The Travel Troubleshooter: Am I stuck with this $378 phone bill?

Question: I’ve been haggling with Travelocity for almost three months about a flight, and I need your help. I recently booked flights from Newark, N.J., to Madrid, Spain via Continental Airlines and on to my final destination of Barcelona, Spain, via Iberia.

The outbound trip was completed without issue, although I had to claim my baggage in Madrid, go through customs, and go back through the ticketing counter to get my second boarding pass.

Unfortunately, the return trip through Brussels was less successful. The itinerary that Travelocity sold me left me just one hour to make my connecting flight in Brussels to the U.S., but I had to claim a bag, go through customs, and then back to the ticketing counter again to get my boarding pass for the U.S.-bound flight.

When I arrived at the empty Continental ticket counter approximately 35 minutes before my flight, I managed to track down a Continental customer service agent, who refused to check me in because it was too late. She also told me the next flight was the following morning.

When I tried to dial the number provided by Travelocity for assistance outside of the U.S., the number would not connect. I tried multiple phones in the airport. Without other options, I collect called my fiancee in the U.S. and had her call the domestic Travelocity telephone number and after more than 30 minutes of international telephone calls, I was booked on the flight for the following morning.

My problem with this scenario is that I incurred a telephone bill of $378 in order to correct this situation caused by Travelocity selling me an itinerary that was physically impossible to achieve. Travelocity won’t refund my phone bill. Any ideas? — Jeffrey Grim, Boston

Answer: Travelocity shouldn’t have allowed you to reserve the itinerary that you did.

If your flights were connected on the same itinerary (which they appear to be) then the system should stop you from reserving a flight that doesn’t meet the minimum connect time rules. Something appears to have gone wrong, because you obviously didn’t have enough time to transfer to your overseas flight in Brussels.

Travelocity also should have provided you with a number that worked from Brussels. I think you did your best to contact the online travel agency through normal channels before resorting to an expensive collect call. And yes, calling Travelocity was the best option, since this was an immediate concern. Had it been something less urgent, I would recommend sending an email.

But I think you could have prevented this from happening, too. Did you take a moment to read your itinerary after you booked your tickets? If you had, you might have noticed the short connection times, and could have asked Travelocity to fix it. One hour is barely enough time to change planes domestically, so this is a challenge that could have been identified and addressed long before your trip.

You had a second chance to fix this when you experienced a tight connection on your inbound flight. You might have wondered if the connection problem would happen on your return flight, reviewed your itinerary and contact Travelocity.

It’s unusual for an online travel agency to refund a phone bill, but in this case, I think it should consider doing so, at a minimum. I contacted Travelocity on your behalf. It apologized and agreed to refund your phone bill.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Vamuggle

    Travelocity was more than generous. During a trip to Singapore last year, Continental gave me 20 minutes to deplane, pick up luggage, clear customs, change terminals, and make a connection in Newark. I’m not clear as to why this was even an option, but a quick call to the airline got me re-routed with (much) time to spare. A quick look at the itinerary would have kept this from happening.

  • Airijos Skelbimai

    This is true that any Travelocity shouldn’t have allowed you to reserve the itinerary that you did. You have to be aware while you are at any tour. After keep this precautions you will definitely get success in your every tours. Keep posting some interesting articles!

  • $16635417

    A minimum connect time is just that. Hence the word “minimum”. This is a valid or “legal” connection for a traveler. If you have other factors, even something as simple as luggage, you need to factor that into your decision.

    I have to defend Travelocity on this, (for the publsihed connection) and commend them for trying to assist with the phone expense. Chris is right, they should have provided better methods for contact.

    The online travel sites use a database designed for travel professionals and add bells and whistles to make it easier for a layman to use. The output still leads to situations such as the OP’s. A good travel agent or experienced traveler would have pointed this short connection out or noticed it and factored it into the decision.

    Something still doesn’t sit right. It sounds like the OP was on one itinerary and did not book the tickets seperatly. I am curious why he wasn’t checked into his final destination from BCN.

  • BillC

    I am curious as to why he had to go back and get a boarding pass each time. Did he book the Newark – Madrid leg through Travelocity and the other leg on his own? I have not travelled in Spain but when travelling elsewhere on one itinerary I always received all of my boarding passes at check-in even if I had to go through customs.

  • Carver Clark Farrow II

    “The online travel sites use a database designed for travel professionals and add bells and whistles to make it easier for a layman to use. The output still leads to situations such as the OP’s”

    Perhaps someone with more recent technical skills can correct my statements, but I don’t believe that’s accurate.

     Online bookings have been around for the past two decades.  Back in the early to mid 90s I remember booking through Compuserve or some similiar system and it looked looked very cryptic and not worth the trouble.

    But by the late 90s, the systems were robust and designed for use by the lay person.  Very few errors are made, and the programs are designed to among other things, catch “illegal” connections.

  • Kim6160

    I would have agreed with you until my recent trip to Germany. Connecting through London Heathrow we had to recheck in with United, answer a number of security questions (the same ones from two different people) and get new boarding passes. There was a special desk for each airline to do the exact same thing. It was annoying mostly because there was no reason given. I have no idea if it was US security, UK security or just another way to annoy passengers. 

  • Kim6160

    To clarify, this was only on the return to the U.S.

  • Chris in NC

    Did Travelocity refund any other out of pocket expenses for Grim (like the hotel for the overnight in Brussels?) Good for Grim that Travelocity refunded the phone bill, though it seems a bit excesive. It was the right thing to do.

    On a side note, why did Grim call collect? A much cheaper option is to purchase a pre-paid phone card, which is very common in foreign countries. A 20 Euro card would likely have been suffice for all the phone calls.

    As with other posters, I too wonder, why did he have to get a separate boarding pass, especially if the ticket was booked on the same itinerary? Especially since Iberia and Contential are both with the same alliance, he should have been checked through.

  • Anna

    I think it seems more than “a bit” excessive. $378 for 30ish minutes on the phone is around $10 per minute. Grim could have Skype’d all day from an internet cafe for less. It’s fair enough that Travelocity should reimburse reasonable expenses from these kind of mishaps, but what about when it’s no longer reasonable?


  • Anna

    A one-hour connection in Brussels is doable, but for unknown reasons Grim’s two flights were not linked.

  • Chris in NC

    I was trying to be somewhat diplomatic!

  • sirwired

    You would not believe how complicated travel booking systems are; they cost a fortune to write.  What you see, as a traveler, is merely a modern front-end (comparatively easy to create) to the immensely more complex decades-old back-end.

    Given the presence of working systems they can purchase access to, businesses are rather loath to create a new one from scratch at enormous expense.  It makes little sense for the business to invest all that money, at little to no competitive advantage, in order to prevent a rare screwup.

    I expect what happened is that the system forgot to check if there was an inter-line agreement between Continental and Iberia that would have allowed the printing of all boarding passes at origin and the check-through of luggage.  (Or maybe there was an interline agreement prior to the UA merger?)  It may have been a legal connection time for Brussels, but not with an airline change.

  • Anna

    You did well, then ;-)

  • Crissy

    That jumped out at me too, I can’t imagine he couldn’t find a calling card or any other option cheaper then calling collect – even a credit card would have a cheaper rate.  He knew the next flight wasn’t until the next day so even if he was freaked out he knew he had a few minutes to find a way to call home.

  • davork

    Europe isn’t one country. However some counties in europe are in something called schengen which treats people travelling between those countries as local’s… the rest (including the UK and Ireland) require any foreign domestic arrival to clear security if they are connecting

  • Ajaynejr

    Not exactly on topic but, before booking, you should manually and proactively verify that you have extra time over and above the legal connection time where you also have to go through customs in the connecting city.

  • Carver Clark Farrow II

    Oh, I would.  Before I became an attorney I used to write computer software for a living.

  • Tony A.

    Chris Elliott, can you please tell me what airline was used to fly from Barcelona (BCN) to Brussels (BRU)?

    I need this information to make my own conclusion. Thanks.

