Return flight cancelled by Saudi Airlines, costing me lots to get back home. Help?

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Dec 11, 2016
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Hi Elliott, thanks for responding. I'll post the email I sent you here.
And Hi everyone, I'm new to the site and forum, and I'm really hoping my problem with Saudi Airlines can be solved somehow. :)

Anyway, here goes:
I booked 4 RT Saudia tickets in October through Orbitz, but one day -before- the trip I got a call from Orbitz, telling me that Saudia changed the return flight from a morning flight to an evening flight. This, however, would not work because it would cause a misconnect at JED (both flights had layover at JED). Another option was also offered that would cause me to stay in JED for much longer than allowed. Everything for the trip has been arranged beforehand (hotels, local flights, train tickets, attraction entry tickets, etc), so I have no choice other than go on the trip as they are all non-refundable. Trying to take care of the problem at the Saudia office in KUL (5 hours wasted) and CMN (no one showed up) didn't work. I kept trying to call the Saudia office in CMN many times over several -work-days, but still I received no answer.

Long story short, after many phone calls and emails to Orbitz (the only other party related to this problem that would respond to me), I received a final email from them saying that the whole return portion has been cancelled by Saudia. I can't prolong the trip due to work-related responsibilities, so I have no options other than buying the cheapest one way tickets to go back home (at my own expense, of course). The total extra cost I have to pay was around USD 2400 (by today's IDR->USD conversion rate), which included tickets BCN-CGK, hotel rooms in Jakarta, and tickets to my hometown.

I was advised to contact the customer care department by the Saudia Manager in Jakarta to ask for reimbursement for the extra costs I have to pay because of the cancelled flight. However, the CR's reply was something along the lines of "we'll refund your unused tickets, but everything else is not our business". To make matters worse, I was told that the original return flight was actually REINSTATED at the manager's request. All passengers should have received a notification some time ago informing the reinstatement of the flight, but I received -nothing-.

What are the airline's responsibilities in this matter? Is it true they can just refund the unused tickets and not care about anything else? How about the extra expenses for my trip back, are they not responsible to reimburse me? After all, those expenses only occurred because they cancelled the flight, breached the contract, and not offered me any alternative.

So, any ideas?
 
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Michelle Couch-Friedman

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@Teddy H Please take this advice in the helpful manner that is intended. Your letter is far too long. Frequently when readers (and company executives) see a letter of this length, they stop reading and you don't get the assistance that you need. Perhaps you could try again (or edit your post) to include just the facts and exactly what the problem is(leave out all the extraneous details).
 
Dec 11, 2016
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@Teddy H Please take this advice in the helpful manner that is intended. Your letter is far too long. Frequently when readers (and company executives) see a letter of this length, they stop reading and you don't get the assistance that you need. Perhaps you could try again (or edit your post) to include just the facts and exactly what the problem is(leave out all the extraneous details).
No problem, Michelle. I want the letter to be read and responded too, as well. Thanks for informing me. Anyway, it's been edited, I removed about 25% of it. Is it still too long?
 

Neil Maley

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There are two options when an airline changes a flight schedule- they have to either put you on the next flight with
availability or refund your money if they don't have another flight that works.

By refunding your ticket because they didn't have a flight that worked, they have legally fulfilled their obligation. Unfortunately they are not required to put you on another airline or find another way for you to get home, or pay any difference in the cost of new flights. You can ask them to put you on another airline but they aren't required to.

I don't agree with that but those are the rules.

This is from the DOT and describes your rights as an airline passenger;

http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/publications/flyrights.htm
 
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Dec 11, 2016
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There are two options when an airline changes a flight schedule- they habebyo either put you on the next flight with
availability or refund your money if they don't have another flight that works.

By refunding your ticket because they didn't have a flight that worked, they have legally fulfilled their obligation. Unfortunately they are not required to put you on another airline or find another way for you to get home, or pay any difference in the cost of new flights.

I don't agree with that but those are the rules.
So we as passengers can't change our flights but they can change/cancel/do whatever they want as long as they refund our money? Wow talk about unfair.

How about the fact that the flight was actually reinstated without me being informed? So they -do- have a flight available (the original one, that is). Isn't it their responsibility to keep me informed? After all, I was informed about the flight change in the first place...
 

Michelle Couch-Friedman

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Sep 19, 2015
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Teddy, It is still very long. But I did read it all so I will summarize what I think your issue is and you tell me if it is correct. *You booked r/t tickets with Saudia *You were at your destination *The return portion was canceled by the airline due to schedule changes. *You found it necessary to purchase new return tickets *you want the original airline to pay for the new ticket?

@Neil If a traveler is at their destination, are you saying that the airline can cancel the return (and refund) and have no further obligation to the traveler? They don't have to put the passenger on another flight?
 
