Austrian Airlines denied boarding – LiesBack to Forum
Anonymous12 Aug 2014
I have a question for all the wise sages on this site.
A couple of weeks ago I was booked on an Austrian Airline flights from LHR (via VIE) to BKK
The inbound flight into LHR was delayed, which meant that our flight back to VIE did not arrive at the gate in VIE until 23:05 for a 23:20 departure to BKK – (our arrival time was scheduled for 22:45)
This flight routing has an extremely tight connection time but is officially timetabled – on 3 previous occasions I’ve arrived late in VIE but still made the flight connection, and on one occasion I was transferred onto the later Thai flight from London.
Just be fore we landed in VIE, we were given the gate number – but just as we were about to disembark we were told to see the Austrian agent on the air bridge.
This is where the wheels come off (metaphorically speaking) and Austrian Airlines’ customer service totally disappeared…. as did all the staff as quickly as possible.
The agent we met first told us that the flight for BKK had ALREADY LEFT – This was blatant lie number 1, as the flight wasn’t due to leave until 23:20, and we’d just passed the plane on our way to our gate – We told the agent this.
We were then told that air traffic control would not allow the flight to BKK to wait for us so we could not board (even though they were well aware of our delay in advance, becuse the originating flight left VIE late) – Lie number 2?
There were 16 passengers transfereing from LHR, which again doesn’t make sense, as they have held the flight in the past for just 3-4 of us.
It transpires that some of the economy passengers were told they would receive seat allocation in VIE – which “smacked to me” of an overbooked flight ,and we were the involuntary offloaded passengers.
I incidently held a boarding card for the flight (5K).
When confronted by one of the passenger’s regarding this situation, the agent said this was not the case, but a couple of his colleagues were overhearded talking tgether about the flight being oversold.
Don’t ask me about the non existent Austrian customer service and their lazy approach to onward booking etc. that is another story in itself!
My question is – am I right to claim compensation? I believe I am.
The irony of this story is that, I flew back from BKK on Sunday – The crew for a 13:10 flight to VIE arrived at the gate12:50 having had time to visit Starbuck’s – On board we were told that we were apparently leaving late because of the late inbound flight.
My connecting flight from VIE to LHR later in the day was delayed as we waited for 5 passengers from another inbound flight.12 Aug 2014
So what actually happened? Did you get on the flight or no, and/or how long was the delay?
The customer service/lying by staff wasn’t great, but there’s no compensation for lousy service, alas. At the end of the day, it was a misconnect. So, under EU261, there *could* be compensation if a delay was their fault… although in Europe the airlines tend to blame “the weather”, even on gloriously sunny days (generally on account of a spot of rain at LHR the previous Thursday at 5am, that caused “knock on delays”)
If you were delayed, did they at least put you up and feed you?12 Aug 2014
It will be interesting to know what happened at VIE. Did OS provide hotel accommodation and rebook you on its next flight to BKK or rebook you with one of the other LH Group airlines ? Did OS offer any compensation ?
The fact is that VIE has some tight connections. In your case it was just 35 mins.
As I have written in the past, see the link below for another reader’s experience transitting LHR with BA, airports use MCTs as a marketing too. They are designed to work under perfect conditions.
The odds of making a tight connection would be reduced at this time of year because airports and air routes are busy. Also evening flights stand a greater risk of picking up delays from earlier in the day.
If you transit VIE again then the solution would be to take an earlier OS flight ex-LHR even though it will involve a longer transit time.12 Aug 2014
Thank’s LP – we’ll see what happens
To answer the questions
Yes – Austrian booked me into a hotel at the airport
Did I get fed lhat night? – No as it was gone midnight by the time things were sorted and everything foodwise was shut at the airport as well as at the hotel.
Austrian had re-booked me on the Eva Air flight which was departing at 7:00PM the following evening, more than 19 hours later than my original flight to BKK.(23:20 Monday)
They made no attempt to offer me any earlier options.
That night I searched ITA Matrix and came up with a number of alternative optiions myself….(both Star A and others) and then had to present these to the sales office at the airport early on Tuesday morning so as to have any chance of catching any of these flights.
In the end I got the 10:10 AM Austrian flight to FRA and then the direct Thai Airways flight which got me into BKK at 6:30 AM on Wednesday morning
Where as the Austrian option/solution was via Eva Air would have got me in much later on the Wednesday.
