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Do not agree to help the airline
Posted by Tatyana on 11/04/2006
WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA -- On June 24th, I boarded my Virgin Atlantic flight to London (flight VS22 from IAD to LHR). They had been looking for passengers to give up their seats on an overbooked flight. After everyone had boarded, they were still calling for two volunteers. I agreed because my work meeting didn't start for 18 hours after I arrived and they were offering two free tickets anywhere Virgin Atlantic flies. I got OFF the plane, was asked to sit in the boarding area for another 15 minutes while they got my bags off and did the paperwork. Then it turned out they didn't need both of us and without consultation, I was just told to get back on the flight. I was assured that my bags were being checked back on and would be on my flight.

I arrived in London with no signs of my bag and spent three horrible days sloshing in cold, rainy London without appropriate clothing for the work meeting or the starkly different weather. (It had been sunny and warm when I left the states.)

I filed a baggage claim for delayed baggage for the trip and months later still haven't received the baggage office's promised reimbursement of GBP 100 (in U.S. Dollars equivalent) nor any correspondence explaining its delay. I had to spend nearly GBP300 to purchase clothes and shoes I could wear to my two day work meeting. Part of the reason it was so high is I would gradually get basic items of clothing to look presentable -- underwear, socks and shoes one day, a jacket the next day, then work clothes the last day. My bag arrived the evening before I returned to the States.

In addition, I emailed a complaint with Virgin Atlantic about the situation that led to my bags being taken off the plane before take-off and not restored, and haven't heard anything from the company on this matter except for receipts for my email. I was literally thrown back on like baggage without acknowledgement for my effort to help the airline deal with an oversold flight. I can't believe airlines are allowed to treat people this way. And to think I thought I was trying to help.
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Posted by DebtorBasher on 2006-11-04:
It's unfortunate that this happened to you. However, I don't think it is their usual practice. Compared to the other airlines, I think Virgin has the least complaints (I could be wrong, nothing official)...Everyone who travels knows they can not depend on the weather being the same at the place of arrival as it is at the place of departure...Especially if you're traveling overseas. Lost or misdirected luggage is a common problem in the airline industry...and a traveler has to prepare themself before they leave with a "What If..." attitude...slushing around in cold rain for three days? Why didn't you get yourself what you needed, if it was that bad, I would have went right out and bought the shoes or boots and rain gear...It's LONDON...it Rains!
Posted by Tatyana on 2006-11-04:
Virgin Atlantic baggage services said my bag would be on the next flight that was supposed to arrive later that day so I didn't want to spend unnecessary money on boots. Boots are not cheap. My clothes for London were in my bag that was taken off the plane and didn't arrive, duh! My bag was not on that flight or the next flight or the next flight... and wasn't delivered until days later. Why are you turning on me? What a weird misdirected comment. I've given Virgin Atlantic four months (two emails) to remedy the situation and there has been no follow-up.
Posted by DebtorBasher on 2006-11-04:
I understand what you're saying...however, after the luggage didn't come on all those flights, something should have told you "I better be prepared in case they don't show up at all"...I understand your main complaint is that you were willing to do them a favor by giving up your seat and they didn't have your bags on the flight they should have been...unfortunatly it isn't unusaly for things like this to happen on airlines, people who travel need to prepare themself for things like this...that's all I'm saying...Thankfully you did get your luggage back before your return home, if not that could have set you back for additional days before they caught up with you. But to complain about the weather and the fact that when you left the airport Without your luggage, that is when you should have gotten the necessary things to get you through until you did get your stuff back...yeah, it cost money, but it was obviously your choice to spend the money or get wet.
Posted by Tatyana on 2006-11-05:
respectfully, you missed my points: my complaint isn't about being wet in London. let me spell it out for you: 1/ I agreed to give up my seat, Virgin didn't stick to their end of the bargain or even make sure my bags that they took off got back on the flight (the airline has record of taking my bags off the flight when they called down and said they had a volunteer willing to give up their seat. So, I was inconvenienced after trying to help them. 2/ they haven't sent me my baggage claim reimbursement and it's been four months. I'd write a review about London if I was complaining about being wet.
Posted by Tatyana on 2006-11-05:
... also I was there for a meeting that was every day, from 8-6. Since they kept saying my luggage would be on the next flight, I didn't see the point in dropping $600 for work clothes and boots for a 2 day meeting. June 25 -- the day I arrived was a Sunday. If you've been to London, you know the stores close very early, if they're open at all on Sunday. Your comments are totally unhelpful.
Posted by DebtorBasher on 2006-11-06:
Respectfully, you missed my point...They are still an Airline...it is normal for this to happen with Airlines...frustrating to the travelers, but it happens...if you have a fool proof solution to lost luggage, please share it with them.
Posted by WB on 2007-09-17:
Virgin Atlantic totally sucks - we had such high expectations and heard a lot about them - but our first trip with them is the last. They lost my daughter's suitcase from New York to New Delhi and did not respond to our claims for 4 months. We were told to file a claim at the destination and because we did not have the receipts for everything (you carry receipts for all the baggage when traveling?) - they deducted 50% from the payout - which was half of what is on the Ticket as per the Geneva conventions to start with - basically couple of hundred dollars for a $1000 claim. They were so arrogant and unhelpful - we called EVERY day for 1 month and then gave up - they did not even give us anything in Delhi to go out and buy emergency clothes. My wife is a radio jockey with an listener base of 500,000++ in New York/New Jersey area and we are now constantly advising people to dump this airline - even if we succeed in turning 5-10 people away, it will be a solace.

