Is this enough compensation? Sorry, your kids have the wrong ticket By Christopher Elliott | July 5, 2011 Like any good father, LeRoy Villanueva tried to cover all of his bases when he put his two children on a plane from Paris to Los Angeles recently. Most important to him was buying the required unaccompanied minor service, which would allow his kids to fly without an adult. “I asked British Airways if I could buy the tickets at a third-party travel agency and pay the airline separately for the unaccompanied minor service,” he says. “A phone agent told me that I would have to purchase two adult fares from the online travel agency and then afterwards — at least 48 hours before departure — pay British Airways’ unaccompanied minor Service fee.” He verified the information by phoning the airline a second time; again, it offered the same choices. But the airline left out an important detail. Villanueva explains, When I contacted British Airways before the flight, they told me that the fare that I got from the online travel agency was not valid because it was a bulk discount fare and needed to be a “published” fare in order to qualify for the unaccompanied minor service. This was the first time any BA rep informed me of this rule. BA told me that the only way to pay for the unaccompanied minor fee was to have the travel agency issue me a new ticket with a published fare. I contacted BA customer relations but they told me that there was nothing they could do. I wrote to them, letting them know that they misinformed me about the requirements for their unaccompanied minor service. I even suggested that they charge me the difference in price for a “published fare” but again, they wouldn’t budge. By the way, British Airways’ traveling with kids page doesn’t mention any of these ticket restrictions, either. Villanueva asked his travel agent about the ticket. His agent insisted the ticket was a “published” fare, and contacted the airline on his behalf. British Airways turned it down, too. Requests to the Transportation Department have also gone unanswered. Villanueva had to cancel his tickets and buy two new ones, incurring $400 in penalties. I feel I am paying for BA’s mistakes. I think they should not charge me cancellation fees and if we were living in a perfect world, they would at least send me some travel coupons for my troubles. At this point, I’m only hoping to avoid cancellation fees. Any advice or help would be much appreciated. I agree that British Airways should have informed him of the additional ticket requirements when he called the airline. It’s also unclear to me why the UM option wouldn’t be available on every ticket. To me, that sounds like another way of forcing concerned parents to buy a more expensive ticket. I contacted the airline on his behalf. British Airways refunded $1,625 of the $2,037 he paid for his tickets through his travel agency. Neither of us are quite sure why the airline is pocketing $412, but something is better than nothing. Is it enough? Or should British Airways have refunded the initial ticket purchase and credited him the fare difference, maybe even thrown in the UM service at no extra charge? Christopher ElliottChristopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at email@example.com. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google Plus sirwired Yes, I’m a little confused as to why BA does not offer the UM service on his original tickets. I’d request the full fare rules from the TA. If neither the fare rules nor the CoC mention any such condition for UM service, I’d file a pricing complaint with the DOT. Since the FAA receives surprisingly few complaints, the ones they do receive do get a lot of attention, especially complaints about contract violations. http://www.eyeonannapolis.net/ John Frenaye Not sure the FAA or DOT has any jurisdiction over BA. It sounds like it might have been a consolidator ticket (not sure what they are called in the EU or if they even have them) which are severely restrictive. If so, the AGENT was responsible for telling him the restrictions. But the agent is claiming that it was a published fare. Someone is fibbing. SirWired is right, we need to see the fare rules of the original tickets. There may not be a positive outcome, but if you ask BA to review the fare rules and either substantiate or refute their agent’s claim of it being a published fare, you will have your answer. cjr001 No, something is not better than nothing. If BA gave him incorrect information, then is keeping some of his money as a result, then that is THEFT. Once again, if you do something wrong, you pay. If the airline does something wrong, you pay. Yes, it is indeed a perfect world for the airlines. With stories like these, who needs TSA to not want to fly? BillC Perhaps he misunderstood the first BA rep. Calling multiple times he probably talked to different people and since he didn’t buy his tickets through the airline they more than likely had no record of his previous conversations. My advice would be that if something is very important don’t try to save a few bucks, buy the ticket from the airline. BillC As an aside on the BA site it states quite clearly ‘We charge for the Skyflyer Solo service, which must be booked and paid for together with your child’s flight.’ I don’t understand why his travel agent did not know this. Something doesn’t add up. Crissy If it’s not on the website then how can they be responsible to know this rule. Sounds like a scam by the airline! Guest “If so, the AGENT was responsible for telling him the restrictions. But the agent is claiming that it was a published fare.” If Mr. Villanueva subsequently bought those tickets through an OTA like Expedia or so, especially online, there doesn’t seem to be any indication if he asked them if such a restriction existed before purchasing them. Chris, can you fill this part in? emanon256 Yet another problem of someone using an “on-line” travel agency to buy an ultra-cheep fare, and then complaining when it wasn’t what they wanted. How many times to people have to go through this before they will stop using these on-line agencies to save a few dollars only to realize they screwed themselves? The cheap always comes out more expensive, stop trying to milk the system. When trying to convince my friends to book through the airline rather than an on-line agency, I always show them the terms and conditions on these travel websites, and finally they believe me. In fact, when searching for the same routing/carrier on Expedia I just found a $689 ticket. When clicking on the terms, it states “Unaccompanied Child – Not Permitted.” I don’t know if he used Expedia, but he certainly used some discount website to buy an un-published fare. Also, the fact that he is purchasing an “Adult” ticket on some website, and then trying to pay the unaccompanied minor fare separately, makes it just look suspicious. It looks like Mr. Villanueva is trying to cheat the system. Travel websites and agents clearly distinguish between a fare for purchase for a child, and for an adult, and price the ticket accordingly. Different fares have different restrictions published or not. I do not think the BA agents said anything wrong on the phone. If Mr. Villanueva stated he was purchasing tickets through an agent, and wanted to pay the fee later, they instructed him correctly. I don’t think it is reasonable for the agents to have to warn him that he should not by an un-published fare with an adult only clause in the rules, as no reasonable person would do so. Now if Mr. Villanueva had stated, “Can I buy an un-published super cheap fare for adults only on-line, and then pay you the unaccompanied minor fee?” I am sure they would have told him he couldn’t. I am honestly surprised that Mr. Villanueva got any money back towards the new tickets, I find that quite generous of the airline. I believe this is another case of the customer trying to cheat the system, and getting caught, and then complaining they have been wronged. If Mr. Villanueva had simply bought the fare through the airline and paid the fee, or disclosed the minor situation to the agency, he would have come out ahead of where he put himself by trying to save a few bucks. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1556838763 Nancy Marine Dickinson If the fare rules aren’t published with regard to unaccompanied minors, I really don’t feel the OP or the travel agent are responsible for one thin dime. This is on BA, all the way, and they need to pony up. This is a money grab, pure and simple. BA already charges exorbitant fares under the right conditions (take a look at their fuel fee some time) and to tell a parent they have to buy an adult ticket for a child so they can THEN pay the UA fee is ridiculous. Adults never fly as an Unaccompanied minor, only minors. Clare (Cough) Schill for BA? (Cough) On emanon256’s planet, asking for an explanation of the rules, double-checking them, following them, and trying to pay the lowest fare you can, all apparently constitute “trying to cheat the system.” In court, fortunately, reasonable people think otherwise. As Chris said, “By the way, British Airways’ traveling with kids page doesn’t mention any of these ticket restrictions, either.” Legally, this is so clear-cut that I am blown away as to why BA would hesitate to fully refund the OP. They should be falling all over themselves apologizing to him. Lawsuits don’t get much more black-and-white than this! Raven They owe him the $400 bucks they scammed out of him. I’ve never heard of an UM ticket requiring a certain fare class. Ridiculous. Raven Probably talked to someone in India reading a script rather than knowing the actual answer to the question, too. Monica As a mother who frequently sends her 11-year-old on a plane as a UM, this situation does not make me happy. Like the OP, I double and triple check the “rules” before booking his ticket. I make sure I can take him to the gate and that my MIL on the other side can get to the gate to pick him up. When my MIL buys the tickets, she uses her FF miles with Southwest and we have not had a problem with them, meaning no restrictions. Chris in NC Are you serious? You’re making a lot of assumptions here. I find it ridiculous that BA even has a rule that restricts tickets to “adults.” What is the purpose of having an unaccompanied minor FEE if that fee wasn’t used to offset the expense and additional liabilities of managing the minor? If BA fails to honor the original fee paid, it should refund Villanueva every last penny. Dpalen Please remove (or don’t count it) my Yes vote! I clicked on the wrong one. I don’t think BA gave enough of a compensation. Raven Hm…looks like BA is paying people to show up and defend it’s shady business practices online! Joe Ford The fare type should not have