Iberia/Vueling flight changes, poor cust/service & Iberia in breach of contract?Back to Forum
This post will quite full of quite few negatives, but apart from sharing my recent experience, I am in fast seeking advice on where I stand on a particular issue.
A while back I booked at ticket on the Iberia website for a flight from Barcelona to Bilbao in August in the evening . I knew Vueling would be the airline operating this flight, but for a number of reasons chose to book via the IB website. These included getting avios, expected better customer service, and I seem to recall Vueling do not take Amex.
I happened to be looking at my emails yesterday and saw one from Vueling with my “booking details”. I thought this was odd as my provider was Iberia not Vueling, but what eventually caught my eye was that the flight time was about 12 hours earlier, at 7 in the morning. I thought what was going on here and have learnt to always check everything with travel.
And so then I tried to reach Iberia to ask what was going on here, why has Vueling been getting in touch and Iberia not, why have they come up with this bizarre time etc which is of no use to me.
And so something of a nightmare then happened.
When you call up IB customer service, after the usual press 1 , press 2 etc for if you want to speak English or if you are a travel agent, and then you have this very tedious and rather hopeless voice recognition system, which of course first tells you to go to their website. After trying different options, I was eventually put through to a human being. Remember those.
I explained my situation, and she clarified things, and then went to check if the Vueling evening operated flight was still operating via their website, although she had confirmed my flight details with my IB coded flight.
She had seemed competent so you can imagine my frustration when after 10 minutes on hold, the line was cut. I waited for a short while thinking she might call back with her findings, but of course she did not.
So I then had to go through the whole palava of the phone and voice system before getting through to a different person, with not quite the same level of English, and of course had to explain the situation again.
It turns out that the flight I had been booked on had been cancelled. I asked why Iberia had not contacted me about this as I had booked with Iberia, as the new timing was totally hopeless for me. I asked if she could book me on an Iberia flight via Madrid, as it was the “same company” (both part of IAG). She was unaware of this and insisted in them being different companies, and also saying that the “money has gone to Vueling” and we cannot take that back. I explained that my contract was with Iberia and moving the flight 11-12 hours was unreasonable, and that as my contract was with Iberia, they had a responsibility to take me to Bilbao, not Vueling, telling her that their provider of that flight has not provided IB with the service that they were contracted to do. She did offer to put my on a flight to Santander that afternoon (which remains an option) , which it seems is further west of Bilbao, but hardly an alternative airport for Bilbao.
I explained to her that this change totally screwed my plans up and it is not unreasonable to put me on an IB operated flight via Madrid that afternoon. She refused to do so, and in addition I asked for this to be escalated to her manager, but she refused to do so, saying it was not possible and that I would need to complain via the website.
I am very unhappy with this whole process, but would welcome insight onto what you think is reasonable for Iberia to do in this, especially with regards to my booking was a contract with Iberia to take me from Barcelona to Bilbao, and that as the airline contracted by them (Vueling) has not been able to do that at remotely the same time of day, that Iberia does have a responsibility to do so, by Madrid for example.
I would especially welcome Alex McWhirter’s views on this, but of course other inputs would also be valued.
My experience with Iberia has really disappointed me, not only have they failed to inform me of my flight change, but their customer service process was painful, and they have not shown much understanding of my situation, and also it seems that as the rep I spoke to was unaware that Vueling and Iberia are part of the same company, IAG, that these staff have not been trained enough. I am far less likely to want to book with either company as a result of this.
I look forward to your views and indeed advice!20 Jul 2016
I’m not sure how you would go about taking this up, as it seems you have already done so and got nowhere as described, but as long as you have an IB ticket number beginning 075 then it is Iberia’s responsibility to rebook/accommodate you in a manner suitable to the situation.
Iberia may well have passed moneies onto Vueling as the flight operator but that is not of importance in this situation. As you say you have a contracted booking with Iberia and would continue to pursue them because of this.20 Jul 2016
Hello sparky flyer
I don’t know if your flight change is a knock-on effect of the recent major disruption suffered by vueling passengers at El Prat.
If you haven’t done so already, I would try contacting them directly.
Hope you get it sorted ASAP.20 Jul 2016
Hi and thank you for your replies. I tried to reply before but BT would not let me back in for some (new website)reason.
This situation is not going well. I have booked a single one way ticket, but flights to from UK on a separate BA ticket.
I tried using the Iberia complaints procedure on their website, but it simply does not allow me to post my complaint, and I have tried a few times, each time taking a while. I tried to email Iberia but no success there either. And I have also tried to call them again, and found their representative to be defensive and quite frankly the most unmotivated and seemingly indifferent sales agent/representative I have ever come across over the phone. Usually I found people who do that work totally brilliant, but not today sadly. So there is no new news on this, apart from Iberia being difficult/impossible to deal with. and my confidence with Iberia fast diminishing…22 Jul 2016
What has happened here is extremely frustrating and I very much understand how you must feel but unfortunately I’m not sure that this can be resolved in the manner you would like. The flight you were originally booked on from BCN-BIO (operated by Vueling) has been cancelled – you have been offered the most equivalent alternative – a direct flight (operated by Vueling) 12 hours earlier. With a substantial time change, as is the case here, you do not have to accept the change and are entitled to a full refund, but I’m afraid that is where I would expect it to end.
The flight you booked is a simple code-share with Iberia and although you are an Iberia customer it will state somewhere in the small print that elements of Iberia’s service agreement may not be honoured when they are not the operating airline. An additional consideration is that although Vueling are owned by IAG they are not a part of the OneWorld alliance. It is the responsibility of the operating airline to keep you informed of any changes that affect your booking and they have fulfilled this obligation.
Santander is indeed 60 miles west of Bilbao. Norwegian also operate BCN-BIO with one daily rotation but again this flight is in the morning. The RENFE train (no changes) would take around 6 hours 30 minutes and the bus (e.g. ALSA) 8 hours if either would be an option.
Please don’t let this very unfortunate experience spoil your time in a wonderful country and two lovely cities.25 Jul 2016
There seems to be some confusion here, however the dialogue with Iberia is a complete red herring. Under EC261 the responsibility lies with the operating carrier which in this case (as the OP knew) was Vueling. Iberia had no responsibility and continuing a dialogue with them was unfortunately of no value or purpose. The people to be dealing with were Vueling.
It isn’t entirely clear from the OP when the notification was given, however it is clear that Vueling had given notice. If more than 2 weeks before the flight then they had discharged their responsibility under EC261. If less than 2 weeks the OP has redress under EC261.
Assuming appropriate notice was given then really the only course of action would have been to request a cancellation/refund and to book an alternative route. However Iberia had no responsibility to re-route the OP via Madrid or anywhere else and, whilst unsympathetic, they were perfectly entitled to stand their ground.
I think the other point to be shown here is that whilst it sometimes looks interesting to book via another airline for the purposes of Avios etc, this can sometimes have unexpected consequences when things go wrong.25 Jul 2016
Before the flight is scheduled to depart – if issued on IB ticket stock then it is the responsibility of Iberia to sort the schedule change – and either offer a full refund or suitable alternative flights – even if this means a connection in Madrid. So to bass buck to VY in this case is not acceptable. If issued on VY ticket number then responsibility of VY to sort a new alternative flight – or offer a full refund.26 Jul 2016