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Will AB Ever Reimburse Me for Cancelled Flight?

Will AB Ever Reimburse Me for Cancelled Flight?

Old Oct 28, 17, 12:41 pm
  #1  
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Will AB Ever Reimburse Me for Cancelled Flight?

Question for the forum here, I think Iím totally screwed...

I booked 2 tix on AB in May of this year (prior to bankruptcy being declared) round trip to Italy from LA (9/20 to 10/1). On the morning of our return flight (Venice to Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf to LA), at the airport, the AB person at the counter told us our Dusseldorf to LA flight no longer existed. She said it had been removed some time ago, but I was never notified- even when I checked in the day before.

She said our options were:
1) AB flies us to San Francisco, but I would have to pay for the SF to LA flight.
2) I can book my own flight home that day, on any airline, and AB would reimburse me for the full cost of the flight. (I confirmed this with her what felt like 10 times).

I spent just under $5k booking those new flights that day (on American Airlines). A day or two later I submitted all recipients to AB. I have not heard anything since other than to wait a month for a response.

Earlier this week I saw that their website no longer exists and they make mention in their FAQ that if you are owed money by AB after their declaring of bankruptcy, they will not be able to reimburse at this time.

My question here: what do I do? Am I completely screwed? Are there any additional consumer protections I can activate? Help!
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Old Oct 28, 17, 12:46 pm
  #2  
 
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Use your travel insurance.
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Old Oct 28, 17, 1:02 pm
  #3  
 
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Originally Posted by Jason Eskin View Post
Question for the forum here, I think Iím totally screwed...

I booked 2 tix on AB in May of this year (prior to bankruptcy being declared) round trip to Italy from LA (9/20 to 10/1). On the morning of our return flight (Venice to Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf to LA), at the airport, the AB person at the counter told us our Dusseldorf to LA flight no longer existed. She said it had been removed some time ago, but I was never notified- even when I checked in the day before.

She said our options were:
1) AB flies us to San Francisco, but I would have to pay for the SF to LA flight.
2) I can book my own flight home that day, on any airline, and AB would reimburse me for the full cost of the flight. (I confirmed this with her what felt like 10 times).

I spent just under $5k booking those new flights that day (on American Airlines). A day or two later I submitted all recipients to AB. I have not heard anything since other than to wait a month for a response.

Earlier this week I saw that their website no longer exists and they make mention in their FAQ that if you are owed money by AB after their declaring of bankruptcy, they will not be able to reimburse at this time.

My question here: what do I do? Am I completely screwed? Are there any additional consumer protections I can activate? Help!
You were not given accurate information. I'm not aware of any airline that will do such a thing. If you accepted the reroute through San Francisco, you would have been out significantly less as a ticket San Francisco - LA is much cheaper than purchasing last minute one-way ticket from Europe. Moreover, the airline was in bankruptcy, so they can't really make a legally binding promise as they are limited in what they can pay out. The most you are due is a refund but since this ticket was purchased prior to them declaring bankruptcy, you'll have to wait to see if there's any money left over to pay for your refund. You just learned a very expensive lesson. Better luck next time!
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Old Oct 28, 17, 4:15 pm
  #4  
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Unfortunately all signs point to no. Agent was grossly misinformed. As mentioned earlier, definitely would have been cheaper to get to SFO and figure out from there. Any reason why you didnít go with that?

If you purchased original ticket with Citi Prestige, there might be some coverage available.

You should be able to get the return portion of your AB ticket refunded by disputing with your credit card company; assuming it is US card.
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Old Oct 28, 17, 4:58 pm
  #5  
 
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Originally Posted by Bogwoppit View Post
Use your travel insurance.
Both (UK) policies that I'm covered by do not include cover in case of an operator becoming insolvent.
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Old Oct 28, 17, 7:12 pm
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She said our options were:
1) AB flies us to San Francisco, but I would have to pay for the SF to LA flight.
2) I can book my own flight home that day, on any airline, and AB would reimburse me for the full cost of the flight. (I confirmed this with her what felt like 10 times).
Sorry, that was super, super stupid from you to have chosen option 2).
A verbal guarantee by an AB agent, whose intention it is to get rid of your problem, is worth nothing.
Apparently, you didn't even write down her name.

I spent just under $5k booking those new flights that day (on American Airlines).
And then you spent so much money on a one-way fare. Unbelievable!