mattered if the airline charges an additional fee for an unaccompanied minor. dcta One has to assume they went by the fare rules which often are that the tickets are refundable prior to departure but with a $200 penalty. I don’t believe BA would have denied him the UM service if he showed up at the aiport to pay it. Eileen In these situations, I always come back to the question, “what would the average, non-elite status traveler, have known to do, how did the airline make sure their customer knew what to do, and is there anything the traveler could have done to prevent this situation from happening in the first place.” Here, the answer appears to be that this guy did everything a reasonable person knows to do, and there was nothing this guy could have done to prevent the mixup. They should refund him the second tickets. Kathleen Proud Keyte I understand why…the bulk discounted fare he got is a loss maker for the airline and thus any extras (UM service) bought against that ticket would still be a loss maker for them. If he wasn’t such a cheapskate this whole problem would not have arisen. He should have bought a ticket directly from BA…..there was no good reason given (other than cost) as to why he did not Kathleen Proud Keyte I understand why…the bulk discounted fare he got is a loss maker for the airline and thus any extras (UM service) bought against that ticket would still be a loss maker for them. If he wasn’t such a cheapskate this whole problem would not have arisen. He should have bought a ticket directly from BA…..there was no good reason given (other than cost) as to why he did not http://badbadwebbis.wordpress.com/ badbadwebbis I am entirely on the OP’s side here (I voted no), but my experience with buying tickets for my daughters when they needed the UM fee was that the following statement on the website indicated no online purchases for unaccompanied children: ‘You cannot book the Skyflyer Solo service on ba.com.’ What that means is, ‘You cannot book the Skyflyer Solo service or tickets for children flying alone on ba.com or any other online service. Call an actual travel agent or call BA.’ Additionally, the fact that all online booking sites refuse to allow you to purchase tickets for UM children indicates that to do so will get you in a boatload of trouble. Having said all that, I will say that it was dreadful for the OP to have been misled by the actual BA rep about what was and what was not possible. Because of Elliot’s blog, I would have recommended that the OP get this promise in writing before buying the tickets so that he would be covered in the event there was a dispute. Again, however, if he was told that his purchase would be honored, it should have been honored. Having had to purchase UM tickets about 8 billion times, I know that the only way this can be done is via phone, either using a human travel agent or by calling the airline directly. This latter choice, of course, adds a surcharge for putting the customer service people to the trouble of having to help you. So if they were to allow you to purchase tickets for UM online, they would lose the telephone fee. It’s all a scam, and BA should have to fork over the extra $400. Needless to say, I was thrilled when my daughters reached the limbo age of not-adults-but-old-enough-to-fly-alone-with-no-surcharge. Carrie Charney Not traveling with kids, I thought we pay for the seat and it doesn’t matter how old the occupant is. Is there a difference in price? Rich The “Skyflyer Solo” service must be booked and paid for at the same time. The Skyflyer Solo service and the tickets do NOT need to be paid for at the same time. Brooklyn Oh, I see – you always buy the most expensive brand in the supermarket, you never shop the sales and you drive blocks out of your way to find the gas station with the highest prices. Most of the world doesn’t live that way. He did his due diligence and got the best price he could on his purchase. The airline misinformed him repeatedly and is refusing to make good on its error. If Chris can’t mediate, I’d take it to the courts. emanon256 A “reasonable person” would not have purchased an un-published fare through an on-line travel agency without reading the rules, expecting it to be the same as a published fare. sirwired I’m pretty sure flights to/from the U.S. are subject to FAA and DOT regulations. http://badbadwebbis.wordpress.com/ badbadwebbis What is really confusing is that BA seems to mean that Skyflyer Solo service is the actual booking of the tickets, so yes, the tickets and the UM fee have to be paid for at the same time. It’s incredibly poor wording on the site, in my opinion. emanon256 I do not work for any airline, nor have I ever worked for any airline, nor have I ever been paid by any airline. I am just sick of people buying un-published fares and then complaining when stuff like this happens. This is not a black and white case as you say. First we would need to know exactly what Mr. Villanueva stated on the phone. If he said, “Hey can I buy this ridiculously cheap un-published adult only fare on-line from some website, with a restriction against unaccompanied minors in it’s term, and just pay you the unaccompanied minor fee?” and they told him “Yes.” Than by all means he is in the right and BA owes him the $400. The fact that by searching on-line for the same flight and seeing in the terms and conditions that an unaccompanied