I fell asleep at the gate while waiting for a connection flight to the UK from South Africa. I was connecting on Kenya Airways. They say I have to pay charges which are more than buying another air ticket, but I don't have money. They say they can't help me unless I pay. My luggage is gone. What must I do?
Unfortunately there is really nothing you can do since they fulfilled their part of the contract. Your best bet is getting a sympathetic manager or supervisor to waive those charges. Unfortunately Kenya Air to the best of my knowledge do not have a robust customer service/rewards club number you could call for consideration. Barring that you have to hit up friends and family to wire you some money or wire to Kenyan Airways so you can continue your trip.
Concerning your luggage, they have to return it to you IF you choose not to continue your trip. Normally the luggage would even be taken out of the hold when some passengers doesn't continue onward. Now if you are a US citizen and have a visa to enter Kenya, you could go to the US embassy and request Emergency Financial Assistance however my understanding is it is only granted in the most desperate of cases.
Question : What other assistance is available to a destitute U.S. citizen if family or friends cannot provide financial help?**
Answer. Destitute U.S. citizens in need of help overseas should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate or the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at (888) 407-4747 (or from overseas +1 202-501-4444), for information about other assistance options and eligibility requirements
Your country of citizenship might have something similar to the USA.
- Check your fare rules. These have been provided to you when you bought the ticket. Unfortunately they tend to be very hard to read, but they do spell out what cancellation and change fees do apply and what the rules for re-booking are.
- If this is the first part of a round trip, go to the airlines and make sure that they don't cancel your return trip. They may have cancelled it already, but it can be re-instantiated
- As the others pointed out, you have very few rights here but the airline has a fair amount of discretion to be nice or nasty to you. Your best shot is to talk to different a few different gate agents and see if you find a sympathetic one. Be respectful and polite. Be friendly and co-operative. Be apologetic, this is after all your mistake.
- Try to be creative: "if this flight is full, how about one tomorrow?" "i'm happy to take a routing with 3 stops, if that's easier for you" "what do you think is the best way to unite me and my luggage?"
Most airlines will handle this decently: put you on another flight and maybe charge you a change fee (ca. US $300 or so).
If you have travel insurance, contact your travel insurance company to discuss your options - they almost certainly will arrange to get you physically back to your country of residence in this circumstance.
If you do not have travel insurance, take this as a very very good lesson in why to have it...