Suing an airline

May 17th, 2012, 01:00 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2012
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Suing an airline

I had a visa to travel to a certain country and it was valid for fourteen days from the date of issue, my itinerary was to travel from country A(home country), to country B (visiting), to country C(transit point), to country D(final destination), and then from D, back to C and back to A. I boarded my flight on schedule at the country of first visit and arrived at the country of transit at 11pm, thirteen days into the validity period of my visa. As I proceeded to board the connecting flight to my final destination, the airline refused me a boarding pass, saying that my visa had expired and for that reason they could not transport me eventhough it was clear that my visa was still valid for at least one day. They remained adamant regardless how much I tried to make them see that I still had a valid visa, I missed my flight and was forced to sleep at the airport that night. I sought to clarify with the agent who got me the visa and asked if he could get me another visa while I was still at the transit point. He called after a few hours to inform me that the immigration control in the country I was headed insisted that my visa was still valid as at that day, hence they couldn't issue me another until it expired. I was again forced to stay at the airport for a second day running since the airline still refused to transport me and I didn't have a transit visa to allow me entry into the contry of transit and possibly stay in a hotel. I was told by the airline that I could only be granted a transit visa if I had a boarding pass for a flight that required me to wait for twelve hours. Since my ticket was a return one routed from country A(home country), to country B, to country C(transit point), to country D(final destination), and then from D, back to C and back to A, I decide to return from C to A because I was not allowed to proceed to D.

Here's my question, could the airline refuse to transport me after I had met all the travel requirements? Can I sue the airline?
LawrenceLagos is offline  
May 17th, 2012, 01:13 AM
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You can always try, but this sounds like a loser case.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
May 17th, 2012, 06:17 AM
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When people sue it's to recover a "loss" whether real or perceived. In your instance what is the value of YOUR LOSS"? If I understand you correctly and depending on how one calculates your loss it comes to 1 or perhaps 2 days of travel time that you spent sleeping in an airport. (I note you isn't say that you incurred any extra hotel expense for that time ).

My point being is it doesn't seem that you incurred a significant monetary loss for your period of inconvenience (maybe a few hundred dollars at most) and there doesn't seem to be any irreparable harm done to you. Since most attorneys take on cases like this on a contingency basis (i.e. for a percentage, anywhere from 25% to 40%, of the hope for monetary settlement there doesn't seem like much incentive for anyone to take the case even if the facts did support your position and from what you say I doubt the facts will make you a "winner".

Your best bet is to contact the airline, give them a brief and clear synopsis of the events - stick to the facts and avoid any confrontational language. You may get some type of compensation for your efforts - some frequent flyer miles, a travel voucher or just a nice letter.
RoamsAround is offline  
May 17th, 2012, 09:09 AM
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Maybe I should mention that I was travelling with my newly wedded wife and country D was one of our honeymoon destinations actually, I didn't mention this initially because the airline didn't have issues with her visa, only with mine but due to it's refusal to board me, my wife didn't board of course because she couldn't travel without her husband. Hence, she was with me for the duration I was at the airport (with no access to bathe and freshen up for two days) and we missed our honeymoon vacation.

After we decided to go back to our home country, the airline agreed to give us a boarding pass on a flight back to country A and a transit pass to stay in a hotel at our own expense (hundred dollars). Remember also that our ticket fair covered our trip from country C to D and D back to C, which we didn't use.
LawrenceLagos is offline  
May 17th, 2012, 09:16 AM
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I am not sure I fully understood the problem, but I take it that you were never at your planned final destination country D but got stuck in transit country C and had to treck back to your home country A?
Would that visa in question that had still been valid one day for country D? And if so, would you have stayed in country D only for one day?

Anyway, and from a very very very generic perspective, it looks as if the airline has failed to fullfill the transportation contract C to D because the personnel at check-in had rejected boarding on improper grounds. This would at least nullify the contract for flight C to D and return D to C (assuming it was same airline), meaning that the costs for that leg should be reimbursed.
If some of those legs had been to any EU country or with an EU airline, your would have statutory rights and you be entitled to penalty cash compensation by the airline. And not just a meal voucher.

Again, I am not even sure I understood your story 100 pct but if you think I did then you should claim the money for the final leg when you write to the airline.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
May 17th, 2012, 09:26 AM
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What I don't understand is a visa which is only valid for 14 days. Does that mean first entry into country D must be within those initial 14 days? And for how long did the visa allow you to stay IN country D?

Also, were the flight times from C to D? This may be significant.

Some of us would like to research this further. Can you please give us the name of country D and your citizenship?
NoFlyZone is offline  
May 17th, 2012, 09:27 AM
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Sorry you had difficulties on your honeymoon and I understand you wanting to "rant" about the situation but I again pose these questions - what value do you place on your actual loss and how much do you seek to recover by suing the airline???

If you are only talking about a few hundred dollars or even a few thousand dollars I doubt you'll find an attorney willing to the the case. Lawsuits are very costly to litigate so if the potential reward for the attorney is not going to be at the least in the 10's of thousands of dollars range (meaning you'd have to get a judgement of three or four times that amount) I'm afraid you'll just have to be satisfied with a rant on a forum.

Do try writing to the airline - you might at least get a voucher for some free travel.
RoamsAround is offline  
May 17th, 2012, 02:21 PM
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@Cowboy1968, we were never at our final destination because the airline refused to board me.

