Pricewatch readers: Aer Lingus hits turbulence with route cancellation
Customers left financially stranded when airline grounds Dublin-Porto flights
Aer Lingus: Shutting down its Dublin-Porto route leaves customers in a lurch and out of pocket. Photograph: Reuters/Cathal McNaughton
Brown Thomas: If you need to ask, you can’t afford it? Photograph: Eric Luke
Aer Lingus’s decision to cancel a new route from Dublin to Porto before it even got off the ground has not gone down well with readers. A couple have been in touch in recent weeks.
Tom Lawlor booked flights to the Portuguese city for himself, his wife and daughter on a Sunday in June. The plan was they would meet up with their other daughter, who was flying in from Amsterdam on the same day.
His daughter had specifically chosen her flight to coincide with the Aer Lingus flight so she would not have to be alone in an unfamiliar city. Her nonrefundable flight cost about €100 and the accommodation in Porto was in about €250. That too , is nonrefundable.
But then Aer Lingus cancelled the flights. It offered passengers three choices: a full refund, a flight to Lisbon instead, or a flight to any other Portuguese or Spanish airport on the same dates. None of these options suits, he says.
“An alternative flight to Lisbon on the Sunday is not particularly of use to us as we would still have to get a taxi from Lisbon airport to the train station, followed by a train to Porto at a cost of €30.90 per person single rate,” Tom says. “Porto train station is also quite a distance from the centre of Porto and the airport where we were to meet our daughter.”
He says an alternative Ryanair flight on the Sunday arrives at 16.30pm and now costs €117 per person plus seat charge, a total of €371. “To take this would mean wasting the whole day. We planned to arrive early in the morning. We booked early with Aer Lingus in order to arrive early and availed of the early booking rate of €180.24. A refund is therefore not a lot of help.”
In addition, a flight to Lisbon on the Saturday would leave the family with a train journey of more than two hours minimum, taxis on both ends, an additional night’s accommodation, plus extra taxi fare back to the airport on the Sunday to collect their daughter off the KLM flight.
Then there was the mail from Deirdre Culhane.
“So the flight from Dublin to Porto gets pulled and the people on the flight have to pay out for more expensive flights,” she writes. “I spoke to an Aer Lingus [representative] and was told that only the price of flight to Porto could be reimbursed. This is hardly fair and very surprising, I thought, so I rushed to buy a flight with Ryanair, which two months later has jumped in price. I’ve now lost out on about €140.”
Aer Lingus pulled its proposed summer service from Dublin to Porto at the beginning of the month and said that there was “insufficient demand to sustain the route”. It announced the service in November and within two weeks Ryanair had increased its Dublin-Porto service to five flights weekly.
On the day Aer Lingus announced it was pulling out of the route, Ryanair announced “a flash sale” for April and May and briefly began selling €29.99 “rescue” fares.
These fares would not have been much use to our readers. Nor would the apologies from Aer Lingus. And while we understand their frustrations and the fact that the decision to launch and then cancel the route within just three months has left customers substantially out of pocket, the airline is under no legal obligation to come to their aid any more than it already has.
“There were no prices on the products,” he writes. “The assistant very reluctantly drew a price list in small type from a drawer and told me the price of the bottle of L’Homme product of YSL, while explaining that it was not YSL policy to price products.”
He then visited several product areas in the Brown Thomas cosmetics and perfumery concession floor. He found that the majority of products were unpriced either on the product or by means of visible price listing.
“There did not seem to be a price-biased failure to price – some of the high-priced products were individually priced in large-size type. It seems, on the surface at least, that the legal requirement in respect of individual pricing or list pricing is being flouted as a matter of policy both by the shop, their concession operators, and by the product manufactures.”
Daniel says one “might understand how small grocers might feel that space considerations might make life difficult if they were to price properly, but that of course is no excuse. Less still can it be an excuse for the perfume and cosmetic vendors, whose spaces are designed to allow maximum exposure of their wares but whose sense of exclusivity, allure and entitlement appears to rate the vulgarity of pricing anathema.”
We contacted Brown Thomas. Managing director Stephen Sealy told us that the products customers can see and handle at each counter in the Beauty Hall are typically testers or samples and have been taken out of their packaging for customers to try.
“Product for sale is boxed and is held in drawers under the counter, and the sales team member will be able to quote the price immediately,” he said. “However, not all products on display within the Beauty Hall are samples. Some product, such as fragrance and gift sets, are packaged and ready for sale. These are individually priced, either on the item or on an adjacent menu.”
He said BT stocks about 10,000 individual items within each Beauty Hall of its six stores. There are 700 “team members” who can help customers “with individual queries, such as price”.