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I bought two return flights from London to Japan through Booking.com. 11 days before my flight, Booking.com told me that the airline cancelled the flight CA852: Original Flight

  • CA 852: London - Beijing 12:35pm(30/06)- 05:15am(01/07)

  • CA 927: Beijing - Osaka 08:45am(01/07)- 12:40pm(01/07)

  • CA 926: Tokyo - Beijing 14:20pm(13/07)-17:25(13/07)

  • CA 851: Beijing - London 02:35am(14/07)-06:55am(14/07)

Automatically we got another flight from the airline: Flight from the airline

  • CA 856: London - Beijing 10:40pm(30/06)- 3:25pm(01/07)

  • CA 927: Beijing - Osaka 8:45am(01/07)- 12:40pm(01/07)

  • CA 926: Tokyo - Beijing 14:20pm(13/07)- 17:25pm(13/07)

  • CA 855: Beijing - London 16:15pm(14/07)- 20:30pm(14/07)

( In the website said 01/07 but I think they meant 02/07 instead of 01/07 because otherwise we would've missed the 2nd flight)

But the arrival day of this flight was not good for us so we asked for this flight: The flight we asked for

  • CA 848: London - Shanghai 12:35pm(30/06)- 6:40am(01/07)
  • CA 857 : Shanghai- Osaka 11:45am(01/07)- 2:42pm(01/07)

They said they will ask that to the airline but they needed to wait for the airline to confirm it. They asked me to wait some days, so I did but nothing happened. I called them and they only asked me to wait and hope the flight tickets will change.

I went to the airport and waited there the day of the flight. At the end, the ticket didn't change, they asked me to call the airline but they don't answer after 5pm on Friday.

Now, my question is, the other flight they gave to me already departed, but I didn't want to take that flight, I told them that and also, I have already lost my hotel and bus bookings in Japan.

  • Can I get a reimbursement for that?
  • Can I get a refund or another flight tickets at this point?

Thank you very much for your help in advance. I am very worried at this point.

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  • Welcome to TSE. I’ve edited your question to make it easier to follow, but the change of flight details in the second paragraph is still unclear. It would help if you edited your question to include specific dates & departure/arrival times for your original booking, the replacement Booking.com provided, and the replacement you requested. As an aside, why did you not book direct with Air China? Using a 3rd party makes it much more difficult to resolve problems such as last minute cancellations
    – Traveller
    Jul 1, 2023 at 10:46
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    Can you describe in more detail what exactly happened at the airport? Who did you talk to and what exactly did they say? Is your ticket still valid? Did you ask to get rebooked. Have you been classified as a "no show"?
    – Hilmar
    Jul 1, 2023 at 12:02

2 Answers 2

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This is tricky situation.

It's hard to tell without knowing what exactly happened at the airport, but the clock is ticking, so here is a "quick and dirty" answer.

  1. You need to find out what the status of your ticket is and what exactly it says. If Air China is not answering the phone, try: http://www.airchina.com.cn/en/service/ticket-validating/ticket_validating.shtml
  2. If that doesn't work try an online check in using your PNR (6 digit Passenger Name Record or Booking Reference) and see what happens
  3. Keep good records of everybody you talked to: date, location, name. Especially of what happened at the airport.
  4. Document the reason why you didn't fly: "ticket not valid", "wrong/date time", "check-in denied" etc.

Can I get a reimbursement for that?

Not really. No airline will cover "collateral damage" of a delayed or missed flight. Travel insurance might, but that depends on the specifics of the insurance and the exact reason why you didn't travel.

Can I get a refund or another flight tickets at this point?

It's unlikely (but not impossible) that you can change the ticket. You already tried that and it made a horrible mess. Refund is possible but that depends on the exact reasons of why didn't took your flight. If Air China did indeed changed you flight to what you posted than you are entitled to a refund since that itinerary is "unflyable". However, there are typically rules how to go about it including time windows. You really waited too long to deal with this.

Stating the obvious here: booking with a 3rd party instead of the airline directly is a really bad idea since you end up in customer service limbo. Waiting until the last minute to sort this out was also a bad idea.

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As your flight departs from the UK, you are covered by the so-called UK261 rules, which are for now the same as the EU’s EC261.

When a flight is cancelled or substantially modified, you must be given the choice between rerouting and a refund.

Airlines will usually automatically suggest a new itinerary, but you have no obligation to accept it. You can ask it to be changed further (and since this is the airline’s fault, without any fees or penalties of course). They have an obligation to provide the earliest alternative available, even if it is on another airline or in a higher service class. If there is a seat available, they have to let you take it.

The problem is that going via a travel agent complicated things a lot. You can still try to contact the airline directly (even if the local office is closed, there must be a 24x7 line somewhere). At the airport there is often a ticketing desk, and you can always ask to talk to the airline’s station manager which should be available at any time there are flights about to depart. They were able to change your flights unilaterally without the travel agent, they can do it again. Ultimately, they are the ones on the hook to refund and possibly compensate you, so they have every reason to accommodate you (especially since this is their fault).

If you opt for a refund, since you were notified less than 14 days before the flight, you are also eligible for compensation, whatever the GBP equivalent of 600 euros is.

Under that regime, you wouldn’t be able to get more. If the cost to you was higher, the best option is to use your travel insurance (even if you don’t have subscribed for one explicitly, you could have travel insurance bundled with your credit card or other contracts). Other than that, you can try to claim for damages in court, but it’s likely they will be capped by the Montreal Convention.

Note that the UK261 protection will only apply for your outbound flight. The inbound flight is not covered.

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  • Are ticketing desks at airports really still a thing? I remember naively trying to find one at Toronto Pearson Airport in 2014, but there weren't any.
    – gerrit
    Jul 3, 2023 at 9:24
  • @gerrit probably depends on the airline and airport. LCCs are most likely to not have one and send you to the call Center, but those usually do not sell via travel agents. Incumbents at their home airport and other hubs are likely to have a ticketing desk, usually quite prominent. In between, good question, it’s not like I’ve used one in a while… But there will in most cases be a place where you can pay extra charges (like luggage over the allowance), the big question is what can they do…
    – jcaron
    Jul 3, 2023 at 15:47
  • If I recall correctly, the flight I wanted to book at the time was via Air Transat, which has Toronto Pearson as a hub but it's not their home airport, and in the end I booked it via a travel agent (I had a ridiculously low limit on my credit card at the time, so I wanted to pay differently, which was not possible via their website).
    – gerrit
    Jul 3, 2023 at 16:17

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