We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Virgin won't honour compensation vouchers for flights....

essex
Level Contributor
787 posts
3 reviews
Save Topic
Virgin won't honour compensation vouchers for flights....

My family and I were denied boarding last year at MCO and delayed for 28hours. The plane left as scheduled, but minus about 50 passengers as their was a problem with one of the life rafts on board. Despite us being one of the first at check in and saying that we wanted to fly and not be denied boarding, we were told "that was not going to happen" and ushered towards a different check in desk, where we were told that we would be compensated with a free flight each and to sign them, so they could get us to our hotel.

As you can imagine, we were totally overwhelmed and the scene was chaotic, so we did just that.

On our return, we noticed that the voucher had two sections on it. One for refusing denied boarding, but accepting $600 compo each, or one for accepting being denied and the free flights. Virgin had already crossed off the previous one, but we didn't think much of it.

We have now tried to use the vouchers twice without success. The first time we were told we couldn't because travel was less than 6 weeks away and the second time, there was apparently no availabilty 3 weeks either side of our preferred dates. We know that they will only allow a set amount of seats to be used per flight for this, but were told that they would try to release more seats for us.

Nearly 3 months on, after phone calls (unreturned), emails (unreturned) and a recorded delivery letter (unanswered), we have still not made progress.

We have complained to the air trafic users council (3 weeks ago) but haven't had a response from them either!

Does anyone have any advise on our next step? We are not keen on using a solicitor due to the cost.

Isle of Man, United...
Level Contributor
36,639 posts
342 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Virgin won't honour compensation vouchers for flights....

By EEC Law you MUST be given the unconditional option of the compensation. No way around it. You can accept an alternative but you must get the legally defined option (In € not $).

So write to Branson himself and point this out (EEC 261/2004) and give him two weeks to divi up.

Travelling The World
Destination Expert
for Alghero
Level Contributor
14,320 posts
70 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Virgin won't honour compensation vouchers for flights....

"The compensation referred to in paragraph 1 shall be paid in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders or bank cheques or, with the signed agreement of the passenger, in travel vouchers and/or other services."

"On our return, we noticed that the voucher had two sections on it."

Sadly. "on your return" was not the time to notice this. Clearly you were under pressure and there was a great deal of confusion, and it looks like VS may be trying to pull a fast one, but unfortunately it is only your word against the agent's. Since you signed that you accepted the vouchers rather than the cash, you will have a hard time proving that the agent didn't offer you the alternative and you refused it. Before signing was the time to say, "No wait, I want cash, not vouchers."

A letter to Richard can't hurt, but technically, unless you can prove you were not offered cash and turned it down, you will probably have to live with the vouchers.

Edited: 17 March 2010, 15:23
Isle of Man, United...
Level Contributor
36,639 posts
342 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Virgin won't honour compensation vouchers for flights....

Whilst I concur that this may not be straightforward, it should not be difficult to plead "duress".

I note that they were 'told' to sign so they could go to the hotel! Told??

They were "told" despite protesting that they wanted to fly that "that was not going to happen!

" Really?" What happened to the requisite and mandatory request for volunteers prior to denial?

It appears that Virgin had prepared this delaration by deleiting the first option. In whose hand and ink was that deletion in?

As you say, clearly a put up job with the grinning Pullover trying to pull a fast one AND he will get away with it unless protests are made loud and clear.

Obviously wth 20/20 hindsight nothing should have been signed unless totally clear as to the impact but not easy to do in the confusion of a bump. Virgin knew that!

Find others that were bumped to back up your story.

Travelling The World
Destination Expert
for Alghero
Level Contributor
14,320 posts
70 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Virgin won't honour compensation vouchers for flights....

> What happened to the requisite and mandatory request for volunteers prior to denial?

We don't know that this didn't happen given what ellaabbie has said. She may have missed the call for volunteers. It may have happened before she got to the gate, or staff may have done it by walking around asking people. By the time they got to ellaabbie, they may have already known they didn't have enough volunteers and so began telling people they were bumped.

essex
Level Contributor
787 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Virgin won't honour compensation vouchers for flights....

Thanks for your replies.

In response...

