Our EX-EU Horror story

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Old Dec 14, 15, 10:31 am
  #1  
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Our EX-EU Horror story

Mods - I'm posting this here as I feel it's relevant due to the amount of customers I serve from this forum. Do feel free to move or delete as required

Hello everyone,

To those who don’t know me, My name is Daniel and I run an agency called Propeller Travel that serves a specific niche of very frequent flyers with complex itineraries. I have the honour to have served many of you.

This is my personal EX-EU horror story. Of course, this is different than the passenger perspective but I feel I should share it with you none the less as it is important to me.

One day this November, I find out, just after issuing a ticket for a fellow FT member,that I can quite literally no longer issue BA air tickets. I was inhibited from “plating” on BA,

A few hours later, I received a letter by email accompanied by a letter alleging, among other things that I have been part of “Ticketing Abuse”, “contrary to IATA resolution and IATA ticketing manual” by “ticketing from fictitious points of origin or destination”, done “to gain substantial financial benefit by creating fares that are not within the airlines systems”.

The letter was issued to me by the general manager of the company I was ticketing through who claimed BA insisted on that and that I am exposed to ADM’s, agency debit notices issued by the airline, in the amount of £1000’s for every ticket that has dropped last segments in it.

Irrespective of the merits of the letter or action alleged, at least for me and everyone who works for me, this started what has been 6 weeks of on-going hell, especially considering I serve so many BA customers,

My business has went from going quite well to what is literally stand still. This is of course my personal problem and I have been working around the clock to resolve issues,
aiming to offer customers full service which is slowly coming back together though still without the ability to issue BA tickets ourselves.

I am sharing this with you for two reasons.
The first one is because many in the forum have used my services and might have been wondering why we have been slower to respond and honestly not provided good service over the past 6 weeks while we were in “$%!£ hit the fan” mode. Thankfully we now back to serving air tickets and have even more preferred hotel partners, but without a doubt failed with communicating our inability to serve during the crisis.

The second reason is t if you purchased a ticket from us for an EX-EU, and promised to us on the phone that you are taking the last segment, which was a question I or Sofi asked everyone before selling, please consider the fact that BA has actively threatened to go after myself with charges for the fare difference (which legally, unfortunately, they have the right to as part of the agency agreement)

At the moment, I have lost £68,000 over the past 6 weeks trying to cope with the situation. My exposure is shockingly over £480,000 if everyone who booked ex-eu’s who came from FT does not take the last segment and BA actually issues ADM on each ticket.

I will be contacting everyone who has tried to purchase from us or received slow and poor response in general during the crisis before the holiday personally to apologies. However, I wanted to issue this letter publicly so that you are aware that BA is now actively seeking damages from agents who issue ex-EU tickets - even if so far the airline has held back from going after individuals who booked on ba.com - and that your actions, if you did book through an agent, may have serious consequences for them.

As I mentioned above, Propeller is now trading again under a new agency agreement and I hope that I can continue to help FT members with their complex flight itineraries going forward.

As always the choice of course is yours, but the pleasure is all ours.

Safe travels

Daniel
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Old Dec 14, 15, 10:36 am
  #2  
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What a horrendous situation... I wish you luck as you work your way forward. Thanks for being a member of the community.
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Old Dec 14, 15, 10:37 am
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Thanks for sharing this, Daniel. I have not used your agency before but was considering doing so for my first GUF2 which is coming up.

Just to confirm- there is no issue for you to continue selling ex-EU tickets and FTers to buy them, so long as all segments are flown? If BA pursue you for those who drop the last segment I imagine you will be required to pursue the customers/passengers for the full payment?

I think we have our answer to the question as to how BA are planning to crack down on ex-EU sales: pressure on TAs. I hope that everything works out well for your business.

Last edited by crazy8534; Dec 14, 15 at 10:42 am
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Old Dec 14, 15, 10:42 am
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Very sorry to hear, even though I've never used your agency. I hope you get through this, as I can imagine it must be awful.

It sounds like BA have been watching FT very closely indeed. How many threads have we had on dropping the last leg in the last year?
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Old Dec 14, 15, 10:44 am
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What a very sad situation, and even though I did not get to use your services, I sincerely hope that you manage to fall back on your feet very promptly and resume a healthy and prosperous business.

Very sadly, a third and fourth "take home" insights from your experience are:

1) there have been many debates on whether hidden city ticketing issues are enforceable and while some of us have insisted that people should be cautious and have read or heard a number of bad experiences, many have argued that they had never heard a case of BA punishing offences themselves. Sadly, they will not be able to say that any more;

2) there have been rumours that BA was trying to enforce those rules more strictly and again, this cannot be doubted any more.

