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Award booking with schedule change and no help from SK

Award booking with schedule change and no help from SK

Old Aug 15, 18, 3:27 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Jan 2015
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Award booking with schedule change and no help from SK

I'm in need of assistance for a schedule change on an SAS Eurobonus Award ticket. This is the second time this is happening to me (last happened in April of this year) and SAS is completely unwilling to assist in the situation.

I booked directly when the award window opened (since it's over easter) the following intinerary:

Outbound:
2019-04-18 ARN-BRU SK589 07:10-09:20
2019-04-18 BRU-YUL AC833 10:30-11:55
2019-04-18 YUL-MCO AC1636 17:10-20:35


(Inbound is with Lufthansa which is still OK).

Now, Air Canada has changed the departure time of AC1636 to 07:00 in the morning, making the connection not possible. The last segment on outbound journey is no longer confirmed in the PNR. As said, this also happened this April, also on Air Canada but then they made a minor schedule change making the connection "illegal" which destroyed the booking. I fought with SAS for weeks for an alternative (as hotel was already paid) but they offered nothing but a cancellation and wouldn't pay for any prepaid expenses. SAS blamed Air Canada, and when I tried contacting Air Canada they didn't answer to anything but referring me to SAS that should offer an alternative. This schedule change was roughly 1 month before our travel so we were very worried. Thankfully we waited it out and I looked for hours for other options, and thankfully other availability opened up 10 days before travel, so I was able to change to that and we could finally travel.

Now this time around again SAS offers again nothing but a refund. My question is, aren't they tied by their condition of carriage to rebook me? Or at least offer some alternatives? I've tried to read up on their terms but can't find anything definitive for award bookings. Hence I'm contacting you hoping to get some clarity what they are bound to offer me. Are there any Air Canada terms and conditions I can rely on? It feels very strange to me that I just have to accept that my only option is to cancel.
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Old Aug 15, 18, 5:37 am
  #2  
 
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I think EU261 doesn't differentiate how you paid for the ticket. You paid for it PERIOD. So, the ticketing carrier is responsible to offer a rerouting/refund

Rerouting or refunding is, at the passenger's choice, one of the following three reimbursements:
  1. Repayment of the cost of unused flight tickets, and for used tickets where the flight(s) taken no longer serve(s) any purpose in relation to the passenger's original travel plan, and where applicable, a flight back to the original point of departure at the earliest opportunity
  2. Rerouting under similar conditions to the intended final destination at the earliest opportunity
  3. Rerouting under similar conditions to the intended final destination at the passenger's leisure, subject to the availability of seats
Problem is that "earliest opportunity" and "subject to the availability of seats" can be read as "availability of seats" in the booking class (X, I or O for Star Alliance Awards). Anyhow, as for bookings paid with cash the restriction is only on booked class of service, I would fight them hard...

Have you asked them to be put on their own metal instead?
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Old Aug 16, 18, 12:17 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
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This is the usual mess with schedule changes for award tickets. AC will refuse to do anything because it not their award booking and SK Eurobonus (EB) will only rebook if there is X/I seats available. EB will refuse to rebook you into a revenue seat on AC or a US carrier as it means that EB will have to pay for that seat when there is no award availability left.

AC is the key to get this resolved. EB needs to contact AC to have AC release I/X seat on other of their flights. Or you can also try to approach AC directly and plea that they do the rebooking but as AC can't reissue the ticket you would need to contact EB afterwards to have the ticket reissued with the new AC flight. However, I doubt that the latter will be an option for you as most likely AC will refuse to deal with you and ask you to contact EB who issued the ticket.

Ultimately, you show up at the airport for your original flight at the day of departure and let the check-in agent/ticket office deal with it. Then SK at ARN will either rebook you or ask you to fly to BRU or YUL to let AC deal with it there. Rest assured that you will get to MCO ultimately (albeit with a delay; but then maybe you are able to claim EC reg. 261/04 compensation from AC)

Good luck with this!

Last edited by SK AAR; Aug 16, 18 at 1:23 am
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Old Aug 16, 18, 12:22 am
  #4  
 
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Originally Posted by fassy View Post


Problem is that "earliest opportunity" and "subject to the availability of seats" can be read as "availability of seats" in the booking class (X, I or O for Star Alliance Awards). Anyhow, as for bookings paid with cash the restriction is only on booked class of service, I would fight them hard...
The issue is that EC reg. 261/04 applies to the operating carrier - strictly speaking the obligation to rebook does not rest with the issuing carrier.