  • Brooklyn

    Several European airports, including Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle and Geneva, have the flights from the US arrive at the end of a long, long corridor far away from intra-European flights.  They don’t warn you that you may have to wait for a shuttle bus or gallop literally up to a mile, then go through a second security check.  If you complain, the airports say that this allows them to meet the security demands of the US government while ensuring that their own people aren’t penalized by the unnecessary security measures. I don’t know why the computers let you book these connections, which are nearly impossible to make.  Last time I was in Paris, the angry crowd simply stormed the passport booth and pushed on through the doors to catch their flights! At home, the airport would have been closed down, but fortunately the airport authorities realized that it was their bad (the officer at the passport booth had taken a break and left no one to replace him) and let it go.

  • Brooklyn

    What about those of us who don’t use Skype (because, in my case, I pay an exta $20 per month for almost unlimited overseas calls) and who carry unlocked basic cell phones without internet capacity when we travel?  Travelocity caused the mess and owed him a refund of hotel, restaurant and phone bills.

  • Mark K

    I looked on Travelocity and even choosing several different future dates, was not able to duplicate the itinerary.  I know this doesn’t mean the flights were not offered when the OP booked or that they are not bookable by travel agents today.  However, CO offers non stop service between EWR and BCN and appears to be the low cost option on many dates so not sure why the stops were added by Travelocity.  
    This once again shows that when you book a flight, you have to look at what is being offered and know a bit about what possible connection times make sense.  The slightest delay can cause that hour to get eaten up leaving you stranded.  The web sites offering flights should also know that and never offer an impossible connection.
    But, I don’t blame the OP for this one.  Sure, the connection was tight, but the flight was sold to him so it must be acceptable.  CO sold me a similar tight connection on a flight from Norway through Copenhagen to EWR.  They kept assuring me that it would be more than enough time to get from one plane to another.  When I asked about baggage, they said I would have to collect my bags and recheck them but I would have plenty of time.  I never got to find out because CO deleted one segment from my flight and I had to be completely rebooked where the connection time was 4 hours and everything worked out.  
    Glad the OP got his phone charges refunded.

  • Guest

    A collect call.  That choice alone says a lot about the individual.  A room for the night would have cost less!

  • Mark K

    I would have thought that you can get all of your boarding passes at one time too.  But, on my most recent European vacation I had to get each of my boarding passes at the corresponding airport for connecting flights.  No explanation was given and all flights were on the same airline and same booking.  Maybe it is a new security measure?  

    If the OP is someone who doesn’t travel much he may not be aware of phone cards and how to use them.  I have never needed one or used one so even though I know they exist, I am not sure how to use one and being in his situation, I don’t even think I would look for one.  

    At the time he was trying to call, all he knew was CO did not have any more flights that day, not that Travelocity would not be able to put him on another flight that day.  When you have missed a connection, sometimes timing is everything when trying to get on another flight.

  • Nancy Marine Dickinson

    People shouldn’t be permitted to post here anonymously.  This was an incredibly snarky comment.  At least have the courage to put your name on it.

    What is says about the OP is that they couldn’t get a phone call out any other way.  I guess smoke signals would have been his next best option?

  • Nancy Marine Dickinson

    Not having flown into every single airport in the world, I don’t know I wouldn’t have had the same problem as the OP.  I don’t know why the airports have started adding this dimension to their flights – getting your  luggage, going through security again, getting your plane ticket for the next leg.

    Now that I know this goes on, when flying internationally, I should make sure my layovers are at least 3 hours.

  • Linda Bator

    It’s not just a matter of writing a new program, but integrating that system with that archaic one you saw all those years ago, and which is still the one used by airlines and travel agents today.  That way the airlines have oversight on the ticketing and can decide if infractions are committed.  All the government controls, airline controls and costs just make it prohibitive — hence the point and click which connects TO that system being in use by all these online companies.

  • Linda Bator

    Just came back from a trip thru Heathrow, and just had to recheck bags – not get a new boarding pass, as both flights were given at checkin.

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  • Bodega

    Until Chris provides the carrier(s) which would allow for verification of ‘legal’ connect times in Brussels, I will point out that according to my GDS system, most ‘legal’ connect times are at 50 minutes for both domestic to international, as well for international to international. 

    This is not Travelocity’s fault.  They have on their websites, the schedules from the airlines.  Travelocity does not make up their own schedules, so Chris’ comment that Travelocity should not have let this itinerary be ticketed is misleading.  The carrier posts a legal connection, it just might not be a reasonable one.  The carrriers are making connections almost impossible in many airports around the world.

    Most flight segments in coach class are what is called, married.  You can not break them up and buy one segment at a time.  The only way this might be accomplished is by purchasing two separate tickets. 

  • Bodega

    I posted this elsewhere, but I will repeat it.  The website posts what the carriers provide.  The carriers give out their schedules and Travelocity doesn’t make up any of the flight combinations.  This wasn’t Travelocity’s mistake and it is the responsibiblity of the purchaser to pay attention to the details.  I advise my clients to have more time for connections, but it is getting harder and harder to find reasonable flight connections due to the carriers schedules. 

  • Tony A.

    I am just trying to be polite to the OP and Chris. So I asked them to identify the operating airline that flew the OP from BCN to BRU.
    But my finger is ready to pull the trigger and blame this to 110% OP error. And I think Chris is WAY WRONG on this one. I’ll wait for his reply till noon.

  • $16635417

    Yes they are. For example, Travelocity is a Sabre Holdings company.

    I still don’t belive this was an “illegal” connection, hence the reason it appeared to the OP.

  • Carver

    Like I said, I used to write computer programs for a living many years ago.  I understand the problem of integrating a legacy system with newer systems.  Not a fun task at all.

    I’ll date myself.  I used to work on CADAM in college.

  • Carver Clark Farrow II

    Perhaps Guest would have preferred carrier pidgeon?

    Nancy, I agree. After trying to contact the company through the means that they offered, I’m trying any means available.  The company could have avoided this by providing better contact numbers.

  • Geoff

    So sad your bad…..use a real live ASTA travel agent. I have never had a client have to re-checkin under the travel circumstances described. Changing airlines requires a knowledge of which ones cooperate with each other, a “stupid” computer only looks for cheap and maybe “legal” connections. Some airlines don’t show that requirment, but I know how to look. Wow did you mess up this time!

  • Carver Clark Farrow II

    Help me to understand.

    If the OP purchased a single ticket with a lawful but unreasonable connection time, how is that the OPs fault.  If you don’t want to blame travelocity, why not blame the carrier.

    I’d understand if the op purchased individual flight segments seperately, because that bypasses the protections; but the otherwisecarrier shouldn’t be selling tickets with unreasonable connection times.

    I blame the carrier instead of the OP because the carrier has infinitely superior information about each airport than the OP.

  • Tony A.

    Blame the Carrier for what?

    Newark NJ (EWR)  to Barcelona, Spain (BCN) airline tickets should be no brainers. Not unless the passengers want to screw it up themselves. EWR is Continental’s east coast hub and they have a non-stop flight to Barcelona (operates 6-7 days a week) – CO120 (return CO121). It can’t get any simpler than this! But then you have passengers like Jeffrey Grim from Boston. Boston? Well, he still could have taken CO1411 – CO120 from BOS-EWR-BCN. So what could have happened to get his trip so screwed up?

    Of course the knee-jerk reaction is to blame the OTA. But this is both foolish and unfair. An OTA like Travelocity does not  create weird routings or itineraries from a insane room just to make passenger suffer. OTAs simply get their routings from whatever GDS feeds their shopping engines. Chances are they are at least 99.9% error-free (my guess). So what possibly happened?

