Canceled flight, delays force the traveler to face additional costs of nearly $2,000

A New Zealander is warning other international travelers to ‘plan for the worst’ after a canceled flight booked via Singapore Airlines left him uncertain when he could return home to the UK and face additional costs of up to £1900 $.

Alex Trimble-Finlayson said he was “shocked and appalled” by airline customer service after it informed them on February 11 that the first leg of his journey from Auckland to London, a flight operated by Air New Zealand to Singapore, had been cancelled. .

Like many carriers, Singapore Airlines has recently experienced exceptionally high call volumes.

SINGAPORE AIRLINES

Like many carriers, Singapore Airlines has recently experienced exceptionally high call volumes.

Unable to resolve the issue until two days before his scheduled departure on April 13 – about two months after the flight was canceled due to low demand – Trimble-Finlayson feared losing his job if he was unable to to get home on time. He also feared he would miss – and not be compensated – a trip to the Isle of Man over Easter that had been planned for years.

“They refused to compensate me or rebook me, instead insisting that I have to pay an extra £1,000 (NZ$1,900) to fly on April 11, or an extra £600 (NZ$1,140 ) to fly in April. 20 – more than a week late,” he said on Monday, hours before Thing contacted Singapore Airlines and the airline booked him on a flight on April 12 at no additional cost.

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Trimble-Finlayson bought return flights from Auckland to London in February for what “was supposed to be an amazing time” spent with family and friends he hadn’t seen in over three years.

Instead, he spent most of his five weeks in New Zealand wondering when he could return home – and at what cost.

Trimble-Finlayson said he used Singapore Airlines’ online booking form to book the flight the day after it was canceled but had not heard back more than a fortnight later he called the airline company.

“The agent explained that the rebooking request was still being processed and that they would call me back. So I said ‘ok, that’s fine.’

About a month later – and more than a week into his stay in New Zealand – he still hadn’t heard back, so he phoned the airline again, but gave up after waiting. about 50 minutes.

He succeeded a few days later, on April 7, “only to be told that I would face an extra charge of at least £300 in order to rebook on April 11, or I could ask for a refund”.

He was unhappy with the first option as it would have required a 13 hour layover in Singapore, and he did not think it was fair that he had to pay extra following a cancellation beyond his control. . He was also hesitant to ask for a refund for fear of not being able to get another flight that would get him back to work on time.

“I asked to speak to a supervisor or manager just to confirm all of this because I couldn’t quite believe it,” he said. “I was told no supervisor was available, so I asked to be called back, and she promised it would happen within 48 hours. But that didn’t happen.

On April 9 – four days before his scheduled departure – he called back and was told the extra charge for a rebooking had gone up.

“I was left with three options: book for Monday 11 at £1000, book for 20 April at £600 or request a refund, calculated at £600 (out of a total of £1600). It’s like a twisted upside down Dutch auction.

Trimble-Finlayson filed a complaint with the airline and flew to Auckland airport on Monday “to try to speak to a real person”, and catch a flight that would allow him to return to work on time without – or minimal – additional cost. .

In his April 7 call, he said the airline told him they tried to contact him on March 17 – more than a week after he arrived in New Zealand – using his UK phone number .

“I hadn’t set up international roaming so the call didn’t connect,” he said. “This has got to be the most ridiculous part of the whole saga. I complained that it wasn’t a reasonable attempt to contact me as they should have emailed or WhatsApp – both methods were used by the airline for other communications.

“However, the agent said his ticket office was unable to email passengers and could only make phone calls. Phone calls – the least reliable way to contact an international traveler .

A Singapore Airlines spokesperson said the airline could not comment on specific cases for confidentiality reasons.

However, they said the airline would endeavor to rebook passengers who booked through the airline on the next available flight where possible, including on codeshare flights operated by others. Airlines companies.

“While our teams will make every effort to contact customers affected by flight cancellations and schedule changes as soon as possible, our customer contact teams are experiencing delays due to the exceptionally high volume of calls and of visitors.

“Singapore Airlines would like to apologize to all customers who are currently experiencing delays in getting assistance from our agents in our contact centres.”

The airline has worked to strengthen its contact centers in recent months and to speed up the hiring and training process, the spokesperson said.

“Other measures in place to better manage high call volumes include prioritizing customers with impending flights and increasing customer self-service options on our website.

A Singapore Airlines spokesperson said the carrier was working to accommodate passengers on the next available flight whenever possible.

PROVIDED

A Singapore Airlines spokesperson said the carrier was working to accommodate passengers on the next available flight whenever possible.

“We encourage customers to use our various online options first if they have questions. Any urgent inquiries or requests can be submitted through our online support form. Customers can also make changes to their reservations through Manage Reservation.

Singapore Airlines is one of many airlines around the world to have experienced exceptionally high call volumes of late, leaving some customers on hold for hours.

Trimble-Finlayson said he was “shoved” to various counters at Auckland Airport on Monday “before an almost panicked Singapore Airlines official intervened. He explained to me that he was expecting me and that he would take care of it immediately.

“It’s really crazy that I had to pull every save to the wire. I don’t think it’s quite understood yet that this has been sorted out, and I can now relax and make the most of my last hours with my family before leaving… I appreciate that there is a lot of disruption caused by Covid, but it really shouldn’t have gone this far.

Trimble-Finlayson advises other international travelers to prepare for wide-ranging Covid-related disruptions, prepare for the worst-case scenario, and know – and defend – your rights.

Under the Civil Aviation Act (CAA), a passenger is entitled to compensation if a cancellation or delay is the fault of an airline. Passengers may be entitled to compensation of up to 10 times the total cost of the ticket or the actual cost of the delay, whichever is lower.

An airline does not have to compensate customers for disruptions beyond its control.

Consumer New Zealand spokeswoman Raksha Nand said an airline’s “conditions of carriage” usually define what happens when a flight is cancelled.

“Generally, the airline will have to give you a credit, refund or rebook you on the next available flight.

“If the airline offers to book you another flight to get you where you need to go, it’s reasonable to expect them to do so at no additional cost.

If the airline requires an additional change, Nand recommends checking the Conditions of Carriage to determine your rights.

“Also, be aware that in some cases you may be entitled to compensation for any delay. Your rights differ depending on a number of factors, including the reason for the delay, where you are, where you are heading and where the airline is based.

Trimble-Finlayson’s latest advice for those planning trips abroad: “Arrange international roaming or a local SIM card in advance and notify your airline, travel agent and insurer of your new contact details. . If it’s really complicated, contact stuff.co.nz!

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