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Compensation for denied boarding US to Europe--any experts out there?

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Jun 26th, 2014, 04:54 PM
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Compensation for denied boarding US to Europe--any experts out there?

A flight delay nightmare has happened to family members traveling with an infant and toddler! Twelve hours at the home airport (six hours in the airport for two days in a row), and still no departure. And, all check-ins were done with plenty of advance time. They had purchased three tickets and also had a lap baby with them who they had paid for.

We are trying to help them figure out how much compensation to ask for. Reading the contract of carriage and flight regulations, this is a grey area rather than a clear-cut one, so I hope some of you can assist quickly. And,we're trying to figure out if US or European (or both) regulations apply.

Here is the scenario:

Yesterday they had a US to Europe flight on a United/SAS combo ticket. The United flight originated at A, with a connection in Dulles for a SAS transatlantic flight to C, and from C there was a final SAS intra-European flight from C to D. The FAA closed the airspace at the Dulles temporarily because the president was flying out, so United stopped boarding the plane at A because they did not have clearance to leave for Dulles. By the time the flight could leave from A, it was too late to make the connecting flight at Dulles. Half of the people leaving from A to Dulles thus missed their connections and were given the choice of remaining in A or going on to Dulles to sit there indefinitely. The airline said they could not find three seats on any transatlantic flight anywhere yesterday, so the family stayed at A their home airport. United rebooked them for today on a different combination of flights.

Today they once again arrived early for check-in. They were to travel on United from point A to Newark, Newark to Frankfurt, and have a final intra-European leg out of Frankfurt on Lufthansa. When booking these substitute flights for them yesterday United apparently messed up because they had not issued a paper ticket for the lap baby; this was not noticed until the check-in counter. Issuing a paper ticket required a supervisor's override, and the United supervisor did not arrive in time for them to be able to board at the point of origination.

So, today they again went home with a promise of correctly booked tickets for tomorrow.

Thus they will be losing two days of their vacation and be arriving 48 hours later than the tickets they had originally booked.

What rules for monetary compensation apply in a situation like this? I hope some of you know because we are trying to sort them out. We know that there is $1300 per person for being denied boarding due to over-booking. But, this was error and incompetence today rather than overbooking. We suspect the airline will claim yesterday was more of a force majeure issue. How do the EU regulations apply in a situation like this? Yesterday's transatlantic flight was on a European carrier. Today's intra-Europe flight was on a European carrier.

Thanks for any concrete, specific information any of you can give. I am also going to post this in the airllines forum hoping for some insights there too.
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Jun 26th, 2014, 05:21 PM
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What a nightmare. I have no words of wisdom, but this post will bring the thread back to the top. Good luck to your relatives!
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Jun 26th, 2014, 06:40 PM
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What a mess!

I'd suggest you re-post over on the Air Travel forum. It is much slower than "Europe" but there are 3 or 4 real air travel/airline experts who post regularly there that I seldom see here on the Europe board.
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Jun 26th, 2014, 07:02 PM
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infant in arms is different for domestic, no paper ticket needed but for international there is a fee and infant must have paper ticket. You said they had paid for the infant but did they have a paper ticket for the first flight that they missed? The infant has a passport so there was no problem with the age cut off? I ask because we use to run into problems with infants turning two during the trip. I think the agent should have known the infant in arms needed a paper ticket and it was her fault but it clearly states that on international flights. Just a big confusing mess,
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Jun 26th, 2014, 07:19 PM
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The baby is only 11 months, so that wasn't the issue today. I think this was just a screw-up on the United agent's part. We all realize that errors do happen, but the airline needs to take responsibility for a problem they caused. Two days in a row of mix ups and no flights deserves a significant compensation as far as we are concerned.
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Jun 26th, 2014, 11:16 PM
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How do the EU regulations apply in a situation like this?

Easy. They do not. United is based in the U.S. (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulat...#Applicability )



Two days in a row of mix ups and no flights deserves a significant compensation as far as we are concerned.

My suggestion is to post your story on Flyertalk and only present the facts, including flight numbers. Follow the advice they give.
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Jun 26th, 2014, 11:56 PM
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Why did the infant ticket need to be a paper ticket and not an eticket?
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Jun 27th, 2014, 12:06 AM
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Somebody on Flyertalk will KNOW "the" answer since so many of those people seem to do nothing BUT immerse themselves in the minutiae of the flight rules, etc.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 12:06 AM
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and BTW, any "compensation for" anything with airlines usually means that the company involved has to admit it made an error.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 12:10 AM
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Dukey, I agree on both accounts.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 03:04 AM
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US law
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Jun 27th, 2014, 04:23 AM
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I would have thought the first delay (due to the airspace being closed for the president) would not be deemed the fault of the airline so is probably irrelevant to any claim.