    There are clues to the OP’s story that makes this sound like a pure OP caused problem.
    (1) The routing. Continental is the part of the LH/CO/UA/Star ++ Transatlantic Joint Venture. This JV will *never* route a through to Barcelona via Iberia (a OneWorld competitor). The only official routing via MAD is EWR-MAD-CO/JK-BCN*  (note JK is SpanAir a StarAlliance partner).
    (2) The refusal of CO in EWR and the airline in Spain to perform IATCI  (InterAirline Through Check-In) and baggage check through, requiring the passenger to claim baggage and make a second check-in at Madrid and Brussels.
    (Note: Recently, airlines have refused to check bags through  for separate tickets from non-alliance partners even if they have interline baggage agreements because the airline that TAGS the bag is financially responsible for the bags. So if the other carrier lost or damaged or delayed the baggage, the innocent airline that tagged the bag gets the blame. To reduce claims or suffer increased insurance premiums airlines simply refuse check throughs.)

    These are clear signs that the OP bought separate tickets from Travelocity.  Now who is responsible for the OP buying separate tickets – himself or Travelocity?
    Any person can go to Travelocity and buy 2 or more *unconnected* tickets. Travelocity would not even know one’s purpose for doing it. They wouldn’t care.
    It would be an entirely different story if the OP went to Travelocity and told them he wanted to fly from EWR to BCN; and then Travelocity sold him 2 separate tickets for that journey. But neither the OP or Chris Elliott has provided any proof that happened.

    NOTE: A travel agent can sell Iberia flights as ADD-ONS to a Continental flight and they will be on the SAME CONTINENTAL TICKET but the fare would be very different – expensive! In this case, the passenger’s luggage will or may be checked through all the way to the final destination. I repeat, I do not believe this is the case here.

    TECHNICALLY unless you have a conjuction ticket (rare), separate tickets DO NOT CONSTITUTE A CONNECTING FLIGHT. A connecting flight must be on the SAME JOURNEY. Separate tickets automatically mean Separate Journeys. Minimum connection times do not apply since the passenger is not technically connecting. Each ticket will be on a separate itinerary and there is no way to link them. The passenger is on his/her own to figure if they can make the next flight. Even EC261/2004 is not going to help you (provide compensation, etc.) if you can’t make your separately ticketed flights within the EU.

    Finally, since the OP and Elliott did not post details of the BCN to BRU flight, then I need to make an intelligent guess.
    My GDS tell me that the CO flight from BRU to EWR is – CO 961 BRUEWR-1000A1205P  OPERATED BY UNITED AIRLINES.

    Now let’s see what airlines fly from BCN to BRU so that passengers can catch this CO961 flight which departs at 10AM. My GDS says these one arrive before 10AM:

    1  $VY8988  BCNBRU- 645A 850A   
    2  #IB5791   BCNBRU- 645A 850A 

    Well, Iberia is just codesharing the Vueling flight. So there is only one flight that morning and it gets in at 850AM.
    It this truly was a CONNECTING FLIGHT then the minimum connection time between Vueling and Continental/United in Brussels is (according to my GDS) – 65 minutes for international to international connections. Note: flight schedules could have changed since the time the OP traveled so they may be different from the ones I posted above.

    The connection would have been legal since 8:50 to 10:00AM is 70 minutes. But I repeat, separate tickets are not normal connections!

    I really think that Chris Elliott should get and post more details before accusing Travelocity of selling a lousy “connection”. As a travel agent competing with Travelocity I don’t feel good having to defend them, but for fairness sake, I will.

    And Carver II, the airlines have absolutely nothing to do with this fiasco. They had nothing to do with the flight pairings picked by the passenger.

  • Bodega

    I would love to blame the carrier as 50 minutes for a legal connection is ridiculous.  The point though of Chris’ statement that Travelocity shouldn’t have sold him the ticket with this connection time is ludicuous.  If you book online, you have some responsibility to do some research.  Most book online because they think they will save money, plain and simple.

    Were there other options?  One earlier flight to BRU?  Was it more expensive, hence the reason for booking the tighter connection?  Did the OP get around the cost factor, as often unmarried flights price cheaper, thus buying two separate tickets? 

    When travel writers submit these articles, they need to know what they are writing about.  There are questions each day that I see are not asked of the OP.  There is a responsiblilty by Chris to do this BEFORE posting his articles.  He needs a travel professional on his staff to review the letters.  What I see is that because people can book online doesn’t mean they do so responsibly.  It is all about cost and then they complain when it doesn’t go the way they think it should and complain when they don’t know the rules and have the correct information in the first place.

  • Dave

    Interesting how everyone is taking someone to task for the travel problem, but not for what the OP was complaining about in the first place — the inability to reach Travelocity via its own posted phone number!  That alone should make them responsible for refunding the phone charges (traveling BCN-BRU-EWR is only going to happen during normal business hours; it’s not like he was transferring in the middle of the night).

    I find the routings interesting in the first place, since airline alliances are being mixed (CO, which would have flown the EWR-MAD and BRU-EWR legs, is Star Alliance; IB is OneWorld; we don’t know the BCN-BRU airline).  Still, that doesn’t mean the airlines don’t cooperate on checking luggage through; all the major airlines have agreements in place.  A new boarding pass may have been necessary, but collecting and rechecking luggage shouldn’t have been.  That said, I’ll admit I haven’t made any connections in Europe since 1972, and I don’t know how the Schengen agreement has affected the process, especially with the hyper-paranoid US security rules.

  • Bodega

    Normally, once you depart on the return itinerary, the carrier takes care of reaccommadating you, which leads me to believe that he had two separate tickets and the carrier made him contact the originating ticketing agent to handle the second segment on a separate PNR.  If that is the case, he was playing a game on the fare and got in trouble.  If that is the case, he should eat the phone costs.  I do agree that a local number to call should be provided for all itineraries, but then, I don’t book online to know what they do or do not do. 

  • Tony A.

    IMO this appears like Travelocity paid PR “Hush or Go Away Money”. I can’t see any evidence from the post that they did anything wrong. I’m skeptical.

  • Asiansm Dan

    1 hour connecting flight in Brussels for US bound is absolutely impossible. She shouldn’t have to collect the luggage and re-check, something is odd here.  I travel several itineraries with Schengen connecting fly to US but never have to claim luggage and re-check again.  Usually a 30 minutes connecting in ZRH, GVA, FRA, MUC is enough but BRU and CDG, forget it… knowing the efficiency and bureaucracy of the Belgians and the French (don’t you know Belgium don’t have a government for more than a year now… that prove an inefficient government is unnecessary and irrelevant).
    Beside that, I advise everybody NEVER use a phone booth around the AIRPORTS and TRAIN STATIONS in BELGIUM and NETHERLANDS. It’s a total scam. They announce a price for using your credit card but they make it impossible for you to call by yourself and an telephonist intervene and charge you the telephonist assisted rate 10 times more expensive then published. You should only use the Post Office phone booth.

  • Bodega

    There is certainly more to the story that what we have been told.

  • Tony A.

    Dave, and what number may that be? Was he trying to dial Travelocity’s US toll-free number (1.888.872.8356) from outside the USA? DUH. Even my 12 year old kid knows that won’t work.
    Or did he try calling this – 1.210.477.1089 outside the U.S. (maybe even collect)?

    Of course, the reason why he had to call Travelocity is the issue (not the cost of the call itself.) It looks like Travelocity put him on the next flight from BRU to EWR. You know, that cost Travelocity A LOT OF MONEY! And now, he wants the cost of the phone call, too.
    Lucky him, he got Elliott’s megaphone. But we still don’t know if Travelocity screwed up in the first place.

  • Tony A.

    I think AT&T charges $1.29 a minute on my cell phone if I don’t get the 99 cents plan for most of Europe. Quick computation, that could be 293 minutes on the cell phone with Travelocity if she called using AT&T. Does one need to be on the phone for close to 5 hours to solve that problem? Amazing!

  • Asiansm Dan

    The problem is the phone at the BRU is an organized crime scam. After put in your credit card, they make yourself dial call don’t go thru by purpose and a telephonist intervene to ask for your number of your credit card, so the call become a telephonist assisted call and the rate is 10 times more expensive (not published on the phone both). You don’t know that until you reach your home and the phone bill come later. It happened to me for an 2 minutes call from Amsterdam to Antwerp which should cost 3$ and I received a 35$  bill.

