walk up rate. Very expensive. You lost the value of those tickets by missing the cut off time.

What do you mean by "being in the zone of on time?" Was it more than 60 minutes prior to scheduled take off? If not, then it doesn't matter that you were in line. In fact, it doesn't matter if you were in line 60 minutes prior. The time stamp that matters is when you got to an actual agent. Once that 60 minute mark is reached, the computer locks down and no one, not even the head of BA, can override it. This has to do with getting passenger names and info to TSA for security.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#4
If the computer locked then there is no way to over ride it and you did not check in and were a no show.
Walking into the airport “in the zone” of time means little — check in needs to be started by cut off time. It does not matter that the plane had not left. International flights have very strict time rules because of advanced passenger information requirements. This is a requirment from Border Control at the arrival country. The UK is strict because of their own watch lists and terrorism concerns.

Visa may have decided to refund the charge but it may have been on a technicality and not on the merits— as in the response was not in time.

I have nearly missed a flight because of a massive traffic accident and rerouting. I was on the phone with the airline asking about options — but I made it. On the other side I have let people go in front of me in line who were late when I was very early.


Saying you paid Travelocity already is not accurate. When Visa credited your account they took the money back — so someone else paid for your car troubles and the seats likely flew empty.

Too late means just that — airport check in times are rigid, not like a concert or play start time.

As I said I have had transportation issues with international flights and it is incredibly stressful.
But there seems to be a misunderstanding of the seriousness of the check in time cut offs and baggage drop off times. Airlines have to have time to screen passengers and luggage, get the passenger lists sent to security and border control and computers are programmed to stop and not allow any other check ins. Have you considered that the flight closing may be the reason that the kiosk did not work?

You arrived at the airport one hour before departure — but for destinations outside the US American requires check in 60 minutes prior to departure. By the time you even walked to the kiosk the check in time had passed.

Travelocity did not cause you to be late and they were not paid. Now they have gotten a collection agency involved. If it is a 3rd party collection agency then you may have to deal with them. You can contact a lawyer that specializes in debts and collections to ask about options.
 
Dec 19, 2014
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#5
1) RE: Inability to check in.
If you attempted to check in under 60 minutes for your flight, you would have been past the cutoff time. This is a hard cutoff time, and as others have said no one can override this. It does not matter that your initial flight segment was domestic, if the destination was international, then the 60 minute cutoff time applies.

2) RE: marked as no show
Unfortunately, once you failed to check in on time, you are a no show, and the airline (BA) has the right to cancel the entire itinerary. Worse, because you are a no show, you forfeit the value of the ticket. Personally, I think that is a bit punitive, but it is the rules, and as Christina said, the seat may have flown empty which is revenue that the airlines cannot recover.

3) RE: Travelocity's advice to "take it up with Capital One"
Bad bad bad advice. My cynical side says the agent said that to try and get rid of you on the phone. Or it may have been ignorance. Moving on to #4

4) RE: You won the chargeback but now Travelocity is threatening me with a collections agent
Here's the dark side of credit card chargebacks that no one talks about. If a merchant loses a credit card dispute, it simply means the merchant cannot re-charge the credit card, but it does NOT prohibit the merchant from collecting directly! It may make it harder for a merchant to have a court side with the merchant, but in your situation, this was a VALID charge and the collections attempt is valid.

This is a serious situation, and you may be beyond the scope of a consumer advocacy site. As Christina said, you may need to contact a lawyer.

This leads to
5) Booking with Travelocity, means they were your agent and representative. We will never know how hard they advocated for you with BA. BA may simply be just following the rules. Ideally, BA would refund your 1st set of tickets minus a fee, but they aren't under any legal obligation to do so. You may also have discovered the painful lesson that Travelocity promises and guarantees may not all be that it is cracked up to be.

