Cancelled flight - Who is liable travel agent or airline

1Amigo
1Amigo Posts: 28
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edited 17 January 2023 at 11:10AM in Flight delay compensation
Hi, I've spent quite a bit of time researching my issue and have been unable to reach a firm conclusion. I've spoken with citizens advice and they described the case as ambiguous and were unable to help. If anyone can spend the time reading and responding I'd really appreciate it.

I originally booked return flights to Australia through a travel agent. A month before the flight was due to depart the travel agency contacted me saying the flight was cancelled. I spoke with the airline and they said a replacement flight has been made available but they cannot book me on it as I need to speak with the travel agent. The travel agent took over a day to look into the issue again and by that time the flight was full and they refused to offer any other reasonable rerouting. Unilaterally then the travel agency decided to refund me (less £90 in costs for some reason). As a result I had to book new flights myself which were significantly more expensive (£2000+ more). 

My understanding of EU law is that I have to be given the option of a reasonable rerouting. As I was not done so I can claim back the additional costs for my rebooking. Does anyone know who I should be claiming off though. Is it the travel agent or the airline?

Many thanks.

Comments

  • eskbanker
    eskbanker Posts: 29,765
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    The airline is responsible for rerouting after cancelling a flight, so when the agent notified you of the cancellation, you should have insisted that the agent pushed the airline to rebook you on a suitable alternative flight at no extra cost.

    However, I don't believe that you can actually enforce any rights against the airline now that they've refunded the agent, even though you didn't really want the refund, as the airline would argue that it's fulfilled its obligations under the regulations.

    Does your contract with the agent (which will presumably include the admin fee for processing refunds) specify what should happen in such circumstances, i.e. are you able to construct a case that they've breached this contract?

    Is the agent a reputable ABTA member or a cheap bucket shop?
  • 1Amigo
    1Amigo Posts: 28
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    eskbanker said:
    The airline is responsible for rerouting after cancelling a flight, so when the agent notified you of the cancellation, you should have insisted that the agent pushed the airline to rebook you on a suitable alternative flight at no extra cost.

    However, I don't believe that you can actually enforce any rights against the airline now that they've refunded the agent, even though you didn't really want the refund, as the airline would argue that it's fulfilled its obligations under the regulations.

    Does your contract with the agent (which will presumably include the admin fee for processing refunds) specify what should happen in such circumstances, i.e. are you able to construct a case that they've breached this contract?

    Is the agent a reputable ABTA member or a cheap bucket shop?

    The agent is Travelup. I did my best to push them at the time. I recorded logs and i think i made about 10 calls to them each with a 45 minute wait before they would answer.

    I have already taken them to small claims (didnt include in OP just to simplify things). They responded with the following.

    "TravelUp act as an agent for the airline in flight reservations and as such our liability is limited to the issuance of the ETicket. It is the responsibility of the service provider (airline) to operate the scheduled service or provide a suitable alternative. TravelUp are limited to the information available in the GDS (Global Distribution System) which is the system used for airlines to place their available fares and seats for booking by ticketing agents. Rebookings are limited to the availability of the replacement seats in the original booking class - this is not the class of travel i.e. economy, premium economy, business or first class but the subcategories of these fares. TravelUp are not responsible for the funding of a ticket with another airline while the original airline holds the funds for the issued ticket. As status as agent for the airline is made clear in our terms and conditions duly accepted as read and understood by the Claimant at the time of booking. We therefore deny this claim in full."

    Trying to decide the best way to proceed from here. I'm confused why they initially said its the airline resposiblity and then made excuses like the GDS system and the sub class of booking which in my view has no relevancy at all under EU law.


  • eskbanker
    eskbanker Posts: 29,765
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    I'd agree that they're missing the point but if you've already initiated a court claim then it's obviously now up to the court to decide on the merits of the respective positions - how far has the process gone?

    You're presumably not referring to 'EU law' in a UK claim, or did this relate to a pre-Brexit booking?
  • 1Amigo
    1Amigo Posts: 28
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    eskbanker said:
    I'd agree that they're missing the point but if you've already initiated a court claim then it's obviously now up to the court to decide on the merits of the respective positions - how far has the process gone?

    You're presumably not referring to 'EU law' in a UK claim, or did this relate to a pre-Brexit booking?

    By EU law i mean regulation 261/2004 which unless i'm mistaken still apply to the UK? The process has reached the point now whether we need to decide to proceed further to a hearing after travelup rejected the claim.
  • eskbanker
    eskbanker Posts: 29,765
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    1Amigo said:
    By EU law i mean regulation 261/2004 which unless i'm mistaken still apply to the UK? The process has reached the point now whether we need to decide to proceed further to a hearing after travelup rejected the claim.
    Yes, https://www.legislation.gov.uk/eur/2004/261 is the UK implementation of the EU regulations, but it's important to get the details right in legal action, to avoid the respondent escaping on a technicality!
  • 1Amigo
    1Amigo Posts: 28
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    edited 25 November 2023 at 11:03AM
    In case anyone was interested this has now been resolved.
    Travel agent failed to attend the small claims court hearing so we were awarded judgement by default. We then sent high court bailiffs round who collected payment after around a month.

    At the same time though they applied for the judgement to be set aside. We recently had a further hearing for this but again we won because the travel agent did not meet all of the required criteria. They were not prompt in their application to set aside and they did not have a good reason for failing to attend the initial hearing. Their reason was that they got dates mixed up as they get sued all the time which I found rather amusing

    Overall then a good result but unfortunately it doesn't really clarify for anyone else who is in the right here as we won on a technicality rather than the rule of law.
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