  • A Geographer

    As with so many of these tales of woe, somethings do not add up.   Continental (now United) and Iberia are not in the same global alliance – this may limit issuing through boarding passes.  Collecting your bags and passing customs and immigration in Madrid after arriving from the US is reasonable if you are continuing on a domestic flights – the same rule applies on arriving in the US.   However leaving BCN for BRU it seems absurd to have to do this.  Belgium and Spain are both in the Schengen area – no border controls, and Iberia should surely (if you used Iberia, BCN to BRU) to check your bags right through to the US.   

    One poster below rightly notes that going from a Schengen country, like Germany, via Britain, which is not in the Schengen area, leads to a second security check.  This is in response to US demands about security on all flights going to the US – the flight from FRA to LHR does not work under these same strictures, but it also results from the huge and messy layout of LHR, 5 terminals all separate, and secure bus links to join them seem to be beyond the desire of Heathrow authorities to do something about it.   The same thing now happens on transferrring between the remotely separated terminals at CDG in Paris.

    And we return to the eternal issue, why use Travelocity, and why have two separate itineraries (as seems to be the case here);  a single PNR, and flights on airlines within the same alliance would surely have helped, or am I wrong on that too?

  • Asiansm Dan

    Not all North American phones work in Europe nor Asia.

  • Tony A.

    You’re right. I just happen to have a AT&T GSM Quad Band phone.
    I thought everyone else owned an iPhone (except me). hehe.

  • Tony A.

    You’re right. This case is truly bizarre!

  • MikeZ

    When you are stuck in a foreign country and being told you are SOL, I have no doubt that one would be looking for a phone card, internet cafe, or anything else. Also, not all phones are global phones these days, so skype may not have been an option, and even then there are charges for many calls.

  • Clare

    I think it’s unfair to put any burden on the customer here, Chris.  More seasoned international travellers know that a one-hour layover in Brussels is impossible.  But plenty of people have no clue–and that’s why they trust the airline, or the travel agent, or in this case Travelocity, to sell them something that IS possible!

    I myself have in the past dealt with more than one travel agent AND with airlines (on the phone) who were ready to sell me undoable itineraries like this one.  Only because I had done enough overseas travel was I able to say, “hey, wait a minute, that’s too short a layover!  How is your computer even allowing you to offer that to me?”  Pretty pathetic that I had to do their job for them… but in any event, contrary to some of the posts here, I know from experience that it IS possible for some dimwit to sell you a ridiculous itinerary like the OP got.

    As for Travelocity’s phone number: I know that toll-free US numbers do not work from Italy because I live in Italy now.  Believe me, employees at TONS of American businesses who also SHOULD know this, like banks and credit-card companies, do not!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to practically shout at them in emails, “TOLL-FREE NUMBERS DO NOT WORK HERE!”  And seriously, from the way they act, you would think that I was the first person ever to have this issue.  So it’s very easy for me to believe that Travelocity stupidly gives out a number to its customers that is inaccessible from other countries.  They’re not the only ones who do.

  • Bodega

    Isn’t Travelocity an online booking engine?  They provide what the airlines provide them, all of which is ‘legal’.  Just because people book online doesn’t mean they know what they are doing.  You do learn by experience and if you are new to this, go to a professional.

    Sometimes there is just no option in the flight schedules between cities that are ‘reasonable’ and it is very annoying.  Tighter and tigher schedules are showing up all the time.

  • Wrona

    Just an FYI, they are in different alliances.  Iberia is One World.  Continental is Star Alliance.

    But, being in the same alliance doesn’t necessarily mean they can print boarding passes for the other airline.  Even with in Star Alliance, the airlines computer systems don’t always cooperate, so airlines can only print boarding passes for some of the other airlines, but not all.

  • Asiansm Dan

    In my opinion, it’s the BCN Check-in Airlines can be at fault here. The agent could be lazy, or don’t like the OP face…. anything possible. Maybe, the OP check himself with a boarding pass issue machine maybe he don’t show all the itinerary, some information missing here. Surely the Web check-in the day before traveling could figure out or fix the problem but we don’t know if the OP do the web check-in or do it properly.
    Schengen or not you still go thru the security again and again, no doubt about it, but luggage can go thru from Schengen to Schengen to US or anywhere else without claiming luggage and re-check. I did it many many times.

  • Asiansm Dan

    I am a Road Warrior and I refuse less than 2.5 hrs connection.
    See the Ontime statistiques and horror stories about tarmac delay.
    Call a toll free number in US or Canada is a acrobatic  time-consuming already before you can reach a “competent” agent, not talking about when you are in the other end of the world.
    Sometimes I have to spend 10 minutes on website before finding a right phone number to call.

  • Tony A.

    I respectfully disagree with your position that a burden has been placed on the OP. Here is my reasoning:

    (1) An unseasoned traveler would likely prefer to fly nonstop. They are motivated by FEAR and do not want any complication. In this case there was and is a nonstop option between EWR and BCN on
    Continental. I guarantee you that Travelocity would gladly sell that.

    (2) However, seasoned and unseasoned travelers are also motivated by GREED. They want to pay the least amount; sometimes cutting corners in the process. I am also sure that Travelocity will be willing to sell you separate tickets if that is what you believe will cost you less money.

    (3) As I said in my post above, Continental will not offer a routing EWR-MAD-BCN where the Iberia is the carrier for MAD-BCN. The same is true for BCN-BRU-EWR where Iberia is the carrier for BCN-BRU. In my opinion, someone had to buy SEPARATE TICKETS:
    (A) EWR-MAD / BRU-EWR open jaw on Continental
    (B) MAD-BCN /BCN-BRU open jaw on Iberia
    because they probably cost less together.

    So I agree with Bodega, that if ONE GAMES THEY SYSTEM to get a lower price, then they must take the risk and responsibility of doing so.
    Travelocity and the OTAs are internet vending machines. You still have to pick and choose what you want to buy. Can you blame a vending machine if it dispensed you a cold, lousy tasting sandwich? Absolutely not since you could have schlepped to Subway and got yourself a nice sub. Cheers.

  • SallyLu

    Per the article:  When I tried to dial the number provided by Travelocity for assistance outside of the U.S., the number would not connect. I tried multiple phones in the airport.

  • Anna

    I’m not convinced Grim doesn’t share some of the blame for this mess – a one-hour connection in Brussels is doable if you and your bags are already checked in. Basically, Grim acted as his own travel agent did a poor job putting together his itinerary. A comparable scenario is a non-US citizen travelling to the US – this person may also need some extra time to get through immigration etc., but the search engines still suggest itineraries with like a 50 minutes connection time because it’s perfectly doable for US citizens.

    Second, a $378 phone bill for fixing a broken flight is extreme. Did he stay on the phone with the fiancee the entire time while she was taking to Travelocity? A couple of quick calls back and forth – I can totally understand that – but 30 minutes? “Help, I’m stranded, can you call Travelocity and fix this for me – just text me the booking number, ktnxbye”… doesn’t that just about cover it? There are lots of cheaper alternative available if you need to have a lengthy, cross-Atlantic conversation – Skype, IM, chat, e-mail, etc.

    Also, you think Travelocity should also refund Grim’s hotel and restaurant bills? Ok, if this really was a Travelocity blunder then that seems fair enough. But does that mean Grim can check into a 5 star-hotel for the night, treat himself to five pounds of caviar and bathe in champagne – and pass a $10,000 bill on to Travelocity? Or is there a “reasonable” limit somewhere?

  • Tony A.

    She was probably calling the 888 Toll Free #. That’s not going to work.
    She should be calling 1.210.477.1089 outside the U.S.
    Believe me it (the 201 #)  works!

  • Anna

    Maybe he forgot about the international call prefix!?

  • Tony A.

