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I flew from the Boston to London yesterday. As originally booked, flight was VS158, BOS-LHR, operated by Virgin Atlantic, booked directly with Virgin Atlantic. Due to the planned strike in Heathrow, the airline changed the booking to fly into Gatwick instead. Then the strike was called off, but the flight didn't change and eventually came into Gatwick.

The airline notified me on Sunday that my Tuesday flight was changed. This was rather inconvenient, as I had a car in Heathrow car park - and would have to make my way to Heathrow to pick up the car. I called the airline to discuss this - and was told that the airline is unable to provide any transportation. If I didn't want to fly, they could refund me the full price of the ticket.

To me, the first priority was to get to London, so obviously, cancelling the flight wasn't an option. I ended up having to pay £28 for a National Express ticket from Gatwick to Heathrow. As a result, I'm £28 out of pocket and got home almost 2 hours later than I would if I flew into Heathrow in the first place.

Is there anything I can do to try to recoup the costs from Virgin Atlantic? Or at least get some sort of compensation from them? I flew in premium economy on a ticket purchased with air miles.

P.S. While reaching out public via facebook or the likes may be an option, I do not have a facebook, twitter or any other social media accounts and do not intend to sign up just to contact VA.

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    Was there any substantial change in the arrival time in London? – Michael Seifert Aug 7 at 12:45
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    Did the airline not offer any arrangements for getting you to your final destination from Gatwick? Typically airlines may organise a coach transfer, for example. europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/passenger-rights/air/… – Traveller Aug 7 at 12:46
  • The arrival time in Gatwick was about the same as was scheduled in Heathrow, even a little bit earlier. Yet I reached Heathrow about 90 minutes later. – Aleks G Aug 7 at 12:46
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    @Traveller No, they didn't. Even when I explicitly asked about it, they said, "no". – Aleks G Aug 7 at 12:47
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    From my reading of EU 261/2004, an airline is responsible for ground transportation between airports for a passenger who is re-routed after being denied boarding, or after the cancellation of their original flight. But if your original flight is re-routed and you arrive at a different airport without substantial delay, it seems like the language does not apply. This seems like a weird loophole, and I welcome correction on this issue if I'm wrong. – Michael Seifert Aug 7 at 12:57
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The airline has given you 48 hours notice, and offered you a complete refund if you didn't want to fly to Gatwick. I imagine they might have also been willing to rebook you on a flight 24 hours later. You could have rebooked on a different flight, that day or another day.

You didn't take them up on their offer so they feel, reasonably, I suggest, that you were happy to fly to Gatwick instead of Heathrow.

You don't appear to have been delayed on arrival at Gatwick, and a two hour delay wouldn't qualify for compensation anyway, so the liability of the airline, if there is any liability at all, is £28.

You can try to sweet-talk them into some goodwill gesture, but if they dig their heels in your only other option is some claim in the courts. Even if there is a liability the airline know you're not going to do that for £28.

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    You're not wrong, but "offered you a full refund" is not a fair thing, since 2 days before you fly, a replacement flight that meets your needs is not available at anything like that price. Also the suggestion that the OP could have rebooked on a flight that same day that would land at LHR seems to be missing the minor detail that it would cost hundreds of pounds or dollars more to do that. – Kate Gregory Aug 7 at 20:37
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    @KateGregory I realise the limitations on the practicality, but the option was open to the OP. I too would be grumbling about the inconvenience and extra expense, but the alternative would likely be no flight at all and the airline claiming circumstances outside their control – user90371 Aug 7 at 21:01
  • £28 for a National Express coach seems more reasonable than paying hundreds of pounds more for the convenience of landing in Heathrow. – kiradotee Aug 28 at 0:14
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To close this off, here's the outcome of my dealing with Virgin Atlantic.

I contacted VA customer service via their website, selecting option "critic/feedback about a flight taken" (or something like that). And wrote a very polite message describing what happened and what it meant to me, both time-wise and financially. I did not request any compensation, but did finish off saying something to the extent of "in the future, please try to ensure that you get your passengers to their intended destinations".

I didn't expect much, but about 2 weeks later I received an email from them apologising for the inconvenience caused and offering to reimburse me for the direct costs I incurred (i.e. £28 for the coach ticket). I have submitted the claim per their instruction (using specific claim code that they issued to me) - and was promised to that the money will be direct-deposited into my bank account within 10 days. I'll update this answer once I receive the money.

All-in-all, this was a good interaction with the customer service.

UPDATE: I did receive the payment as a direct credit into my account - about 10 days after I submitted the details.

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