Are we due any compensation?

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Old May 19, 19, 1:36 pm
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Angry Are we due any compensation?

Booked package for Queen Mary 2 transatlantic Southampton to New York leaving Friday May 17 with Prestige Travel. Package included Cunard fare, air transportation to LHR, ground transportation to Southampton, ground transportation from dockage in NY to LGA, flight from LGA to MSP. Flew United to ORD ThursdayMay 17, boarded United 931 ORD to LHR which left about 6:30 pm Thursday May 17. Oxygen mask panel fell down a couple of hours into flight. Announced we would land in Newark, but determined plane too heavy and had to burn off fuel. Circled over Michigan for more than 2 hours, then returned to ORD around 12:30 am.. At this point, determined no way could we make it to LHR in time to transit to Southampton and board QM2 before it sailed. Flight did eventually arrive LHR around 2:45 pm so couldn't have cleared customs and driven 2 hours or more to Southampton before 4:30 pm sailing.
We deplaned at ORD, overnighted there (United coupon) and flew back to MSP Friday May 17. We will be trying to deal with travel insurance to recover all/some of our costs, which include package payment for QM2 fare, flights to LHR and back from LGA, ground transportation. We also paid an additional amount directly to United to upgrade to Economy Plus for the leg to LHR.
Any thoughts as to United's liability here? Thanks!
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Old May 19, 19, 1:46 pm
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Wow - well, shame on Prestige Travel for booking you to leave May 16 from MSP to a sailing in England on May 17 at 4:30pm. All sorts of things could have happened, let alone the oxygen mask issue.

So, your question - is United liable? No, they aren't. If anything, Prestige Travel is. I'd expect the E+ to refunded and a small goodwill travel cert - but you should take this up with Prestige Travel - that is where I'd start.
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Old May 19, 19, 1:54 pm
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UA's "liability" is only with respect to the airfare. UA does not cover consequential damages, that is what the trip insurance is for. And it appears you were not the direct ticket purchaser.

As your travel was a "trip in vain", any fees or airfare you paid to UA should be 100% refunded -- make sure to refer to "trip in vain". UA will also reschedule the flights at no additional fee in the future instead.

UA may additionally provide an apology certificate of $100 or a bit more for the "inconvenience" depending on the cabin of the air travel and airline status.

Working with your TA is key for rescheduling and getting the bulk of the refunds.

Suspect all this is less than you hoped but that is the system we have in the USA (and all USA based airlines). Things in the EU are quite different.
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Old May 19, 19, 2:36 pm
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You should also get a refund of your economy plus purchase.

I agree this was very poor scheduling by your travel agent. An overnight at the port of departure is typically recommended due to the uncertainties of air travel and dire consequences if your flight is delayed.

Sorry this happened to you.
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Old May 19, 19, 2:38 pm
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Yikes! Talk about a series of unfortunate events. I agree with everyone else here that your tour agency it is your Tour Agency that is responsible to get this whole thing sorted, possibly working with travel insurance if you purchased that coverage. While UA dropped the ball here in not getting you to your destination on-time, at the end of the day, unless they are the ones selling the packaged vacation, their responsibility is solely to get you from point A to point B. Since the flight was leaving from the US and they are not a EU airline, they don't owe you any compensation, other than getting you to your destination and/or a refund per UA's CoC.

That being said, it would appear that you booked your tour through a UK travel agency called Prestige Holidays. Is that correct? If so, then UK consumer protection laws apply here. Long story short, call them up and see if you can get a reasonable resolution to this issue. If not, and if travel insurance is unwilling to help, your next course of action would be reaching out to the UK's Civil Aviation Authority whose responsibility in addition to flights is also packaged holidays such as yours. Prestige's website claims to be certified by ABTA and have ATOL protection which means they must adhere to a certain standard when these things occur. As a last resort, you could also dispute the charge on your credit card considering you didn't receive the service (something you'll want to keep in your back pocket).

If I were you I would have stuck to the travel plans and see what happens when you get to the UK. Professional tour companies have contingencies for precisely when these types of things happen and at the end of the day they are on the hook for travel inconveniences since they sold you this package and are accredited accordingly. I'm unsure if they would have put you on a ship leaving slightly later or from a different port of departure but it may still have worked out. That being said, I've been in similar situations where all I wanted to do was go home.

I would also advise you to take a look at this document published by the UK government on this very topic. In particular they note that when travellers are stranded during the holiday the agency must:

Suitable alternative arrangements

(b) Where, for whatever reason, a significant proportion of the package is not provided, the tour operator must make suitable alternative arrangements, at no extra cost to the consumer, for the continuation of the package8. For example, if unforeseen riots make it impossible for consumers to stay in a particular hotel, the operator should organise a suitable alternative hotel in a safe location. If it is impossible to make suitable alternative arrangements (for example because there are no suitable hotels in the region), or the consumer does not accept them for good reasons (for example because the consumer was caught up in the riots and simply wants to return home), then the operator should normally provide the consumer with transport home or to another agreed place9.

