Stuck in Dublin. Six months pregnant. Can you help?

By | December 27th, 2016

A codesharing nightmare strands Jamie Prophet in Dublin when she’s six months pregnant. Can we help her?

Question: We recently traveled Baltimore to London via British Airways and planned to return via Dublin on American Airlines. We purchased our tickets through hop2.com. On our outbound trip, the flight was canceled and British Airways issued us new tickets to get to London.

At the end of our trip we arrived at Dublin and attempted to check in for our return flight. We were told by American Airlines that there was a problem with our tickets. American said they could not identify the problem and there was nothing they could do. We ended up stuck in Dublin an additional day while I was six months pregnant. We paid to stay an extra night in Dublin and finally got home by purchasing tickets from Aer Lingus the following day.

After returning home, I began the process of contacting the airlines to try to figure out what happened and to obtain a refund for the Aer Lingus tickets, the extra hotel night in Dublin, and associated food costs. After considerable and lengthy effort with all three parties (American, British Airways, and hop2.com), I’m no closer to getting my refund. Can Elliott.org help? — Jamie Prophet, Millersville, Md.

Answer: I’m sorry for the considerable effort you expended trying to resolve this problem. It shouldn’t have been that way. If it makes you feel any better, it wasn’t so easy for us either; this proved to be one of our longer, more challenging cases.

Related story:   Who is to blame?

The fly in the ointment here proved to be codesharing. Codesharing is where two or more airlines share the same flight, each marketing the seats on that flight under its own brand. The rub is that when there’s a glitch in the travel arrangements — which is what happened to you — codesharing partners may not be quick to accept responsibility, or even understand what went wrong.


As you learned through some of your own efforts, it appears that British Airways made an error when they issued the new tickets to London. This error was not clear to American Airlines, which of course is not operating on the British Airways ticketing system. Therefore, American could not identify the error and would not honor your return tickets. You were left stuck in Dublin.

Here are some tips to consider in a difficult case like this. You can access our company contacts to help resolve lingering customer issues; reaching higher up into the organization can help expedite resolutions. You’ll find both American Airlines and British Airways listed there under “Airline.”

It’s also a good idea to check your carrier’s conditions of carriage (here are British Airways’ and American Airlines’), which explain the terms and conditions of your ticket and outline remedies available to you in case of denied boarding. However a word of warning: Codesharing and international travel can complicate the application of these conditions (see, for example, American Airlines’ conditions of carriage regarding domestic travel restrictions).

After more than 40 emails and calls between all the parties involved over five months (that’s right, we counted them), we were able to make progress. American Airlines provided a refund for the return tickets you originally purchased (not what you wanted), and British Airways refunded the full cost of the more costly Aer Lingus tickets. That satisfied you, and we’re thankful for the opportunity to help.

Related story:   Missed my uncle's funeral - how about a refund, American?


  • deemery

    Well, I’ve done A LOT of international travel on codeshares, and frankly never had a significant problem. (It’s a good idea to call the operating airline particularly to confirm seat assignments.) That includes getting rebooked after missing a flight in St Petersburg (Russia, not Florida), with United, Lufthansa and LOT all contributing to getting me back home. (Hint: Make sure you’re in the -right security line- at the airport.)

    AA and BA should be really ashamed of themselves for how poorly this was handled between the two senior partners of their airline alliance.

    (And for the record, I don’t fly AA after some really significant problems on domestic travel in the late ’80s. It looks like that’s still a good decision.)

  • Steve Rabin

    Is she not entitled to compensation under EU 261?

  • Bill

    I fly in excess of 250k miles a year and have never had any issues with code shares. All my filghts are booked directly with the airline (Delta) It seems that every time (or at least 90% of the time) there is a code share issue it is always when people book there flight through some other website other than the airline…. just a thought.

  • Alan Gore

    British. Any have made an error in recoding the reservation afte the schedule change, but when a passenger presents with a valid PNR, American has no business saying anything like “we could not identify the problem and there was nothing we can do.” When it saw the irregularity, American should have deigned to pick up a phone and straighten it out with British. The DOT should whack them with a huge fine for treating pax that way.

  • Byron Cooper

    The OP used hop2.com. The is an online travel agency. Many of the problems posted on Elliott.org result from online travel agencies. Since there was an issue booking the return ticket, maybe this was a result of the online travel agent. I checked the reviews of hop2.com and they are not good.

  • jm71

    One of the lessons I’ve learned from stories about these types of situations is — as distasteful as it is to give them more money, it’s usually best to purchase the replacement tickets on the same airline that denied you incorrectly (or wherever you were originally charged). Then as soon as you land, you can file the refund demand and the credit card dispute as needed.