minor is not permitted on that particular fare is what troubles me. Had he read that, he would have known he could not purchase it. I don’t think Mr. Villanueva asked BA the right question, and that he was the one who made the assumption. The reason the BA website would not mention these restrictions, is because the BA website, like all airlines, is referring to published fare rules. The fact that on-line agencies are offering these bulk fares is a huge problem, as these are not fares consumers should ever be allowed to purchase directly because they don’t know all of the restrictions and are not reading the terms when they do purchase. Why didn’t Mr. Villanueva just purchase the ticket from BA directly? What on-line website did Mr. Villanueva use to make his purchase? Guest I fly on the regular and consider myself VERY well traveled and quite reasonable. I do not work in the airline industry and never have (likely never will). I have NO clue what a “published” fare is and how it differs from an “unpublished” fare. I don’t enjoy reading and trying to dechipher tiny print and legal mumbo jumbo. That’s why when I have a question I talk to someone whose jobs it is to know the answer. Mr. Villanueva did just that, twice. It is not reasonable to expect Mr. Villanueva to know all the ins and outs of BA’s rules when they are not clear or even available to him. It is the job of the BA agents to know the rules and explain them when asked a question. Guest Perhaps because he was buying 2 tickets cost came to be an issue? Joey “He should have bought a ticket directly from BA…..there was no good reason given (other than cost) as to why he did not ” There needs to be another reason? What sane person wouldn’t save a bit of money if they could? It’s not the consumer’s concern if the airline is making a nice profit margin. The guy called on multiple occasions to check on policies and was told on multiple occasions he was okay. Hard to see how it’s his fault that the airline told him wrong. Joey “He should have bought a ticket directly from BA…..there was no good reason given (other than cost) as to why he did not ” There needs to be another reason? What sane person wouldn’t save a bit of money if they could? It’s not the consumer’s concern if the airline is making a nice profit margin. The guy called on multiple occasions to check on policies and was told on multiple occasions he was okay. Hard to see how it’s his fault that the airline told him wrong. Stoyko Yeah, airlines love to classify consolidator tickets as “unpublished fares”. However, I’ve read interpretations by European courts that if the general public can find it online or with a travel agent, it *is* published. Unpublished would be fares available only to airline employees and the like. Makes sense. Jeanne_in_NE Sometimes buying the cheapest item isn’t the best deal. Cheapest gas around here is ethanol, at $3.499. Regular unleaded is $3.599. I buy regular, since I lose 10% fuel efficiency with ethanol (my husband’s car only loses 4% – ethanol works for him). Also, I can’t put ethanol into my push mower, my snowblower or other power tools. It’s cheaper – but it doesn’t do everything the higher priced gas does. The cheaper fare from the OTA didn’t do everything the higher priced ticket from BA did. Just wondering if the difference between the cheap tickets and the higher priced tickets was more than $400? emanon256 “I find it ridiculous that BA even has a rule that restricts tickets to ‘adults.'” Well, technically they don’t as this was an un-published bulk industry fare. It was never intended for normal traveler to purchase it, but to be used by agencies for groups and such. Guest what is then an “unpublished” fare and how does it differ from a “published” fare? If the tickets purchased were “unpublished” then how did he buy then? emanon256 The problem is that Mr. Villanueva never connected the on-line agency information with BAs information. BA was giving correct information. BAs agents were talking about policy regarding published fares. Airlines publish fares, and these fares can be purchased either through the airlines website directly, or through agencies. No consumer can purchase an un-published fare without going through a consolidator or agent. Airlines give special bulk fares to consolidators and agencies that use these for group trips, free trips (prizes), or agent travel, etc. These fares are not intended for anyone to be able to walk up and buy them. Only published fares are intended as such. Agencies use the special fares in planning, and work with their customers and are supposed to make them aware of the restrictions on these tickets. The problem is that sites like Expedia, Hotwire, and Priceline are selling these special fares to people, and because it’s all on-line and people tend to skip reading the terms, people end up in Mr. Villanueva’s situation. Did Mr. Villanueva call BA, and say, “The website says I cannot use this ticket for an UM, Can I anyway?” If they had told him yes, then BA would be at fault 100%. I do not feel that Mr. Villanueva was ripped off, as I personally just tried to purchase the same low fare on-line, and when I clicked on the rules, it clearly stated that an unaccompanied child cannot be on this fare. It is the agent’s responsibility to disclose this information, and while it is buried, they did it as such. I am very opposed to these sites making