After John Nealon’s bags go missing, his airline sends him shopping. Why won’t it cover the bill? “Alitalia promised to cover my lost luggage, but the check never arrived”
When an Alitalia representative misspells Barbara Stuckey’s name, she’s sent on a wild goose chase to get it fixed. Does she have to buy a new ticket?
“Help! Alitalia misspelled my name and won’t change it back”
Jane Berryman was supposed to fly from Dubrovnik, Croatia, to Tirana, Albania, via Rome. At least that’s what her itinerary said.
“I wasn’t “protected” on my flight to Tirana — should my travel agent pay?”
Neil Kyle is bumped from an Alitalia flight and then given the runaround when he asks for compensation under Europe’s consumer-protection laws. Is there any way to get him the 600 euros he’s owed?
Question: We were returning from Rome to Vancouver via Toronto last year when we were bumped from our flight by Alitalia. Alitalia rerouted us through London, where we ran into a great deal of difficulty, including a missed flight. Eventually, we caught a flight to Vancouver the next day.
Alitalia owes us 600 euros, according to the European consumer-protection rules. But the airline has provided an almost perfect case study of an airline employing delay and stonewalling techniques as a means to avoid its regulatory and legal obligations, and to wear down the complainants in the process.
There have been several emails exchanged among us, our travel agent and Alitalia. The airline doesn’t respond to the regulatory and legal-case information raised by us and our travel agent. We have filed a complaint with Canadian authorities, but we also would appreciate your assistance in dealing with Alitalia on this issue. — Neil Kyle, Port Coquitlam, Canada
Answer: You’re right. European regulations — specifically, a law called EU 261 — require Alitalia to compensate you for the denied boarding and delay. Instead, it appears to be giving you the brushoff.
It’s not difficult to see why. European airlines pay only a small percentage of the claims owed under EU 261. Most passengers don’t know of the rule, and it’s written vaguely enough that airline lawyers do an excellent job of convincing passengers that the airlines aren’t required to pay up.
Generally speaking, it also is true that airlines like to continue sending form rejection letters until you give up. That’s actually true for most businesses, not just air carriers. But airlines have perfected it, and no European airline seems to do it better than Alitalia.
A brief, written appeal to an Alitalia executive might have helped. I list each of their names and addresses on my website. But it’s been a while since an appeal to an Alitalia executive has been successful; I would have just sent it to the airline as a courtesy before taking it to the next level.
When an airline won’t budge, your final step is to take this issue to authorities. In addition to the Canadian Transportation Agency, I also might have considered contacting Italian regulators. (In the United States, you would have been able to complain to the U.S. Department of Transportation).
I contacted Alitalia on your behalf. It said that it also heard from Canadian authorities about your case. It apologized for the way in which it handled your claim and paid you the 600 euros you’re owed. It also promised to address your case with customer-care agents “to ensure we avoid similar mistakes in the future.”
Duncan Fox saw a glimmer of hope when Mexicana Airlines recently announced it would return to the skies. Back in 2010, he’d booked a flight from San Francisco to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, but shortly before his trip, Mexicana filed for bankruptcy protection and then folded.
“When dead airlines rise, where’s my refund?”
Paul DiFeterici’s recent Alitalia flight from Miami to Rome was delayed by seven hours. “We were given a paper with information to contact Alitalia customer relations for compensation,” he says. He tried calling and writing to the airline, but no luck.
“I haven’t heard from them,” he says. “Would you be able to help me contact the correct people?”
“No compensation for Alitalia bird ingestion”
If the first word that comes to mind when I say “lost luggage” is Alitalia, then you’ve probably been reading this site for a while.
Then again, maybe the Italian carrier has “misplaced” your checked bags in the past. Maybe your story had a happy ending.
Lori DiGilio’s, unfortunately, does not — despite my best efforts.
“Case dismissed: She didn’t file her luggage claim on time”
Maybe we should start calling this the lost luggage column. Last week, we tried to untangle the case of a skier who lost his gear in Telluride, Colo. Today, meet Rita Rosenfeld, whose luggage was misplaced by Alitalia on a trip to Italy.
Lost luggage on Alitalia? Big shocker, I know.
But Rosenfeld feels the airline shortchanged her in a major way, offering her just a fraction of the value of the items she had to buy during her trip.
“Is this enough compensation? A $225 check for my lost luggage — you’re kidding!”
Noah Markewich’s lost-luggage case had “lost cause” written all over it when he contacted me last week.
Why? It involved Alitalia, the historically troubled Italian airline.
It was more than three years old. Old cases are almost always unsolvable.
And it involved misplaced baggage, which is a problematic complaint category.
Still, Markewich epic, four-page, single-spaced letter is such a stunning documentation of an airline’s awful customer service, that I wish I could publish it in its entirety. It describes how Alitalia ruined his Italian vacation by losing his luggage — and when I say “ruin” it may be something of an understatement.
“Three years later, Alitalia still owes me $528 for my lost baggage and ruined Italian vacation”