We were told that we were being denied on arrival at checkin. We were one of the first to arrive and were there when checkin was opened. At no stage did they ask for volunteers.

Fortunately for us, we are in contact with another family that were denied from the same flight. They too were unaware that they should have been offered financial compensation and their voucher was also pre filled by Virgin.

At no stage, were we given any info regarding our rights. I know in the EU, carriers are duty bound to offer this information. Not sure about the US though.

I have written a letter to Mr Branson (I'm not calling him Sir, after the way we have been treated!!) and enclosed copies of all correspondance.

Bangkok
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
Level Contributor
15,375 posts
71 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Virgin won't honour compensation vouchers for flights....

Hi,

The only part of the allegation that there was no attempt to secure volunteers before any one was involuntary selected is if it was for a safety component.

Let me explain.. There are several types of doors, divided into various classes based on characteristics like size and location. The minimum number of operable doors of each class is set based on either how many passengers are accommodated and where they are seated.

For example on the upper deck (when it's configured in a somewhat traditional all C/J) configuration. It's legal to seat passengers in in the UD cabin with only one of the two UD emergency doors operable.. However, if none of the UD emergency doors are operable, then no passengers or crew, may occupy the upper deck. This however, does not preclude the aircraft from operating (assuming all other standards are met).

I've had this happen and the resolution was to deny boarding to all the UD passengers unless we could find room for them somewhere on the main deck.

I'm just wondering if, as a result of "a problem with one of the life rafts on board." that the decision was made to deny boarding to the passengers immediately impacted in that area. I'm interpreting "life rafts" to mean one of the main cabin emergency exit doors with an auto-expel slide raft installed.

Under limited circumstances, you can operate an aircraft so long as there are no passengers seated within a pre-set distance from a non-operable main deck emergency exit door.

So, I wonder if what was done by VS in MCO was under the presumption (right, wrong or otherwise) that it was a safety issue since the aircraft could operate, but since one of the main cabin door slides was inop it had to be with reduced seating capacity in that specific area, and the OP was seated in that area..

Travel Safe,

Isle of Man, United...
Level Contributor
36,639 posts
342 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Virgin won't honour compensation vouchers for flights....

Well done ellabie.

The only stumbling block is where the flight was to.

If to an EEC country then that regulation covers a departure from ANY country.

You should have been given a leaflet explianing your rights.You were not.

You should have been asked for volunteers. You were not.

You should have been offered a choice of compo or vouchers. You were not.

You know of other pax that will confirm the same.

Go for the beggar.

GOPBI has a point about pre-selection of certain areas. However the directive makes no allowance for that event and is quite specific. It is not beyond the wit of Virgin to move volunteers out of 'safe' seats and reallocate them to other pax.

Travelling The World
Destination Expert
for Alghero
Level Contributor
14,320 posts
70 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Virgin won't honour compensation vouchers for flights....

Maybe not beyond the wit, but I am sure mfuwe that you would be the first to complain if your flight was delayed a couple of hours while they sorted it all out!

If the airline can argue that it was a safety issue they *can* wriggle out of the regs.

essex
Level Contributor
787 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Virgin won't honour compensation vouchers for flights....

Yes it was the case that Virgin shut down a section of the plane BUT we don't think that it was a sudden technical fault. When we had tried to check in online the night before, the site wouldn't allow us to. This makes me believe that virgin were operating an aircraft with a fault that they were already aware of.

I know that under the legislation airlines can avoid compo in "exceptional circumstance", but as Virgin were most likely aware of the fault, I don't consider it that.

There was a test case in 2006 that said that an airline can't really class a technical fault as "exceptional" anyway.

It seems that Virgin made the decision to keep operating the craft and compensating passengers with vouchers (cheaper!) and then squeezing the denied passengers onto other flights. It was an operational/financial decision.

Travelling The World
Destination Expert
for Alghero
Level Contributor
14,320 posts
70 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Virgin won't honour compensation vouchers for flights....

Quite.

One question. You don't say how much the vouchers are worth. Generally in my experience vouchers are offered in excess of the €600 cash payment, as an incentive for people to take them. I know last time I was bumped off a flight to Canada in London I was offered £600 in vouchers or the equivalent of €600 in cash. And I was only delayed to a flight a few hours later.