It seems quite tragic that from what you describe, BA seem to want to make "an example" of your case. I genuinely hope that they will consider that you are hardly in a position to control the behaviour of your customers. I suspect, however, that this may proceed from BA actually explicitly looking into such "suspicious" constructions as overnight stops and LHR/LGW connections that could be avoided as I suspect that this is the only indication that they could use to try and blame you for customers misbehaving.

Once again, though, beyond those "rational" considerations, the more important human answer is that I really hope that things go back on track for you and that this soon becomes a mere (very) bad memory.
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Old Dec 14, 15, 10:46 am
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Originally Posted by crazy8534 View Post
Just to confirm- there is no issue for you to continue selling ex-EU tickets
Errr... no: he says that BA are now preventing him from plating BA tickets.
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Old Dec 14, 15, 10:49 am
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Thanks Dan. I appreciate the help you've given me in the past through Propeller and I'm glad to say that I've not contributed to your potential liability. Look forward to working with you in the future.

Surely the only sensible answer is for the airline to go after the passenger not the agent? I guess from a legal and therefore practical standpoint it's far easier to pursue the agent under the agency agreement.
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Old Dec 14, 15, 10:52 am
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Dear Daniel,
What an awful experience!
I will try to contact your company for my next ex-eu to see if it can help make up some of the losses.

Good luck!
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Old Dec 14, 15, 10:54 am
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Can't say I'm at all surprised by this.
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Old Dec 14, 15, 10:56 am
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The real question is whether there are other such situations. It's unlikely that other TA's would post here and this OP took some number of weeks to do so. He could be a single example or one of many in a widespread crackdown.

TA's are the easy targets because the ADM system makes cost recovery simple and because the TA relationship to BA is business-to-business.

One has to wonder whether BA caught some individuals and interviewed them and was told that they were told by their TA that they need not fly the last segment.
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Old Dec 14, 15, 10:58 am
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If you book an exEU directly and do not take the last leg any comeback is on you personally - albeit no real reports of BA taking action against individuals.

However, if you do book via a TA you are leaving the TA exposed if you miss the last leg, and it seems BA are willing to take action against TAs. At the very least Propeller Travel has lost money resoving this - although hopefully not going to the full liability of £480k.

Therefore if you intend to miss the last leg do everyone a favour and do not book via a TA. It would be completely unfair to leave a TA in this situation due to your own actions.

One positive point which people should bear in mind is that there does now seem to be an identically priced exCPH/DUB fare to the US which does allow stopovers for EUR 75 each. Therefore if you want to postpone the last leg on the way back you can do so and take it later for EUR 75 + £26 (APD). See my post in this thread http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...tinations.html
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Old Dec 14, 15, 10:59 am
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While it might not be legally straightforward to chase the passenger for additional cash, why doesn't the airline simply refuse to credit TPs and Avios for tickets where not all sectors are flown? It would be far simpler than taking passengers to court and could just be written into the BAEC terms and conditions.

Serial offenders could have their BAEC membership cancelled.

Wouldn't this be more effective than going after the travel agent? After all, lots of people will be booking direct on BA.com anyway.
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Old Dec 14, 15, 10:59 am
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Originally Posted by HIDDY View Post
Can't say I'm at all surprised by this.
Agreed.

I do feel sorry for your business Daniel and the situation you now find yourself in. I really do hope that you can sort this out, and become a prosperous business again. I have seen fantastic reports about your level of customer service.

However, just by asking customers (who know full well what they will be doing) not to drop the last sector is not exactly going to alter their behaviour, which I am sorry to say, and is a result of the individualistic society we find ourselves in.

Best of luck with the future
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Old Dec 14, 15, 11:02 am
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Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
Errr... no: he says that BA are now preventing him from plating BA tickets.
But most deals can also be purchased on AA stock, although obviously not UUA or GUF, but does this also cover that? What about Qatar ex-EUs?
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Old Dec 14, 15, 11:04 am
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Daniel, thank you for the posting and being so candid in terms of what's happening. I am sorry you've found yourself in such a predicament and I can only echo the sentiments of those on here who have already expressed a hope that you find yourself back on your feet in short order.

I think it also - as has been said - provides solid evidence that BA do see the failure of passengers to complete their full itinerary as being an abuse and that they will re-price itineraries based on the sectors actually flown and seek to recover via ADM the shortfall. At the moment I think it's now a question of when rather than if this will be extended from travel agents to individual travellers.
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