John Kozlowski’s son Alexander and a traveling companion missed their flight out of Berlin, so they paid the change fee to book a later flight. They never had a chance to make the connection.
Question: My son Alexander and and his traveling companion Tanner had a problem getting to the airport and missed their 7:05 a.m. flight to Milan in order to connect to a flight to Sevilla, Spain.
When they arrived at about 8 a.m. at the airport in Berlin, they spoke to a representative at Aviation Handling Services, which handles bookings for Airberlin, and were each charged $177 plus a $35 change fee for a new flight to Milan.
The new flight left at 9 a.m. but was delayed until 9:30 a.m. on that day. The agent sold them the ticket between 8:15 a.m. and 8:20 a.m. The problem is that Airberlin’s policy requires check-in at least 30 minutes prior to the original flight time, but it turns out that this flight was actually operated by codeshare partner Alitalia, and their policy is that check-in is required at least 40 minutes prior to the original flight time, which would be 8:20 a.m.
Because of this timeline, the boys had virtually no chance of making their flight. They first went to the Airberlin check-in kiosks, and were told that they needed to go to the Alitalia check in kiosks instead. By the time they got there, it was too late and they were not allowed to check in. Alexander and Tanner were forced to purchase new tickets on another airline for 300 euros each.
While trying to resolve this, Airberlin pointed us to Alitalia and Alitalia pointed us to Airberlin. So I’m writing to you to see if you can help. — John Kozlowski, Ellicott City, Md.
Answer: It’s always upsetting when you miss a flight, and I’m sorry to hear that a stressful situation became even more so in this case.
The agent from Aviation Handling Services should have been familiar with check-in requirements for all of Airberlin’s codeshare partners and not booked Alexander and Tanner on this flight. This may have resulted in a missed connection and they would still have been on the hook for the additional cost of a new routing. But at least they wouldn’t have the headache and additional expense of this incorrectly booked ticket.
Your paper trail shows that you initially reached out to Airberlin. In their response to you they noted that since the flight was actually operated by their codeshare partner Alitalia, you would need to make this request to them. But when you contacted Alitalia, they referred you back to Airberlin.
We created links to airline executive contacts on our advocacy site, including Alitalia and Airberlin, specifically to address the kind of runaround you experienced. This example also illustrates why it’s so important to plan to arrive early for your flight, especially when you’re flying from an unfamiliar airport.
Because the tickets in question were issued on Airberlin ticket stock, Airberlin would need to issue any refund, so we contacted them on your behalf. Airberlin agreed that a ticket shouldn’t have been issued for a flight that closed before Alexander and Tanner had time to arrive at the gate. We’re happy to report that the airline has offered full refunds to Alexander and Tanner.