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I was traveling from Chicago (ORD) to Mumbai (BOM) with a connection at Frankfurt (FRA). The layover was a little less than 4 hours at FRA. I had a boarding pass with no gate assigned (this is quite usual). Now, when I arrived at FRA an airline staff directed me towards gate B20. I arrived at my gate around 3 hrs before my departure and waited for boarding to start. There were three other passengers going to the same destination waiting along with me. Supposedly during our waiting, the gate was changed from B20 to B26. By the time we realized, we had missed the flight.

Other points:

  1. We had been checking the monitors for gate information all the while but there was absolutely NONE.

  2. The four of us had much time to spare for our connecting flights and were directed to gate B20. Those passengers who arrived closer to the flight departure were possibly directed to gate B26.

  3. Supposedly, our names were called 10 mins prior to departure. We didn't hear anything. Whether the announcement was made at gate B26 or throughout the terminal is not known - the former would mean we couldn't have possibly heard.

We each had to pay 150 euros for this change of gate confusion and to be put on the next flight which was 24 hrs later. We were refused to be accommodated in a hotel and had to stay at the airport (in any case I didn't have a Schengen Visa).

If I understand correctly, in the case of a change of gate, it's the airline/airports responsibility to make sure the passengers are made aware about the change. The only effort made to contact the passengers was made at the last minute through the speakers? Nothing on monitors. No personnel at B20 making an announcement. The airline would know that there were four passengers who are on the terminal but who are somehow not boarding, still our names were called only once? (I know this because I was shown the records on a computer screen). What about emailing passengers about gate changes? It seems to me that these are some of the system inefficiencies.

I am wondering if I/we have much of a case to ask for a reimbursement of the 150 euros? Most of the things cannot be proved. Or how I could possibly make my case stronger.

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It's probably going to come down to you said/they said -- are you still in contact with the other passengers that missed the flight. If you can put your stories together that might help. It's an interesting question I hope someone has a definitive answer. –  SpaceDog Aug 11 at 2:13
    
Yes, we all are at the airport now, this has happened only a few hours ago. We will definitely voice our concerns as a group. –  user16422 Aug 11 at 2:18
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It's up to the airline but I suspect most will reimburse you after you file all the paperwork. Something similar happened to me when my plane was delayed 3 hours. We went to eat at the airport restaurant and when we came back 75 mins later, the plane had left! We were treated to a night of hotel and meals by the airline, so that we could get the next flight to our destination. –  Itai Aug 11 at 2:53
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I find it difficult to accept a plane could take off from Frankfurt airport without its gate being displayed. When you say there was no gate information was your flight listed? Was it listed with the wrong gate? I'm sorry you were initially sent to the wrong gate but some aspects of this just do not add up. –  TheMathemagician Aug 11 at 8:11
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Do you mean the monitors listing all flights and the corresponding gates or some other monitors (e.g. monitors above the gate's desk showing the next flight at this gate)? –  Relaxed Aug 11 at 8:38

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted
+50

Trying to be as objective as possible - your case will be extremely difficult to prove that the error was on the airline side. In a way, the airline can show that they did the utmost in order to inform you on the gate change

  1. Using the PA multiple times and
  2. NOT assigning a gate number at least 30 minutes before departure. (Was not on the screen)

You can rest assure that they can argue that if there's no gate assigned 30 minutes before departure (the screen didn't say that B20 is to BOM) - why didn't you contact the airline and asked about the flight final gate?

When you're called to follow to the gate (by the PA) and you don't show up. The airline must take your luggage off the plane, remove you from the manifest, adjust end-reports and so forth! this causes a lot of time and effort. Point is - it's also in their interest to have you on.

Having said that, I would write a detailed emailed with the rest of the passengers that were with you to 'public relation' of that airline and detailed a long story about the fiasco and demand respectfully some kind of compensation. You will have to include names, PNRs, person's name who directed you to the gate etc. Put major emphasis on the aggravation caused due to lack of gate assignment. Still, it will end up with a courtesy of the airline but nothing more.

Again, this case will be seen as You Vs Airline (he said she said) and the airline can show that they did their very best and you were not 'on top of the situation'.

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