un-published fares available to people. In my opinion, these should only be offered through agents who are working with a person and can verbally explain the type of fare they are buying. If anyone is to blame, it’s the on-line agencies selling these fares to consumers, which were never intended to be sold directly to consumers. Geographer Paris to Los Angeles; why fly BA, which does not offer non-stop service between those cities, and would require a change of plane in London. If I wished to send two unaccompanied minors on such a long flight I would sure avoid a change of plane at Heathrow, even on BA and using just Terminal 5 at LHR. If you are concerned about your children’s welfare on such a long trip it would seem prudent to use a non-stop flight (UA or Air France) so that no mistakes could happen en route. And furthermore to book directly through the airline, or a travel agent (not an on line one) to be sure of what you have reserved and are getting. Maybe not a scam, but an imprudent act, and so I voted no … BA has done all it might reasonably be expected to do. bodega Interesting that he says the tickets are for travel from CDG to LAX, which means a connection in LHR and according to BA that isn’t permitted. Also, it states that the Skyflyer Solo service must be booked and paid for at the same time as the ticket. Things you need to know before booking All children travelling alone, between the ages of 5 and 12 years old must be booked with the Skyflyer Solo service. Children between their 12th and 18th birthdays requesting assistance can also be registered as unaccompanied minors by following the same booking process. We charge for the Skyflyer Solo service, which must be booked and paid for together with your child’s flight. If not, cancellation and re-issue fees will be charged. The Skyflyer Solo service must be booked at least 48 hours in advance of the flight’s departure, otherwise it will not be possible for your child to travel. All flights must be confirmed at the time of booking. Children from age five upwards can travel alone on a single sector, direct, non-stop flight only. Children from the age of six can travel alone on any British Airways flight. If you are booking through your travel agent, please take your child’s passport with you, as you will need to show this to make the booking. Check that all visas and other formalities have been completed. Additional documentation is needed for some countries when your child is travelling alone.Please note that we cannot accept:children travelling on any journeys which include a transfer between London Heathrow and London Gatwick airports children on any journeys which involve a night-stop, transfer or stopover exceeding six hours, unless you have arranged for your child to be met and cared for at the transfer point. Full contact details must be provided before the child can be accepted for their first flight http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LOCND3JAJL4PGYWJBHUT3HWAZM web/gadget guru I don’t understand this requirement that you need to pay extra for sending a minor solo on an airplane! I flew to Germany when I was 11 years old from Dulles with a layover in New York (about 30-some years ago) and while I did have some guidance, I didn’t have any hand-holding and my parents didn’t have to pay anything extra for me. In fact, there were several children traveling solo to Germany once I got to New York. Unless your minor is like…I don’t know…8 or younger, then I don’t understand this mysterious charge! Look, either the airline is like a bus or it isn’t (in reference to you don’t get food on bus so why would you expect it on an airplane) NG I agree with you here. In addition, the fact that he called BA customer service twice to ask the same question strongly suggests to me that Mr. Villaneuva knew he was trying to pull a fast one here and was trying to “build his case” in the event things went wrong, as they ultimately did. bodega Consolidators here in the US offer published, net and bulk fares. Net and bulk are based on contracts the company has with the carrier. Published is what the general public gets through the airline, via their call center, online or through a travel agency. Sadie Cee I hope you will agree that the world (society) is completely different now to 30 years ago. Sending an unaccompanied 11-year-old from the U.S. to Europe nowadays would cause more than a few raised eyebrows. In my book, it would be foolhardy. Sadie Cee My sympathies are with the OP. To my mind he exercised due diligence and the fact that for all his planning he ended up with a financial loss is cause for concern. Unlike many people here, the majority of us are not well versed in the intricacies of airline routing and ticketing and we are forced to depend on the best professional advice available. One thing I have learned from bitter experience is not to believe anything that the ticketing agent of any local airline tells me about the ticketing rules of another airline. I have also learned that in the customer care “game” SOME advisors will tell you just about anything to be able to terminate the call so they can move to the next one. Now, for future reference, I listen for the advisor’s name, make a note of it and use it at least once during the conversation. BTW today a one-way adult fare on BA from Paris to Los Angeles today is 3584 euros (www.ba.com)! But for good