    That’s probably Vueling VY (since the Iberia flight is only a codeshare of Vueling). I’m not even sure Vueling has an a interline ticketing and baggage agreement with United/Continental. I think they operate very much like an LCC airline, point to point. If my hunch is true, we cannot blame them (VY) for not issuing CO Boarding Pass and not checking bags through.

    So there you go. Too bad for the OP.

  • Anna

    As usual…

  • Tony A.

    Allocating at least 2 hours per connection is a good idea. 2.5 hours even better.
    If we use your standard, NO FLIGHT FROM BCN-BRU-EWR (with BRU-EWR on Continental) would work. Since Continental departs BRU at 10AM or 9AM depending on the season, then you need to be arrive at BRU at 6:30~7:30AM.
    BCN to BRU is at least a 2 hour flight; and no flight out of Europe is scheduled to  depart at 430AM (specially Spain when everyone is awake till late at night).

    The fault lies on the idiot who sold or bought this ticket in the first place.
    I need to see evidence that Travelocity recommended this solution to the OP before I can blame them.
    Sorry for using bold language but this case deserves it.

  • Tony A.

    But he called his fiancee in the USA collect. And she called Travelocity’s local number.
    So why couldn’t he simply call Travelocity’s 210# collect?

  • Scott

    You would love to blame the carrier?  Why?  The “ridiculous legal connection” has nothing to do with the carrier.  Carriers do not set Minimum Connection Times.  Again, as other posters have stated, those are MINIMUMS, not let me see how tight I can boojk my connection compared to the MCT.

  • Bodega

    You don’t get to see how tight you can book you connection.  That is provided for you in your options on a nonrefundable ticket as the carrier marries the segments.  With a full coach ticket, full biz and full first, you can often cherry pick your fights within the allowed connecting time window, which is usually up to 4 hours, but that isn’t 100%.  At least you can do this through a travel agent, not sure you can do it onlline, as I once tried for fun and couldn’t.  In fact, I did a comparison with a airline’s website and it wouldn’t let me cherry pick the full biz class seats but I could in my GDS and I got the fare at $1000 less in the GDS than on the carrier’s website.

    The carriers don’t set the minimums, but they certainly marry segments with those minimums and many have misconnects because of the unreasonable, yet, legal connect times.

  • Carver Clark Farrow II

    disclaimer: Too much gooblygook or me to wade through.

    I don’t think you read my post.  My point is that if the OP cherry picked his flights, i.e. the segments are unconnected, that’s his problem.  We agree on that.

    However, to use a simple example. If I book at ticket from SFO to RDU (just did it last month), on AA that flight generally connects through either ORD or DFW.  AA should not present me with an “illegal’ connection options. If it does then AA is at fault. 

    Now, If  I book SFO to DFW, then DFW to RDU, then whatever comes up is my own fault because I am bypassing the normal protections.

    I don’t think you disagree with any of these hypotheticals

  • Carver Clark Farrow II

    People book online for numerous reasons.  I actually don’t expect to save money online.  I book online because its generally faster and more efficient for me.

    But my question, if you book a simple flight, as in my SFO to RDU hypothetical, the carrier shouldn’t present you with illegal connections.

  • Carver Clark Farrow II

    I’m curious.  If the carriers don’t set the minimum connect times, then who does?

  • Carver Clark Farrow II

    Verizon charges $5.00 per minute in europe ( or at least used to).  That makes it closer to one hour and a half hours.

  • Carver Clark Farrow II

    Perhaps you get an automated system.  In my experience that messes up collect calls

  • Tony A.

    The airports together with OAG does.

  • Tony A.

    In your example, if SFO-DFW is in a separate ticket from DFW-RDU, then they are separate journeys. That’s 100% your responsibility if you try to connect the 2 in DFW.

    If you tell the airline you want to fly from SFO-RDU, they will give you many different choices, with “legal” connections (if any).

    I want to repeat (again and again) – BCN to BRU on Vueling or Iberia Codeshare + BRU to EWR on Continental will NEVER NEVER be offered by Continental EVEN IF the connection time between the flights may be legal. Vueling and Continental do not have an interline e-ticket agreement so they cannot issue tickets on each others flights.

  • Tony A.

    Carver, as Bodega has explained, carriers put together 2 (or more) flights as MARRIED SEGMENTS. They are sold TOGETHER – a JOINT FLIGHT. They are “engineered” in such a way as the connections between the flights are legal.

    After you buy those “joined” flights, the schedule of the individual flights MAY change. If the change is drastic, the minimum connection time could be breached. The airline has programs that check if your connected flights are still OK. If not then they will contact you with a new flight schedule to replace your old flights. I have seen this happen many many times with my clients. In fact, it’s my office that sees the changes and we contact our clients.

    Note that when you buy a ticket, only ONE airline is responsible for ALL flights on that ticket even if multiple airlines are on the ticket. For example, if you fly from Dallas (DFW) to HongKong on Cathay Pacific (CX), the flights may be AA DFW-LAX plus CX LAX-HKG. CX will put together the AA flight with their own flights and will make sure that the LAX connection in legal. If the AA schedule changes, AA will inform CX of the change and CX will re-evaluate your itinerary. If the connection in LAX is still legal, no problem, they will just inform you of the time change. But if AA cancels their flight or changes the schedule drastically, CX will have to find a new flight that will make your trip still possible. They may pick an earlier AA flight out of DFW or re-route you all together so that you can still make it to HongKong.

    In the example above, CX has INTERLINED an AA flight. They have issued you a coupon (a ticket) to be used on the AA flight. This is only possible IF an INTERLINE E-TICKET AGREEMENT exists between CX and AA. Same is true with your baggage. There has to be an agreement that CX and AA will exchange baggage handling. OR ELSE, you will have to pick up and claim your bags on the AA belt in LAX and recheck them in on the CX counter.

    In the OPs example, the BCN-BRU flight is (or may since we never got  a confirmation) operated by Vueling, and the BRU-EWR is on Continental. Since NO E-TKT INTERLINE AGREEMENT exists between the 2, then Continental could have not sold the Vueling ticket to the OP. In addition, if the OP tried to get his bags tagged to EWR AND TRANSFERRED to Continental (at BRU) during BCN check in, Vueling would not and could not do it.

    That said, people who buy more than one ticket and expect to connect seamlessly between the flights on those separate tickets are either very lucky travelers or qualified fools. Most of the times the “savings” are not enough to pay for hotels, meals and change fees if one misses their “connections”. The dead giveaway sign that people are on separate tickets is when they have to claim their check luggage and recheck them in again on the next airline. With current luggage jams and security checks this is an invitation to missed flights.

    Carter, I know you are asking INTELLIGENT questions. These are BASIC FAQs on how the airline industry works. A lot of people who buy from Internet Vending Machines DO NOT KNOW THE IN’s and OUT’s of the AIRLINES. So they are on their own. But when trouble happens, they bitch and moan and contact an ombudsman. They never think of blaming themselves for their ignorance.

  • Tony A.

    [QUOTE] Too much gooblygook or me to wade through.

    Exactly, Carver. I am trying to explain to you what a qualified travel agent is suppose to know. The airline industry (represented by IATA mostly) is a body of RULES. Just like lawyers for the legal system, good travel agents are experts on these airline rules.

    If one does his own will or legal document, then he is responsible for his mistakes. He D-I-Yed it, sorry.
    If one buys an airline ticket on the internet, then he is also responsible for his mistakes. OTAs are virtual vending machines. Anyone buying tickets on the internet are D-I-Ying their travel planning. They get what they paid for -self service. Plain and simple.

  • Linda

    I never accept an itinerary with less than 2 hrs. connect time on an international flight, even if no luggage recheck is needed.  For what he was doing, I would have required 3 hrs.  Not sure why the online booking engines allow the short connections that they do, but you need to be vigilant and not assume what they give you will actually work.

