Flight cancellation nightmares

2012-08-22 08:52
Flight delays, schedule changes and lost luggage are some of the biggest annoyances travellers have to face. Despite the possible irritation, many travellers rarely stop to consider what their rights are until the frustrating situation arises.

If you have not read through the conditions of carriage, the agreement between you and the airline when you purchased your flight ticket, check out these core things you need to know regarding your rights and flight schedule changes.

Here are some of the experiences readers shared in response to this article:

'Once-in-a-lifetime F1 experience dashed'

Nita Rudman: "Thanks for the article, however, I don’t think a refund is always an option.  By the time you are standing, bags in hand, at an airport terminal, a refund is not going to help you get to your destination in time.
I was booked to see the Formula 1 in Singapore.  A flight was booked to leave OR Tambo on the Wednesday and arrive on the Thursday.  
I arrived 4-hours early for my flight and had my baggage wrapped and sealed but when I arrived at the departure gate I was informed that the flight was overbooked and therefore postponed till the next day.  Hoards of other passengers, in full F1 gear heard the exact same story.  I believe the flight was, at the very least, double booked. I was placed in a hotel at the airport overnight where I had to tear through my wrapping on my luggage and settle in.
There was Nothing I could do!
We left the Thursday evening and arrived on Friday afternoon – thereby missing first and second free practice which was paid for in advance.  Not to mention 2 days in the hotel that was also booked and paid for.  A once in a lifetime experience of a formula 1 even in full glory was wrecked by SAA. The costs incurred by this reckless overbooking could not be fixed by a refund and I had to accept what I could get and get over it.

SAA made no apologies for the overbooking and indicated that this was a standard practice. Since I was booked on a flight the following day I did what I had to do, and accepted my fate.  They supplied a free international flight to certain destinations as compensation.  I never got around to using the free flight though as it was an unrealistic time period and only included the flight cost, not taxes or the iceberg of other costs involved in international travel.

The roll up effect of the mess was that my holiday was cut short by 2 days and I missed out on a lot of the experience of a full formula 1 weekend."

'7-hour delay without explanation'

Sharon Miller: "Thanks for your article regarding flight changes.  On 05 August 2012 I was on the kulula Flight MN 630 scheduled to leave King Shaka International Airport at 17:55. Due to the problem with 1time all flights were delayed till 20:30. We were at the boarding gates when we were told the flight was delayed but no reasons were given.

We heard about the reason for the delay via the grapevine but no official announcements were made.

At 20:30 when all the flights and airlines were leaving including the 21:00 kulula flight to OR Tambo our flight schedule disappeared off the board. When it reappeared the departure time was 0:40 with no explanations given.

We eventually left King Shaka at 01:20 and were told we could purchase refreshments on the plane. We were not offered refreshments like the other low cost airlines did. When asked why they could not give us free refreshments after the ordeal they had put us through we were told they had no authority.

As a result of this our flight was more than 7 hours delayed. I had to get somebody to work for me on Monday and my daughter missed school on Monday since I only arrived home at 03:40.

Kulula have responded and offered me R400 per person in the travelbank account. I still have not received a true explanation of the reason for the bad service.  This must be made public since I believe kulula is trying to hush it up and they do not care for customer service."

'Keep passengers and those fetching them in the loop'

Cathy Jones: "A 3-hour delay was announced for the 5pm Kulula flight MN633 had after the runway was cleared from debris caused by another airline’s exploding engine. The flight was delayed by 7-hours and 30 minutes resulting in passengers spending up to 10 hours travelling from Johannesburg to Durban.

This was the first flight to be re-routed, yet the last to land and the lack of information from the airport staff was appalling and frustrating. We finally got home at 2am.

Arriving passengers informed those who were waiting of the problem of co-opting a fresh pilot, incurring that extra 4½ hour delay. Keeping passengers and those fetching them in the loop, perhaps providing a complimentary snack for the tired, hungry and thirsty passengers (and a coffee for those fetching passengers) would have contributed much.

As it was, by the time the final delay of a further 40 minutes was indicated on the board at midnight, I heard murmurs of treason as people were threatening to use rival airlines in future and even I was wondering about the advantages of using Greyhound.

After a week, I was beginning to think that they were going the route of SA Express and ignoring their clients. But kulula responded with a voucher towards the next flight. As luck would have it, my passenger’s outbound flight was also delayed by 90 minutes. This time I received an email and an sms regarding the delay."

'Use my contact details to inform me of payment issues'

Michaela Bianchi: "I had such poor service on Mango airlines in on the 31 May.

I was scheduled to fly out to OR Tambo from Cape Town. When I arrived to check in, Mango airlines had cancelled my flight due to an issue with payment going through. Though on my travel confirmation, it showed as paid. I had no other choice but to purchase a new flight ticket, at a higher price right there at the airport.

All they did for me, was pretty much similar to Metro Rail. They merely apologised for the inconvenience and refunded the difference in ticket price. So I don't actually see the point for providing them with all your contact details, if they fail to notify you that they have cancelled your flight that was originally booked, paid for and confirmed a month prior to departure date. Pathetic!"

The airlines involved have been contacted to verify the compensation and procedures disclosed by our readers but we have not received a response as yet.

Read more on:    flights  |  travel south africa

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