There is no doubt that "subject to availability of seats" in the EC 261/04 regulation in this context means that X or I class needs to be available to get rebooked for a later date. Of course the pax can not ask to be rebooked to a later date (say to travel in high season in the summer or around Christmas) if there are no award seats available. However, the other option "at earliest opportunity" does not require award seats being available to get rebooked (at least in principle).

Last edited by SK AAR; Aug 16, 18 at 3:01 am
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Old Aug 16, 18, 3:24 am
  #5  
 
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Originally Posted by SK AAR View Post
The issue is that EC reg. 261/04 applies to the operating carrier - strictly speaking the obligation to rebook does not rest with the issuing carrier.
True, did not think about this.

Originally Posted by SK AAR View Post
There is no doubt that "subject to availability of seats" in the EC 261/04 regulation in this context means that X or I class needs to be available to get rebooked for a later date. Of course the pax can not ask to be rebooked to a later date (say to travel in high season in the summer or around Christmas) if there are no award seats available. However, the other option "at earliest opportunity" does not require award seats being available to get rebooked (at least in principle).
Hmmm, no - there is a lot of interpretation which can be done here on "subject to availability of seats". For me (and some friends which are lawyers) means exactly that, a free seat in the booked cabin class. Not in the same booking class. Otherwise they would not rebook you either if e.g. booking class K is not more available and they can only offer e.g. Y. That has never been a problem for me and I would challenge EuroBonus on that. They sold you the ticket, accepting the form of payment provided and issues the ticket accordingly. Now they have to fix it. One way or the other. But bailing out and only offering refund would not be acceptable for me. Ask them to be put on their own metal to MCO. Should be in their own best interests and even cheaper than having you rebooked via a *A partner.
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Old Aug 16, 18, 3:54 am
  #6  
 
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Originally Posted by fassy View Post

Hmmm, no - there is a lot of interpretation which can be done here on "subject to availability of seats". For me (and some friends which are lawyers) means exactly that, a free seat in the booked cabin class. Not in the same booking class. Otherwise they would not rebook you either if e.g. booking class K is not more available and they can only offer e.g. Y.
Good luck with that! Most carriers will allow you to rebook to a later date only if the same booking class is available. Maybe SK exceptionally allowed you to rebook to a later date in higher booking class, but I doubt this is the general policy of SK. In my view you are not entitled to ask for rebooking in any (economy) booking class (say in expensive Y class) if the original booking class is not longer available. Surely, it such not be entertained to book a super cheap K class fare in low season (say for Sept) and following a schedule change ask to be rebooked to a flight on say 22 or 23 December (where K class is sold out long time ago).

As already stated this does not apply to rebooking "at earliest opportunity" where you are indeed able to ask to be put on a flight regardless that your booking class (or even service class!) is no longer available
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Old Aug 16, 18, 4:05 am
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Originally Posted by SK AAR View Post
Good luck with that! Most carriers will allow you to rebook to a later date only if the same booking class is available. Maybe SK exceptionally allowed you to rebook to a later date in higher booking class, but I doubt this is the general policy of SK. In my view you are not entitled to ask for rebooking in any (economy) booking class (say in expensive Y class) if the original booking class is not longer available. Surely, it such not be entertained to book a super cheap K class fare in low season (say for Sept) and following a schedule change ask to be rebooked to a flight on say 22 or 23 December (where K class is sold out long time ago).
Never had a problem with SK to get booked into a different booking class when there was a schedule change. But I have to admit it was always revenue flights on SK metal, so no real cost for them anyway. But we are not talking about booking a ticket for 21st Sept and ask to be rebooked into high season. It is about being re-booked on the same day or the day later, which true enough probably qualifies for "at earliest opportunity". But for that earliest opportunity offer, they will also say.... earliest is when we get free award space. Which is a scam from my point of view.
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Old Aug 16, 18, 4:59 am
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Originally Posted by fassy View Post
. It is about being re-booked on the same day or the day later, which true enough probably qualifies for "at earliest opportunity"
Indeed, but that is completely different. Of course, SK will rebook you in any class if the same day or the following; they are obliged to do this "at the earliest opportunity". I'm talking about rebooking to a time "at the passenger's leisure" (i.e. at another time convenient for/requested by the pax) - for these kind of rebookings I can assure you that the original booking class needs to be available)

Originally Posted by fassy View Post
But for that earliest opportunity offer, they will also say.... earliest is when we get free award space. Which is a scam from my point of view.
I agree. If SK refuses to rebook award tickets into revenue class when no award seats available - for the same day or the day after (i.e at earliest opportunity rebooking) it is a violation of the passenger rights according to EC reg.261/04. In principle you could buy your own ticket and claim reimbursement from SK (but I would be cautious about doing this as you have to fight for the reimbursement for sure).
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Old Aug 16, 18, 7:57 am
  #9  
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Many thanks for the responses in this thread! I've been in contact with Air Canada and SAS, and I'll summarize the feedback I've gotten from them (through twitter, email and phone):

Air Canada: We understand the problem but won't touch a booking made by SAS. We won't do anything.