I would write a well crafted letter to Travelocity and and attempt to negotiate a settlement. The threat for collections is real and cannot be ignored. Good luck
 
Jun 27, 2017
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#6
As a longtime former resident of "The Duke City," I flew numerous times in/out of Albuquerque International Sunport. Sorry kendrab, but getting to this airport 1-hour before for the FIRST leg (on American Airlines) of an INTERNATIONAL flight is simply not doable. In fact, it is difficult to check in and check bags for a DOMESTIC flight at the Albuquerque Sunport in less than 60 minutes, even under the best of circumstances - working kiosks (AA has more than one), multiple ticket agents, short lines to check-in/check baggage, etc.

Also, my experience getting through TSA security lines at this airport has typically been 20 minutes. And once you get through TSA, you have to put on your shoes, gather your luggage and other items, and head to the gate, and that could be a fairly long walk. PreCheck may save some time, but not always. Boarding is starting up to 30 minutes before flight time. And doors are now closing 10 minutes before flight time. Perhaps kendrab is not a seasoned traveler. I don't think she has a case, because it doesn't appear AA, BA or Travelocity did anything wrong. She didn't mention the total cost of her tickets, but at this point, it may be best to pay up.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#7
I am so very sorry to read your awful story, it's terrible that this happened. You really are in a pickle, as my colleagues have outlined. When you drove to the "larger airport", did you just buy new tix there? Did you receive any kind of credit towards a future flight ... anything at all? The usual scenario is that you apply the credits against the cost of the new tix. But you need to work with the original airline to accomplish this.

For instance, if I show up at my home airport too late to check in, my $5K tix is now worthless. If you're a no-show, they automatically cancel the whole tix. (It's awful and I believe it's unfair, but that's what the airline does.) So now I have a credit with the airline for a future flight. $5K less a cancellation fee of maybe $400. I book new flights (yes, at the dreaded walk-up fare) that cost $10K. I then owe the airline $4600 for my new tix.

Buying airline tix through an online booking service only adds to the complexity of the problem. Airlines are much more likely to work with you if you purchase your tix directly from them.

I think it is reprehensible that airline agents will tell you anything to get you to go away. That first agent should have taken care of you. If she had to get everyone checked in so your flight left on time, she should have told you to come back at certain time. And she should have HELPED you. Agents are paid to take care of the customers. My colleagues have laid it all out for you. I urge you to make every effort to negotiate and settle this before the colllection effort goes any further.
 
Likes: kendrab
Sep 12, 2018
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#8
The thing is, when you buy airline tickets, they provide you with their terms, which are available before you pay. This is a contract, and by purchasing the tickets, you agree to its terms. I’m not saying they’re good terms; they’re not, and they heavily favor the airline. But they are binding. It’s possible to ask the airline to waive their rights under that contract, and if you ask nicely and are patient, they will occasionally do it, even though they don’t have to. When you file a successful chargeback, that doesn’t nullify the contract, but it does make the airline significantly less likely to be flexible with you.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
15,656
14,204
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#9
I am so very sorry to read your awful story, it's terrible that this happened. You really are in a pickle, as my colleagues have outlined. When you drove to the "larger airport", did you just buy new tix there? Did you receive any kind of credit towards a future flight ... anything at all? The usual scenario is that you apply the credits against the cost of the new tix. But you need to work with the original airline to accomplish this.

For instance, if I show up at my home airport too late to check in, my $5K tix is now worthless. If you're a no-show, they automatically cancel the whole tix. (It's awful and I believe it's unfair, but that's what the airline does.) So now I have a credit with the airline for a future flight. $5K less a cancellation fee of maybe $400. I book new flights (yes, at the dreaded walk-up fare) that cost $10K. I then owe the airline $4600 for my new tix.

Buying airline tix through an online booking service only adds to the complexity of the problem. Airlines are much more likely to work with you if you purchase your tix directly from them.

I think it is reprehensible that airline agents will tell you anything to get you to go away. That first agent should have taken care of you. If she had to get everyone checked in so your flight left on time, she should have told you to come back at certain time. And she should have HELPED you. Agents are paid to take care of the customers. My colleagues have laid it all out for you. I urge you to make every effort to negotiate and settle this before the colllection effort goes any further.
Actually the reasoning behind canceling the return portion of an airline ticket if you aren’t on the first leg is 1- the assumption that you don’t need the return since you never left on the first flight.
2- you entered into a contract when you bought a round trip ticket. By not being on the first leg, you broke the contract. The airlines don’t allow throw away tickets and they can argue that this was intentional and a way to bypass buying a one way ticket at a possibly higher price.
 
