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COMPLAINT: Austrian Airlines - OS 373 Vo

 
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  #1  
Old Aug 6, 2009, 10:13 PM
Paul Paul is offline
 
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Order number 35VY6K, flight AMS-VIE-AMS. We could not board the AMS-VIE flight because of sickness of one passenger and got to Vienna later by other means. To our dismay, when trying to check in for the VIE-AMS flight, we were told that it was cancelled because we did not board the AMS-VIE flight, claiming that this rule was stated somewhere in the rules&conditions we agreed with by booking...

Austrian did not even bother sending us any notification about the cancellation - there were 2 weeks between the first flight and the return one. We could not even buy a ticket on the same day from them - our places were already occupied! Letting us (with 2 small children) stuck at the airport, the only words from the Austrian stuff were: "Sorry, you should have read the conditions" which they repeated over and over. Yes, most likely it was hidden somewhere in the conditions but a good company would never impose such a condition of a flight cancellation without letting the customer know, not talking about their dealing with customers afterwards. I have emailed their customer center almost a week ago regarding these issues - no answer so far. (I will post important updates, if any, here)

Verdict: Try to avoid if possible - you probably get a better service from a lowcost.

Last edited by Paul; Aug 6, 2009 at 10:14 PM. Reason: fixing the formatting
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  #2  
Old Aug 6, 2009, 10:55 PM
PHXFlyer PHXFlyer is offline
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Originally Posted by Paul View Post
Austrian did not even bother sending us any notification about the cancellation -
Did you bother to notify Austrian that you wouldn't be taking the AMS-VIE flight? It works both ways you know.

Had you bothered to call them they would have told you that by not taking the outbound portion of your round-trip itinerary the return would be canceled. If you wanted to keep your return reservation you would have been charged a change fee and possibly some additional fare if the one-way return was more expensive than your original round-trip.

Originally Posted by Paul View Post
Verdict: Try to avoid if possible - you probably get a better service from a lowcost.
Guess what? All airlines will cancel any remaining segments of an itinerary if you "no-show." Taking your business elsewhere or encouraging others to do so won't change this.
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  #3  
Old Aug 6, 2009, 11:18 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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Quote:
It works both ways you know
Not with airlines it doesn't... one sided contracts against the customers are all the rage
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  #4  
Old Aug 7, 2009, 3:35 AM
PHXFlyer PHXFlyer is offline
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Originally Posted by jimworcs View Post
Not with airlines it doesn't... one sided contracts against the customers are all the rage
Oh c'mon Jim. Put the contract aside. Approach this from a common sense point of view. If you book a round-trip and don't show up for the first flight why should the airline hold any of the remaining space you booked? If they didn't fly to VIE on Austrian Airlines why should the airline hold their return reservation on the assumption they may have traveled there by some other means of transportation?

They were a no-show for AMS-VIE. Had they called they would have been informed of the consequences and given the opportunity to re-fare the tickets to one-way VIE back to AMS. They had two weeks from the initial no-show until the originally scheduled return and in all that time not a single phone call not even to re-confirm. They just showed up in VIE expecting their reservation to still be intact. Sorry it just doesn't work that way.
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  #5  
Old Aug 7, 2009, 9:14 PM
Paul Paul is offline
 
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Quote:
Guess what? All airlines will cancel any remaining segments of an itinerary if you "no-show." Taking your business elsewhere or encouraging others to do so won't change this.
Guess what? You are completely wrong. I have already had the same situation with another company (and even a lowcost one, accidentally). I missed the outbound (in that case my fault - I was too late) and took another company for the outbound. My return flight was not influenced, why should it be. I am buying two tickets for two flights, there is no reason for the airline to cancel my reservation - except of an one-sided contract, as Jim has mentioned.

Quote:
Did you bother to notify Austrian that you wouldn't be taking the AMS-VIE flight?
No, I did not notify them. Unfortunately, I did not read all the xxx pages of the rules&conditions (actually, I think I did it a few years ago but I have not remembered this rule) and I could not even think that I should do that and that the airline could cancel my reservation, without even letting me know! Perhaps you are a very frequent flyer or an airline employee but I can assure you that it is not normal for vast majority of people - I have already discussed it with quite a few people and nobody shared your "common sense point of view" and did not ever hear about this policy.

Quote:
If they didn't fly to VIE on Austrian Airlines why should the airline hold their return reservation on the assumption they may have traveled there by some other means of transportation?
Because I paid for BOTH tickets?
Or do you think it is ok if the airline takes money for both ways, then cancels your return flight without letting you know, sells it to another customer and let you stuck at the airport?

