Austrian Airlines gave me an empty gift card for my trouble

Gift card trouble — specifically, Austrian Airlines gift card trouble — seems to be a little problem these days. Brian Marita is the second passenger to contact us recently about the airline’s nonworking plastic.

After bumping passengers and delaying flights, Austrian Airlines is issuing EU 261 compensation in the form of gift cards. And the airline is proving to be just as unresponsive as retailers Amazon and Target when those gift cards don’t work as intended.

Marita booked a round-trip air ticket from Cleveland to Vienna on United Airlines, with the return from Graz on an Austrian Airlines flight code-shared on Lufthansa (all members of the Star Alliance).

He flew to Austria without a hitch, but his return trip home was a disaster. Austrian Airlines oversold the flight and rebooked Marita for a flight departing five hours later, causing him to miss connections and lose one day of travel.

Flight troubles

According to Austrian Airlines’ contract of carriage, passengers are entitled to compensation in accordance with EU 261, which requires that airlines subject to its terms must issue compensation of 600 euros per passenger for canceled, delayed, or overbooked flights over 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles).
Says Marita:

The agent at the gate was very helpful rebooking all these flights and provided me the assurance of 600 euro compensation after receiving approval on the phone with someone. It took some time at the airport; however, eventually she provided me an Austrian Airlines Maestro prepaid credit card and told me it could take up to 24 hours to be activated.

Upon arriving home I checked the card balance and it had never been activated with any balance. I called the airlines and the representative on the phone tried to assist me. She indicated the notes on my e-ticket indicated [I was due] the 600 euro compensation; however, they only can deal with ticketing issues over the phone and any refunds or compensation issues had to be done online. I did submit my issue using their website. They did confirm receipt and issued a reference number. Since that time I have not been able to get any further information.

Trying to reach Austrian Airlines

He made multiple inquiries with Austrian Airlines and United about the status of the Austrian Airlines gift cards and his compensation. The only responses he received were links back to the Austrian Airlines website and a case number from United. Although United’s customer service agents promised to ask its Star Alliance team members to “look into” Marita’s case, they told Marita that he would have to “work with” Austrian Airlines to resolve his situation.

Marita might have escalated his complaint to Austrian Airlines using our executive contacts, but he turned to our advocates for assistance. Our advocate Michelle Couch-Friedman reached out to Austrian Airlines on Marita’s behalf but received no response.

This is not the only case our advocates have handled lately in which Austrian Airlines has been unresponsive to its passengers as well as to us. Mary Kopacz recently requested our assistance in receiving EU 261 compensation from Austrian Airlines. Peter N. Thier, a spokesman for Austrian Airlines, mentioned in the comments on our story about Kopacz’s case that Austrian Airlines had canceled her flight to Frankfurt, causing her to miss a connection. Thier’s comment was the first response either Kopacz or our advocates received after she filed her initial request for EU 261 compensation.

The good news

Both Thier and Friedman noted that Kopacz had filed a claim with the Agency for Passenger Rights (APF), the governing body that administers EU 261 in Austria. Friedman indicated that she received word that Austrian Airlines would pay the compensation to Kopacz, but she should not have had to file the claim in order to receive it. As Friedman noted, “This is not the typical path that a passenger should need to follow in order to claim the EU 261 compensation. It’s unclear why these additional steps were necessary for your passenger.”

Instead of an empty gift card, Austrian Airlines should have issued Marita a cash payment of 600 euros. And as with Kopacz, it’s not clear why Marita, or any other passenger who is due EU 261 compensation from Austrian Airlines, needs to take additional actions to receive that compensation. Couch-Friedman similarly recommended that Marita file a claim with the APF to resolve his Austrian Airlines gift card trouble.

Marita notified us that he took Friedman’s advice and filed a claim with the APF, which told him that it could not assist him. But his story has a happy ending.

Austrian Airlines emailed Marita the following day, promising to “look into the matter” and asking for Marita’s gift card number. Two days later, the airline informed Marita that his card was empty because of “technical issues.” Austrian Airlines loaded the card with 600 euros, which Marita transferred to his account.

Share this story
Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Enterprise Holdings

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.