Dec 11, 2016
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Teddy, It is still very long. But I did read it all so I will summarize what I think your issue is and you tell me if it is correct. *You booked r/t tickets with Saudia *You were at your destination *The return portion was canceled by the airline due to schedule changes. *You found it necessary to purchase new return tickets *you want the original airline to pay for the new ticket?

@Neil If a traveler is at their destination, are you saying that the airline can cancel the return (and refund) and have no further obligation to the traveler? They don't have to put the passenger on another flight?
That is correct. Well, actually I was informed of the flight change before the outbound flight and was further informed of the cancellation while I was at my destination. And wow, that is very short and concise. I guess I'll try to re-edit the original post. :)

And from Neil's post, I guess as long as the unused portion of the ticket was refunded, the airline's legal obligation was fulfilled. Their moral obligation (if there is any), on the other hand...
 
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Neil Maley

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So we as passengers can't change our flights but they can change/cancel/do whatever they want as long as they refund our money? Wow talk about unfair.

How about the fact that the flight was actually reinstated without me being informed? Isn't it their responsibility to keep me informed? After all, I was informed about the flight change in the first place...
You booked through a third party so the third party is the one that receives notice and it is their obligation to send notices to you. Using Orbitz makes this worse because the airline won't deal with you, they will only deal with Orbitz. If the flight was reinstated then Orbitz should be trying to get seats back for you.

I agree that the system stinks but if you read the document from the DOT it even states schedules are not guaranteed.

I suggest you move up the ranks at Orbitz. Use our company contacts on top of the page for Orbitz. Contact Customer Service shown and give them a week to reply (but clean up the letter and use billet points for details only, no emotion). Give them a week to reply. If the answer is no, write to the first executive shown and give him or her avweek, and continue every week if needed.

Good luck and let us know what happens. It never hurts to ask- the worst they can say is no and the best if you might find a sympathetic executive who will do something for you.
 
Dec 11, 2016
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There are two options when an airline changes a flight schedule- they habebyo either put you on the next flight with
availability or refund your money if they don't have another flight that works.

By refunding your ticket because they didn't have a flight that worked, they have legally fulfilled their obligation. Unfortunately they are not required to put you on another airline or find another way for you to get home, or pay any difference in the cost of new flights. You can ask them to put you on another airline but they aren't required to.

I don't agree with that but those are the rules.

This is from the DOT and describes your rights as an airline passenger;

http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/publications/flyrights.htm
You booked through a third party so the third party is the one that receives notice and it is their obligation to send notices to you. Using Orbitz makes this worse because the airline won't deal with you, they will only deal with Orbitz. If the flight was reinstated then Orbitz should be trying to get seats back for you.

I agree that the system stinks but if you read the document from the DOT it even states schedules are not guaranteed.

I suggest you move up the ranks at Orbitz. Use our company contacts on top of the page for Orbitz. Contact Customer Service shown and give them a week to reply (but clean up the letter and use billet points for details only, no emotion). Give them a week to reply. If the answer is no, write to the first executive shown and give him or her avweek, and continue every week if needed.

Good luck and let us know what happens. It never hurts to ask- the worst they can say is no and the best if you might find a sympathetic executive who will do something for you.
So I should contact Orbitz and talk about this? I already spoke to their so-called tier-2 department while I was still in Barcelona but they can't do anything. Alright I'll try to contact one of the execs then. I'll post any updates here.

Thanks much.

P.S: Any pointers on what I should say in the letter? Just state the facts and ask them if there's anything they can do? So not ask for the reimbursement straight away?
 

Neil Maley

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Teddy, It is still very long. But I did read it all so I will summarize what I think your issue is and you tell me if it is correct. *You booked r/t tickets with Saudia *You were at your destination *The return portion was canceled by the airline due to schedule changes. *You found it necessary to purchase new return tickets *you want the original airline to pay for the new ticket?

@Neil If a traveler is at their destination, are you saying that the airline can cancel the return (and refund) and have no further obligation to the traveler? They don't have to put the passenger on another flight?
They have to put them on the next available flight and no, if it doesn't work
for the passenger their only obligation is to refund. They aren't required to do anything else. Passengers can ask to have their ticket endorsed to another airline but it is not legally required.

However, if this occurred out of the US Harvey may be entitled to compensation through EU261.

Harvey, I also suggest you read this and see if you can be compensated:

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/...EU-flight-delay-compensation-EC-261-2004.html
 

Neil Maley

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On your letter you should state the facts as you presented them here and request reimbursement. But also check into EU261 as well.

As your travel agency, Orbitz should have been contacted to rebook you. But unfortunately, the OTAs don't deliver service- you are pretty much on your own when something like this happens.

In the future, book directly with an airline. You would have had more clout to get them to help without having a middleman (Orbitz) being the one that booked you.
 

jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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Yes, Teddy, this is all on Orbitz, who is your travel agent. Had you booked directly with the airline, they probably would have worked something out for you.