Posted by dj tenn on 2008-05-21:
Yes, NEVER EVER under ANY circumstance offer to help not only Virgin but any of these foul Sky Pirates. I went thru the same nonsense on Jet Blue on a flight from Ft. Laud to JFK NY.
I offered to give up my seat having a few days left before returning to work & was told I would be compensated with a free tix on their airline. Well they turned out not to need my seat, then when I reboarded the plane , they proceeded to lose my luggage, which resulted in a 2 day nitemare of going back and forth to JFK to finally have to pick up the luggage @ my own expense. Have yet to reimbursed for "Helping" them out.

Virgin has ROTTEN customer service ESPECIALLY since their Billionaire CEO Sir Richard Branson moved his customer service and reservations to a New Delhi where people are paid 2.00 per hour, cannot speak English properly and on top of it have you on a line with a bad connection ..

I tell you , the entire corporate world is about shafting the consumer any way possible while their profit margins continue to soar & customer service continues to decline.

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Virgin America's Gotcha Game
Posted by Cranford on 08/06/2008

Re: the Virgin America “gotcha” game….

I am a vice president of a company and a seasoned “road warrior” with considerable experience flying with some of the best airlines in the world (and a few of the worst). I am also fortunate enough to be one of those “favored fliers” coveted by most airlines, as I usually purchase my first class seat/s, rather than upgrade, etc.

A fan of Virgin Atlantic for many years, I had been eager to fly the new Virgin America. In October 2007 I purchased (2) two First Class seats to fly from LA to New York for New Years. Due to unfortunate circumstances, I was unable to make the trip. As a courtesy and matter of habit, I phoned into Virgin America to notify the airline that I would not be making the trip. I was informed that an email would be sent to follow the call. To my knowledge, I never received this email, but thought nothing of it at the time.

A couple of weeks ago, I contacted Virgin America to make a new reservation for two, in First Class (considerably more expensive now). I gave the confirmation number of my original flight to use towards the new tickets, only to be told that there was NO credit on file for this former reservation. Inquiring further into this mystery… I was told that no record was found on their side that this reservation had been cancelled prior to departure. I conveyed that I had in fact done so, but still didn’t understand how this was relevant. Alas, I was told further that if either I had not cancelled the reservation prior to departure (or no record was found of such) that the entire fare amount was FORFEITED!

I was told that this forfeiture information was in their “Fare Rules”, and that there was nothing else that could be offered other than crediting me “1/2 of the total fare or the Guest Services agent would “get in trouble”.

I must confess that I am not one to read the fine print when purchasing a full fare First Class ticket/s. No airline known to me in the USA has such an absurd policy which penalizes passengers with a 100% loss (or anything close) of the fare/money spent. It is certainly way out of the norm with other US airline policies. At most, one can usually expect a nominal change fee of some amount, and even that is usually limited to restricted economy tickets, and other very restricted fares.

I had scanned originally, and have since reread, the email confirmation I received from Virgin America and NO mention is made of this policy under “Rules and Restrictions”. (I have since been able to find this policy / practice only in the “fine print” of their website.)

One can only imagine that I’m not the first to be snagged into this trap thus far. To be told that I’ve lost $2400.00 because no record (conveniently) was found of a reservation cancellation, that I didn’t even know I was supposed to have made… (but in fact actually had in this case).

