Rebooking options from SA

Old Dec 24, 20, 8:48 am
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Rebooking options from SA

Supposed to travel JNB to LHR on the 26th but Virgin canceled the flight last night as a result of the UK banning direct flights from SA to the UK. I managed to speak to Virgin last night but the agent couldn't rebook us with another carrier and said we would need to wait for a repatriation flight but finding it hard to believe that is our only option given there are lots of indirect options to fly to the UK with other carriers. We've been in SA for 3 weeks and are ready to go home so we don't really want to sit around waiting for a repatriation flight especially with the threat of another lockdown looming here.

I've been on hold for over 2 hours today and not sure what to do if Virgin won't help. Does anyone have any advice on what to do in this situation? Would booking with another carrier and trying to claim back from Virgin be an option if they refuse to rebook us? Tickets were booked for £999 Upper Class return in the recent virgin sale so taking a refund and paying last minute one way to fly with someone else seems bad value if we have the option to get rebooked on any other indirect routing.

Last edited by rc4566; Dec 24, 20 at 8:56 am
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Old Dec 24, 20, 9:44 am
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LH has rebooked passengers booked to Germany (which has a travel ban for SA flights in place) on corporate sister airline Austrian to/via VIE (no travel ban in Austria) and flew back an empty plane on 12/22 when the travel ban went into effect. When this became known there was quite a bit of bad press...(link)
Others I know have rerouted via Namibia (start in WDH) .
With VS and partners not flying anwhyere nearby (the only other destination in Africa is Lagos - and getting there is expensive and cumbersome even not taking covid restrictions into account as there's no direct flights) it looks like you're out of luck here if VS won't rebook you onto another carrier.
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Old Dec 24, 20, 3:04 pm
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Originally Posted by rc4566 View Post
Supposed to travel JNB to LHR on the 26th but Virgin canceled the flight last night as a result of the UK banning direct flights from SA to the UK. I managed to speak to Virgin last night but the agent couldn't rebook us with another carrier and said we would need to wait for a repatriation flight but finding it hard to believe that is our only option given there are lots of indirect options to fly to the UK with other carriers. We've been in SA for 3 weeks and are ready to go home so we don't really want to sit around waiting for a repatriation flight especially with the threat of another lockdown looming here.

I've been on hold for over 2 hours today and not sure what to do if Virgin won't help. Does anyone have any advice on what to do in this situation? Would booking with another carrier and trying to claim back from Virgin be an option if they refuse to rebook us? Tickets were booked for £999 Upper Class return in the recent virgin sale so taking a refund and paying last minute one way to fly with someone else seems bad value if we have the option to get rebooked on any other indirect routing.
Virgin seems to think EC261 doesn't apply to them. They are required to pay your expenses until they rebook you, and quite possibly for flights on another airline.

The cases you'll want are

Aurora Sousa RodrŪguez and Others v Air France SA. (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-cont...EX:62010CJ0083)

44 However, when a carrier fails to fulfil its obligations under Article 8 and Article 9 of Regulation No 261/2004, air passengers are justified in claiming a right to compensation on the basis of the factors set out in those articles.
Denise McDonagh v Ryanair Ltd. (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-cont...%3A62011CJ0012)

67. Articles 5(1)(b) and 9 of Regulation No 261/2004 must be interpreted as meaning that, in the event of cancellation of a flight due to Ďextraordinary circumstancesí of a duration such as that in the main proceedings, the obligation to provide care to air passengers laid down in those provisions must be complied with, and the validity of those provisions is not affected.
You might need to go to county court. It's outrageous behaviour on Virgin's part, and I hope the CAA deals with them very, very harshly.
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Old Dec 31, 20, 5:39 am
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Any recent experiences of Virgin rerouting from SA back to the UK whilst direct flights are still suspended?
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Old Dec 31, 20, 6:53 am
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Purchasing your own ticket may be bad value or not. It is worth pricing various alternatives on other carriers and seeing if you can come close. If the pricing is close, purchase that and fly home. You are entitled to a refund of the VS segments because VS cancelled. If there is any price differential, you will have to lay that out and then fight VS for it.

Thus, the goal should be to keep your out-of-pocket spending as low as possible because VS will not pay voluntarily and thus, you may be out of pocket for a long time.
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Old Jan 2, 21, 2:50 am
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Originally Posted by gallagher View Post
Any recent experiences of Virgin rerouting from SA back to the UK whilst direct flights are still suspended?
Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Purchasing your own ticket may be bad value or not. It is worth pricing various alternatives on other carriers and seeing if you can come close. If the pricing is close, purchase that and fly home. You are entitled to a refund of the VS segments because VS cancelled. If there is any price differential, you will have to lay that out and then fight VS for it.