Quote:
They had two weeks from the initial no-show until the originally scheduled return and in all that time not a single phone call not even to re-confirm. They just showed up in VIE expecting their reservation to still be intact. Sorry it just doesn't work that way.
Yes, I did not know it does not work that way by Austrian, even though it worked that way by another company. I learned my lesson. Legally, Austrian is right (they had it in their rules) and I can do nothing about it. However, a company with even a minimal care for their customers would never cancel a flight without at least informing the customer. They can send me their advertisement but they cannot send me an important email about a flight cancellation?

Do you know why Austrian (in the near future Lufthansa) *really* does this? It is simple: it earns them a lot of money. The Austrian stuff admitted to us that these situations happen quite often and it was apparent they were very well trained for them. First they sell the flight to a customer. Then they cancel it and sell it once again. And finally, part of the customers stuck at the airport buy yet another ticket from them. Immediately after we were denied the check-in, we were sent from the check-in desk right to their sell point to buy new tickets. Is it not a great business? It would be extremely simple to send an email to inform the customer. However, if they informed or asked the customer, this great business would not work anymore. It is as simple as that.
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  #6  
Old Aug 8, 2009, 12:09 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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Most low costs in Europe do not do this... each segment is treated as a one way contract. Cancelling or no showing for the outbound does not impact the return. Even the world's most anti customer airline, Ryanair, doesn't do it.

The reason the high cost legacy carriers do it is because their pricing model is ridiculous and byzantine. It was often cheaper to buy tickets and "skip" a segment. Airlines manipulated pricing to exploit customers.. when customers used the system to their advantage, suddenly that was unacceptable and the practice was effectively banned by this policy of cancelling future segments. It is just one more anti-customer policy which is defended for no legitimate reason. It is the equivalent of me buying two boxes of cornflakes at Walmart for the price of one. I then give one away to another customer. Could Walmart then charge me for the second box, because they "lost revenue" when I gave it to another potential customer? No, because that would be ridiculous. Only in the looney world of airlines does this make sense (and for the small minority of employees and apologists who frequent this board).
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  #7  
Old Aug 8, 2009, 2:59 AM
PHXFlyer PHXFlyer is offline
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Originally Posted by Paul View Post
Do you know why Austrian (in the near future Lufthansa) *really* does this? It is simple: it earns them a lot of money.
No, they *really* do this to prevent people from doing an end-run around the fare structure.

Originally Posted by jimworcs View Post
Most low costs in Europe do not do this... each segment is treated as a one way contract. Cancelling or no showing for the outbound does not impact the return. Even the world's most anti customer airline, Ryanair, doesn't do it.

The reason the high cost legacy carriers do it is because their pricing model is ridiculous and byzantine. It was often cheaper to buy tickets and "skip" a segment. Airlines manipulated pricing to exploit customers.. when customers used the system to their advantage, suddenly that was unacceptable and the practice was effectively banned by this policy of cancelling future segments. It is just one more anti-customer policy which is defended for no legitimate reason.
Call it what you will but if you don't like the fare practices than simply take your business elsewhere. Either that or just buy two one-way tickets on separate reservations to begin with. That way should something happen and the outbound isn't flown the return reservation isn't affected.
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  #8  
Old Aug 9, 2009, 1:18 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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In many cases you can't take your business elsewhere. The domestic US airline industry is a complex monopoly and exploits the monopoly to rip off consumers. They are incapable of self regulation and the sooner the industry is opened to genuine competition and reregulated, the better.
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  #9  
Old Aug 18, 2009, 10:33 PM
Paul Paul is offline
 
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Update: After communication with the Austrian Airlines customer centre, the airlines credited my credit card by all the airport taxes paid - I did not have to fill any form and they did not charge any fees for that. Definitely a positive point after the troubles.
Of course, it does not change the fact that, if the airlines already "must" have this flight cancellation rule, they should at least notify the customer that they are going to cancel his flight and it also would be nice if they mentioned this rule specifically eg in the confirmation email (I have recently ordered a flight at Swiss airlines and they manage to mention that, thus certainly Austrian could do it too) - at the moment it is only mentioned once, buried in the middle of tens of pages of the general rules... and clearly, majority of people is not aware of it at all. I will continue suggesting these changes at the customer centre - who knows, there is always a chance it could help.
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  #10  
Old Aug 30, 2009, 6:28 AM
Morgenhund Morgenhund is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Paul View Post
Order number 35VY6K, flight AMS-VIE-AMS. We could not board the AMS-VIE flight because of sickness of one passenger and got to Vienna later by other means. To our dismay, when trying to check in for the VIE-AMS flight, we were told that it was cancelled because we did not board the AMS-VIE flight, claiming that this rule was stated somewhere in the rules&conditions we agreed with by booking...
Normal practice. I fly Austrian regularly and know that if I can not make the outbound leg then I have to inform them to avoid them automatically cancelling the return. Example in question:

