Our consumer editor Alex McWhirter answers your travel queries.
Simply email email@example.com. Please note that due to the popularity of Alex's advice, we cannot guarantee a reply to every query.
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
How much of a legal responsibility does an airline have in refunding the taxes and charges on a non-refundable ticket?
Some time ago I needed to cancel a return Air France ticket for Manchester-Paris-New York which cost me £35 plus £350 for the taxes, fees and charges. I received a refund of £130. Should I have held out for more?
David Beenstock, Manchester, UK
Is Lufthansa overcharging? 30/09/2013
Is Lufthansa overcharging me?
Earlier this year I booked two return business class tickets, using frequent flyer points [FFPs], from Bologna to Australia via Frankfurt. Lufthansa charged me e750 in taxes per ticket. Yet I recently flew with Alitalia to Tokyo [using FFP award miles] and the taxes were e285.
I know that Japan is closer to Europe than Australia but, nevertheless, I am surprised by the difference.
Luca Benatti, Bologna
Losing a bag on Air Asia 30/09/2013
Last February, I took Air Asia from Hong Kong to Phuket in Thailand. My two pieces of checked baggage included not only my personal belongings but also gifts for my family.
Upon landing in Phuket, one of my bags was missing. Nobody at Air Asia could give an explanation of where my luggage was, even though I had paid extra charges for the baggage checking.
After weeks of “come and go” I was offered compensation of US$100, which I found insulting as this amount was a fraction of the value of the gifts.
Please tell your readers about what I consider to be Air Asia’s unacceptable and unprofessional attitude. A cheap airfare on Air Asia can be more costly than using Thai Airways, Dragonair or Hong Kong Airlines.
Valerie Loh, Hong Kong
Cheaper ticket for a longer journey 30/09/2013
When I checked the Cathay Pacific business class fare from Chennai to Los Angeles in early December the fare was US$3,365. Yet when I checked the same carrier’s fare for Chennai-New York (for the same dates) the price was US$2,675.
How can the fare from Chennai to New York be cheaper than Chennai-Los Angeles when the airline has to fly a further four hours? Is it because Cathay Pacific is taking advantage of less competition?
Aravindha Krishnamachari, Chennai
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