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Recently with my 2 friends we've missed the flight from Rome (to another EU city) right at the gate in the following stupid way:

  • arrived at the airport 2-3 hours before the departure (scheduled at 22:30),
  • went through security and waited at the provided gate (D05) ~2h before departure,
  • since we had plenty of time and the gate was overcrowded with the people from the previous flight, we went for the coffee next to gate D10 (coincidence),
  • then ~21:50 we've decided it's the time and went for the gate D05,
  • to our surprise, the gate on the screen changed to D10,
  • since we've lost a bit, we've arrived to the gate D10 at ~22:10 (being aware we've should be at the gate desk 30 minutes before the departure, so there was like 10 minutes late).

Although at the time (~20 min before the departure) the situation was as follow:

  • the screen at gate D10 was showing the right flight ('on time', nothing about last call or something),
  • there was no rush, movements and everybody was waiting on their seats calmly (all seats taken),
  • two ladies standing at the gate desk were calm, doing nothing, did not use microphone at all,

so based on above we've sit next to the others waiting for further announcements.

Based on the assessment of situation given my previous travel experience (at least >50 flights in my life), I've assumed everybody is waiting for the plane and they'll be calling people shortly. In 10 minutes time nothing changed, so I've started to worry. Then 22:20 ladies immediately left their gate desk, without basically doing nothing since we've arrived and the screens changed to the next available flight (this would explain why the other people were calmly sitting). Before the screen changed definitely there was no any last call on the screen or red markings as usually I see.

I've quickly asked another lady from other gate who was available about the plane and she informed that the plane already departed and she cannot do anything. Nobody else was helpful and the situation was unclear what to do next.

Finally we went outside of the boarding area to the check-in desks about 10 minutes after departure and the lady at the desk informed that:

  • she cannot do anything in that situation,
  • there is no any (emergency) missed flight policy/cover available,
  • she could not provide any info about passenger rights (which I believe we should have),
  • there is no manager to speak to (only in another city),
  • no free re-ticket or anything like that, but she could only offer new tickets for €140pp (=€420) another day evening time,
  • she could not give any physical postage address to send the formal complaint, but only the website and helpline number to call to.

Based on above I was forced to book another flight from different company at 6:00 in the morning to the same city for much less (€312) and staying at the airport for the next flight.

After that I've find out on their website that the company do have Missed Flight Cover copy policy which clearly stated:

And if you miss your flight... don't worry! Just follow these steps:

  • Go to the Vueling sales desk at the airport within 4 hours of the plane taking off (the cover will not be valid after that time).

  • At the desk you can choose from the following options:

    • Book another available Vueling flight leaving within 24 hours of your missed plane taking off (if there are no available flights to your destination in the next 24 hours, you can request a refund).
    • Request a refund for the price of the booking. Don't forget that the Missed
  • Flight Cover ends 4 hours after the plane takes off. Don't be late!

I thought my ticket could be too cheap, but based on the YouTube video, it's confirming that:

No Exclusion's new Missed Flight Cover policy, simply register at your airport desk within 4 hours after your flight's original departure and then call our Helpline.

It's then your choice of a free re-ticket on the next available flight OR a full flight refund including any pre-booked flight extras - eg bags and reserved seating.

No fees or paperwork, just a simple solution at the airport to protect your ticket.

Based on above, this did not happened despite I've reported at the desk 10 minutes after the flight departed. I've complained to the company (via e-mail) explaining the whole situation and that I was not given any Missed Flight Cover (not even informed about it) and demanded refund according to their missed flight "promise" copy (which is still available at the time of writing) which clearly state:

If you miss your booked flight(s) and physically present yourself in a fit state to fly to the Vueling Airport Ticket Office at the departure point within 4 hours after the scheduled departure time the Insurers will pay at your option either:

  1. The cost of a replacement ticket for you to travel on the same basis as your missed booked flight(s) on the next

    OR

  2. A full refund for the full cost of your original booked flight(s)

This is what they've replied after 2 weeks (key points):

Relating to you compensation request, we inform you that after reviewing your case, the compensation established by EU regulation 261/2004 does not apply to your case.

In light of the aforementioned and having complied with EU regulations, we regret informing you that your compensation request can unfortunately not be honored.