There is no question in my mind that this weighty penalty is a deceptive loophole buried in the fine print of your fare rules. One could certainly deduce that Virgin America has intentionally done so to the peril of unsuspecting customers, who must be expected to swallow it and move on. Virgin America must also further anticipate that they will not see these customers again as a result, and that this loss of repeat customers is acceptable.

I feel robbed quite frankly, and I cannot compare this experience with any other short of literally being robbed. It is certainly a story worth telling to others considering flying Virgin America.

I did direct my complaint to the Vice President per the Customer Care Department’s recommendation, in writing. No response or resolution has been offered to date!

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Posted by Anonymous on 2008-08-06:
I'm sorry, I'm confused by your post and possibly am not understanding the complaint here. There was no record of a cancellation of the original flight, yet Virgin offered to credit you 1/2 the cost of your new flight? And you're upset?
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-08-07:
By your own admission you don't seem to "sweat details" perhaps you didn't pay "full fare." Ticketing can be somewhat confusing and VX is not unlike most carriers. Call and cancel or simply "no show" and you'd receive a full credit on a true full fare ticket. I'd call VX with your record locator and ask if this ticket was purchased as a coded "full fare" rather than a near full fare. Good luck.
Posted by Curly2355 on 2008-08-11:
We just experienced a similar problem with Virgin. We were told the change fee for a return flight was $200/ticket for tickets so we confirmed the change over the phone. When we got to the airport the change was there but now we had to pay an additional $800/ticket. Customer service keeps telling me that understand how difficult the experience was but "there is nothing they can do." I will never fly Virgin again and advise anyone who considers it not to do anything without written confirmation!
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Pathetic Customer Service
Posted by Kinneparikh on 06/27/2013
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS -- This was my first time taking Virgin Atlantic from Mumbai to Chicago. The flight was Ok but the entertainment system was quite outdated offering limited number of shows and movies. Also, their customer service standards are pretty low, lot of misinformation and miscommunication from their end and no one takes any accountability whatsoever. After my flight, when I landed at Chicago airport, It took me sometime at Immigration. I went at Bag Carousal but could not find my luggage. So informed Virgin Staff of the same that it took me some time at customs. Bayo- the staff, held me for 45 minutes and he told me after checking barcodes that my luggage has not arrived on Airport and it will delivered to my doorsteps in 2 days. I went home with the claim number to follow up with customer service regarding my baggage. After 10-15 times of back and forth with Virgin Staff they told me to come and pick up my luggage from the airport after two days. They gave me multiple reasons of not delivering the bags, a) I lived in city and they do not deliver luggage to place so close to airport. b) The luggage was always on Chicago Airport (but they could not locate it in first place). I later collected baggage from the airport and decided to file a formal complaint online.

I emailed a complaint with Virgin Atlantic and haven't heard anything from the company on this matter till long except for receipts for my email. I would not travel or recommend anyone to travel again with them.
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I Can't Book a Seat on a Flight!!!
Posted by Cocojm on 05/25/2012
This is the letter that I sent to Virgin Atlantic. I have removed the flight information, but my complaint is obvious.

I'm sorry to say that I am quite dissatisfied with your service and total lack of communication. I TRULY NEED to reserve my seats... Why could I book my seats for my return flight .... but I cannot book my departing flight. PLEASE LISTEN AND HELP. I need two seats together for me and my son; one MUST be an aisle seet. I have tried to call 18008215483 and 18008628621, but IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SPEAK WITH A HUMAN!! How would you feel in this situation?

I hate to threaten you, but I will put this problem on Facebook and other complaint websites if I get no reply. Also, I will make it a point not to fly Virgin Atlantic again. That would be a loss for you, seeing that I travel to London often.
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Posted by trmn8r on 2012-05-25:
Here is some Virgin Atlantic information on seating:

Note that it states that a certain *percentage* of seats are available to reserve. After they are taken, I assume you can't choose until you check in. It says to check back periodically to see if you can get a seat.
Posted by Ben There on 2012-05-25:
This happens at most airlines... When flights get really full, no more seats can be assigned. As trmn8r pointed out, you should check their website often to see if people have cancelled or changed travel plans as their seats might show up as assignable again. This happens more than you would think.

If nothing opens up, be ready to check in online as soon as possible - normally 23 hours and 59 minutes before your flight. At this point, any blocked seats tend to be released to everyone.

Worst case scenario is that you can't get a seat assignment before you get to the airport. If this is the case, the gate agent will be your new best friend. He or she might be able to ask some other travelers if they can move to accommodate you and your son... However, if you are both in middle seats, that does not always work as people don't like to move from nice aisle seats next to their own family and friends that were booked 8 months ago to a solo middle seat.