  • Bodega

    With the internet, people think they know what they are doing.  As someone on another site has said over and over again, ‘any monkey can do it’.  Except booking air travel is more complicated than that, yet the the buying public isn’t privy to this.  Yes, you can pick you fliights, but are those all your option?  How do you know?  How do you know why that fare is being given to you and if it is the best, or what you are hoping is the lowest?  You don’t.  You are only provided what the carrier wishes you to see and book.  This applies to the carrier’s website and all the OTA sites.  However, due to laws passed for fairness in the GDS, we have it all in one place.  The carriers would love to get rid of the GDS and only have the public buy online.  They can manipulate you better and make more money off you.  As I have mentioned before, I knocked $1000 per person off a full biz class fare in my GDS that I could not get on a carrier’s website.  The fare was available, the flights met the connecting requirements, but the site would not provide the earlier flight, which was just one hour prior.  I am not aware of any laws stating that websites have to provide all options.

    This lack of information leads to comments, even made on this website, for example, of Southwest not being the lowest, just because of when a shopper goes on line to check fares.  The shopper doesn’t have a clue to why.  We have that information and know why and it isn’t what the shopper thinks they know even though they may be million mile travelers. 

  • Brooklyn

    He should have been booked into a hotel by Travelocity at its corporate rate, which would doubtless have been more reasonable than anything he could find in an emergency in a strange country, and Travelocity should have paid.  But in fact, he doesn’t seem to have asked for hotel and food reimbursement, so maybe Travelocity (or Continental) did indeed take care of this. A calling card would have been a good idea, but when people panic they sometimes act rashly and the responsible party – whether the airline or the travel site – just has to eat that extra cost as a fine for putting the customer in such a difficult position in the first place!

  • Carver

    So basically, you agree, but for some reason cannot bring yourself to say so.

  • Carver

    No one doubts that a travel agent has more information and knowledge at his/her fingertips than others.  But that is true is every field and every professional.  But its only travel agents who are promoting the mantra that DIY is always inferior.

    As long as that is the mantra, travel agents will never achieve the full respect for their work as they deserve.  Doctors have immense training, yet if you go to a doctor for every bruise, bump, and scratch, you’re a hypochondriac.  You don’t call a plumber for every stopped drain.  You don’t call an attorney to read every contract.  Most folks don’t need an accountant to do their taxes, and by extensive, not every travel itinerary needs a travel agent’s assistance.

    I just booked a flight from SFO to LAX and back leaving next Friday for $98.00 using  I am a gold member so no baggage fee.  I also booked Hertz, not because of price, but because of better service.

    This is the simple, easy travel plan that I think if travel agents would concede doesn’t require professional assistance, the credibility of the industry would increase.

  • Carver

    It took me a while to understand your responses.  Truthfully, when you started getting into the TA minutiae, I skimmed it.  Going back, I see you have changed the parameters slightly by adding a fat derived from a conclusion, which is probably correct, but not part of the posted story.  The original story does not state that the OP purchased seperate tickets for the return.  However, you are going from the position that he must have given the lack of an inteline agreement.

    Thus we have two scenarios

    IF you are correct, and the OP purchased two seperate tickets then the OP is SOL. 

    If, however, the OP purchased a single itinerary, then the carriers are at fault for selling an illegal connection.

    This seems very simple, and does not require any great expertise or understanding. 

  • Carver


    I think you responses would be alot clearer if you made it crystal that you are proceeding from a point, not stated in the article, that the OP must have purchased seperate tickets.

    I think Clare and most others are operating from the assumption that this is a SINGLE itinerary that the OP purchased.  In which case Clare is right.  Neither a Travel agent, not an online system, should be presenting, much less selling, “illegal” connections on a SINGLE itinerary.

  • Carver

    I agree.  When traveling, especially to Heathrow, I require no less than three hours, a

  • Bodega

    It isn’t the DIY part Clark, it is the fact that as a shopper, you don’t know why the price is what it is and if indeed you are getting the best price.  What is the lowest published fare in that market for the days you are traveling and do all carriers offer it?  Is there a lower fare for other days of travel.  You can’t find that information, all in one place, as far as I know online.  If I am incorrect, please let me know. 

    As for respect, I think we have it far more than an lawyer does.

  • Tony A.

    Carver, there are many kinds of “travel” agents. I for one do not believe that everybody needs one.  Some do, some don’t. The fact the the majority of airline tickets are bought online means that people are content with “booking” tickets online. In fact, I spend almost all of my airline work time on International markets since that is where human intervention has the most value.  Just like any professional, a travel agent needs to prove that s/he is needed. It is not an entitlement.

  • Bodega

    This is what is puzzling.  My guess is he did have two tickets, but he got Chris to fight for him because Travelocity didn’t provide an international number for him to use which if true, should be remedied by the OTA.  What I don’t get is why the carrier didn’t just reaccommdate him and why he had to call at all.  Something just isn’t sitting right with me on this story. 

  • Tony A.

    Carver, there is one party missing in your examples – agents.
    Agents can put together flights. So agents can also be mistaken if they book connecting flights that are “too” tight.

    The party that makes the mistake is the one who put together the flights. It’s that simple.

    Also, if you noticed, I tried to recreate the OP’s flights using my GDS so I eliminate hypothetical Q&As. I really only want to deal with facts but sometimes they are not posted here.

  • Tony A.

    Continental will never put together a Vueling operated flight connection with United/CO.


    I disagree with you this is a simple matter. This requires PROFESSIONAL EXPERTISE. As you can see I am doing some “FORENSICS” of the case. For example, do you know what the minimum connection time in BRU for Veuling to United/CO is? It is an EXCEPTION to the standard MCT.

    All you see in the post is Iberia and Continental. Well guess what? Iberia does not fly BCN to BRU. They simply codeshare Veuling’s flights. And the CO flight from BRU to EWR is actually United. And since there is no interline agreement between Vueling and Continental, then the passenger could never have done InterAirline Through Check-In and Baggage Check Through. In other words, the passenger needed a hell of a lot more time to connect in Brussels.

  • Tony A.

    If the OP did have 2 tickets, then CO simply NO SHOed him in BRU. Why should they reaccommodate him when they (CO) are not responsible for the BCN-BRU segment at all? CO was under no obligation under EC261/2004 to reaccommodate the passenger.

    But if CO *sold* the BCN-BRU segment, then CO would be required to reaccommodate him. This is why we need to see the ticket or tickets. But I suspect the reason he had to call Travelocity was that CO did not care to help him since they had no obligation to.

    We really need to see the ticket so we don’t have to speculate anymore.

  • Bodega

    We can’t sell them, the computer GDS doesn’t let us and since the OTA use the same program, they can’t sell them either.  The only way this was done was with two separate tickets, which for some reason Chris isn’t providing that information.

    Now we do get schedule changes after ticketing that often make connecting flights with less than the legal allowance, even some that are absolute misconnects.  All done by computers, so we do call and get clients protected on other flights at no extra charge.

  • Carver

    Since the OP didn’t mention using an agent, I ignored that issue.  Obviously if an agent erred in creating the itinerary then the agents bears responsibility.

    I understand the part about recreating the OP’s itinerary.  However, I don’t think that’s a useful exercise.  There is too much extraneous information presented that way. A nice clean hypthetical serves to illustrate the same points and issues without muddying the waters.  Otherwise you end up with voluminous posts that only get half read.

  • Carver Clark Farrow II

    Really Bodega

    Given your history of even tempered comments, a snarky comment was unexpected, particularly as no offense was intended.

    Actually, your knee jerk response shows the problem of this industry.   Its been so ravaged by self bookings and the resulting reduction in revenue that even normally well manner folks like Bodega become hypersensitized to any critiques of the industry.

    With regards to your question, yes, you can find out if there are lower prices for other days. The engines have several options for this.  Simply use the flexible date search and the lowest price for your city pairs will be displayed for several days both before and after your trip.

  • Carver Clark Farrow II

    Well said.

  • Carver Clark Farrow II

    All of the “forensics” that you are doing is only necessary because you don’t have all of the facts as the article doesn’t present them.  But if you had a copy of the ticket(s), you would know instantly the underlying facts.

