Norwegian's Customer Service is Horrible!

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Jul 6, 2019
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#1
My son and I flew from Vigo Spain to Barcelona Spain on Vueling Airlines on June 15, 2019. Our flight left Vigo late due to fog. Then when we arrived in Barcelona they deplaned us on the tarmac, put us in buses and then left us there for 20+ minutes. Once at the gate, we ran. But we still arrived at the Norwegian counter 10 minutes after the counter closed for check-in. I was aware that the counter closed 60 minutes prior to departure. There were still Norwegian customer service agents there. We asked them to check us in because we felt there was still time to make it to our plane to Los Angeles. They were not sympathetic to our plight at all and sent us to the Norwegian office where we were told we needed to re-book our flight immediately or forfeit the price of our original tickets which was $1143.80. There were no flights to Los Angeles for two days. The next flight to California was the next day to Oakland for an additional $1500 dollars. We had no choice but to book that as we had to get home before Monday. For starters we feel they should have checked us in and let us attempt to catch the plane. If the plane doors had closed by the time we made it to the gate then we could have re-booked. We feel they took advantage of our shipwrecked status to coerce $1500.00 from us. More than double what we had paid initially. They were very rude and unsympathetic. I submitted a claim on June 19 asking to be refunded the extra $1500.00 I had to pay to re-book. As of today, July 5th, I have not received a reply. It is impossible to get through to customer relations on the telephone because they are only open from midnight to 9am California time. Once I did get through on the phone and asked why I had not received any reply to my claim they said it usually takes 6 plus weeks to receive a reply. That seems unacceptable to me. I have never encountered a situation such as this.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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#2
My son and I flew from Vigo Spain to Barcelona Spain on Vueling Airlines on June 15, 2019. Our flight left Vigo late due to fog. Then when we arrived in Barcelona they deplaned us on the tarmac, put us in buses and then left us there for 20+ minutes. Once at the gate, we ran. But we still arrived at the Norwegian counter 10 minutes after the counter closed for check-in. I was aware that the counter closed 60 minutes prior to departure. There were still Norwegian customer service agents there. We asked them to check us in because we felt there was still time to make it to our plane to Los Angeles. They were not sympathetic to our plight at all and sent us to the Norwegian office where we were told we needed to re-book our flight immediately or forfeit the price of our original tickets which was $1143.80. There were no flights to Los Angeles for two days. The next flight to California was the next day to Oakland for an additional $1500 dollars. We had no choice but to book that as we had to get home before Monday. For starters we feel they should have checked us in and let us attempt to catch the plane. If the plane doors had closed by the time we made it to the gate then we could have re-booked. We feel they took advantage of our shipwrecked status to coerce $1500.00 from us. More than double what we had paid initially. They were very rude and unsympathetic. I submitted a claim on June 19 asking to be refunded the extra $1500.00 I had to pay to re-book. As of today, July 5th, I have not received a reply. It is impossible to get through to customer relations on the telephone because they are only open from midnight to 9am California time. Once I did get through on the phone and asked why I had not received any reply to my claim they said it usually takes 6 plus weeks to receive a reply. That seems unacceptable to me. I have never encountered a situation such as this.
If you were flying from Barcelona to LAX the check-in times are related to computer lockout and the staff at the desk could NOT check you in. The computers are locked to alow US immigration to process the passenger list. There is NO way around this. Even though you arrived 50 minutes prior to departure you missed the flight check-in and therefore were not allowed to board. This is a hard and fast rule and the check-in counter staff has no discretion. If you do get a reply from Norwegian the answer will still be no.

Since you had two flights that were not connected on the same PNR you needed to leave more time between flights in Barcelona, especially with two flight on two separate tickets. Did you try to check-in online 24 hours in advance?
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
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#3
I agree this was a International flight and once the Flight Passenger Manifest is closed out there is nothing that can be done. You needed a minimum of 3hrs I’m so sorry this happened to you. Norwegian did not do anything wrong and they had no control over another airlines delays.
 
Jul 30, 2018
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#4
Yep, when check in closes 60 minutes prior to the departure time, the computers lock down and no one has the ability to over ride it. The 60 minute rule is absolute. There was once a forum member who posted that he arrived at the counter 59 minutes prior to departure-just one minute late- and was refused check in.

Since you arrived too late to check in and missed the flight, you would have had to purchase a new ticket at the current rate, which can be exponentially higher than what you originally paid. Those agents at the desk were actually helpful in sending you to the Norwegian counter to immediately rebook. Many customers who don't check in for a flight are marked no-show and completely loose the value of their tickets.

Norwegian is an ultra-low cost airline and the customer service is minimal. These types of airlines often do not have daily flights and so if you miss one, you may not be able to fly until several days later.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#5
If you booked Veuling flight 1703 from Vigo to Barcelona which is scheduled to arrive at 11:30 am and then had a ticket on Norwegian 7107 which departs at 1:00 pm then that was incredibly unrealistic planning.

The Veuling flight left late by 30 minutes but caught up most of the time in the air.

With separate tickets there should be a minimum of 4 hours between and better to fly to other airport the night before.