luck, once I almost had to pay $6000+ for a one-way fare from Lisbon to Toronto. This is just so people realize that booking with the airline directly is not always affordable. BA has not done enough and the OP should be fully compensated for what I consider to be their lapse, not his. Guest how is the average person to know the difference? To me a fare is a fare. Sure there might be higher fares that are refundable/ changeable but other that that I don’t see a difference. I don’t think the average, non elite traveler knows this type of information either. bodega It isn’t any different today than it was 25 years ago. Just because you can buy online doesn’t mean you know what you are doing or getting. You can apply that to just about anything, not just travel. Michael K “The fact that on-line agencies are offering these bulk fares is a huge problem” — Excuse me, but this is a problem of the airline’s own creation. No one is forcing BA to offer bulk fares through various channels. Asiansm Dan I don’t know why, in the world, Mr leroy buy ticket with BA which don’t offers the cheapest fare and having pay extra fee and charge for connecting in the worst connecting airport of London LHR? AF and DL have nonstop direct fly, AA CO and UA offer better fare and better connection. BA didn’t provide the right information, M Leroy shouldn’t be penalized for inconsistency and incompetency of BA personnel. Asiansm Dan Totally agree. Why BA? not even having a decent fare. AF and DL have nonstop at the same fare. CO, UA, AA offer 33% off what BA, AA and DL ask for. And imagine how much he must pay for connecting by LHR? I avoid transiting in LHR at any cost. Madchickenlittle This is confusing. I voted “no” because BA is all over the map on this. Either the fare ISN’T valid for UM service, or it is. This we’ll keep $412 for our troubles is odd and arbitrary. The fare rules for the original purchase would have to be examined, but it would be EXTREMELY odd for them to include not eligible for UM service. Isn’t that the point of the UM fee, to compensate the airline for the extra care? To those of you snarking about wanting the cheapest fare I say, what’s wrong with wanting the lowest possible fare? It’s always easier to spend someone else’s money. Joelw This is an incorrect definition of a bulk fare. They are not intended only for groups. Guest if it was “never intended for a normal traveler to purchase it” then why is it available for purchase? Joelw Assuming he knew the difference, which most people outside of the travel industry do not, how was the OP supposed to know that he was buying an unpublished fare ticket? You seem very eager to shift the blame from BA to the OP. Why is that? Joelw As a travel agent, I can tell you that you are completely wrong about the use of unpublished or bulk fares. Our company has had such fares with as number of carriers over the years and have regularly sold them to individuals. Yes, they carry more restrictions than published fares, which we have to explain, but they were not intended just for prizes, groups etc. as you state. Aviva There’s no discount for buying a ticket for a kid. I don’t know why the airlines even care, and most of them don’t. They used to have child fares, but it’s been a long time. A few years back they even discontinued the discounted price for buying a seat for an infant under age 2 (which they offered as incentive to not having your child on your lap). emanon256 Your quote cuts out my entire point to make your fallacious argument sound more plausible. BA and other airlines are offering these fares to consolidators and agencies who are aware of these rules and should be communicating with their customers. The problem is these on-line sites like Expedia and Hotwire, etc. are selling these fares while hiding these restrictions in their fine print. Why would the airline be responsible, when a opaque agent is burying this information when they make the sale? emanon256 Because opaque agencies like Expedia, Hotwire and Priceline make a lot more profit passing these fares off on customers, then selling the same fare’s that they can buy from the airline. emanon256 Nor did I say “Only for groups” There are many valid purposes for them. emanon256 Those were examples of what the agency I work with uses them for, ad has told me they are primarily used for. They also disclose all of the restrictions. I never stated they are “ONLY” for those. emanon256 Because by clicking on terms and conditions, it is clear that the ticket cannot be used for an unaccompanied minor. Why should the airline be responsible for someone’s failure to read? When people don’t read, and then raise a fuss, and then go to an ombudsman to help them, they are wasting the airlines and Chris’s time from, which could be better spent on more serious issues. Michael K The airline has the leverage to require proper disclosure or else withhold the fares. That they fail to do so implies that they condone the practices you decry. What’s your solution? That the customer is always responsible even when restrictions are not disclosed? Michael K “the bulk discounted fare he got is a loss maker for the airline” — No one (AFAIK) is forcing any airline to offer bulk discounted fares. If an airline thinks it would be more profitable if it stopped offering bulk fares, then I bet it would stop offering bulk fares. Mark K I walked to and from elementary school