Dec 08: Forgot passport (stupid of me!) and only got to VIE 45 mins before take-off. I'd booked a promotional fare, and this was non-transferrable or rebookable. All they could offer was to allow me to return on the return leg if I bought a new ticket for a later outward flight - cost me EUR 400, but had I not been able to get the return I'd have had a shock to the tune of about EUR 850 (cheapest return available) with no refund available. Seemed very fair to me.
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  #11  
Old Sep 8, 2009, 12:52 PM
Paul Paul is offline
 
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Quote:
I fly Austrian regularly and know
And that's the main point. I do not fly Austrian regularly, I did not know and could hardly know - Austrian never explicitly mentioned this rule to me. It was only very well hidden in tens of pages of their rules&conditions. No note about such an important rule in the confirmation email, they did not send any cancellation email on cancellation, simply nothing. Perhaps some people use to spend a few hours reading all the rules and conditions when buying a ticket. I only went through it quickly, did not notice this rule and did not expect that something like that could be there.

Would you not agree that Good Airlines should specifically inform its customers about important rules like this one (during reservation and/or in the confirmation email) and send at least an email notification on flight cancellation?
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  #12  
Old Sep 8, 2009, 1:28 PM
The_Judge The_Judge is offline
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Each person would have their own definition of an "important" rule. It would take too long to go through all the rules on a phone reservation. That is why the terms and conditions are available online.

As far as notification on a delay or cancelation, I would say this is the norm as this is why you give your phone number and/or email address at the time of the original reservation.
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Yes, the rules and policies favor the airlines unfairly. I do not dispute that.
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  #13  
Old Sep 9, 2009, 12:21 AM
JR in Orlando JR in Orlando is offline
 
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The pricing by airlines in this regard is valid and logical. What complainers about the system forget is that the flyer promised to fly all segments when they booked the flight. Say my restaurant sells Beefy Burgers for $3, but I want to increase my sales of Curly Fries, which normally cost $1.00. Suppose I say, I will sell you both the Beefy Burger and the Curly Fries for $2.50 if you promise to eat both, but you have to pay the full price ($4.00) if you do not. I benefit by selling more Curly Fries and potentially increasing business, while you benefit from a lower overall price.

Wouldn't you agree that you broke your promise (contract) if you ate the Beefy Burger and threw away the Curly Fries. Wouldn't I be justified in taking steps to prevent people from breaching their contract by throwing away the Curly Fries so as to save 50 cents. Haven't I lost the benefit of my bargain when you throw them away, i.e. having more people try Curly Fries, even though I sold the fries.

Passengers when they sign up for one trip and then don't take a leg of their flight, do exactly the same thing. They contractually promised to fly each leg, and when they do not, they breached the contract. They should be held liable.

Notification is presumed because you knew or should have known the rules. When you failed to show up, you "self-notified" that the return flight was canceled. Try this excuse on the motorcycle cop by saying I did not read the speed limit sign and no body notified me about the speed limit before you ticketed me.
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Old Sep 9, 2009, 7:05 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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JR, that is the most ridiculous analogy I have ever heard. McDonalds sells "Meal Deals" now which are considerably cheaper than the individual prices. It would be utterly ludicrous for McDonald's to be going around snatching people's Chicken McNuggets because they didn't eat their fries. There is no court in the land which would enforce this "contract". Indeed, McDonald's could have no legal dominion over the goods as they are the property of the customer.

Your example actually makes the opposite point you seek to make. It illustrates the ridiculousness of the types of "Terms and Conditions" that airlines seek to impose in order to protect their byzantine pricing model. The conditions imposed by airlines are intended to block passengers from taking advantage of better pricing. There is no legitimate reason for this condition, other than to penalise customers for getting a "bargain". Airlines want to have it both ways, and due to lack of regulation, they get away with it. The "contract" doesn't apply to the airlines, who can sell more seats than they have and then fail to deliver on their contract. If however, a customer notices that that a flight from Orlando to Charlotte, via Atlanta is cheaper than a direct flight from Orlando to Atlanta and decides to buy the Charlotte flight and throw away the second segment, they are penalised. What is sauce for the goose ought to be sauce for the gander. Instead, airlines have legal immunity from standard consumer protection laws and resist any attempt to give passengers rights.

Thanks for the example though... it makes the point beautifully.

Last edited by jimworcs; Sep 9, 2009 at 7:08 AM.
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