It is doubtful that Norwegian will refund the money as they held the seats for you right up to the end and no one can override the 60 minute check in — the airline is not going to risk getting in trouble with the US Department of Homeland Security for two late passengers. DHS requires the passenger list to be transmitted 60 minutes prior so as to screen for people on the no-fly list. No airline is going to risk that, low cost or not.

This was not a case of being shipwrecked — well maybe if one considers that this was the equivalent of scuttling ones own boat.
 
May 7, 2019
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#6
You’ve got to be super careful when booking connecting flights on separate tickets. If you don’t leave sufficient time between the flights and you miss your connection, you will be out of luck.

You are actually fortunate that Norwegian offered to re-book you, thereby recognizing that your ticket still had value.

I know this is not the answer you want to hear, but your post will help others who may want to book connections to flights aboard discount carriers on separate tickets. Be sure to leave at least a few hours between the connections to allow for potential delays. If the connection is an early-morning flight, head for the connecting city the day before.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#7
It is not just an issue with discount carriers. I had separate tickets on a major carrier in Europe and I arrived the day before the transcontinental (ie expensive) ticket and booked a hotel. I was cautious because of weather in April.
 
May 7, 2019
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#8
Right: This issue will arise whenever someone has separate tickets for the originating and connecting flights. Usually, the flights are on one ticket (or should be).

Often, though, folks will purchase separate flights connecting them to cities from which discount carriers such as Norwegian fly — because Norwegian flights are much cheaper and it isn’t possible to put all of the flights on the discount carrier’s (Norwegian’s) ticket. I’ve done that a few times — but have always been very careful to leave lots of time to connect to the Norwegian flight.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#9
This was an inconvenient and expensive lesson on booking with barrel-bottom airlines. I'm sorry it happened, but I'm glad you posted ... others may read this thread and realize that booking air these days is much more complex than it used to be. Everyone booking the cheapest flights and hotels they can find ... such a shame.
 
Jul 6, 2019
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#10
If you were flying from Barcelona to LAX the check-in times are related to computer lockout and the staff at the desk could NOT check you in. The computers are locked to alow US immigration to process the passenger list. There is NO way around this. Even though you arrived 50 minutes prior to departure you missed the flight check-in and therefore were not allowed to board. This is a hard and fast rule and the check-in counter staff has no discretion. If you do get a reply from Norwegian the answer will still be no.

Since you had two flights that were not connected on the same PNR you needed to leave more time between flights in Barcelona, especially with two flight on two separate tickets. Did you try to check-in online 24 hours in advance?
Allowing 60 minutes for US immigration to process the passenger list makes sense. But why didn't the Norwegian staff tell me that in person or when I called later to complain? Also, I had no idea checking in online was an option for this flight. Norwegian did not offer me this information when I booked the flight.

On this Elliott.org website, I learned about the unofficial "Flat Tire" rule. Which means that if you miss your plane the airline will put you on the next available flight at no extra charge. Which would have been nice. Not to have been taken advantage of for another $1500 dollars.

Thank you for your response.
 
Jul 6, 2019
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#11
Right: This issue will arise whenever someone has separate tickets for the originating and connecting flights. Usually, the flights are on one ticket (or should be).

Often, though, folks will purchase separate flights connecting them to cities from which discount carriers such as Norwegian fly — because Norwegian flights are much cheaper and it isn’t possible to put all of the flights on the discount carrier’s (Norwegian’s) ticket. I’ve done that a few times — but have always been very careful to leave lots of time to connect to the Norwegian flight.
James, how would I have put all my flights on one ticket if they were different airlines?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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#12
Allowing 60 minutes for US immigration to process the passenger list makes sense. But why didn't the Norwegian staff tell me that in person or when I called later to complain? Also, I had no idea checking in online was an option for this flight. Norwegian did not offer me this information when I booked the flight.

On this Elliott.org website, I learned about the unofficial "Flat Tire" rule. Which means that if you miss your plane the airline will put you on the next available flight at no extra charge. Which would have been nice. Not to have been taken advantage of for another $1500 dollars.

Thank you for your response.
When you book your own airline ticket, you act as your own travel agent and you are responsible for knowing as much as a travel agent about checking in, connection times, arriving at the airport (which should be three hours before your international flight, two hours domestic).

The “flat tire” rule is not what you quote. If you have separate flights on different tickets there is no such obligation by one airline to put you on the next flight at no charge. That is only when you book all flights on one ticket. You do that by choosing “multi city” when purchasing tickets.

Norwegian Air is a highly discounted airline that is not in good shape financially. It is strictly do it yourself with these discounted airlines.

The way to avoid this in the future- use a travel agent. A real travel agent. Book on major airlines that have more than one flight a day, never book the last flight of the day, leave a minimum of three hours in between connections. This “discount” ticket ended up costing much more than paying full price on a legacy carrier would have.

I’m sorry this happened but booking airline tickets is not as easy as it seems.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#13
I do not believe that the flight tire rule is an international concept; it is usually for US domestic flights.