    In this case, Aer Lingus is the “innocent party” so disputing their charge wouldn’t be reasonable, but if you have paid for an AA ticket, and AA insists on charging you again to fly that ticket, it should be pretty clear to everyone (esp. the credit card company and a small claims court judge) that the higher forced AA charge is the one that is “fraudulent” and is to be refunded.

  • Lindabator

    no – that does NOT cover ticketing issues – she was not actually bumped, as the ticket was invalid

  • Lindabator

    NOT if BA did not send over a ticket number – and the gate agents cannot just CALL an airlines (it can take far too long to just connect with an airline – BA dropped the ball here, they should be the one to correct – and they did)

  • Lindabator

    when BA changed the ticket, they changed the return as well – probably failed to remit the ticket number thru to American, so showed as not valid, and AA did not know why

  • Bill___A

    Has BA fixed their computer system or modified their procedures (or trained their personnel) so that this does not happen again? I am glad this particular case was resolved, but it would be preferable if it weren’t able to happen again.

  • cscasi

    My wife and I fly American domestically all the time and now and again internationally and have never had a problem (other than a flight being delayed now and then). Guess we have been lucky and have gotten good service.

  • Blamona

    I’m confused, she was refunded twice? Once original AA tickets and once Air Lingus. Is this double dipping or did I read it wrong? And not to sound snarky, but if good enough to travel the day before being pregnant, what does pregnancy have to do with it?

    So refund AL, hotel 1 night, breakfast sounded like appropriate action.

    And lesson learned, book direct!

  • Carchar

    What does her pregnancy have to do with this story and why is it in the headline?

  • deemery

    I’ve heard other people’s horror stories about United, but they’ve generally treated me well (with one notable exception.)

    So it appears to be the Luck of the Draw on airlines.

  • Byron Cooper

    I understand your point that there was an issue related to the ticket change. A reputable travel agency can help in situations like this. Reviews of Hop2.com are terrible. Check their reputation on TripAdvisor or elsewhere. I have had situations like this, but used American Express Travel and they had my back. When I use American Express, I speak to a real licensed travel agent.

  • JewelEyed

    I agree, has nothing to do with the story, I thought we weren’t entertaining people doing that anymore. I’m not saying she didn’t deserve help, but you guys write the story and I’m sure cut out lots of superfluous information. This is superfluous.

  • Michael__K

    Not so fast. If the air carrier or its authorised agent originally provided “a valid document giving entitlement to transport, or something equivalent in paperless form, including electronic form”, then the customer had a valid ticket as far EC 261 is concerned. If something later went wrong in the airline’s system unbeknownst to the customer, then that is on the airline.

  • Alan Gore

    Airlines routinely talk with each other for interlining, for which they have a contractual arrangement. And when they codeshare, this is another contractual arrangement that has to include communications when problems occur in passing off passengers from one partner to another. In fact if it didn’t and if I were running the regulatory agency, I would cite this as another cause meriting a fine.

  • DepartureLevel

    ..and she wasn’t “stuck” in Dublin if she got out the next day (or probably could have gotten out the same day on another carrier). I thought I was going to be reading about someone who got “stuck” or “stranded” for weeks. Totally agree that her being pregnant has nothing to do with the story other than “alarm” and “shock” that a pregnant woman could have a problem (that was easily solved). Why do pregnant women always make it sound like their condition is a handicap ? If you’re so unable to deal with anything “unusual” or disappointing/ confusing/ needs fixing, certainly don’t travel !

  • Annie M

    Stop using these unknown third party booking sites. That should be the lesson learned.

  • Annie M

    Especially since she chose to travel while 6 months pregnant and was delayed only one day.

  • ctporter

    if you have a round trip and one of the first legs gets cancelled isn’t all other flights on that round trip cancelled as a matter of course?

  • 42NYC

    I’ve never used hop2.com but are they really a money saver over just booking directly with the airline?? I’d think with an ota there’s no customer service so where the real benefit.

  • michael anthony

    I think these 3rd party sites are let off too easily, as well as the mainline carriers. They sell tickets on the mainline carriers, use their logos, and then when there is a problem, the mainline carriers say “not our fault”. Well, if it isn’t their fault, why do they allow the use of their logos? Why do they accept bookings from these less than “passable” 3rd party sites? 2016 was a record year for mainline carriers and you can bet they received significant income from 3rd party sites. They shouldn’t accept their bookings if they aren’t going to move an inch to assist. If these 3rd party sites are such a problem, then ban them from booking. Until then, they bear some responsibility.

  • 42NYC

    Ditto. Recently flew a codeshare ticket involving delta, Korean and china southern. Everything worked great (china southern kind of sucks as an airline though I can’t blame the codeshare on that). Soon to be flying to Azerbaijan and Georgia on a delta/klm ticket. Booked it though delta and it goes seamlessly. I really don’t get the incentive to book on a random ota.

