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Aeroflot - missed connection on a through ticket, forced to pay re-booking fee

Aeroflot - missed connection on a through ticket, forced to pay re-booking fee

Old Jun 1, 19, 3:08 pm
  #1  
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Angry Aeroflot - missed connection on a through ticket, forced to pay re-booking fee

Hello All,

So, we had the recent unfortunate experience of flying Aeroflot with my young family, Flying London-Moscow-Ufa to go visit family for a few weeks. Booked a through-ticket for entire journey (single reservation code), direct with Aeroflot on their website, and a transfer window of 1.5 hours.

Flight from London was fine, land in Moscow Sheremetyevo airport, which looked out the window to be undergoing serious construction works, taxi around for 10 minutes, and then a slow 20minute bus ride back to the terminal. Race through passport control (Well, tried to), security, security again, sprint to the gate… and get denied boarding, as we're too late. (annoying, as the plane is right there, still connected to the bridge.) Aeroflot rep there sends us back out of departures to the Aeroflot ticket office to rebook us onto the next available flight.

At the ticket office, we're told we need to pay a re-booking fee of 35,000 Ruble ( £470 ), as we're responsible for missing our flight?!?! (Oh, and we can only do this for you in the next 30 minutes. And by the way, if you don't do it, you lose the return leg of your flight. Really does feel like a calculated extortion with the follow-on hard sell tactics.) We're tired, we have a crying infant & a screaming toddler, we try to argue against this, but in the end we just pay.

It also becomes evident from the steady stream of angry passengers to the ticket office that this is not an isolated event, but a money-making racket. (Consider it a warning if you're considering flying with them).

Now, I was under the impression that booking a through-ticket with an airline protects against problems like this, and the Airline should just re-book you onto the next earliest possible flight?

Have contacted Aeroflot Customer services, and just received what looks like a standard cut & paste Fob-off - saying they weren't responsible for the missed connection, and the 1st plane wasn't late, and we should have booked a longer connection time. (Technically, the 1st plane was 1 minute late according to the stats, which might have just made a difference for us, but I doubt it means I can argue it using regulation EC261/2004. Would be a satisfying middle-finger to them to somehow get refunded the initial amount, plus compensation for delay though.)

Now, the entire reason we went for booking through-tickets with the airline is to ensure that theres some sort of cover for missed connections. (Queues at passport control, security, etc.) But I can't seem to find any regulation or anything really enforcing that unless its a direct result of delay of the first plane? Have I actually got a case here against Aeroflot? Any suggestions of legislation I can actually use to back up my position against them?(If it goes to small claims, its going to look really weak without any rules / legislation backing me…)
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Old Jun 1, 19, 8:19 pm
  #2  
 
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I think International - Russia MCT is 1 hour 25 minutes. If the connection is less than the MCT, I think there's a realistic probability to argue. If the first plane arrives 5 minutes late at the gate, I guess this would be a case where MCT is breached.
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Old Jun 2, 19, 8:25 am
  #3  
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The Aeroflot website suggests the minimum conn time is 1 hr 5 minutes between terminals (B & D) - but that doesn't include the bus trip to the terminal, where it just suggests to factor in more time. Gates close 20 minutes before boarding, so that leaves 4 minutes of time for us from our 1.5 hour connection.
(I think sheremetyevo might have a different MCT to what Aeroflot states - but I couldn't find it online. Just while we were waiting around for 6 hours for the next flight, I went and talked to the Sheremetyevo information, and lady there said we realistically needed 2 hours for that connection...But couldn't/would print anything off for us saying something to that effect)

Will try pursue the MCT slant if nothing else comes up - but I was/am under the impression that if you have a through ticket with the airline, then they have a duty of care to you (in case of passport control delays, etc. etc.), and should rebook you on the next flight free of charge - but can't seem to find it anywhere. (Previous experience of missed connections, never had a charge re-booking...)
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Old Jun 2, 19, 10:26 am
  #4  
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If SU booked the connection as one ticket, then the misconnect is SU's responsibility. However, that is not clear from the OP. "Reservations code", PNR and the like are irrelevant. What matters is the e-ticket number. If this is one single ticket LHR-Ufa, then it is SU's responsibility. If there were multiple tickets booked into one PNR, then it is your problem.