    I assume that the ticket would say Iberia then somewhere disclose that its being flown on Vueling.

    I also assume that you would be able to tell instantly from the PNR whether the flight was booked as one itinerary on travelocity or as multiple, unrelated itineraries.

    What am I missing?

  • Tony A.

    Even if you see the ticket, if you do NOT KNOW THE AIRLINE RULES then you cannot say whether the tickets are OK or not. A good travel agent KNOWS THE RULES. Like I said in the post above lawyers know the law, travel agents know the rules. IGNORANCE OF AIRLINE RULES DOES NOT EXEMPT ONE FROM MAKING MISTAKES.

  • Tony A.

    Carver, I’m sorry but you are really displaying you ignorance of how airline distribution works. The OP USED AN AGENT! Travelocity is a travel agent. They are appointed by airlines to issue tickets and settle payments using the ARC system.

    You must know how the itinerary was created since as the OP and Chris Elliott have both claimed – the itinerary had an “illegal” connection in Brussels. If one makes that accusation then they must show proof that is was indeed “illegal”, correct? Well neither the OP nor Elliott has shown here any proof.

    About the long posts – well if you read the rules and tariffs of airlines you will understand why it takes a long post to explain SOME of the issues. You said you were a programmer in your “younger” days. Let me give you an answer to your speculative question regarding a hypothetical SFO to RDU flight on AA. You assumed that Minimum connection time is a simple question. Well take a look see …

    Here’s a flight today –
    16OCT-SU-632P SFORDU
    1*O#AA 554   SFOORD  200P 810P     6 757 0E
    2*O#AA4241   ORDRDU  845P1135P  *5 ER4 0E

    There’s only a 35 minute connection in Chicago ORD. It is legal? What do you think?
    Some people think the minimum connection time in ORD is strictly 50 minutes, how about you? Are you ready for more gobbledygook?

    Carver, minimum connection time depends on which airlines are connecting, the type of connection, the terminals involved, etc., etc., etc. As I told you earlier OAG maintains the MCT information for airports. See  Many GDS programmers uses this database to put together flight segments.

    Now here is what it is for AA to AA connections in ORD. Are you ready?
    As you can see, it depends on a lot of factors. The flights above have an MCT of 35 minutes so it’s a “legal” connection. If you think being a good travel agent is easy, ya better think again.

    >MCT  ORD-AA-AA                               DD  DI  ID  II
    STANDARD:         ORD                          050 075 090 090
    AA-AA ONLINE     ORD                          035 035 080 080
    AA 0001-5099                                   — — — 120
    AA 7181-7218           AMM
    AA 0001-8399               CA                  SUP — — SUP
    AA 0001-8399               CA
    AA 0001-8399               CA                  — SUP SUP —
    AA 0001-8399               CA
    AA 0001-8399               MX                  — — — SUP
    AA 0001-8399               MX
    AA 0001-5099     3  FPO                        — 060 — —
    AA 0001-8099     3
    AA 0001-5099     3  NAS                        — 060 — —
    AA 0001-8099     3
    AA 0001-8349     3                             — 090 — —
    AA 5970-6017     5
    AA 0001-8349     3                             — 120 — —
    AA 7181-7218     5
    AA               3                             — 075 — —
    AA 5100-8399     5
    AA 0001-5099 W      DUB                        055 — — —
    AA 0001-8399
    AA 0001-2699        DEL                        — — 090 090
    AA 0001-8399
    AA 0001-5099        DUB                        050 — — —
    AA 0001-8399
    AA 0001-5099        FPO                        060 — — —
    AA 0001-8399
    AA 0001-5099        NAS                        060 — — —
    AA 0001-8399
    AA 7181-7218        AMM                        — — — 120
    AA 0001-5099
    AA 2700-5099               CA                  039 — — —
    AA 2700-5099
    AA 6125-6749 W                                 — — 085 —
    AA 0001-5099
    AA 0001-5099                                   050 — 090 090
    AA 5100-8399
    AA 0001-5099                                   — 090 — —
    AA 6071-6124
    AA 0001-5099                                   — 075 — —
    AA 8140-8399
    AA 2700-5099                                   029 — — —
    AA 2700-5099
    AA 5100-6070                                   — — — 090
    AA 0001-5099
    AA 5100-8399                                   050 075 — —
    AA 0001-5099
    AA 5100-8399                                   SUP SUP SUP SUP
    AA 5100-8399
    AA 5815-5969                                   — — 085 —
    AA 0001-5099
    AA 5815-5969                                   — — 090 —
    AA 5100-8349
    AA 5970-6017                                   — — 120 —
    AA 0001-8349
    AA 6018-6070                                   — — 090 —
    AA 0001-8349
    AA 6071-6124                                   — — 120 120
    AA 0001-5099
    AA 6125-6749                                   — — 085 —
    AA 0001-5099
    AA 6125-8399                                   — — — 090
    AA 0001-5099
    AA 6750-8399                                   — — 090 —
    AA 0001-8349
    AA 7181-7218                                   — — 120 —
    AA 0001-5099
    AA 8140-8399                                   — — 090 —   
    AA 0001-5099
    -ALL-                                          SUP — SUP —
    AA 5100-8399
    -ALL-                                          — — — 120
    AA 7181-7218
    -ALL-                                          — SUP — SUP
    AA 8140-8399
    AA 0001-2699 W                                 — — — 085
    AA           W      DUB                        — 055 — —
    AA                  DUB                        — 050 — —
    AA           W             CA                  050 050 — —
    AA                         CA                  045 045 — —
    AA           W                                 040 040 085 —
    -ALL-        W                                 — — 085 —
    -ALL-                                          — — 080 —
    AA 5100-8399                                   SUP SUP — —
    AA 7181-7218                                   — — 120 120
    AA 8140-8399                                   — — SUP SUP
    AA                  FPO                        060 — — —
    AA 7181-7218                                   — — 120 120
    AA 8140-8399                                   — — SUP SUP
    AA                  FPO                        060 — — —
    AA                  NAS                        060 — — —

  • Tony A.

    Carver, are you now clear on this?
    Bodega and I are seeing “clearer” than most of you since we are using a GDS and you are not. We are seeing the flight segments (married or not) offered by a GDS between EWR and BCN. We can request the GDS to show us EWR-MAD-BCN and BCN-BRU-EWR flights. We can query the GDS for Minimum Connection Times in BRU. We can try to create a similar itinerary that the OP had and check it.
    In other words Bodega and I can do things YOU CANNOT DO because you don’t have a GDS. Also we know how to use our GDS and that is very important since that requires SKILL.

    Only until about a decade ago, travel agents actually went to school. They needed to be certified to use a GDS and ARC. Now, many so-called “agents” don’t even know the basic rules. These idiots are not travel agents, they are booking clerks. Sorry. In fact so many of them are not even in the USA. When you call an OTA, you often talk to someone overseas. You think someone would certify those folks, right?
    And then we have those who rely on the internet (an internet) to do almost everything. Well guess what? When problems occur, you need to go back to human beings to fix them.

  • Tony A.

    Correction: Not Expedia, it was Travelocity.

  • Carver

    again, help me connect the dots.

    You are convinced based upon your GDS system that the OP purchased two tickets.  This is the forensics that you did. You are probably correct.  But the ticket(s) will give you that same information.

    If he purchased one SINGLE ticket then any problems are the fault of travelocity. Yes?

    If he purchased multiple tickets, then any ticketing problems are his own as that permits him to circumvent the MCT requirements. 

    Now whether the ticket(s) did or did noot violate the MCT is a diffeent issue.

    Is that a fair recapping of the OPs situation?

  • Carver

    Let’s leave ad hominems out of this.  They serve no purpose.

    Regarding Agents:  Yes I know that travelocity is a travel agent in the proper sense of the word.  However, in any forum, terms of art get defined by common usage within the forum..  In this travel agent laden forum, travelocity is never referred to as a travel agent. It is usually referred to as a booking site, or more derisively as a online vending machine.