You would want to focus on the second part, the failure of the airline to provide a ticket for the baby on the second day. That is their fault.

I do not see at all where overbooking comes in. The fact they could not find a slot when they had to rebook a ton of people due to an earlier issue that was beyond their control and then the flight which did have room was missed because they didn't make out a ticket for the baby is not really 'overbooking'.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 05:06 AM
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RM67 nailed it with "You would want to focus on the second part, the failure of the airline to provide a ticket for the baby on the second day. That is their fault."

Everything other than the baby's ticket is irrelevant and the applicable EU regulations only apply to non-EU based carriers for flights departing from an EU country.

Undoubtedly UA will compensate at least the baby and mother. The others probably could have continued but elected to stay and wait, but UA may compensate them. Very unusual situation with probably little precedence so my rec would be to decide what you would like UA to do. Then write them (only discuss the baby ticket issue), and tell them what you want as compensation. Ball's then in their court.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 05:14 AM
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Infant in arms is printed on ticket of one of the parents tickets if it is a domestic flight, no charge but there is a charge for international tickets because there is a charge of usually 10%. The most important thing is the infant is put on the manifest for number of pax on board so that is why it is important. The air space being closed is not the airlines fault, weather is an act of God but the closure of airspace is something the airline can't help. We were not even allow to land but circle if the president was on the tarmac. The second day problem is sort of the fault of the airline. Not every flyer would know those rules though it does state it in the fine print. Flyer talk is the best bet for how to get compensation but wouldn't hold my breath with United.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 06:13 AM
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I wonder if the infant was never mentioned at all on the original reservation and that would explain why there wasn't an infant on the amended reservation.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 06:21 AM
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sometimes the parents don't say and it won't show up if it is an e-ticket. Many times they will send you back to the ticket counter and have it corrected at the security checkpoint.
"souls on board" is total count including lap children.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 06:35 AM
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Thanks for all the advice and opinions. As I said when I posted, this is an unusual situation. I think United already admitted some guilt because the family was told that on-site airport personnel are only allowed to provide $200 compensation. For amounts more than that, people need to use online claims forms.

This is one of the reasons why we are wondering if EU rules apply. http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens...r/index_en.htm

"Secondly, you also have rights in case things go wrong. This concerns delays, cancellations and overbooking that prevent you from boarding ...

... and applies if you are:

departing from any airport situated in the EU, or
arriving in the EU with an EU carrier or one from Iceland, Norway or Switzerland.

...........

Financial compensation
In addition, if you are denied boarding, your flight is cancelled or arrives more than 3 hours late on arrival at the final destination stated on your ticket, you may be entitled to compensation of €250 - 600, depending on the distance of the flight:"


Yes, United was to be the transatlantic carrier, but United had arranged for the final leg of the journey on Lufthansa so they will be arriving at the final destination 24 hours late. And, my understanding is that the EU guidelines for denial of boarding are looser and the reason does not need to be tied into over-booking.

Flyertalk will be my next stop because I agree that they have to know what to ask for before they file their request.

Thanks again.

And, since we all know these types of situations do happen, some of you may want to download the apps from the links in this article just in case you are stuck sometime.

http://www.bbc.com/travel/blog/20121...-flyers-rights
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Jun 27th, 2014, 06:37 AM
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The original ticket must have been correct for the infant since on day one they were at the gate and boarding when the delay was announced. They had already cleared security.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 06:39 AM
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Yes, United was to be the transatlantic carrier, but United had arranged for the final leg of the journey on Lufthansa so they will be arriving at the final destination 24 hours late. And, my understanding is that the EU guidelines for denial of boarding are looser and the reason does not need to be tied into over-booking.


Final leg doesn't matter. The EU regulation does not apply to the situation.
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Jun 27th, 2014, 06:51 AM
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>>>You would want to focus on the second part, the failure of the airline to provide a ticket for the baby on the second day. That is their fault.<<<

While it appears the agent didn't provide the required ticket, it was the OP's responsibility to make sure she got all tickets rebooked, not just the adults.

There are differences in whether you are IDB or VBD and I think it can also matter if you are at your home airport (re: compensation).

>>>United/SAS combo ticket<<<

SAS is not a factor if your ticket was booked with United and it appears it was (checked in with United at the airport).
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