I also do not think that online check in is available for most long haul international Norwegian flights —‘mostly available for flights within Europe. A colleague flew Norwegian out of JFK and could not check in online.

I would never count on a flight tire rule outside the US. We had a Traveler here recently that also had to buy a new ticket after arriving too late to check in and they were flying out of Brussels.

Many low cost airlines do not allow ticketing of connections to other airlines. One has to factor in a lot of time for things to go wrong with separate tickets —for me it is a minimum of 4 hours.
 
Dec 19, 2014
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James, how would I have put all my flights on one ticket if they were different airlines?
To do so, both airlines need to have an INTERLINE agreement. Unfortunately, most budget airlines (ie Norwegian) do not have interline agreements with other airlines. Vueling does have interline agreements with British Airways and Iberian, but you also will need to book the ticket as a linked ticket (ie single PNR), rather than 2 separate segments.

What is worse is that some online travel sites, will sell single itineraries but ticket them as separate tickets.

The issue is that many online travel sites fail to disclose this. If all goes well, then the traveler is blissfully unaware of the issue, but if something goes south, then real problems begin. Since you were connecting from Vueling to Norwegian, I would have scheduled a MINIMUM of 6 hours (I'm not even comfortable with 3-4 hours) between flights, and preferably flown into BCN the night before.

From Norwegian's perspective, they don't care why you were late, whether it was because you were delayed on an inbound flight, or whether you were stuck in a traffic jam on the way to the airport. They sold you a ticket, and you weren't present at the cutoff time.

The only way to avoid this is either from experience or to use a qualified travel agent. I'm truly sorry to hear about your plight, but when you do hear back from Norwegian, you're not going to get a favorable response. The issue here is the inbound flight was booked too tightly for this connection to be feasible.
 
May 7, 2019
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James, how would I have put all my flights on one ticket if they were different airlines?
I use Google Flights to search for flight options from my departure city (Phoenix) to international destinations. The results generally reveal options with originating flights aboard one of the U.S. Big 3 airlines (American Airlines, Delta and United), connecting to flights to the international destinations that are often aboard other carriers. I can then purchase one ticket for the entire itinerary on the originating carrier’s (American’s, Delta’s or United’s) website.

For complicated itineraries, I generally use an established travel agency. American Express is my favorite.

As has been stated elsewhere here, discount carriers generally do not have interline agreements with other carriers, so unfortunately it will not be possible for you to book your entire itinerary — including a flight on that discount carrier — on one ticket.

I actually am planning travel to Athens, Greece in the fall. I will book the LAX-to-Paris portion aboard Norwegian (which has a wonderful, moderately priced premium economy product), but will spend several nights in Paris before connecting to Athens. From Phoenix to L.A., I’ll make sure I’m scheduled to arrive at least 5 hours before the Norwegian flight. But stuff happens, and I’m well aware I’ll be taking a small risk that I may miss the Norwegian flight.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#17
I use Google Flights to search for flight options from my departure city (Phoenix) to international destinations. The results generally reveal options with originating flights aboard one of the U.S. Big 3 airlines (American Airlines, Delta and United), connecting to flights to the international destinations that are often aboard other carriers. I can then purchase one ticket for the entire itinerary on the originating carrier’s (American’s, Delta’s or United’s) website.

For complicated itineraries, I generally use an established travel agency. American Express is my favorite.

As has been stated elsewhere here, discount carriers generally do not have interline agreements with other carriers, so unfortunately it will not be possible for you to book your entire itinerary — including a flight on that discount carrier — on one ticket.

I actually am planning travel to Athens, Greece in the fall. I will book the LAX-to-Paris portion aboard Norwegian (which has a wonderful, moderately priced premium economy product), but will spend several nights in Paris before connecting to Athens. From Phoenix to L.A., I’ll make sure I’m scheduled to arrive at least 5 hours before the Norwegian flight. But stuff happens, and I’m well aware I’ll be taking a small risk that I may miss the Norwegian flight.
Good, detailed advice, James, that hopefully our other readers will understand. I'm fortunate to be able to plan my/our travel out of SFO and rarely make a connection ... if it's forced, I allow a good long time period, or fly in one day and out the next, spending the night at an airport hotel. I often fly on upgrades, so I don't want to miss my scheduled flight. My Chase cards give me lounge access, and I can always plan little entertainments and work projects during the connection time. Booking connections with "partner" airlines is another good bit of insurance ... but a large amount of time between flights is usually the way to stay out of trouble. I did read recently that United is going to study the issue of people missing connections ... hopefully they'll come up with some guidelines to assist passengers.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#19
I had to laugh ... today I found a reeaaaaly good deal on an NCL cruise. I called to ask the agent a question. He didn't know and had not the slightest interest in finding out the answer. He wasn't rude, but he sure was stupid.
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
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#20
I had to laugh ... today I found a reeaaaaly good deal on an NCL cruise. I called to ask the agent a question. He didn't know and had not the slightest interest in finding out the answer. He wasn't rude, but he sure was stupid.
Judy???? You do know that NCL (Norwegian Cruise Lines) is a different company than Norwegian the Airline.... :D
 
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