You should have travelled to SFO and purchased a ticket SFO-LAX (there is lots of competition on this short domestic route, hence, prices are not high, even if bought at the last minute)

She said it had been removed some time ago, but I was never notified- even when I checked in the day before.
Sorry, I don't believe you this line of the story. If the flight didn't exist anymore, you would have not been able to check in for that - esp. for an US-bound flight.
Let me guess - the system allowed you to check in only for VCE-DUS.
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Old Oct 29, 17, 10:36 am
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If I read it correctly, this agent was at Venice airport? Then she probably wasn't an AB employee; I'm thinking Alitalia (green jacket), since they generally did AB's ground handling in Italy, but it could have been a local contractor. It was wrong of her to make that promise, maybe to get you out of the way, but also unfortunate for you to rely on it.
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Old Oct 29, 17, 10:55 am
  #8  
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First, whatever was right and wrong, OP is unlikely to ever recover any appreciable part of the $5K he spent and he is unlikely to recover any of the AB ticket value which remains from AB. The only argument he has as to the $5K is that it is a post-insolvency commitment under EC 261/2004 because AB had an obligation to rebook. But, that claim (along with the EUR 600 for the presumable delay caused by the not noticed cancellation) will be an unsecured claim against AB. There is close to no chance that there will be funds left to pay the claim so OP should not count on anything. In fact, he should count on nothing.

2. While it is unfortunate that AB did not notify OP individually (perhaps he purchased through a TA, OTA, third-party vendor?) the fact is that AB's situation has been well known since mid-August and the fact that it was to cease long-haul operations was all over the media. That is not an excuse for AB, but given the situation, it would have been a good idea for OP to be much more proactive.

3. Again, not to berate OP, but he had a good option here. Same day tickets SFO-LAX start at $79 and are sometimes even less. There are also 50+ frequencies/day on multiple carriers. Before paying $5,000 on the verbal commitment of a staff member, it would seem that spending $79 and then fighting about that later, would have made sense. A better way to look at this would be to ask oneself why on earth AB would offer to reimburse $5K rather than FIM the ticket to another carrier if it had the funds to do so. Similarly, $5K seems to be an astronomical fare. At a minimum, there must have been vastly cheaper return tickets available, even if OP chose to abandon the return segment.

4. I suspect that all that is left for OP is to carefully read his travel insurance contract and, if it covers this situation, make a claim there. Depending on where and how he purchased his ticket, he may also be able to obtain a refund through a chargeback of the unused segment of his AB ticket.
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Old Oct 29, 17, 11:04 am
  #9  
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Last minute TATL walkup coach fares of $2500 per person don't seem extraordinary to me, whether booked as OW or RT.
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Old Oct 29, 17, 11:27 am
  #10  
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Last minute TATL walkup coach fares of $2500 per person don't seem extraordinary to me, whether booked as OW or RT.
It's a bit late in the day for today, but tomorrow is a pretty good proxy for "walkup" in the case of DUS-LAX. There are four carriers offering RT tickets DUS-LAX departing tomorrow for $913 - $1,400, with a few combinations for a bit more. OW DUS-LAX for tomorrow running $915 - $1,500 on 5 carriers. All with a single connection in Europe.

Needless to say tomorrow is not OP's situation on October 1, but I do think that $2,500 is out of range., perhaps suggesting a less than thorough look at what was out there.
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Old Oct 29, 17, 11:00 pm
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I think we're talking VCE-LAX, and for tomorrow I see $2260 per person as the minimum other than on Aeroflot via Moscow. OK, maybe less for a RT throwing away the return, but not something the OP could be expected to have in mind for the on-the-spot decision.
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Old Oct 30, 17, 1:40 am
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The FAQs are pretty clear:

My flight will no longer be operated. Will I get my money back?

For passengers who are affected by a flight cancellation, the following applies: If the booking was made before August 15th 2017, reimbursement is not possible. Passengers affected may file their claim for the insolvency schedule after the opening of the insolvency proceedings. For tickets purchased after August 15th 2017, we will reimburse the purchase price if the flight will no longer be operated. Rebooking to another airline is not permitted
https://www.airberlin.com/en/site/la...nformation.php

As others said, OP could have minimized his losses by accepting a rebooking to SFO. Since AB had earlier already discontinued long-haul service out of Berlin and rebooked passengers via DUS, I can imagine availability on the flight to SFO was limited.
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Old Oct 30, 17, 1:45 am
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Join me and thousands of others in eventually filing as creditor. Maybe we can get a pfennig on the euro.....

My insurance company denied coverage (financial collapse is an exclusion). I have filed with credit card company for services not received- no response after a couple of months. If I owned the credit card company, I would not cover it.
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Old Nov 6, 17, 10:34 am
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Originally Posted by zebranz View Post
Join me and thousands of others in eventually filing as creditor. Maybe we can get a pfennig on the euro.....

My insurance company denied coverage (financial collapse is an exclusion). I have filed with credit card company for services not received- no response after a couple of months. If I owned the credit card company, I would not cover it.
German CC refund the tickets - not because of any insurance but based on the liability of the acquirer (who holds substantial securities). As this has nothing to do with the German system but is Visa/MC immanent, there is no reason to believe that other rules apply of other Visa/MC payments.
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Old Nov 6, 17, 1:33 pm
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Twice in the past had success on obtaining refund from Visa on this basis in Scandinavia, during last 15 years.
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