How to Force Airlines Change Tickets for Free.

My experience of fighting with airlines and online travel agency because of delayed flight and missed connecting flight.

Preventive measures.

First of all, to minimize a risk of getting in such hassle, I recommend to buy tickets directly from airlines and reduce the number of airlines involved in your trip. All chain links may blame each other, thus the less parties involved, the more probability of getting refund or new tickets.

Secondly, keep in mind which region you depart from. Delayed flights in Asia is normal. I don’t remember I had any flight in time from China or Hong Kong. If you have a transit, I recommend not less than 5 hours between flights.

My particular case.

My case had several complications:

  • tickets bought from online travel agency;
  • our trip had two flights with different mediocre airlines;
  • we tried to solve the problem in Beijing airport.

We booked our trip on travel agency based on price and trip duration. I ended up buying a trip Shanghai —> Beijing with Hainan Airlines and then Beijing —> Kiev with Ukraine International Airlines.

Hainan was late to Beijing due to bad weather conditions and we missed our flight to Kiev. It’s difficult to say what exactly helped, but we did everything that came to our minds to get the tickets changed with no expense.

So what can you do?

As we missed second flight because of delayed Hainan Airlines flight, both Ukrainian Airlines and Tripsta accused Hainan referring to some international rules and conventions, and arriving to Beijing Hainan Airlines promised us to change tickets free of charge (and the next day suddenly changed its mind), we focused on Hainan.

Caution. Following list of advices is only for those who count money and demand justice. Think about people who have no money left, think of free seats almost always available and promises companies give and then take back.

1. Gather all people with the same problem, the more angry passengers, the more pressure and chances for success.
2. Get a certificate of delayed flight from guilty airlines.
3. Claim hotel and new tickets from guilty airlines in departure and transit airports.
4. Call both airlines and travel agency support and demand new tickets many times per day until they promise something certain.
5. Write emails to airlines and travel agency support, be specific, say what exactly you want and even more so they agree to less, attach all proofs you have (check FlightStats app), list all people with the same problem, warn to escalate to higher institutions and social media.
6. Complain on Twitter mentioning airlines account.
7. Visit airlines offices, don’t hide your feelings, make them understand you’re here till they send you to your destination point.
8. Spend some good time in front of the ticket counter and claim a manager to talk with in person.
9. Make live performances that will make airlines staff feel uncomfortable. Our companions in misfortune showed how desperate passengers may act. One guy fell and simulated epileptic seizure while his friend called for an ambulance at check-in desk. Of course everyone knew it wasn’t real, and no one would call an ambulance, it was done to attract attention and have them want to get rid of us asap.
10. Don’t check out from hotel airlines provided you with (for free) till you have new tickets.

All parties will do everything to have you give up and buy tickets yourself, so be patient.

Do everything you can to make the culprit crazy, be present at ticket counter, threat to appeal to authorities, go social, call support, write emails, visit company office, demand management presence.

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