Jack Buckley books a trip to Ireland and the U.K, but his anticipation fades after terrorists attack England. Now he wants to know if he can just skip the London side trip on his Aer Lingus ticket.
Question: I have two tickets booked this month from Boston to Shannon, Ireland, returning home from London via Dublin. Due to the current terrorist activity in London we have decided to cancel that part of our trip and stay in Ireland the whole time. We hoped to check in for our return flight in Dublin and forego the London to Dublin segment.
When I checked with Aer Lingus to ensure that we would be able to go home from Dublin even if we did not take the London to Dublin flight, I was advised that we would be subject to a $210 per person change fee as well as having to pay the fare differential from when we booked our flight and the current fare from Dublin to Boston.
After several hours on hold with Aer Lingus I was finally able to speak with a supervisor who agreed to waive the $210 change fees but was unable to waive the fare differential fees without checking with headquarters in Dublin. He committed to getting back to me by this Friday morning. I have no confidence that I will get a timely satisfactory resolution and I don’t want to be trying to resolve this while in Ireland. Can you help me? — Jack Buckley, West Roxbury, Mass.
Answer: The appalling attack on June 3, in which a gang of three terrorists rammed their van into unsuspecting evening strollers on London Bridge and then jumped out and began stabbing people indiscriminately, has certainly sparked a new wave of fear among many tourists.
It is understandable that immediately after this incident, you began to question whether you wanted to continue on with your travel plans to visit England.
After all, this terrorist event came on the heels of the May 22 suicide bomber attack in Manchester during an Ariana Grande concert. That monstrosity, for which ISIS has claimed responsibility, killed 22 people — many of them young children.
The unpredictability and shocking nature of these attacks is frightening. And that is unquestionably what terrorism is designed to do: Not only to terrorize the direct victims of these attacks but to also cause fear and create disruption in other areas of society.
Like the travel industry.
Although, theoretically, your chances of being involved in such an attack are quite low, you did not want such recent horrific events on your mind during your vacation. So, for this trip, you wanted to avoid London.
You reached out to Aer Lingus with what seemed, under the circumstances, to be a reasonable request. And you were surprised that initially you did not receive the sympathetic response that you were looking for.
However, when we look at the terms and conditions of the Aer Lingus contract of carriage, it is clear that the first representative to whom you spoke was simply sticking to the rule book:
Section 3:3:1: The Ticket will not be honoured and will lose its validity if all the coupons are not used in the sequence provided in the Ticket.
Section 3:3:2: Should you wish to change any aspect of your transportation you must contact us in advance. The fare for your new transportation will be calculated and you will be given the option of accepting the new price or maintaining your original transportation as ticketed.
This is standard language in most airlines’ contract of carriage. If you do not use your flight coupons in the sequence that they were purchased, the rest of your ticket becomes invalid. If you need to change any part of your ticket, you must pay change fees and fare differentials.
As a reader of this site, you were well aware of this and knew that if you simply skipped the portion of your flight from London back to Dublin, you would likely find that the rest of your journey would be canceled.
So you brought your concerns to another representative, who was slightly more amenable to your plan, but still needed to speak to headquarters to get approval. That’s when you contacted us.
When I read your complaint, I could truly empathize with your concerns. I also have a trip planned to London in the coming weeks and of course, after this last shocking attack, I briefly wondered if it might be ill-advised to take this trip.
As a side note, I have trip insurance, which includes terrorism coverage, something that could have protected you in this situation and saved you the “several hours on hold” with Aer Lingus.
With terrorism coverage, you can change and/or cancel your trip if a terrorist event occurs at your planned destination, typically within 30 days of your arrival date (plans can vary by company).
Unfortunately, you did not purchase a trip insurance policy with terrorism coverage.
In your case, though, your tenacity paid off, and the good news came to you before we even had a chance to contact Aer Lingus on your behalf. You emailed us and let us know that as a gesture of goodwill and understanding, Aer Lingus headquarters waived all the change fees and rewrote your tickets without the London portion and at no cost to you.
You are extremely pleased with this outcome, and we wish you happy and safe travels!