LastMinute Flight Cancellation

Hi Guys, this is a touch long so I'll try and make it as clear as possible.

Last year I bought return flights to Thailand through LastMinute.com and Xiamen Air.

Thirteen days before departure I got an automated email saying that the an element of the outward bound flight had been cancelled but that the return flight was still operating.

Obviously a return flight without the outward bound element was completely useless so I logged an enquiry relating to a full cancellation but LastMinute kept quoting their terms and conditions prevented them from claiming a refund in this case as they had booked it as two separate transactions.

I contacted the airline who were worse than useless and refused to honour their terms and conditions in terms of the flight that, they informed me, was not cancelled on the outward bound leg, merely rescheduled so that one of the transfers was no longer viable. Also that as far as they were concerned the contract was with LastMinute and not myself and so they would not be able to resolve this directly with me.

The terms and conditions I refer to are that "in the event of cancellation or rescheduling they will make all reasonable efforts to find me an alternate flight".

As you would assume that any airline would, as a first choice, put you on their own flight and as they hadn't then it was not an option and so other airlines would have to be involved.

Looking at available seats within their own codeshare, there were options with KLM, Air France and Qatar that they refused to consider, looking outside of their codeshare brought FinnAir, Etihad, Emirates and Cathay Pacific into play.

I sought help with my credit card company who advised me that LastMinute would dispute any charge back on the grounds that they feel their role to be one of introduction and one that was completed within the terms of their credit agreement.

I also contacted the Citizens Advice Bureau who helped me draft a letter that did prompt LastMinute into cancelling the return leg and seeking repayment from the airline.

I've now had this offer and basically its the full transaction cost minus £50 for LastMinutes fees involved in booking with the airline alongside an offer for a full refund + £40 if I was willing to accept a credit note.

going off the way that LastMinute basically did nothing and left me to fend for myself I am very reluctant to accept a credit note but the cash alternative feels like I'm forking out for an issue between LastMinute and the Airline, I didn't cancel, I just wanted a holiday and either LastMinute sold a flight that was never viable or the Airline changed their schedule so that the flight combination wasn't possible. Either way I don't see why I should be a single penny down on this and with the rise in flight costs then even if I were minded to use them then £40 extra on a credit note for a flight cancelled less than two weeks before departure doesn't even touch the sides.

Am I being unreasonable in wanting a full refund on this and how should I proceed?

Thanks in advance

Comments

  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 9,251
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    So you might get a full refund less £50?  I know what you mean about this being a bit mean given you've done all the work but frankly I think I'd seriously consider taking it.  you might try to counter offer - full refund-£50 for fees + £100  compensation for your time and effort.  They might say no but at least you will have tried.

    I certainly wouldn't want a credit note.
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • Caz3121
    Caz3121 Posts: 15,514
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    you will find that most/all online ticket floggers have fees. To get 100% back you would needed to have booked direct with the airline and not involved a middleman. (which would also have made the rescheduling simpler)
    The fees apply whether you or the airline are the ones that cancel. You mention Lastminute managed the cancellation with the airline on your behalf and will be the ones that receive the refund.
    I expect if you read through their terms and conditions the fees will be there.
    Worth considering booking direct with airlines in future (there are loads of poor overseas third parties around) LastMinute is owned by Bravofly and is under Swiss Law.
  • Voyager2002
    Voyager2002 Posts: 15,221
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    I think that what you have been offered is the best result you can expect, given that you booked through an agent that is beyond the reach of English law. Had you booked direct with the airline, you could have used the fact that they were legally obliged to re-route you once they had cancelled your outbound flight.
  • bagand96
    bagand96 Posts: 6,021
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    edited 17 January at 3:25PM
    Sounds like a bit of a nightmare and another example of the pitfalls of booking with OTA's that have poor reputation for customer service.  

    It's quite normal when booking via an agent for the airline not to deal with the customer directly.  It needs to be done through the booking agent as it's their reservation.  It does seem strange the airline wouldn't rebook after a schedule change that invalidated the connection.

    Lastminute.com's T&Cs make clear that when booking you are authorising them to act as your agent in arranging air tickets with the airline.  The T&C's also further go on to say the following:

    4.4. BOOKING CANCELLATION OR MODIFICATION BY THE AIRLINE OR FLIGHT PROVIDER

    In case the airline or flight provider cancels or modifies the flight you have booked (for example, they change the schedule), you have the right to a refund of the price of your plane ticket and/or some other type of economic compensation in accordance with European Commission Regulation no. 261/2004. For more information on your rights, you can consult http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/passenger-rights/air/index_en.htm. We inform you that the application of a refund or economic compensation is the exclusive responsibility of the airline and that the Company is not responsible for such under any circumstance.

    In these cases, the Company will assist you in getting the amount of your plane ticket back (not any subsequent compensation, which you would have to directly ask of the airline) by acting in your name and on your behalf with the airline.

    Keep in mind that the Company’s agency fees are independent of the price of your plane ticket, and for this reason you do not have the right to a refund of the amount paid for such services from the moment in which you make your request. This is because our agency fees cover the Booking Service supplied by the Company, which have been successfully carried out after having assisted the Customer in making his/her booking via the Web Application.

    The Company will charge handling fees (per person) for the services carried out in obtaining this refund, the amount of which can be seen in clause 6.4 of the Terms & Conditions


    6. HANDLING FEES APPLICABLE BY THE COMPANY FOR PROVIDING SERVICES.

    The Company will charge the handling fees specified in this clause for providing services detailed below.

    Please remember that in the event of paying handling fees in a currency other than EUR, the amount will be converted at the prevailing exchange rate of the currency selected by the passenger.


    ......


    6.4. Booking modification or cancellation by the airline or flight provider

    In case the airline or flight provider cancels or modifies the flight you have booked, you may have the right to a refund of the price of your plane ticket and/or some other type of economic compensation.

    We remind you that, in accordance with clause 4.4 of the Terms & Conditions, the Company can apply the handling fees unless otherwise decided by the parties.

    The Company's handling fees applied may vary, according to the method in which this reimbursement is made:

    • Using the original payment method to make the booking:
    • If you have purchased an Assistance Package: no handling fee applies.
    • If you do not have an Assistance Package: 35 GBP per person applies, , (for a maximum total amount of 105 GBP).
    • Receive a voucher: no handling fee applies.

    If you have not purchased an Assistance Package and the value of the refund is less than 35 GBP, only a refund voucher option will be applied.


    You accepted the LM T&Cs and therefore the admin fees they charge. That's the business model of these agents, they make next to nothing in commission selling the tickets so make up for it it in charges and admin fees.  Although the T&C's seem to suggest that the admin fee is £35, so perhaps ask them why they want £50, unless £15 was another agency fee not refundable?
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