We would never underestimate how hard it must be to run an airline. There are so many variables, so many things to juggle, so many things up in the air (sorry).
Flights have to be scheduled, planes maintained, staff looked after, airports manoeuvred, weather accounted for. And then, of course, there are all the passengers, and their bags.
So, we understand things can go wrong. But when they do, it would be nice for the airlines to be a bit more understanding of the impact delays can have on people’s travel plans.
“I would like to share my recent frustrations dealing with Aer Lingus with you,” begins the email from a reader called Samantha. “I received an email regarding a schedule change for a flight I have booked from Dublin to Perpignan, and the return flight. The flights have been pushed back by one hour and 50 minutes each. This means my flight will arrive in Perpignan at 6.05pm local time, which is now too late to pick up our rental car as the office closes at 6pm.
“Our accommodation also closes at 9pm and we may not make it before this time, given the almost two hour delay. If these were the original flight times I would not have booked the flights,” she says.
Given the flight is now arriving outside of business hours I think the change fee should be waived as my plans have now completely changed
Samantha called Aer Lingus as she was not given any choices in the email.
“We decided it would be easier to fly instead to Barcelona as we wouldn’t lose the first day of our holiday travelling, which may not be pleasant with a one-year-old and a three-year-old. I was told I would need to pay the difference in the fees which was €62 per person. I thought about it and called back to confirm and pay but I wasn’t informed by the first person that there was a change fee of €50 per person, €40 if completed online. I really don’t find this acceptable as Aer Lingus is changing the flight and not me.”
She says she was told the fees could only be waived if a flexible fare is bought or if the schedule change is major.
[ Can an airline just cancel my flight without giving any reason? ]
[ Why am I asked to show my boarding card when shopping at the airport? ]
“Given the flight is now arriving outside of business hours I think the change fee should be waived as my plans have now completely changed,” she says. “The lady apologised and said thank you for flying Aer Lingus. It will be my first flight in four years and unfortunately the last time I fly Aer Lingus given the poor customer service.”
We sympathised with Samantha and got on to Aer Lingus to see what it had to say. “On occasion, flight times may change for operational reasons,” a spokeswoman said. “In these instances, customers are advised and automatically rebooked on to the new flight times. If the schedule change is over two hours, customers are entitled to a rebooking to an alternative flight/route at no charge, or a refund should they no longer wish to travel.”
She pointed out that the schedule change was less than two hours – 10 minutes less – so normal fare rules applied.
She finished with some good news for Samantha and her young family. “As a gesture of goodwill on this occasion, the change fee will be waived for the customer.”