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We had bought a flight from Europe to the USA, and recently we got an email that the flight back has been rescheduled. The change is significant: previously we would stay a few hours in one transit (European) airport, now we must instead spend the night at that airport. When we complain to the travel agency, they blame the airline and say that it is not their fault when the airline changes their schedules. We then contact the airline, and they blame the travel agency. The travel agency only gives us the offer to either accept the change, or get a refund (a refund is certainly not an option since we have booked several other activities in the US).

Due to some personal reasons, this flight change is quite manageable for us, however we can imagine that it could be disastrous for other travelers, and we think this is really outrageous customer service and we don't want to just accept it without any compensation. So our question is, what does the air travel regulations say about this? Are we entitled to some compensation or not?

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    Does your itinerary start within an EU/EEA country? How far in advance were you notified of the change? – Henning Makholm Nov 9 '18 at 13:19
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    Single ticket or two different bookings ? – Hilmar Nov 9 '18 at 13:56
  • We were notified long in advance. The itinerary starts in an EU country, transits in another EU country. Everything is in one booking. – Kurret Nov 9 '18 at 14:48
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    Hmm, I see now that it is the flight back that has been rescheduled. Is the transatlantic leg operated by an EU-based airline? – Henning Makholm Nov 9 '18 at 15:32
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    In any case, if you were informed of the cancellation more than two weeks in advance, you won't be entitled to compensation under the EU air passenger rights. It is unclear to me whether the rules (if they apply to you) would entitle you to hotel accommodation at the layover airport. (I would guess probably so, but it would require the court to interpret the regulation according to the-spirit-rather-than-the-letter). – Henning Makholm Nov 9 '18 at 15:35
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Normally, when a flight changes because of a rescheduling, you can call the airline, and they will try to accomodate other solutions (like flying out a day earlier, or a different route); I had that happen several times. There are obviously limits, especially if they fly only once a day or only limited connections.
It is important to do that soon after the change, so alternatives are still open - if you wait days or weeks, the other affected passenger might have taken all the good alternatives.

The travel agent could probably call too and do that for you, but he typically doesn't know which of the offered options you'd want to take, and he might not care to do that - this happens not often, but often enough so he would have to call everyday some airline.
Generally, for a flight, there is little if any value added by using a travel agent; it doesn't get cheaper or better, you are just one step removed from your contract partner, and when the travel agent finally forwards the schedule change to you, most other customers have already reacted and rebooked with the airline, and the possible remaining options are slim to none.

Try to call the airline and ask nicely how they can accomodate you with this problem, and they will typically try to. Call them and shout and complain and request, and the human being (who doesn't like being shouted at) will tell you that legally you have no rights except get your money back, good bye.
Take your pick.

  • When we contact the airline, they say the travel agency changed our flight. When we contact the travel agency, they say the airline changed our flight. What to do in this scenario? – Kurret Nov 10 '18 at 9:32
  • One of them is lying, and I wouldn't do business with that one anymore. There has to be a trace - confirmation emails, requests, dates, times, etc.; if the airline changed the flight, the travel agency should be able to show you the emails saying so. Either way, what keeps you from changing it now again with the airline, according to your wishes? Focus on what can be done, not on what went wrong. – Aganju Nov 10 '18 at 13:20
  • @Kurret Did they move you to another flight (while the original one still exists and is unchanged), or was the original flight rescheduled or cancelled? It may have been the travel agent changing your flight in response to another change by the airline (i.e. they both made a change). If you give us more details about the original and rescheduled flights (flight #, date and schedule) we may be able to shed some more light on what happened. – jcaron Nov 10 '18 at 13:50

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