If the gate agent can't do anything, you will have to make a call to board the flight and hope people on the plane or more willing to switch... if your son is very young they might not want to sit next to him anyway. Otherwise, you need to decide if you would be willing to pay the change fees to take another flight that can accommodate your wants better.

One thing to note - you say you "need" adjoining seats and it "must" be an aisle - if there are medical reasons for this request, be prepared to share it with the airline. Nobody particularly wants a middle seat, so airlines hear plenty of excuses for why people must be moved... have real proof like a doctor's note.
Posted by clutzycook on 2012-05-25:
Odds are she needs to sit next to her son because he is a kid.
Posted by danny54 on 2012-05-26:
This may seem odd to say, but if you do end up dealing with agents at the airport, be VERY calm and polite with all of them. They control your future on the flight.
A few years ago, my partner and I were returning from Amsterdam with what I thought were confirmed seats. Turns out my was, his wasn't. We were sent to the gate to try and work it out. When we got there, the couple ahead of us were ripping the poor gate agent up one wall and down the other.
Once they went to sit down, it was our turn. We did our best to treat the agent with respect. Ended up we both got our seats as we'd originally had them. Funny thing is, we never did see the couple that gave the agent the hard time on that flight!
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The worst major airline
Posted by Asmwk53316 on 10/06/2011
I have sent a complaint litter before and stated that I had a very bad outgoing flight experience and was regretting the flight back as you can read in this previous letter which was sent to you Virgin Atlantic on 5/31/2011;
(I and my two kids flew Virgin Atlantic from lax to Amman Jordan connecting in London with BMI. The flight was on time, that’s the only positive thing I can say about this flight, the entertainment, what entertainment? There was no service on the TV screen the whole flight to London, the food service was awful, and the food portions were very small. Only two food serving on the whole (11 HR.) flight, and when calling the flight attendants were very rude. In other words very poor service…I still have to fly back for the return flight. im really concerned about that flight. I will never fly or recommend Virgin Atlantic Airline to anybody!!!)

On the return flight back I called Virgin Atlantic airlines to confirm the flight 3days before the flight date. They told me ok you’re confirmed. Great so far so good until I went to check in at the airport ticketing desk, where they told me that I don’t have a ticket that my ticket was canceled. That’s when I called my husband in California and then he called Virgin Atlantic airlines to find out what is the problem. He was told at the first call that there was a flight change, that somebody had called and changed the flight number and that in order to reissue and release the ticket he had to pay $600.00 first, he told them that neither me or my wife had called or authorized or did any change on that flight at all at anytime. They put him on hold for about 15 to 20 minutes to find out what had happened to cause this. After about 15-20 minutes they came back saying that the person that did the change was our travel agent at that time he called the travel agent while Virgin Atlantic was still on the line but he had to leave a message because it was after hours here in California. Because of the flight time and that my flight was about take off in approximately one hour his hands were tied and had to pay the $600.00 in order for me to catch my flight so my kids can get to school the flowing Monday which I told the ticketing desk and of course they did not care and did nothing to help. After he payed 600.00 they said that to give them about 5 minutes for them to process. After about 5 minutes they did not reissue the ticket my husband called Virgin again, they re-checked the ticket validation and reason for the hold or cancellation Of the ticket again and said that the credit card number was not correct and they need a different card number which he gave them another card number so that I can make my flight. After it was processed and approved and my ticket was issued he asked them again why the extra charge, after putting on hold for another 20 minutes they came back and gave him different reason for the flight number change and the reason for the extra charge, this time they said the reason is that BMI airlines had changed the flight number only and that even though virgin Atlantic charged HIS Card for the extra charge they told him you have to take it up with BMI airline…this flight was the worst airline experience I have ever encountered from departing to the amazing heartless return flight. This would be the last time I travel with or recommend Virgin Atlantic to anybody I know and I will email copy to customer relations and post it online reviews….