(c) If return flights home are not available within a reasonable timeframe after the contracted for time, the tour operator should make suitable alternative arrangements to get the consumer home. Depending on the circumstances, this might mean a later flight or some different means of transport. If there is a delay before this alternative transport can be provided, the consumer may need accommodation in the intervening period. The obligation on the tour operator is to make “suitable alternative arrangements for the continuation of the package”. Where the package included accommodation, these alternative arrangements should normally include accommodation of a reasonable standard for the intervening period before the alternative transport is provided, at no extra cost to the consumer. Where the package does not include accommodation, the obligation to provide accommodation for the intervening period is less clear, but the better analysis appears to be that a suitable alternative to sending the consumer home would still require the provision of the reasonable accommodation and food a consumer would inevitably need before return transport could be arranged. However, it will ultimately be for the courts to determine this issue. Furthermore, where travellers on a package have a right to care, including hotel accommodation, against airlines under the
Hope this provides some insight.

Safe Travels,

James
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Old May 19, 19, 3:12 pm
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As everyone said above - UA liability is limited to the E+ seats you paid for - nothing else
Will they give you a goodwill gesture - maybe

As far as travel - this happened to my parents this winter, your FIRST call should have been to the travel agency, they are the one responsible to get you from point a to point b and on the ship. They can buy you different tickets, re route you, all kinds of stuff. UA is limited by what it can and will do, your TA is NOT.

My parents sail on Regent and their contract is clear that in case of any issues call this number and if they don't any expenses incurred are their own, so if they decided to stay home, they would lose everything they paid as the travel agent didn't tell them to stay home.
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Old May 19, 19, 3:50 pm
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Originally Posted by j2simpso View Post

If I were you I would have stuck to the travel plans and see what happens when you get to the UK. Professional tour companies have contingencies for precisely when these types of things happen and at the end of the day they are on the hook for travel inconveniences since they sold you this package and are accredited accordingly. I'm unsure if they would have put you on a ship leaving slightly later or from a different port of departure but it may still have worked out.
I don't think I would've done that - I've got to think the trip was the specific experience on Queen Mary 2.

What I think is reasonable - Prestige Travel should find you an alternative date with the same package with no out of pocket cost to you - and some sort of cabin upgrade/credit on top of that as a goodwill gesture - and don't fly the day before the cruise. I think a UA travel credit may be a challenge since you didn't book with them directly and I suspect the airfare was a small part of the package cost, but again, that is on Prestige to battle behind the scenes.
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Old May 19, 19, 4:54 pm
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Did Prestige Travel recommend that you do at least 1 overnight in the UK before your purchased the whole itinerary through them?
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Old May 19, 19, 5:14 pm
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This is why the Washington Post travel section reporters, during the weekly chat, ALWAYS recommend arriving in the port city the day before the ship is to sail! This is true even for afternoon sailings. Judging from your itinerary, you were originally to arrive in LHR in the morning of the same day as the departure from Southampton. Was there any reason why you could not fly to LHR a day earlier, and overnight either near the airport or in Southampton? Sure, it would cost an extra day's hotel stay, but you don't have to worry about missing the boat.
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Old May 19, 19, 5:40 pm
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Originally Posted by AndyPatterson View Post
This is why the Washington Post travel section reporters, during the weekly chat, ALWAYS recommend arriving in the port city the day before the ship is to sail! This is true even for afternoon sailings. Judging from your itinerary, you were originally to arrive in LHR in the morning of the same day as the departure from Southampton. Was there any reason why you could not fly to LHR a day earlier, and overnight either near the airport or in Southampton? Sure, it would cost an extra day's hotel stay, but you don't have to worry about missing the boat.
This is common sense and FT wisdom for pretty much any event that you absolutely cannot afford to miss (weddings, funerals, cruises, other important functions). Leave a day earlier so in case something goes wrong, you have backup options.