There are several approaches:

1. Depending on the delay at Ufa, you may be entitled to EC 261/2004 compensation as that is measured at UFA, not a conection point. The fact that the aircraft may have touched down 1 minute late is irrelevant.

2. You may have customer rights through the credit card used, all depending on the country of its issue.

3. Your travel insurance may cover this.

4. If you have a UK address, you could start an MCOL action against SU.
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Old Jun 2, 19, 2:51 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
If SU booked the connection as one ticket, then the misconnect is SU's responsibility. However, that is not clear from the OP. "Reservations code", PNR and the like are irrelevant. What matters is the e-ticket number. If this is one single ticket LHR-Ufa, then it is SU's responsibility. If there were multiple tickets booked into one PNR, then it is your problem.

There are several approaches:

1. Depending on the delay at Ufa, you may be entitled to EC 261/2004 compensation as that is measured at UFA, not a conection point. The fact that the aircraft may have touched down 1 minute late is irrelevant.

2. You may have customer rights through the credit card used, all depending on the country of its issue.

3. Your travel insurance may cover this.

4. If you have a UK address, you could start an MCOL action against SU.
Hi Often1,

I'm not entirely sure I'm following what you are saying? So, the ticket we booked has a single Booking code (PNR, right?), and has a single E-ticket number.
(Booked searching London:Ufa on the Aeroflot website) - To me, this means its a 'through-ticket'? (I'm might be misunderstanding this, but if so, I'm not sure how I might be getting it wrong?)

- I have flagged it with the Credit card (Amex, issued in UK) - and they are saying send more info. (I have sent, but now waiting for further reply).
- I live in the UK, so am considering MCOL, but I'm currently going through the first steps with aeroflot customer services to show I tried to resolve directly with the airline. Needless to say they are admitting any error on their side....

The biggest problem is that anything I write trying to defend my position (to credit card co, MCOL, and even aeroflot customer services) is it's just me saying that they failed me on 'Duty of care'. To which they are saying they had no duty of care, as we were late (to a near impossible connection). I can't find anything saying that 'actually, with a through ticket, there is an obligation and duty of care, as per regulation .................'
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Old Jun 2, 19, 4:09 pm
  #6  
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I thought that "through ticket" probably meant a single e-ticket number, but since it is the most significant issue, thought it important to confirm.

You have this in the right order:
1. Approach SU. It has said "no" and you have that in writing.
2. Approach credit card. Provide them your email to SU, the SU response and a very short & concise explanation of the fact that you were connecting on a single e-ticket and were still charged when SU caused a misconnect. Bear in mind that front like staff who handle these issues do not necessarily understand all of this, thus simple & short is critical.
3. If for some reason, the bank does not end it, then move to MCOL.
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Old Jun 27, 19, 5:47 am
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Since autumn 2018 there is a steady stream of complains about Aeroflot denying free rebookings on next flights after missed connections due to Sheremetyevo issues. Arised almost simultaniosly with multiple other tightenings like carry-on control posts, etc. Seems like Aeroflot has decided to discipline their passengers in Ryanair way whenever possible.

So,
1. Never ever take short connections on Aeroflot. SVO is a logistical nightmare currently and probably for 1-2 years to come. On one occasion this winter, flying in J in Superjet, I was only able to get to arrivals terminal in SVO 42 minutes after touchdown (!). Those in economy got to the terminal in 50 minutes, and the aircraft wasn't even far away from the terminal, the bus ride itself took less then 5 minutes.
2. 2 hours is probably minimum reasonable connecting time in SVO right now (unless it's international - domestic connection, in which case don't take anything less than 2,5 hours).
3. Do document with photo and video your every step in SVO in case you fear you can miss a connection. This can help in probable debates with Aeroflot. Take pictures of electronic boards, bus rides, queues and so on.
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Last edited by Eurocity; Jun 27, 19 at 5:09 pm
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Old Jun 27, 19, 11:57 am
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Originally Posted by Eurocity View Post
Aeroflot has decided to discipline their passengers in Ryanair way whenever possible.
I read this as "avoid at all costs". I have an open jaw flight with them, but reading through some of the anecdotes of SU putting their customers through the hell, making them pay for issues in Aeroflot's hub, I am contemplating getting a refund and booking a longer flight with a carrier which is a tad more friendly to their customers.
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luitje is offline  
Old Jun 29, 19, 11:25 am
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Aeroflot customer services are pretty useless.