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Terrible Customer Service
Posted by VickyRijo on 03/01/2011
This company has the worst customer service I have ever encountered. My boss went to Australia in September of 2010 and he is a VA flying club member. He was not credited mileage for his trip and we have been trying to get this resolved for the last 3 weeks. Still no resolution. I keep getting different people every time I call and no one knows anything. We have provided the flight number, Flying Club member number, Ticket number, dates of travel and record locator and still no one at Virgin Atlantic can tell us anything. At first they tell me to call at 4pm in the afternoon so that they can get in touch with the Flying Club and then when I call again they tell me to call at 10 am so that they can get in touch with the Flying Club. And whenever I search for a direct telephone number to the Flying Club address where we sent the Federal Expressed letter in Norwalk, CT - no one knows a number!!! This is the worst Customer Service I have ever dealt with!!!
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Appalling service from Virgin Atlantic
Posted by Maryline Belle on 02/14/2011
I used Virgin Atlantic to Fly to Cuba from London in August 2010. I was struck in La Havana for nearly 3 days because of a mechanical problem with the plane. I will not go though the major inconveniences this has caused to me both personally and professionally. Virgin promised all passengers a complementary flight anywhere in the world (except on their Australia route) valid for 18 month.

It took me 5 months to receive a confirmation letter for this complementary flight. When I finally got it (after continually sending them emails and calling them), I called reservations in February 2011 to try and book a flight for June 2011 to be told "you called too late, no complementary seats are available, you should have called earlier". When I explained that I ONLY just received the confirmation letter, the lady didn't want to hear about it. She was the least helpful person that I have come across. For an airline advertising high standards of customer service and strong ethics, they have a pretty odd way to show it.

Basically, Virgin delivered false promises at the time of the incident in order to keep angry passengers quiet and avoid a considerable amount of complaints but they are now refusing to honor their offer, hiding behind lame excuses.
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Posted by dan gordon on 2011-02-14:
sue them in small claims court. They will settle. Go to your state's secretary of states office or website and see who their registered agent is in your state. File the paperwork and wait to hear from them. Its a very effective method of 'talking' with them.
Posted by Anonymous on 2011-02-14:
mishandled on the part of VS - problem with non alliance airlines and their reluctance to endorse you to other carriers. Another reason not to fly the likes of Southwest, Jetblue, AirTran. Dan's advice isn't relevant as VS is a UK based carrier on an international itinerary LON-HAV... EU has some comprehensive provisions and that's the route I'd take.
Posted by Ben There on 2011-02-14:
Keep checking with Virgin to see if seats open up. These types of tickets are similar to frequent flyer tickets - seats will often open up later.
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Avoid Virgin Atlantic if you are elderly or non-white
Posted by Ericlowe on 01/17/2011
Virgin Atlantic staff repeatedly failed to provide wheelchair to a non-white elderly gentlemen at SFO and London-Heathrow while other passengers were readily transported by wheelchair when requested. Avoid Virgin Atlantic if you are elderly and non-white. Virgin Atlantic or the company that manages the wheelchair requests for them are racists.
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Posted by spiderman2 on 2011-01-17:
Did you make arrangements for a wheelchair ahead of time? Not everything in this world can be attributed to racism and frankly complaints like this take away credibility from real instances of racism.
Posted by trmn8r on 2011-01-17:
This sounds odd. In England they are particularly alert to passengers who need assistance.

What were the specific circumstances under which this happened, at each location? Only knowing them can the cause for failure to accommodate the request be explained.
Posted by idontthinkso on 2011-01-17:
Ah.. Because the situation you witnessed/experienced INVOLVED an Elderly Non-White individual, and it wasn't resolved to your satisfaction, Racism is involved. Thank you for updating us on that rule. I wasn't aware of it's existence.

Could you inform me whether this was enacted by a UN agreement, or is is a US-only law?
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I used to rate Virgin Atlantic quite highly but no more!
Posted by Wycombe on 11/30/2010
My elderly parents visited me from the UK and I tried to use the online check in to ensure they got seats together for their overnight return flight. The system does not allow you to check-in more than 24 hours ahead of the flight departure but as soon as the clock passed the -24 hour mark I logged on but got an error message saying the system was unavailable. After several more attempts, I called by phone and after 20 minutes or more on hold was told there was a problem with the sysstem and to try again later. I tried again and again over the following 2½ hours without success so I called again but gave up after 30 or more minutes on hold. I hung up and called again for another 35 minutes on hold before someone assured me they could help and transferred me back into the menu system where I managed to navigate my way to a hang up. Calling back it only took 20 minutes to get an answer out of New Delhi or wherever. The eastern gentlemen informed me that all online seats were already allocated so the only remedy would be to check in 3 hours ahead of the flight instead on 1½ hours. I asked how the online check in seats could be taken if the system had been down. Not surprisingly, he couldn't provide an answer.
Unfortunately, instead of asking to speak to a supervisor, I ended the phone call (politely). It was then I decided that I was unsatisfied enough that I wanted to escalate the problem - two calls and 1¾ hours later, I finally talked to someone who refused to put me through to a supervisor but couldn't do anything about the situation except notify the airport departure desk about the issue - to what end remains to be seen.
All that money and they can't provide a consistent online check in system or reasonable customer service!
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Posted by Ben There on 2010-11-30:
I have always been able to pre-assign seats on Virgin well in advance by using my confirmation code on their website. Next time I suggest you do this as soon as you buy your tickets so you don't have to wait to see what is left at check in. There is always a chance if you wait there might not be any seats left together, regardless of site issues.
Posted by warddw1526 on 2010-12-01:
Were they able to get seats together for the flight home?
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Robbed of $600 by Virgin Atlantic
Posted by Braniff on 09/25/2010
Robbed of $600 by Virgin Atlantic