@NoFlyZone, yes the visa granted me entry within 14 days of its issue and then allowed me a stay of 14days after entry. With regards to flight times, we arrived country C at about 11pm of the 13th day and were scheduled to board a connecting flight to country D immediately (the flight was waiting for transit passengers on board flight B to C). In other words, my visa was still valid for another 24hrs. Country D is Dubai and I'm Nigerian.

@RoamsAround, I don't know how to quantify my loss exactly perhaps you could advise in this regard but I do believe it is quite substantial given the trauma it caused my newly wedded wife who was looking forward to enjoying a first vacation with her husband. I'm not just looking to rant on a forum like this, rather, I'm seriously considering filing a lawsuit against the airline.
LawrenceLagos is offline  
May 17th, 2012, 02:57 PM
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No one here can possibly answer your question, because the possibility of bringing, and winning, a lawsuit depends entirely on the country and/or locality in which you would bring the suit. The logical jurisdiction (that is, the place where you could sue) is the country in which your ticket was issued. If you are serious about a lawsuit, you would probably do well to consult a lawyer in that jurisdiction.

Some jurisdictions, including all (I think) States in the U.S., have something called Small Claims Court, in which individuals can bring relatively small lawsuits without an attorney. Whether or not the jurisdiction in which you would file a suit has something similar, well that's for you to find out I suppose. Even if you file in a court similar to small claims, it's still a good idea to consult an attorney first.
DonTopaz is offline  
May 17th, 2012, 03:15 PM
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perhaps the problem was the time difference, perhaps you missed a day in there somewhere, crossing int'l date line? I would persue this with the airline causing problem. I had a problem with an airline that quoted me a price in british pounds even though I was calling from USA. It was a great price but when I got my credit card bill --oh oh, there was the transation fee and price difference between pounds and dollars. I was on the phone with the airine for 14 hours over a 2 day period. I documented the time and everyone I talked with and presented my case to them in writing. they apologized and sent me a $25.00 CERTIFICATE and reversed the charges BUT that did not cover it for me. #1..the reversal of charges did not cover the transaction fee and #2- $25.00 did not nearly compenste me for the time I spent and frustration of constantly being transferred and having to repeat the entire story. I persisted with the airline and they then reversed the transation fee and gave me 2 $100.00 certificates which I used toward a flight. DO NOT give up. they owe you something!
Shar is offline  
May 17th, 2012, 06:03 PM
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Mental anguish (which I gather is the "trauma" you believe your wife suffered) is difficult to value and even more difficult to prove. Just saying she was upset because of a missed vacation is not enough, especially when she stayed with you during the ordeal and wasn't separated. You'd have to show she was under a doctor's care as a direct result of the incident and have an ongoing long term diagnosis. If you do file a lawsuit there are experts you or your attorney can hire who can calculate a dollar value for the "perceived loss".

If you really believe you have a claim you should consult an attorney (as suggested by Don Topaz) who can advise you on whether or not the face justify a lawsuit and what jurisdiction the lawsuit can be filed.

You should also know that litigation such as this can drag on for years and be very costly for both the plaintiff and the defendant.

Since your case involves international travel and perhaps the policies of more than one government I'm not sure you could file the suit in the jurisdictional country's equivalent of "Small Claims Court" . You'll have to research that, probably with a local attorney.

Again, when considering a lawsuit it all will come down to how much of a claim you are seeking and the potential award you might get at the end It sounds harsh but the reality is lawsuits are all about money and if the mount of money is too small it will be very difficult and maybe even impossible to get an attorney to take the case. The only way to know for sure is to consult with one (or more).

One thing you might try is contacting the Ombudsman at Conde-Nast Traveler Magazine. He (or she) helps people who have had major travel problems settle disputes within the travel industry. Your case seems to have some of the elements that might make it interesting to them. It's worth contacting them as it won't cost you anything to make the inquiry and if they decide to intervene on your behalf you may get some type of settlement without incurring any legal fees and without filing a lawsuit. You won't be awarded "tens of thousands of dollars" but you might get some free travel. It is possible the Ombudsman may suggest that you first try to resolve the matter directly with the airline in question before they will intervene but that hold be easy for you to do. You won;d, of course, have to have some idea of what type of settlement you deem would be a fair resolution. As I mentioned you might get vouchers for free travel and perhaps some reimbursement for your out of pocket expenses and/or lost hotel deposits and other travel expenses. If, however, you won't be satisfied unless you receive a large some of money for "mental anguish" then I doubt the Conde Nast Ombudsman would be able to help you.
RoamsAround is offline  
May 17th, 2012, 08:20 PM
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I am confused-if you had a 14 day visa was it not for your entire stay there so wouldn't the airline have been correct denying you a continuation on your journey if you didn't have enough time to get to point D,spend time and then return to A?
dutyfree is offline  
May 17th, 2012, 08:28 PM
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There are a lot of details missing. Who knows what really happened here. Since all countries are "letters".

I expect the problem is that D has a more then 1 day visa requirement but who knows.
CarolA is offline  
May 18th, 2012, 04:35 AM
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Not all letters. Country D is Dubai and the OP carries Nigerian documentation.

Sounds to me like the airline and the UAE are counting to 14 differently. A phrase such as "within 14 days from today" are terribly ambiguous on both ends. Is today day 1 or is tomorrow? Does 'within' mean less than 14 or less than or equal to 14.

And Timatic doesn't even present a 14 day advance visa with a 14 day commencement restriction. So I'm out.

(And I doubt the OP would get anywhere with a lawsuit, especially filing in Nigeria so going for compensation is my recommendation.)
NoFlyZone is offline  

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