If you're not getting anything useful from them, I suggest sending a notice before action letter to Aeroflot's UK registered address.

If this doesn't solicit an acceptable response, start MCOL action.

Also, for EU261 compensation, your arrival time to Moscow is irrelevant. What counts is your scheduled arrival time in Ufa and your actual arrival time in Ufa.
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Old Jun 30, 19, 7:02 am
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I like Aeroflot and I fly with it regularly as it often provides the right balance of price, quality and schedule. I have flown Aeroflot both in business class and premium economy. I consider it in competition with LOT, Finnair and Turkish -- companies whose hubs are located not far from central Europe and that connect Europe and Asia.

Despite my liking, I have to confirm that Aeroflot does not provide much help in case of disruption. Partly this is due to the airline's management choices and partly to the fact that Sheremetevo is not yet optimised for transfers. Moreover, SVO Air Traffic Control seems overwhelmed -- a situation that is getting akin to that of Istanbul. This brings to delays even if the flight times are typically increased by some 30 minutes to make up for expected congestion.

An example from this week.

The incoming flight takes off on time, goes on hold even before approaching SVO, then again over Moscow due to bad weather. Lands about one hour behind schedule. Should go to terminal D but is redirected to terminal E. There, another 20+ minutes of wait on the tarmac to arrange disembarking from backdoor as there is an issue with being at terminal E. This means exposure to heavy rain and a long bus transfer back to terminal D. Meanwhile, no information is provided on connecting flights. At this point, my connecting flight should take off in 30 minutes (original connecting time was around 2 hours).

At terminal D, a couple of Aeroflot staff provide information on the gate of connecting flights by writing them on the boarding pass. One can only assume that this means the flight is delayed and connection still possible. After them, the (in)famous transit passport control (one booth open out of five), boarding pass control (single position) and X-ray machine security control (2 machines, both working). This is a dreaded bottleneck and reason for much frustration of Aeroflot passenger. (I wonder if passengers of any other airline connect at SVO,) There is no priority lane for business class passengers and/or for short connections. Begging other passengers to let pass is the only option. Being familiar with this scenario, other passengers usually oblige -- solidarity is stronger at times of despair.

Despite chaos, I made it through passport control and security in a few minutes. At that point, my connecting flight was supposed to take off. A look at the monitor said that it was on-time -- but so were all other flights, which could not be given the weather disruption.

Hence, I went as quickly as possible to gate, normally a 20 minutes walk, with hand luggage and a trolley. I ran when I could and had also to climb a broken escalator between terminals D and E. This obviously is not something that can be done with children, elderly people, etc.

I got to gate as passengers line up for boarding. The monitor indicates "go tocgate" for this flight, and "boarding soon" for the next two flights, which are eight hours later, i.e. the next morning. The boarding take place randomly, with no priority calls and no enforcement of priority in the priority lane. This brings more disruption and time wasted. The flight eventually takes off one hour after schedule, but lands only 30 minutes late given the "padded" schedule. Finally, the plane goes to a gate where the jetbridge is unavailable so that passengers have to get off the stairs and then back other stairs to reach the airport at the intended point.

I have given feedback on the above to the purser of the second flight, who was much more interested in passing on the blame than in accepting Aeroflot's role in poor planning and managing disruptions.

This will not prevent me from flying Aeroflot again, but I do understand that other passengers do not want to be exposed to the possibility of going through this experience.