My question is:

Why they claim that EU regulation did not applied in my case? And why I was not given the Missed Flight Cover "promise"?

Do you suggest I should report that situation to ABTA, or somewhere else?

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    Your main takeaway from this is, if you arrive at a gate late, always talk to the gate staff and find out what is happening. – DJClayworth Sep 15 '16 at 3:13
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    This doesn't help you, but I had a similar situation in Rome. The gate was very full so I sat in the next one, keeping an eye on the queue etc. Then I lost focus, and the next thing I know they were basically closing the gate. They say that they called for me, but I'm sure I didn't hear anything about me or my flight (it seemed to me like the calls didn't go out to the gates, only to the main areas). Although it was a close call (they had started offloading my bags) in the end I managed to get the flight but it was still annoying (clearly my fault though). – zelanix Sep 15 '16 at 9:49
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    The EU regulation on compensation does not apply to you because the flight left on time, you were not "denied boarding" and the airline is not at fault for your missing the flight. Not even the EU would pass a law saying the airline is required to compensate you if the fault is yours. – Moo Sep 15 '16 at 10:04
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    @Moo Thanks, it's useful, would you wrap it into an answer? – kenorb Sep 15 '16 at 10:06
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    @zelanix: Sometimes they can mispronounce your name so badly that it doesn't register when you're half asleep the way it would if it was correctly pronounced. – hippietrail Sep 15 '16 at 13:55
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Unfortunately, you're out of luck.

Missed Flight Cover is an optional Travel Insurance for which there is an additional fee. Did you pay the fee?

Any Compensation regulation does not apply because you were a no-show. The flight operated presumably on time, and possibly from the new gate.

What happened? A probable scenario is that the flight was very lightly booked and all passengers were boarded and the flight closed very quickly. That is why you have to be at the gate at boarding time.

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    I don’t know if this affects the legal status, but it does seem odd that there was no “last call” announcement or status update on the screen (or even a call by name for the missing passengers). These are usually part of the standard sequence. The OP was certainly a bit careless in several respects, but it seems like the airline was unusually unhelpful as well. – PLL Sep 15 '16 at 8:49
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    @PLL, I just left a comment above about a similar situation in Rome - it seems to me like the calls only go out to the main areas, not to the gates, which is unhelpful in situations like this. It may be that they called and the OP didn't hear it. I guess they do this to make the gate more relaxing, but it is certainly unhelpful. – zelanix Sep 15 '16 at 9:52
  • @PLL seems like the last call was probably given before the OP arrived late at the new gate – JamesRyan Sep 15 '16 at 9:56
  • Exactly, last call could have been at 2205. – Johns-305 Sep 15 '16 at 11:27
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    It's right there on the link you provided: "You can select the cover during the purchase process." In the FAQ, it continues "How do I buy Missed Flight Cover? You can add Missed Flight Cover during your online flight booking at vueling.com." – Johns-305 Sep 15 '16 at 13:08
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Adding to the correct answer of @Johns-305, you would have to purchase the missed flight cover during booking:

enter image description here

For the sample booking I made it cost EUR 12.75 per person. Also in the Missed Flight Cover FAQ the need to buy such an insurance is quite obviously stated.

The reply by Vueling to your email seems to be a standard letter which is making it a bit confusing but nonetheless:

  • they did not refer to the missed flight cover since you did not have one
  • instead they seemed to assume you made a claim because of EU regulation 261/2004, which however does not apply here as they correctly state

You are out of luck here. If it consoles you in any way, especially Vueling especially at Rome Fiumicino Airport is infamous for horrible passenger service.

I can not see how contacting ABTA would be of any use in your case.

  • Wow, 12.75 is actually a good deal. – Johns-305 Sep 15 '16 at 15:55
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    @Johns-305 When you can get annual, europe-wide travel cover for €50-60 - that covers a lot more? Not really. – CMaster Sep 15 '16 at 16:12
  • Per flight, when compared to US carriers where the no-change-fee option is at ~$50, it's a good deal. Sure, annual is better but then you have to deal with the insurance carrier and what not. – Johns-305 Sep 15 '16 at 16:27
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    @CMaster Can you give more details about the annual europe wide travel cover? – Michal Frystacky Sep 15 '16 at 17:54

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