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Alex McWhirterOur consumer editor Alex McWhirter answers your travel queries.

Simply email editorial@businesstraveller.com. Please note that due to the popularity of Alex's advice, we cannot guarantee a reply to every query.


Why does BA charge a credit card fee in the UK but not in Greece? 31/03/2014

I have just booked separate tickets to and from Athens, departing both the UK and Greece, with ba.com.

Why does BA charge a £4.50 credit card fee in the UK but not in Greece?

Anuj Anand, London

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Why won't Virgin Atlantic fly B787-9s to Sydney? 31/03/2014

I was sorry to read that Virgin Atlantic will cease flying to Sydney from next month. But the carrier is ordering B787-9s.

Rather than quitting Australia, why doesn’t Virgin use these long-range planes to fly non-stop?

Andy Chalmers, London

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Turkish will not pay EU261 compensation for a flight delay of a day 31/03/2014

My family and I were due to fly with Turkish Airlines from Bucharest to Shanghai, connecting in Istanbul. But we were delayed by a day. At the last minute, Turkish cancelled our flight (TK1046) to Istanbul because of weather conditions.

Turkish will not pay EU261 compensation, claiming extraordinary circumstances. But this is not a sustainable excuse because both airports (Otopeni and Ataturk) were operating normally.

Catalin Lapuste, Bucharest

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Comment regarding the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme 31/03/2014

Regarding Edward Luke Gillian’s letter in your December/January column, I wanted to point out that the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme awards status credits only on flights with a QF code or on Oneworld carrier flights that are marketed and operated by a Oneworld carrier.

It doesn’t matter that two of his flights were operated by Qantas – if they were ticketed by Emirates on an EK code, he would only have been awarded with miles, not status credits.

The same situation applies to codeshares operated by Qantas partners outside the Oneworld alliance – for example, South African Airways between Perth and Johannesburg. Qantas frequent flyers can earn miles and status credits when flying on the QF code but only miles if ticketed on the SA code.

Had your reader been on the same flights but ticketed on QF codes, he would have earned status credits. But in this situation it doesn’t sound as if he was able to book this itinerary on QF codes.

Anthony Bates, London

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Avis charged me £95 for failing to pay a London congestion charge 27/02/2014

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

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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

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Why is AA is so stingy in the US yet over the top in London? 30/01/2014

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

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Should airlines be more accountable for missed connections? 30/01/2014

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

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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

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Qantas and status credits when booking on Emirates' website 28/11/2013

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

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