I'm not a big cruise guy, but the only time I booked a cruise, I booked my flights through the cruise line as well. I believe you were pretty much protected, so that if you were significantly delayed, I believed they would (helicopter?) transport you to the ship at it's next port of call. OP, is that something they could not have done? I would have expected them to get me on the ship with such a short time to make that connection.
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Old May 19, 19, 5:51 pm
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Originally Posted by BThumme View Post
I believed they would (helicopter?) transport you to the ship at it's next port of call. OP, is that something they could not have done? I would have expected them to get me on the ship with such a short time to make that connection.
This sailing is direct to NYC
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Old May 19, 19, 7:13 pm
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Originally Posted by AndyPatterson View Post
This is why the Washington Post travel section reporters, during the weekly chat, ALWAYS recommend arriving in the port city the day before the ship is to sail! This is true even for afternoon sailings. Judging from your itinerary, you were originally to arrive in LHR in the morning of the same day as the departure from Southampton. Was there any reason why you could not fly to LHR a day earlier, and overnight either near the airport or in Southampton? Sure, it would cost an extra day's hotel stay, but you don't have to worry about missing the boat.
IMHO ANYONE who expects to connect with a different agency on the same day is an extreme optimist. I personally plan for 24+ hours to connect and have had a couple of exciting moments.
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Old May 19, 19, 7:42 pm
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Originally Posted by plummie d View Post
Booked package for Queen Mary 2 transatlantic Southampton to New York leaving Friday May 17 with Prestige Travel. Package included Cunard fare, air transportation to LHR, ground transportation to Southampton, ground transportation from dockage in NY to LGA, flight from LGA to MSP. Flew United to ORD ThursdayMay 17, boarded United 931 ORD to LHR which left about 6:30 pm Thursday May 17. Oxygen mask panel fell down a couple of hours into flight. Announced we would land in Newark, but determined plane too heavy and had to burn off fuel. Circled over Michigan for more than 2 hours, then returned to ORD around 12:30 am.. At this point, determined no way could we make it to LHR in time to transit to Southampton and board QM2 before it sailed. Flight did eventually arrive LHR around 2:45 pm so couldn't have cleared customs and driven 2 hours or more to Southampton before 4:30 pm sailing.
We deplaned at ORD, overnighted there (United coupon) and flew back to MSP Friday May 17. We will be trying to deal with travel insurance to recover all/some of our costs, which include package payment for QM2 fare, flights to LHR and back from LGA, ground transportation. We also paid an additional amount directly to United to upgrade to Economy Plus for the leg to LHR.
Any thoughts as to United's liability here? Thanks!
I wonder how you connected with this travel agency for the package. To me, it seems strange that they routed you through ORD on UA when there's a daily nonstop MSP-LHR flight operated by DL. Moreover, a competent travel agent would never suggest arriving at LHR the same day that your ship departs from Southampton. Was this an internet purchase or is it a real live travel agent with human beings working in a local office? Did the travel agent seem at all professional or even knowledgeable about other aspects of travel?
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Old May 19, 19, 9:39 pm
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I am sorry to hear about this unfortunate turn of events - I never book a client on a cruise without at least two FULL days at the point of departure prior to boarding the cruise for this very reason when the client chooses to book the air separately from the cruise line. When possible, I have the cruise line book the air and the line's own travel insurance policy which will fly the client to the next port to meet the ship. In the case of a missed trans-Atlantic crossing without a close-by next port, the insurance will fly the client home and refund the cost of the cruise plus expenses.

Did the travel agent discuss these options with you? Did you take their advice? If so, this is all on them, not United. If the agent tried to push you to book the air through Cunard with the insurance package and you refused, then this is unfortunately on you.
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Old May 19, 19, 10:24 pm
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Originally Posted by j2simpso View Post

That being said, it would appear that you booked your tour through a UK travel agency called Prestige Holidays. Is that correct? If so, then UK consumer protection laws apply here. Long story short, call them up and see if you can get a reasonable resolution to this issue. If not, and if travel insurance is unwilling to help, your next course of action would be reaching out to the UK's Civil Aviation Authority whose responsibility in addition to flights is also packaged holidays such as yours. Prestige's website claims to be certified by ABTA and have ATOL protection which means they must adhere to a certain standard when these things occur. As a last resort, you could also dispute the charge on your credit card considering you didn't receive the service (something you'll want to keep in your back pocket).

If I were you I would have stuck to the travel plans and see what happens when you get to the UK. Professional tour companies have contingencies for precisely when these types of things happen and at the end of the day they are on the hook for travel inconveniences since they sold you this package and are accredited accordingly. I'm unsure if they would have put you on a ship leaving slightly later or from a different port of departure but it may still have worked out. That being said, I've been in similar situations where all I wanted to do was go home.

I would also advise you to take a look at this document published by the UK government on this very topic.”
The OP mentioned Prestige Travel — and there are several agencies in the US with that same name — in Raleigh NC, Hazlet NJ, Rosewell, GA —

am a bit uncertain how the leap was made to Prestige Holidays in the UK and the talk of the UK consumer protection laws.

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Last edited by WineCountryUA; May 19, 19 at 11:00 pm Reason: repaired quote
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