Thus, the goal should be to keep your out-of-pocket spending as low as possible because VS will not pay voluntarily and thus, you may be out of pocket for a long time.
It goes without saying, but I would also document all attempts you've made to get Virgin to rebook you at the soonest opportunity.
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Old Jan 2, 21, 3:33 am
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Originally Posted by gallagher View Post
Any recent experiences of Virgin rerouting from SA back to the UK whilst direct flights are still suspended?
After hours on the phone and refusing to hang up we got our flights on the 26th rebooked with KLM but an issue with PCR tests meant we were then rebooked onto VS service on the 5th which was cancelled and we were proactively rebooked onto KLM again. We registered as away from home and received an email and booking confirmation yesterday so pretty good the 2nd time round.
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Old Jan 2, 21, 7:55 am
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rc4566 - Can I ask what class VS booked you in on KLM? I am expecting my flight in Upper Class to be officially cancelled tomorrow. And having both called the help line, AND filled in the Away from Home form, do you recommend doing both, or was the form sufficient? I don’t mind waiting a few extra days to get back, so would like to avoid the stress of 2 hours on hold if at all possible.
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Old Jan 2, 21, 8:07 am
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Originally Posted by sstolp View Post
Can I ask what class VS booked you in on KLM? I am expecting my flight in Upper Class to be officially cancelled tomorrow. And having both called the help line, AND filled in the Away from Home form, do you recommend doing both, or was the form sufficient? I donít mind waiting a few extra days to get back, so would like to avoid the stress of 2 hours on hold if at all possible.
We did both and were rebooked into business with our 2nd rebooking coming from the away from home team. We got an email yesterday for our flight on the 5th.

I donít know if my hours on the phone the first time being difficult and refusing to hang up and eventually asking to speak to a supervisor made a difference but if you havenít heard from them a couple days out I would give them a call.
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Old Jan 3, 21, 12:30 pm
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rebooking on AF?

Iíve been rebooked onto flight on 10th Jan, which seems to be the first non-cancelled JNB-LHR flight in the schedule at the moment. So far been moved from 8th to 7th (8 was cancelled early Dec for some reason), and now to 10th. Since UK flight ban still exists, I expect 10th to be cancelled imminently. I used points to book upper class, and plan to request rebooking on Air France business (since France doesnít require PCR test in transit, but AMS does, and the AF timings are better).

Any experiences of Virginís willingness to rebook from a virgin points to Air France business class flight......?
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Old Jan 3, 21, 1:06 pm
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Originally Posted by cmcbugg View Post
I’ve been rebooked onto flight on 10th Jan, which seems to be the first non-cancelled JNB-LHR flight in the schedule at the moment. So far been moved from 8th to 7th (8 was cancelled early Dec for some reason), and now to 10th. Since UK flight ban still exists, I expect 10th to be cancelled imminently. I used points to book upper class, and plan to request rebooking on Air France business (since France doesn’t require PCR test in transit, but AMS does, and the AF timings are better).

Any experiences of Virgin’s willingness to rebook from a virgin points to Air France business class flight......?
Was this a one-way award? If so, their WhatsApp response to this situation is -

We are only able to reroute with another airline on a part travelled ticket
I'd like to see them defend their interpretation of EC261 in the county court...
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Old Jan 3, 21, 10:28 pm
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Originally Posted by cauchy View Post
Was this a one-way award? If so, their WhatsApp response to this situation is -



I'd like to see them defend their interpretation of EC261 in the county court...
yes, that does seem a selective interpretation on Virgins side. Mine is the return part of a ticket though, so hopefully will be less resistance.
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Old Jan 4, 21, 12:47 pm
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I have a return LHR/CPT booked for 14 January. Flight still not showing as cancelled but cannot see UK Government lifting flight ban. Why will VS do? My only options refund/reschedule or will they offer a reroute via Continental Europe/Middle East?
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Old Jan 6, 21, 3:36 am
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My Virgin flight JNB-LHR on 10th is cancelled, and Virgin have now rerouted me on Air France on 11th (business class points booking). I tried for 9th but they couldnít get the CDG-LHR connecting flight. Air France was my request as donít need Covid transit test (which NL does require if on KLM).

I will plan to get the test anyway, as it sounds like UK may be introducing the requirement at some point.

The Virgin WhatsApp team do get stuff done but take many hours to reply to every message exchange. In the end called up at 7am, took about an hour to get through to an agent, but they were able to give me multiple options (Af & KLM) and process the change.
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