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Denied boarding/penalized for arriving only 1hr early

Madison, Wisconsin
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Denied boarding/penalized for arriving only 1hr early

My wife and child were denied boarding on an Alitalia Rome to Chicago flight. The ticketed departure time was 10:15. They arrived at check-in at 9:15. Boarding had not begun. Many empty seats. The check-in agent said they were too late. However, no check-in deadlines were posted on the ticket or at the gate. My wife then had to pay $200 per person to change their tickets to the next flight the next day. In response to my complaint, I was told that at one hour prior to departure, if you haven't checked in, you are considered a "no show," and that everyone knows better.

Of course. Everyone knows it is wise to get to the gate more than an hour early. I get it. But it seems to me that before an airline rejects paid tickets and imposes hundreds of dollars in penalties, there should be a definitive arrival deadline posted on the ticket or at least at the gate as opposed to, "everyone knows better."

I'm mostly troubled by the $400 penalty they had to pay. Do I just bite the bullet on this one or consider further action? Any similar experiences?


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1. Re: Denied boarding/penalized for arriving only 1hr early

On Alitalia's website it says the check-in deadline is 60 min before the flight for intercontinental flights out of FCO. I assume that means that the check-in process has to be completed by 60 min prior to the flight. I tried to do a dummy booking and look at the T&Cs to see if it was in there, but the system is down at the moment.

Vancouver, Canada
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for London
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2. Re: Denied boarding/penalized for arriving only 1hr early

The Conditions of Carriage (Condizioni Generali di Transporto) - Article VI - are fairly clear I'm afraid. alitalia.com/CA_EN/Images/84-10352Condizioni…

Yes, it's a pain in the nether regions to have to pay the change fee, but if the rules are bent for two pax then the next in the queue will expect the same bending of the rules as will those pax the next time they're late - and on it goes.

If the alternate would have been for your wife and child to arrive very early at FCO only to sit and watch the clock tick that too may not sound a desirable way to pass the time, but ultimately means fewer chances of aggro and a few more dollars in your pocket. Here's hoping things go more smoothly next time.

Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
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3. Re: Denied boarding/penalized for arriving only 1hr early


Alitalia does speak directly to this under Section six (6) of their Contract of Carriage.

Section 6 reads, in part:

6.1. The time limit for passenger check-in is different at each airport. Therefore, the passenger must find out about such time limits and respect them. Arriving early for check-in allows the Carrier and the passenger to go through formalities in the best manner. The Carrier or its authorised agents will provide the passenger information on the time limit for check-in for the first flight shown on the ticket. For any and all subsequent flights, the passenger must find out about the time limit for check-in.

6.2. Information on passenger check-in time limits is an integral part of the Contract, and are available from Carrier’s official timetable, through distribution channels for the Carrier’s products, on Carrier’s website, or by contacting the Carrier or one of its authorised agents. If no check-in time is indicated, the passenger must arrive at least 45 minutes prior to the published departure time.

6.3. The Carrier reserves the right to cancel a confirmed reservation if the passenger does not respect the time limit for check-in. This right applies to the first flight indicated on the ticket as well as for subsequent flights.

Alitalia Contract of Carriage:


So, based on this, it appears that they were correct in the interpretation of such and therefore were just in denying boarding accordingly.. I do note that the specific language that they use is a bit difficult to understand and that they shift the burden to you- the passenger- to determine your departure airports specific check-in cut-off time... But, in the end, that's the contract language and by purchasing, you have agreed to these terms.

The fact that there was or was not any empty seats on that specific flight is not germane to the issue.

Unless you can prove that the she met the time-line-- thus Alitalia has breached the Contract, you really have little recourse in the matter.

Travel Safe,

Edited: 03 September 2010, 05:55
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4. Re: Denied boarding/penalized for arriving only 1hr early

No Sympathy.

I am always fascinated how latecomers always manage to arrive EXACTLY at the stipulated cut off time, right down to the minute. What if all 200 or so passengers had decided to do the same thing, think of your fellow travelers and stop being selfish.

Airlines have strict timetables to adhere to one of them getting the baggage onto the plane as well as the passengers. It is the last minute travelers that cause the delays and is why this forum is so full of complaints.

You should pay to be moved to the next flight, the airline has had to provide additional service to change your booking due to your error at not arriving for your flight in a timely manner.

Stanley, Falkland...
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5. Re: Denied boarding/penalized for arriving only 1hr early


I think I've spotted the error in your post title and thinking -

"Denied boarding/penalized for arriving only 1 hour early".

I think it should read -

"Denied boarding / penalized for arriving LATE".

If you look at the situation that way (the reality), I think you'll soon learn from your mistake, and not arrive late again for future flights.

Hope this helps.

Hong Kong, China
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6. Re: Denied boarding/penalized for arriving only 1hr early

Was there a reason why they arrived with so little time before the flight? Not that it affects alitalia's decision (they were right), but I can't fathom arriving only one hour before the flight. Immigration and security can take a long time, and the walk to gates can be time-consuming, too.

Island of Malta...
Destination Expert
for Malta, Sliema
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7. Re: Denied boarding/penalized for arriving only 1hr early

What if your baggage did not get loaded if you had been allowed to board ?

Would you have written , Baggage left behind on Alitalia flight ?

Next time be in time for check in , you are not Alone !

Take care !


Edinburgh, United...
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8. Re: Denied boarding/penalized for arriving only 1hr early

>I think it should read -

>"Denied boarding / penalized for arriving LATE".

Also, there was no penalty involved.

Destination Expert
for Honeymoons and Romance, Richmond, Bondi, Katoomba
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9. Re: Denied boarding/penalized for arriving only 1hr early

Agree with the above...

Hard lesson learned me thinks...

Many of us make the effort to get there early (even if it means to stay at an airport hotel) so any late arrivals while I'm sitting on the plane annoys the hell out of me.

Bingley, United...
Destination Expert
for Edinburgh
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31,845 posts
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10. Re: Denied boarding/penalized for arriving only 1hr early

I'm used to airlines that do what they say they'll do so I have no problems in turning up significantly before check-in closes in order to check-in, nor to carry baggage that weighs under the specified limits nor is bigger than the specified limits and I can count up to one so that when an airline says ONE item of hand luggage they mean ONE item of hand luggage and not ONE ITEM of hand luggage plus a shoulderbag plus a handbag plus a bag of reading matter plus a bag of food plus a bag of all that stuff that airports sell so cheaply...

Guess that's why in all the years of travelling I've had precisely three problems with airlines - and two of them were due to terrorism linked events. The third was lost luggage on a return leg and that got home before I did as it went to my local airport whereas I went to the cheaper airport

It's also why my next trip is guaranteed to be hell on earth...

Edited: 03 September 2010, 12:52