Feb 3, 2019
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#10
Thank you all for replying to me, since a couple people asked the total for all of our flights originally was $4600, we ended up paying just above that for the second trip we took a month later out of Denver. It was just a lot more hauling around the whole family and small alien resident complications flying through Canada but did not miss my father-in-laws surgery. It sounds like no matter the situation BA was less likely to work with us considering our booking with a third party. It has been about 10 years and two kids since I was a seasoned international traveler and a lot has changed. At the time it didn't occur to me that using a third party for international was such a bad idea, but now, I never will make that mistake again. At the moment standing in front of the kiosk I didn't consider that it didn't work because of our timing, as those kiosks haven't always worked in the past. We were taking time seriously and were just seriously unlucky on that trip to the airport. Even though it is part of a contract I think its disgusting that they would cancel the return flight 7 weeks later, being as we at least had more options open to us. i.e. driving to the NYC hub for a much closer hop across the pond. Ultimately it did feel like there was very little help available to us, and even though it was in the contract, it feels wrong they have no responsibility to necessarily help the customer. That just was not my experience when we used to fly BA more often. So far, they have only sent two of the tickets to collections. Im hoping thats the extent of what they will be asking for from us. I have not dealt with collections for 20 years so thanks for the idea of a specialized lawyer. Id like to know, if possible if they plan to try for the other two tickets to go to collections. Assuming they don't it sounds like we are lucky that its just the two tickets. Again, thanks for your thoughtful responses, it was difficult to not have resources and knowledge through this process so its nice to get your feedback. Cheers
 
Apr 1, 2018
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#11
I hope you get some type of restitution. Your plight highlights why I like Norwegian, Iberia and Level. The price for a one-way ticket on those airlines is half the price of a round trip ticket. I often buy 2 one-way tickets instead of a round trip ticket for this very reason.
 
Feb 3, 2019
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#12
I hope you get some type of restitution. Your plight highlights why I like Norwegian, Iberia and Level. The price for a one-way ticket on those airlines is half the price of a round trip ticket. I often buy 2 one-way tickets instead of a round trip ticket for this very reason.
Thank you! Us too, I flew Norwegian to Sweden from the UK and liked it, I will check it out next time!
 
Likes: Yul Ullu
Feb 3, 2019
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#14
Before buying any tickets on Norwegian you should check the raft of complaints on this forum re: Norwegian. For a small airline, they are very over-represented in the problems on this forum. They also may be going bankrupt.
Eeek, good to know, thanks
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
7,562
7,344
113
San Francisco
#16
Actually the reasoning behind canceling the return portion of an airline ticket if you aren’t on the first leg is 1- the assumption that you don’t need the return since you never left on the first flight.t example
2- you entered into a contract when you bought a round trip ticket. By not being on the first leg, you broke the contract. The airlines don’t allow throw away tickets and they can argue that this was intentional and a way to bypass buying a one way ticket at a possibly higher price.
I'm aware of the reasoning behind cancelling a return if you miss the outbound ... but I don't think it's right. This story is a perfect example. A no-show is one thing, a family late to check in is quite another. Had the original agent bothered to help the OP, a great deal of angst and money could have been saved.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
15,656
14,204
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#17
I'm aware of the reasoning behind cancelling a return if you miss the outbound ... but I don't think it's right. This story is a perfect example. A no-show is one thing, a family late to check in is quite another. Had the original agent bothered to help the OP, a great deal of angst and money could have been saved.
You may not think it’s right but it’s the way all airlines work. It is also to prevent throw away tickets.

The only ones who can change it is the DOT and they won’t even make airlines disclose all fees upfront. I can’t see them getting involved - the airline lobby is too strong.