SAS: We will only offer a refund nothing else. Maybe check with Air Canada?

As I understand it I have a ticket purchased by SAS and I am NOT (edit) covered by EU261. I'll fight them anyways on this and let you guys know my progress.

SAS doesn't give me any feedback over email, only telephone from Tallinn. I've now explicitly asked them for a written response to this case over the diamond contact box, let's see what they respond.

Last edited by freppa87; Aug 16, 18 at 8:11 am
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Old Aug 16, 18, 8:03 am
  #10  
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Originally Posted by fassy View Post
I think EU261 doesn't differentiate how you paid for the ticket. You paid for it PERIOD. So, the ticketing carrier is responsible to offer a rerouting/refund



Problem is that "earliest opportunity" and "subject to the availability of seats" can be read as "availability of seats" in the booking class (X, I or O for Star Alliance Awards). Anyhow, as for bookings paid with cash the restriction is only on booked class of service, I would fight them hard...

Have you asked them to be put on their own metal instead?

​​​​​​​I haven't asked them for that yet, but they don't fly to MCO, only to MIA at the moment. Are you sure EU261 applies to the entire ticket like this?
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Old Aug 16, 18, 8:21 am
  #11  
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Found this information as well where connections outside EU fall under EU261 regulation:

Non-EU connecting flights eligible for compensation | Buying Business Travel
https://www.bottonline.co.uk/blog/co...-now-claimable

https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/...cp180077en.pdf
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Old Aug 16, 18, 8:22 am
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Originally Posted by freppa87 View Post
​​​​​​​I haven't asked them for that yet, but they don't fly to MCO, only to MIA at the moment. Are you sure EU261 applies to the entire ticket like this?
Nowadays at least for your outbound flight.

Probably the easiest solution is to propose to fly one day earlier to BRU. Due to the pointing to each other I assume you would have to pay for the hotel there yourself even though SK should push AC hard to cover it.

Last edited by Jainzar; Aug 16, 18 at 9:13 am Reason: Wrong flight
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Old Aug 16, 18, 8:56 am
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Originally Posted by Jainzar View Post
Probably the easiest solution is to propose to fly one day earlier to BRU. Due to the pointing to each other I assume you would have to pay for the hotel there yourself even though SK should push AC hard to cover it.
? How is this going to help the OP? The rescheduled flight is YUL-MCO (not the BRU-YUL flight). No doubt that the OP will make it to YUL as originally booked (save for any delays enroute or further schedule changes) but the OP will be on a different flight to MCO than originally booked. It appears that AC1638 YUL-MCO at 8PM would work for the OP.

EC reg. 261/04 certainly applies to this itinerary, even if performed by AC. The ticket is an ex ARN/EU ticket and the fact that it is the non-EU leg affected is immaterial.

On 18 April 2019 there is a AC flight YUL-MCO at 8PM (AC 1638) so most likely the OP will be rebooked to this flight by AC at BRU or YUL. If the outcome is that the OP needs to wait until the following morning til fly YUL-MCO and AC refuses to pay for hotel and meals during the YUL transfer, I would pay myself and demand reimbursement from AC later under the duty of care under EC Reg. 261/04 - but most likely it will not get this far. Most likely this will resolved before the travel date - if the OP doesn't do anything AC is likely to rebook the pax at some stage, eventually on the day of departure. So there is really no need to panic about the last flight being unconfirmed for now.
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Old Aug 16, 18, 10:51 am
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Originally Posted by freppa87 View Post
I haven't asked them for that yet, but they don't fly to MCO, only to MIA at the moment.
True, I mixed up MIA with MCO

Originally Posted by freppa87 View Post
Are you sure EU261 applies to the entire ticket like this?
Yes, absolutely! It is a flight ex-EU.
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Old Aug 17, 18, 12:32 am
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Originally Posted by fassy View Post
True, I mixed up MIA with MCO



Yes, absolutely! It is a flight ex-EU.
Ok. But the EU261 applies to Air Canada, who doesn't want to cooperate? I sent them this further information and finally they said they COULD cooperate, but only if SAS took contact with them directly.

Just so my understanding is correct: Air Canada are obliged by EU-law to make an available connection to this booking, but only SAS have the technical power to change the booking? It feels strange that the law doesn't force the both of them to cooperate on this...
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