Journalist Joe Churcher recently missed a return flight and found he had to pay for the privilege of not travelling. In this guest piece Joe argues no other service would get away with this.
You’re having one of those days. Work kept you late, you lost your keys, the bus broke down and now you’ve missed the first half at the theatre. When you get there, they’ve sold your seat to someone else. Oh, and they want you to pay them a large fee for your bum not being in it for the first half.
How about being barred from pudding and charged extra because you pre-paid for a three-course set menu but then weren’t hungry for a starter?
Being turfed off a train and fined because you had got a lift rather than use the outward half of your return ticket? Ridiculous, I know.
But now I find this is considered normal and acceptable by airlines – and not just the ones from which you might expect it.
Airlines one; passengers nil
I bought a return ticket with British Airways. An urgent work matter came up that meant delaying the trip. It was cheaper to book a new flight with a budget carrier than pay the fee to amend it. So far so normal – I’ve sadly come to expect that.
But – and here’s the rub – BA informed me that unless I was on their plane, they would cancel the whole ticket. The only option? Convert the return portion to a single at a cost in fees of around £90, minus some taxes. That’s right: I had to pay for the privilege of NOT sitting in a seat that BA were then free to sell to someone else. Double bonus for them; hole in the wallet for me.
I was lucky to find out in advance. Several friends did so the hard way…
One found himself stranded overseas with no money or means to call his family. When he arrived at the airport he was told he had been removed from his flight home because he’d gone out a different way.
The parent of a student was forced to pay through the nose for a replacement flight in similar circumstances. Friends doing voluntary work took a bus hundreds of miles out of their way across Chile just so the rest of their trip was not annulled after hearing of others left in limbo.
Charges are unfair and unnecessary
Let’s be clear: this arrangement is laid out in the small print. But it would seem farcical applied to any other service I can think of.
Has this ever happened to you? Please share your own similar stories. It’s time that the airlines start to understand just how iniquitous this policy is. Do you, like me, think it should be ended?
This is a guest contribution by journalist Joe Churcher. All opinions are Joe’s own, not necessarily those of Which?