The one upside of the journey was that I got to try out Thai’s A380’s business class, very nice indeed. 😉
As I mentioned in my original posting, I’ve made this connection many times in the past often with delays into Vienna. Only once before I have had to change routing/flights, and this change was mabe by Austrian in London before even departing for Vienna12 Aug 2014
OK, so in the end it was a c. 15 hour delay due to a misconnect at VIE, but they did give you accommodation and presumably food during mealtimes
Misconnects happen, and as Alex said, I personally wouldn’t have taken that connection, but gone for the one 3-4 hours earlier – I’ve done both in the past, and I find the late LHR-VIE connection just too “seat-of-pants” for my liking. Less of an issue on the reverse, since if you miss the first VIE-LHR, you can just get on the next one
However, OS are only liable for compensation under EU261 if it’s their fault. So you need to find out why the plane was delayed in the first place. Late incoming is not good enough, as it may have been late incoming due to weather, which is not their fault, and so they are not liable (except perhaps for “right to care”, as BA calls it, and hotel/food, which they supplied)
Proving that they overbooked will be harder. To be honest, they probably didn’t overbook, but VIE-BKK (and FRA-BKK) from years of experience, is a bit of a crew, friends and family shuttle service (if you worked for OS, where else can you go?), and both C and Y class are chock full of non-revs and ID90s (who party hard and make no secret of the fact they are non-revving). I suspect a few overzealous agents realised that they could offload the LHR pax to make room for their mates, and the captain’s wife and children. This is frustrating, and not particularly customer service-oriented, but they are technically within their right to do so, and technically you misconnected, so were offloaded when you didn’t make the connection deadline (by comparison, LHR simply doesn’t let you pass security at T-35), and would only be due compensation if your delay fell under EU26112 Aug 2014
CP – the question of overbooking is I agree a moot point, and extremely difficult to prove, but as I said…… A couple of Austrian Airline staff were overheard by several of us discussing amongst themselves the flight being oversold.
I don’t think delaying the flight another 20 minutes (from personal experience they’ve done it many times in the past) given the long layover the flight has in BKK – 8 hours from memory.
Normally I would have put the delay down to experience and just accepted it as one of those things – but frankly the attitude of Austrian Airlines staff on the ground was totally unacceptable – they just wanted to get “the hell out of there”12 Aug 2014
Glad you secured a flight the following day with TG’s A380.
Let us all know how you get on with Austrian.
But to be on the safe side, in future, I would avoid taking flights with such a short MCT late at night when alternatives would be limited or unavailable.13 Aug 2014
If weather truly caused the delay then EU261 compensation doesn’t apply. However, the burden of proof falls on the airline, and when BA tried that stunt I did some search and eventually succeeded in getting compensation. How I did it is outlined here: http://www.businesstraveller.com/discussion/topic/Where-can-I-find-historical-ATC-data-for-Heathrow16 Aug 2014
Ian_from_HK and Petewilsoncheshire – Many thanks for the information
I’ve written to Austrian and I’m just waiting to see what their response (excuse?) will be.
If I don’t hear anything in the next couple of weeks, I’ll get in touch with Mr Albrecht16 Aug 2014
I’m travelling this week. If you want me to use my account to research the flight stats, let me know the flight number and date and I will do that when I get home17 Aug 2014
On a couple of days a week the VIE-BKK flight departs a few hours earlier. That means an earlier connecting flight ex-LHR and therefore more time for the connection.
Both these Austrian flights are actually operated by subsidiary company Innsbruck-based Tyrolean Airways.
From July 1, in order to reduce their operating costs, Austrian Airlines flight crew had either to accept Tyrolean labour contracts or else leave the company.
According to the Swiss website, ch-aviation.com a “fairly significant” number of Austrian flight crew did not accept the fact that they would be transferred to Tyrolean.
Ch-aviation claims that Austrian has therefore had to lease in six aircraft (including some from Lufthansa and a couple of other regional carriers based in Germany) in order to maintain schedules.17 Aug 2014
Ian – Many thanks for the offer, it’s much appreciated!
Having read your link, I looked up the flight details on flight Aware .
On Aug 28th – Our flight from London OS456 arrived at 23:05 and the flight to BKK left at 23:40
(As mentioned we were initially told at the gate at 23:05 that the flight to BKK had already left!)
Interstingly OS25 to BKK left at 23:42 on the 29th, and 23:57 on the 30th.
I wait to see what excuse Austrian come up with.17 Aug 2014