As advised, just list the facts and state what compensation you are requesting. Be polite, patient and persistent. Some OTAs have been known to read and respond to customer complaints, so don't give up hope. I would just ask for the price of the ticket that you were forced to purchase; the other expenses are rarely paid. But we see miracles every day, so submit whatever you wish for compensation. You never know. Good luck and please let us know the outcome.
 
Aug 28, 2015
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@Neil, I already read about EU261 somewhere before, but the trouble flight left from Casablanca, which is not really an EU member. <sigh> I'll try to contact Orbitz then.

Thank you for responding, @Neil, @jsn55, and @MichelleLovesTraveling.
Am I understanding correctly that Saudi cancelled your return flight unprompted and with the intention of transporting you there with no way home in violation of many rules, which surely would subject the airline to fines well beyond what you are asking.... If you showed up at the airport without a return flight, I imagine you would be denied boarding. This is unacceptable. The airline's reinstatement of the cancelled flight makes this so much worse.
I hope you receive everything you are asking and more. I would be outraged.

I wonder what fine an airline receives for improperly carrying a pax internationally with no return ticket? Surely whatever federal law governs that matter preempts the airline's limited obligation in the contract of carriage. Also, it is lousy customer service when he should've been placed back on the original flight as planned.
 
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Neil Maley

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BINGO!

This story bothered me with how Saudi handled this. I checked their contract of carriage and if they did not offer to put you on another airline, they seem to have violated their own terms. Harvey, I would copy and paste this in your letter to them requesting they refund you anything you paid over what their original flight cost. Their own terms state they reroute you on another airline at no extra cost to you.

If due to circumstances beyond its control Saudia cancels or delays a flight, is unable to provide previously confirmed space, fails to stop at a passenger's stopover or destination point, or causes the passenger to miss a connecting flight on which the passenger holds a reservation, Saudia shall either:

Carry the passenger on another of its scheduled passenger services on which space is available, or

Reroute the passenger to the destination indicated on the ticket or applicable portion thereof by its own scheduled services or the scheduled services of another carrier, or by means of surface transportation. If the sum of the fare, excess baggage charge and any applicable service charge for the revised routing is higher than the refund value of the ticket or applicable portion thereof, Saudia shall require no additional fare or charge from the passenger, and shall refund the difference if the fare and charges for the revised routing are lower, or

Make a refund in accordance with the provisions of Article-11; and shall be under no further liability to the passenger.

Saudia provides denied boarding compensation in accordance with Saudia's Regulations.

Except in the case of its acts or omissions done with intent to cause damage or recklessly and with knowledge that damage would probably result, Saudia shall not be liable for errors or omissions in timetables or other published schedules, or for representations made by employees, agents, or representatives of Saudia as to the dates or times of departure or arrival or as to the operation of any flight.
 
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Dec 11, 2016
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Am I understanding correctly that Saudi cancelled your return flight unprompted and with the intention of transporting you there with no way home in violation of many rules, which surely would subject the airline to fines well beyond what you are asking.... If you showed up at the airport without a return flight, I imagine you would be denied boarding. This is unacceptable. The airline's reinstatement of the cancelled flight makes this so much worse.
I hope you receive everything you are asking and more. I would be outraged.

I wonder what fine an airline receives for improperly carrying a pax internationally with no return ticket? Surely whatever federal law governs that matter preempts the airline's limited obligation in the contract of carriage. Also, it is lousy customer service when he should've been placed back on the original flight as planned.
@AAGK, at the time of the outbound flight, the flight back -has- already been cancelled and I was moved to an evening flight, which would caused a misconnect. I was then offered a flight on the next day, which would cause a 22+ hours layover, which is over the TWOV limit in Jeddah. So I guess you're correct in saying they "transport us there with no way home," because from the start of the trip I don't really have a -working- flight back.

After communicating with Orbitz (and Orbitz with Saudia, I presume), I was offered another flight that's some 5-6 days -after- my original flight, which I would be unable to take because I couldn't extend the trip for 5-6 days, my boss would fire me. And besides, they only offered me the flight; no hotel, no meal, nothing.

@Neil, I have already asked Orbitz about asking Saudia to put me on another airline. Garuda Indonesia, their partner airline, have lots of flight from Jeddah or Riyadh directly to Indonesia daily. But Saudia refused saying Saudia tickets must be flown on Saudia. I know this was bollocks, but I have no way of contacting Saudia directly.

However, in the passage you quoted, there's this part: " or Make a refund in accordance with the provisions of Article-11; and shall be under no further liability to the passenger." And they have made a refund. Yes, they were taking the easiest way out, but would me quoting the passage be a strong enough argument? I mean, they can argue back "we have refunded you the money, so we're under no further liability to you," no? What do you think?
 
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