A codesharing nightmare strands Jamie Prophet in Dublin when she’s six months pregnant. Can we help her?
Question: We recently traveled Baltimore to London via British Airways and planned to return via Dublin on American Airlines. We purchased our tickets through hop2.com. On our outbound trip, the flight was canceled and British Airways issued us new tickets to get to London.
At the end of our trip we arrived at Dublin and attempted to check in for our return flight. We were told by American Airlines that there was a problem with our tickets. American said they could not identify the problem and there was nothing they could do. We ended up stuck in Dublin an additional day while I was six months pregnant. We paid to stay an extra night in Dublin and finally got home by purchasing tickets from Aer Lingus the following day.
After returning home, I began the process of contacting the airlines to try to figure out what happened and to obtain a refund for the Aer Lingus tickets, the extra hotel night in Dublin, and associated food costs. After considerable and lengthy effort with all three parties (American, British Airways, and hop2.com), I’m no closer to getting my refund. Can Elliott.org help? — Jamie Prophet, Millersville, Md.
Answer: I’m sorry for the considerable effort you expended trying to resolve this problem. It shouldn’t have been that way. If it makes you feel any better, it wasn’t so easy for us either; this proved to be one of our longer, more challenging cases.
The fly in the ointment here proved to be codesharing. Codesharing is where two or more airlines share the same flight, each marketing the seats on that flight under its own brand. The rub is that when there’s a glitch in the travel arrangements — which is what happened to you — codesharing partners may not be quick to accept responsibility, or even understand what went wrong.
As you learned through some of your own efforts, it appears that British Airways made an error when they issued the new tickets to London. This error was not clear to American Airlines, which of course is not operating on the British Airways ticketing system. Therefore, American could not identify the error and would not honor your return tickets. You were left stuck in Dublin.
Here are some tips to consider in a difficult case like this. You can access our company contacts to help resolve lingering customer issues; reaching higher up into the organization can help expedite resolutions. You’ll find both American Airlines and British Airways listed there under “Airline.”
It’s also a good idea to check your carrier’s conditions of carriage (here are British Airways’ and American Airlines’), which explain the terms and conditions of your ticket and outline remedies available to you in case of denied boarding. However a word of warning: Codesharing and international travel can complicate the application of these conditions (see, for example, American Airlines’ conditions of carriage regarding domestic travel restrictions).
After more than 40 emails and calls between all the parties involved over five months (that’s right, we counted them), we were able to make progress. American Airlines provided a refund for the return tickets you originally purchased (not what you wanted), and British Airways refunded the full cost of the more costly Aer Lingus tickets. That satisfied you, and we’re thankful for the opportunity to help.