Our consumer editor Alex McWhirter answers your travel queries.
Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that due to the popularity of Alex's advice, we cannot guarantee a reply to every query.
When I was in London last summer I had an incident with Avis’s Euston branch, which charged me £95 for failing to pay a congestion charge.
I disputed it with my credit card firm, which in turn replied that as I had signed on the dotted line, Avis had the right to charge me anything extra after the final invoice was issued.
Nobody at Avis ever told me to pay this charge. At no point was it mentioned to me or all the people in the queue. There was no poster or reminder in the contract. Your comments please.
Sang Fung, Cape Town
Paying 19% VAT on a European train ticket 27/02/2014
Tomorrow I am taking the train to Brussels [from Berlin] and have to pay 19 per cent VAT on my ticket. Not a level playing field. Don’t you agree?
Jon Worth, Berlin
American Airlines’ Admirals Club in Heathrow T3 provides a whole range of snacks and nibbles together with appropriate food according to the time of day. There is also a full range of soft and alcoholic drinks, all at no extra cost.
Contrast that with American’s lounge at Miami. Here they give out one voucher for one bottled drink, and there are minimal nibbles on offer, while everything else has to be purchased.
It’s similar at New York JFK and Chicago O’Hare, except at these airports they give you two vouchers. I’ve also been to Orange County which is the same.
Can you explain why this airline is so stingy in the US yet over the top in London?
Alan Green, London
Last autumn I flew with British Airways from Copenhagen to Sao Paulo via Heathrow T5 with a connecting time of about an hour. However, my Copenhagen-London flight was delayed by 20 minutes so I missed the connection.
BA provided me with accommodation at a good hotel plus meals until the same flight the following day. It also provided some bonus Avios.
The point is that my visit to Sao Paulo was scheduled to last two and a half days, and I lost one day of my stay. It means I will have to make a return visit to complete my work, which will cost me another £10,000-£20,000.
The compensation I received seems disproportional to the inconvenience and expenses I incurred. After all, I booked the through flights via BA’s website, so one would expect the connection to work, otherwise the airline wouldn’t have promoted it. Shouldn’t airlines be more accountable when things go wrong?
Tim Freeman, Gloucestershire
How can airlines operate yet make a loss? 28/11/2013
I am an avid Ask Alex reader and always learn something from the mistakes of others. Please tell me why some airlines run a business when they invariably make a loss? Why do they bother?
Olaleye Adebiyi, Lagos
I recently booked a return business class flight with Qantas from London to Dhaka [in Bangladesh] via Dubai on emirates.com to boost my Qantas frequent flyer programme [FFP] status credits.
However, I discovered that Qantas does not award status credits if a flight is booked through emirates.com. Qantas will award credits when I fly Emirates booked through Qantas, but not the other way around.
I checked in at Heathrow as a Qantas passenger, took Qantas flights QF10 and QF1 and used the Emirates business lounge in Dubai as a Qantas Club member. If Emirates offers Qantas services as part of its partnership with Qantas, then Qantas FFP credits ought to apply. Please highlight this anomaly to your readers.
Edward Luke Gillian, London
Charge for changing date on business ticket 28/11/2013
I purchased a Sri Lankan Airlines discounted business class ticket online. The rules allowed me to change the date free of charge. When I subsequently called the airline for a change of date, I was surprised to learn that because the fare had risen, I had to pay the new [higher] price.
As the ticket had been paid for already, how could the airline demand additional payment?
Ivan Shum, Hong Kong
Missing a connection at Beijing 31/10/2013
Next month [written June 2013] I shall be flying Air China from Hong Kong to Frankfurt, taking CA118 for Hong Kong-Beijing (0830-1155) and connecting to CA931 for Beijing-Frankfurt (1400-1815).
It will be my first long-haul flight with this airline and I have only two hours to change in Beijing.
If I miss the connection because of a possible delay out of Hong Kong, will Air China rebook me with Lufthansa or Cathay Pacific for Hong Kong-Frankfurt?
Jeffrey Wong, Hong Kong
Last December you trailed the fact that Qatar Airways would be refurbishing its A320 fleet to include 180-degree sleeper seats in the business cabins. Do you know if this has started? I can’t seem to find any reference to this either on the web or on qatarairways.com.
I am about to commence a series of flights to Dar es Salaam which is served by Qatar Airways via Doha with an A320. The flight length for the final leg from Doha is around five hours, hence the need for a comfortable seat.
Husein Gulamhusein, London
Can you tell me how much a Star Alliance round-the-world (RTW) ticket costs in each country? This information is not available on staralliance.com and the savings can be significant if one starts the trip in a low-cost country.
I have just purchased a RTW ticket originating in Tokyo that costs US$3,000 less than if I had originated in Seoul. Perhaps Johannesburg, Mumbai or Cairo might also be less expensive?
Franz Jost, Scottsdale, Arizona
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