  • Lindabator

    but this wasn’t a no-show – BA changed the ticket, so it needs to remit the new ticket number thru to American for the return portion

  • joycexyz

    Right. And the fact that she said “stuck in Dublin” (for all of one night!). Irrelevant and misleading. Made it sound as if she never got home and now has an Irish-born baby. IMHO, I’m betting the problems started with that dubious OTA she used.

  • PsyGuy

    Why is being stuck pregnant worth more sympathy than just being stuck? Why does it matter?

    hop2? Sounds like another fly by night OTA.

    Any ideas what the mystery problem was, happy it got resolved but doesn’t seem that without identifying the cause of the error, PAX can’t really do anything about preventing it in the future.

  • PsyGuy

    I did a quick review of some common itineraries I fly and I couldn’t find an appreciable difference in fares, often the difference was just a few dollars.

  • PsyGuy

    Don’t get pregnant either.

  • PsyGuy

    We didn’t even hear what the actual error was.

  • PsyGuy

    Excellent advice, shortest distance between two points including loss and refund is a straight line.

  • PsyGuy

    How can they not know “why” how long would it take to go through the PNR and see the reissue and think “humm maybe that’s the problem?”

  • PsyGuy

    Maybe you’re speaking to a licensed agent, you could be talking to a CSR who is operating under the authority of a licensed agent.

  • PsyGuy

    They should have corrected it sooner.

  • PsyGuy

    Was the ticket invalid or did an agent just “say” it was invalid. Sort of like when an airline says the delay is from the “weather” when the crew really timed out.

  • PsyGuy

    We should hold their feet to the embers until they cough up the full entitlement under EU261

  • Lindabator

    just having a reservation does not mean you have a document to travel under, and as BA changed the reservation, and AA could not see a valid booking, she did NOT have a valid “ticket” in her hand

  • Lindabator

    If there is no ticket number, it IS invalid for travel, as it is just held space, and since AA and BA are on different systems, AA may not have seen just what happened, just saw an invalid booking

  • Lindabator

    BA and AA not on the same system, so BA needs to advance the ticketing info to AA, or AA does not see anything but space held, and not issued

  • Michael__K

    By the language of the regulation she did have a valid ticket [in electronic form] in that scenario. And the operating carrier (AA) is responsible for compensation. If BA (as AA’s authorised agent) messed something up, then AA can seek reimbursement from them.

  • Lindabator

    not true – MUST have a valid ticket number – even under EU T&C

  • Mark

    Exactly this. I still do not understand why people book from third party sites – fares are never cheaper than just going direct to the airline, and you’re just adding a layer of hassle for dealing with any exceptions.

    I’m surprised that Jamie didn’t do more at Dublin airport when AA refused to check her in. How about call the OTA? Or go to the BA ticketing counter at Dublin airport, and see if they can figure out whatever the issue was.

  • Mark

    BA will have a ticketing desk at Dublin. It’s probably next to AA, as they’re both part of the same alliance. It’s not beyond the wit of man for the AA staff to ask the BA staff at the airport for help…

  • Michael__K

    They had a reservation with valid ticket number — which you yourself believe BA messed up.

    I quoted from the text of the regulation…. If the passenger has “proof which indicates that the reservation has been accepted and registered by the air carrier or tour operator”, then they win.

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32004R0261:en:HTML

  • Lindabator

    Not even in the same Terminal – you assume too much – the gate agents are not going to be travelling the airport looking for assistance from another airline, sorry

  • PsyGuy

    AA counter or gate agents can’t figure that out?

  • PsyGuy

    There is a ticket number though, AA just can’t see it, not the PAX fault.

  • Lindabator

    they cannot SEE into the record, only see it was not TICKETED – you have no idea that what YOU see in your computer is NOT what a gate agent sees (I know, I worked first for over 7 years for the airlines, then 25 as an agent)

  • PsyGuy

    Yeah I get that but I’m a PAX I have a phone, I’m standing 3 feet maybe less away from the agent, here’s what “I see”, now you being a gate or counter agent with average intelligence, and a whole lot of experience can think, about who to call, or whatever needs to happen to fix this.

  • Byron Cooper

    I have a feeling that this would never have happened if they booked with the airline directly or used a reputable travel agent.

  • jsn55

    Never have I been so proud to be associated with this consumer advocacy site. Well done, Jeffery. This sounds like a nightmare for the traveller, with no light in sight. WHEN are people going to learn to book direct? These OTAs make problem-solving nearly impossible. Both airlines should be ashamed of themselves for not helping this traveller, no matter how she booked. You did a wonderful job here.

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