Taking issue with Aer Lingus’ rescheduling fees

Pricewatch: Readers’ consumer queries and observations

A reader writes to say he believes he was initially given the wrong or at best incomplete information on rebooking flights by Aer Lingus.  Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

A reader writes to say he believes he was initially given the wrong or at best incomplete information on rebooking flights by Aer Lingus. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

 

A reader called Martin Crehan contacted us to highlight his recent dealings with Aer Lingus, which have left him feeling decidedly unhappy.

“I initially booked a return flight for two from Dublin to Amsterdam on 20th of March,” his mail starts. The flight was due to depart on May 13th and returning two days later. “However due to an unforeseen family circumstance prior to departure, I realised that I would not be able to travel,” he says.

Martin contacted Aer Lingus in May and asked what the best option was for rescheduling? “The person I spoke to explained that I could cancel the flight and rebook, but in so doing I would lose most of the €169.96 fare. Alternatively I could reschedule, with there being a €40 change fee for the flight.”

Based on the information, he reviewed the flight charges online and proceeded to reschedule for the middle of September. “This rescheduling was based on the fact that the charge for changing the flight was €40, and comparing the available flight charges at the time versus the cost of cancelling and rebooking.”

It was only when he had confirmed the rescheduled booking that he realised he was being charged €160 which was €40 per leg per person. “If I had been aware of this in advance, I would have cancelled the flight, claimed back the taxes and rebooked a new flight, as this would have been the most cost efficient option,” he says.

The reader then rang Aer Lingus and the person he spoke to – who was quite helpful – explained that there was a charge of €40 per particular flight “and in this instance it would be classified as four changes. He also stated that this aspect is not very clear on the website. I then explained that I did not get the information on their website but via a telephone query. He then provided me with an email address and suggested to contact them explaining all, and that they may be able to ‘do something’ to help me.”

Martin mailed the airline and despite repeated email exchanges between July and August, all he received was a standard automated response that did not really address or answer the specific questions he had.

He believes he was initially given the wrong or at best incomplete information and based on that he made a decision that would have been different if he was aware of all the facts in advance.

He also wonders why he booked and rescheduled his flight in a single transaction so “cannot understand” how it can warrant a change fee multiplied by four. “If I had to do four separate transactions it would be different; hence I see this as a bit of a rip-off.”

We can understand his frustration although we are unsurprised that the airline charges the fee per leg rather than per booking, as that is pretty common across the entire airline industry.

Good news story

We frequently give out about businesses and service providers on this page so it is nice to have a good news story on occasion.

“I recently had a superb experience of ‘consumer’ service in Wexford General Hospital,” starts a mail from Chris Coggins. He was an inpatient for two weeks and had major surgery. “Everyone that I came into contact with during my stay, without exception, was caring and considerate of this (impatient) patient. My surgeon and his team worked long hours from early in the morning till late at night and weekends; they had endless patience and were always responsive when I had concerns or questions. The end result is a healthier and very happy patient.”

Liberia calling

“I was one of those people who got a call from a Liberian number,” writes a reader called Maeve. “I didn’t call back but am a bit concerned. How did they get my number and am I at any risk of losing any money?”

The good news the scam artists who were calling tens of thousands of Irish people from Liberia or the Comoros, Tunisia, Austria or the Cook Islands last week did not have Maeve’s number. Nor will she lose any money. What they did have was an automated dialer which just randomly dialled numbers leaving missed calls on mobiles everywhere.

The aim of the scam, commonly known as Wangiri fraud, is to encourage those who see a missed call on their phone to ring the number, after which they will be ripped off. To avoid being scammed, the best and only advice is to not to call the numbers back. People who receive a call from an international number, including those with +269 (Comoros), +231 (Liberia), +216 (Tunisia) and +682 (Cook Islands) or prefixes they don’t recognise, should not return the call. If it is important or legitimate the caller will either ring back or leave a message.