I find it unfair to charge rebooking fee when the transfer at SVO is so poorly managed. This undermines the whole Aeroflot strategy to make SVO a connecting hub. While Aeroflot may not care about exposing connecting passengers to hardship (there could be always new uninformed ones) and about clients feedback more generally, it is doubtful that an airline with this standard could be labelled "four stars".
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Old Jul 18, 19, 4:11 pm
  #11  
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So, Some little additions for anyone in the future who might be going through the same thing as me (2 months on into our fight with Aeroflot after they made us pay for rebooking flights)

- Aeroflot will try to fob you off with a incorrect Minimum connect time. (MCT) - which is from terminal to terminal. This is factually wrong - they should use the MCT between flights. You can find it here on the sheremetyevo website under "connections". Put in your flight details, and if possible - take a screenshot of it on the day, as sheremetyevo only shows 'today / tomorrow'
- (By the way: Aeroflot does sell tickets with connections that are less than the MCT. Our ticket had 1hr30 connection time. MCT was 1hr35. And Aeroflot strictly closes their gates 20 minutes early, which means we needed 1hr55)

- Flights regularly push off from the gate at Sheremetyevo early. Our intended flight pushed off 15 minutes before scheduled departure - and Aeroflot still had the greed to say it was 'our fault' for missing the flight and making us pay to rebook flights. If you miss your flight at Sheremetyevo - go to the flightaware website, and look up your departing flight - its one of the few websites that actually allow you to check if a flight has left early. You should have a much stronger case for missed connections if it has... (I was looking at some of the sheremetyevo departure flights on the flightaware website - about 20% of them were leaving the gate over 10 minutes early... I guess more rebooking fees for Aeroflot, so its worth their greedy while...)


-Finally, I guess the most important learning point (for us at least) is not to fly aeroflot. (prevention is better than cure!)
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Old Jul 19, 19, 2:04 am
  #12  
 
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Originally Posted by Giraffe20 View Post
So, Some little additions for anyone in the future who might be going through the same thing as me (2 months on into our fight with Aeroflot after they made us pay for rebooking flights)
good initiative

Originally Posted by Giraffe20 View Post
Our ticket had 1hr30 connection time. MCT was 1hr35. And Aeroflot strictly closes their gates 20 minutes early, which means we needed 1hr55
1H30 mins is definitely too low ,

At least two hours are needed (international to domestic), without delays or weather issues

Originally Posted by Giraffe20 View Post
Finally, I guess the most important learning point (for us at least) is not to fly aeroflot. (prevention is better than cure!)
If possible , i would say you should have your final connection in another airport than SVO and if possible not in russia

the problem is that aeroflot is more or less a kind of monopoly in russia on some domestic routes , if you fly from another country and want to buy everything under the same booking (or without changing airports in moscow) and they are not ashamed of charging huge prices when you compare with flights to other international cities close to russian borders

Last edited by fifty_two; Jul 19, 19 at 2:34 am
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Old Jul 19, 19, 2:36 am
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Our intended flight pushed off 15 minutes before scheduled departure - and Aeroflot still had the greed to say it was 'our fault' for missing the flight and making us pay to rebook flights
We're tired, we have a crying infant & a screaming toddler, we try to argue against this, but in the end we just pay.
Why did you freely pay for the rebooking?
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Old Jul 19, 19, 4:05 am
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Originally Posted by warakorn View Post
Why did you freely pay for the rebooking?
if you miss a leg of your flight , then the following legs are automatically cancelled , then sometimes its worth paying
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Old Jul 19, 19, 6:15 am
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if you miss a leg of your flight , then the following legs are automatically cancelled , then sometimes its worth paying
but OP didn't a miss leg (or no-showed)! The connection-time was insufficient. This is Aeroflot and Russia.
What do you think will happen if you refuse to pay the rebooking fee? As most travellers need a visa to enter Russia, this problem becomes the problem of the Russian border guards (border service FSB). And I do not think they will like this kind of game Aeroflot playing with their passengers.
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