virgin atlantic

Are lax rules slowing down airline ticket refunds?

Kathleen and Eugene Bianucci paid $5,770 for a pair of round-trip tickets between San Francisco and Dublin this year on Virgin Atlantic Airways. A few days before their trip, Kathleen, a fitness instructor from San Bruno, Calif., broke her leg and had to be hospitalized for a week. Her doctor grounded her for six months, and when she told the airline about the accident, a representative promised her a full refund.
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Ridiculous or not? Airlines fall in love with fuel surcharges all over again

When Sylvia Dawson tried to book airline tickets from New York to London for a group traveling next month, she was taken aback by the fare.

“We were told by Virgin Atlantic that there would be a fuel surcharge of $98 per person,” she says.

Dawson isn’t a novice who would be shocked by news like that. She’s a travel agent who specializes in tours to England, and books a lot of flights over the pond. The reservation was for a group of 20 clients headed to the U.K. on a tour.

“We know that the price of oil has skyrocketed,” she says. “But this group has been booked with Virgin since the beginning of the year. It seems that the increase is somewhat over the top.”

Worse, her group couldn’t pull out of the trip without incurring heavy penalties. The airline had them over a barrel, figuratively speaking. Either they would pay 14 percent more for the price of their tickets or lose their vacations.

Fuel surcharges are a peculiar thing. On domestic flights, the price of fuel must be included in the base fare quoted to passengers. But international flights aren’t regulated the same way, and an airline can quote a low base fare but then add a “fuel surcharge” later.

Is Virgin Atlantic out of line?
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Strike update: Virgin Atlantic deploys larger aircraft to accommodate stranded air travelers

virgin2You knew this would happen.

Virgin Atlantic Airways just announced it would deploy larger aircraft on key routes over the 12 days of the planned British Airways cabin crew strike “in order to carry stranded passengers.”

Virgin Atlantic has identified a number of flights on routes such as New York (Newark), Boston, Washington and Delhi where it is feasible to operate the flights with larger aircraft. These selected flights will now be operated by an Airbus A340-600 rather than an A340-300, thereby providing 68 extra seats per flight. The extra seats will go on sale over the next 24 hours.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are bitter rivals, of course. Which makes the following quote from Virgin’s Richard Branson so — well, let me just play the clip for you:

It is a nightmare for passengers, and you have to feel for them at Christmas time. Any strike would obviously be extremely damaging to everybody – the company, employees and most importantly the traveling public.

But a good PR opportunity for Virgin Atlantic. Why else would you issue a news release on this? (Actually, let me rephrase: What took you so long?)

Meanwhile, British Airways has bigger fish to fry. It’s going after its own employees.
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“Should I just take the money and run?”

virginatlanticMegan Boing booked two tickets from Chicago to London on Virgin Atlantic Airways for her honeymoon. Then the airline canceled her flights.

Normally, it would offer her two options: either a full refund or a new flight of its choosing.

But that’s not what happened.
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