when I was 8 years old, but schools don’t allow children of that age to do that any more. Things have changed. The fee is not for “hand-holding” it is to allow the airline to have someone available to make sure your child actually gets on the correct plane (most of the time) and then is met by the expected person at the destination. There is nothing else the child receives from this service. A major airline is offering a similar service for adults now too where they meet you at the curb and speed you through security and into the club and finally onto the plane for a change that seems excessive for me (but then I don’t need that type of assistance [yet]). I agree the fee is high and I think part of that is to discourage parents from sending their child UNAM, but with the way things go in the world today I doubt anyone would want to send their child without the little bit extra monitoring this fee gets you. Mbods2002 What a racket, wrong, wrong wrong and criminal, it’s a theft, seems to me. Why in the world would anyone want to fly anymore??? emanon256 Well, in a perfect world, I would put the responsibility on the agency for not properly informing the customer. If I wrote the law, I would require the agency to notify the customer of restrictions like this is larger text that is easy to understand. I was able to go through the booking process on Expedia and I did find this discloser buried in the fine print. And based on the law, most judges or mediators would probably fault the customer for not reading the disclosure. I think it is unfortunate that this happened to Mr. Villanueva, but also I think had Mr. Villanueva read all of the terms this would not have happened. I do read all of the terms, and that is how I avoid these problems. I also can’t fault the airline, because they create these fares in good faith, for agents and wholesalers to use properly. However I think these Opaque travel sites are allowing things like Mr. Villanueva situation to happen, and they are the problem. However I don’t think it happens enough that an airline is going to stop allowing these Opaque companies to still selling them either. Michael K If your comments are about Mr. Villanueva’s case specifically, his travel agent apparently didn’t believe there were any such restrictions in which case there is nothing to disclose. From Chris’ article– His [travel] agent insisted the ticket was a “published” fare, and contacted the airline on his behalf. British Airways turned it down, too. Bob I’m sorry, but you lost me at “like any good father….” A good father doesn’t put 2 minor children on a 10.5 hour trip across the country and then across the Atlantic. http://twitter.com/comanchepilot Joe Farrell Hey – i just noticed – Paris to LAX on British Airways? I wasn’t aware that they flew nonstop from Paris to LA – anyone who sends their kids internationally with a connection in a foreign country is nuts. Did ya hear me? Nuts. bodega And if you scroll down and read my other post, you will see that BA doesn’t allow it via LHR or LGW and that is where BA connects as they don’t fly nonstop from FRA. http://twitter.com/comanchepilot Joe Farrell bodega shows us the rules which tell us: the ticket and skysolo need to be bought together – meaning AT THE SAME TIME – if you don’t – then its cancellation fees and reissue charges. Age 5 is non-stop single flight only. Age 6 and over is ok it appears. There is no ban on connections – merely a ban on a transfer BETWEEN LHR and LGW – if you connect it has to be at the same airport. These rules were readily available on BA’s website before tickets are purchased – http://www.britishairways.com/travel/childinfo/public/en_gb emanon256 I still question whether or not he had a “real” agent. The article also states: “they told me that the fare that I got from the online travel agency was not valid because it was a bulk discount fare” So was it a real agent, or was it a website? Expedia is an on-line travel agent, and we know from many of Chris’s articles how much they like to pass the buck. I asked what agency he used, but no one has answered. http://badbadwebbis.wordpress.com/ badbadwebbis Actually, it is possible to get a flight that doesn’t require a transfer between Heathrow and Gatwick, which is what is not permitted– there is a flight from Paris into Heathrow that departs for LAX from Heathrow (not requiring a transfer from Heathrow to Gatwick or vice versa). This flight also does not have a 6+ hour layover, or one that is a night-stop. So he can schedule a UM flight between Paris and LAX. What he could not do is fly them into Heathrow and then have them fly out of Gatwick, since that requires travel outside the airport. Nancy M BA is notorious for unbending even when they cause a problem – I contacted Chris about an issue with BA in November 2010 where they were adamant about forcing me to forfeit a FIRST CLASS award ticket because of a problem with their website (I finally got to keep my ticket only by speaking with a supervisor in the US). I kind of like British Airways anyway (especially their lounges at Heathrow), but am amazed that they have no compunction about ripping off their customers. (I thought the Brits were supposed to have a sense of ‘honour’?) Dave And how do you know that information was available on the site he used? Just because you saw it on one site doesn’t mean it was available where he bought the ticket.