    The term agent, in the forum, is generally limited to a live person, at a brick and mortar place, with expertise and training, much like yourself.

    No one is saying it is easy to be a TA.  Not sure where you got that.  Not sure why you brought up my CS past, but in programming (back in the day), I’d use a database to store my MCTs.

    What I am saying is that a determination of whether travelocity is at fault or the OP doesn’t require a professional travel agent.

  • Carver

    I reread part of the post.

    Part of the issue is that we keep talking about different things.  My SFO to RDU post was for one purpose only.  Illustrating that it is reasonable for me to rely on whoever creates the flights to only present me with legal connections.  I’m not a TA nor do I wish to be one.  I don’t want to have to learn MCTs for different travel situations.

    I expect that whether I book using, Expedia, or even with you, the MCT will be respected.

  • Tony A.


    The party that put together the flights is the guilty party.

    Travelocity *may* have put them together and sold them as ONE solution to the OP.
    The OP *could have* bought separate flights on Travelocity on his own.

    If Elliott or the OP can prove to us that Travelocity PUT HIS TRIP ALL TOGETHER then my finger will point at Travelocity.

    I don’t understand why the OP or Elliott cannot or does not want to provide more information. Where is their TRANSPARENCY?

  • Tony A.

    With me it will because I know what I am doing. I check the MCT table, period.

  • Tony A.

    You can call Travelocity, pay a telephone booking fee, and they will act “like” a brick and mortar TA. The term travel agent nowadays is so “amorphous” – so just define them a someone or something that the airline appoints to sell tickets.

    There is no point to store the MCT in your own database because you risk using stale data. Best to access the OAG itself or some GDS that accesses OAG for you.

    If you were in court trying to prove Travelocity screwed up, would you rather have a blogger or a travel professional be your expert witness?

  • Sershev

    Iberia and Continental probably have interline agreement which allows totransfer your bags from one airline to another without claiming them in BRU. With that you would have enough time to make your connection

  • Tony A.

    The Iberia flights from BCN to BRU are CODESHARED!!! They are really operated by Vueling.  Vueling & CO/UA do not have an etkt/baggage agreement.
    This is what is so confusing with CODESHARE!!! You must know the operating carrier.

  • Bodega

    Sorry but offense was taken. 

    Our industry is alive and well but so is Chris’ business thanks to DIY’ers.  I don’t care if you book your ticket online or use a TA.  What I do care about is the knowledge DIY’ers think they have because they do a point and click search but really don’t understand what they are actually getting and why.  The comments on WN alone show that most don’t understand how airline pricing works. 

  • Bodega

    When I know more than the agent at the Agency Desk of a carier, located in Asia of course, it scares me.  These are suppose to be the best of their agents and that is now such a joke.  A few months ago, twice I got US based agents and I cried with joy!

    I’ll never forget standing next to a AA Eagle gate agent and seeing that she was less than capable on the comupter.  Scary!

  • Bill

    I find the phone bill amount to be excessive..don’t really understand why it was so much.

    They sell cheap prepaid phone cards all over the place. 

  • jennj99738

    Chris, this guy keeps posting nonsense just to have his link on your site. 

  • Michael K

    Tony A: Just curious, have you considered the possibility that the return legs were on Brussels Airlines (UAL codeshare back in July, arrived 8:40am) + Continental BRU to EWR (departed 9:45am)?  That scenario would be consistent with the OP’s report of a one hour connection.  He mentions using Iberia MAD to BCN, but not necessarily BCN to BRU.

  • TomRI

    UA called me when they found I had a short connect time in LAX from term 7 to international term and changed my flight. They required 1.5 hours there they said i was at an 1h 15min.  So I left from home an hour earlier that morning.  If i was not on FC I would have asked for a pass for the lounge at that time. Good will call I for getting up an hour early.

  • TomRI

    $378 is not excessive.  It is called collect for a reason.  The phone compies collect your money from your wallet.  There is a min fee a service fee, and the rates are high.  He wanted to get a fast call toTravelocity and he did not want to find a calling card, find a payphone that takes credit cards, find a computer that has skype, he wanted ACTION.  What if he could be put on another star alliance plane on the next flight out?  As the judges always say “you take your victiums as they come”   Meaning if the does not have the brains, cheapness to go that route then Travelocity  needs to pay the way he goes

  • tomRI

    Or he could have got on a US, UA flight in an hour ??

  • tomRI

    ” a one-hour connection in Brussels is doable if you and your bags are already checked in ”  BUT his bags were not checked in, were they? He pulled them off the belt, then showed them at customs then into security with them, then checked in. ALL THIS IN 25 MIN.  CO requires 60-90 depending on the airport and you must be 30 min before at the gate.  THUS HE NEVER WAS ABLE TO CHECK IN 60 MIN BEFORE DEPARTURE.

  • Tony A.

    Mike K, that’s why I asked the OP or Chris to ID the flight between BCN and BRU, but they didn’t. My GDS cannot look back at historical July skeds so currently the earliest SN flight is SN3696 BCNBRU- 910A 1120A. That would be in too late to catch the BRU-EWR flight of UA/CO.

    But let’s say that is the case. Then since SN is in the same alliance as CO, they would have allowed baggage check through. That said there SHOULD NOT have been a problem since the SN segment would likely be together with the CO ticket. He would not have had to call Travelocity since CO will reaccommodate him.

    Mike the only early flight I can find for SN is MAD-BRU – SN3732   MADBRU- 640A 905A. I don’t think the OP went back to Madrid to catch this flight.

    I am highly suspicious that he did not use a Star Alliance carrier from BCN-BRU.

  • Tony A.

    Mike,  I think it is flight SN3708 630AM-840AM.
    That said, that would have been a “LEGAL” connection.
    And there SHOULD have been no problem with the baggage check through.
    I can’t find that flight today so I don’t know what happened to it.

  • Michael K

    My source is which has historical flight information.  I spot-checked Jun 15 and Jul 15 (since the OP wrote to Chris “almost 3 months” after his flight).  On both of those dates UAL 9952 (a Brussels Airlines codeshare) operated BCN->BRU with a scheduled arrival of 8:40am.  And on both dates, CO61 was scheduled to depart BRU for EWR at 9:45am.

  • Michael K

    Yes, SN3708 was codeshared as UAL 9952 in June and July.  Can’t say why there would have been a baggage check-through problem (merger issues possibly?)

  • Tony A.

    Yes, same here,  I went to flightstats and flightaware to dig up the old flights. SN3708 and CO61 could have been “legally” put together *IF* the 65 mins MCT was met. It was met: 840AM to 945AM.

    But as I said, SN3708 (UA codeshare does not mean anything) combined with UA/CO BRU-EWR is sold as part of the A++ Joint Venture and therefore check-in and baggage SHOULD NOT BE AN ISSUE. And assuming he was late for the BRU flight, the CO would reaccommodate him since he he would have been on a CO ticket and EC261 would protect him.

    This is why I suspect the OP took a non-Star Alliance airline from BCN to BRU (possibly on a separate ticket). He had to claim and re-check his baggage causing him to miss the CO61 flight. The only flights left to pick are from Vueling (codeshared by Iberia).

    Mike, the OP’s routing is so weird that it’s really not worth to speculate any further unless they tell us exactly what flights they took. If it’s true that Travelocity BUNDLED the flights as VY/IB BCN-BRU to CO/UA BRU-EWR then they should have paid for his hotel, meals and the phone call. Otherwise, if the OP bought 2 tickets on his own from Travelocity and put them together, then it’s his fault.

  • Asiansm Dan

    Totally agree about LHR, the worst connecting Airport in the world. The second worst is CDG.
    I was FAST TRACK and it took more than 1h30mn to connect. And LHR Airport fee is exaggerated.

  • Philip Brown

    Please see my comments about Travelocity & Spirit Air in the forum about Code-sharing.
    Muchas gracias,
    Philip C. Brown