This the tale of how Virgin Atlantic decided to make an extra $600 off of us when its staff knew we had no other option. Don't risk your trip on this airline. This can easily happen to you.

We were returning to the U.S. after a four-day visit to London. We were delayed leaving because I had been feeling ill that day. We arrived rushing as best we could, and were even held up by Virgin staff trying to sell a seat upgrade.

By the time we arrived at the baggage check-in, it was 3:05 P.M. and our flight was leaving at 4 P.M. The agent took a few moments to review our documents, then asked someone else whether we could still put our bags on the flight. That person said no. Given that there were other passengers who were already at the check-in desk when we arrived who still were loading their bags, I know it was merely a Virgin policy to not allow us to load the bags and not any other restriction from the airport.

What was the next and only option? They charged us almost $600 more to take seats on a flight four hours later that was 70% empty. It sent an unmistakable signal: Virgin enjoys sticking it to customers who had some bad fortune.

Again, don't risk a flight on this airline. It's like the worst of the credit card companies or other shysters in the market - the second they can find a reason and know you have no alternative, they'll unjustly suck as much money out of you as they can.
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Posted by Ben There on 2010-09-25:
Airports themselves do not have restrictions on when bags can be checked before a flight, but bags headed to certain destinations like the USA must endure extra security screening so they must be checked in earlier. The likelihood of your bag being sent for the additional screening and then making it out to the plane are very slim 45-50 minutes before departure - at that point the flight is already boarding, and bags have to be matched to passengers for international flights to the USA. The choices are kicking you off the flight to fly later with your bags, or delaying 300 other people if your bags are not processed quickly.

It would have been great customer service if Virgin would have waived the change fees of your ticket, but some might say if they did that for you, they would have to do it for everyone. If there were no penalties for showing up late for a flight, probably many more people would risk it. Seriously, who wants to get to an airport 3 hours before a flight if you can do it 50 minutes before a flight.
Posted by rockfishing on 2010-09-25:
I've always have shown up on time and have never had a problem. I'm sure everyone would love to show up late with no penalty.
Posted by James_236 on 2010-09-25:
It seems you were only late by 5 minutes, and if it was you the agent was trying to sell an upgrade and that made you late, you have a cause of action against Virgin to recover the charges. Write them a letter setting out your intended claim and then it is open to you to file an action in small claims court in your State. To make it more interesting claim not only a reimbursement of your $600 but also damages for the four hours delay. I would ask the Judge for a minimum of $500 per person for the delay. You don't need a lawyer for a small claims court case.
Posted by PepperElf on 2010-09-25:
rock ... exactly. i have usually gotten to the airport 2-3 hours early.. once i got to the airport before it was open even... tho the lobby was open at least so i could wait inside.
Posted by Ben There on 2010-09-25:
Can you sue a British company about an instance that happened in London in a US Small Claims court? Besides, all the airline has to say is that it takes a couple seconds to ask if you want an upgrade (I have heard it many times)... Its also well known and documented that you are supposed to check in early for flights to the USA. If the judge finds against the OP, couldn't he or she be responsible for Virgins costs?
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-09-25:
Knowingly making someone sit at the airport for four hours when they are ill, is pretty insensitive. Then adding $600 on top of that--whew. I'll bet the luggage would have easily gotten on the flight in less than 1/2 an hour, especially since they were also just putting other peoples luggage on the belt. I have been amazed at how some of my transferred luggage has made connection flights.

Alternatively, the airline could have offered to send the luggage on the next flight (since it was nearly empty) and let the passengers leave on their scheduled flight. The passengers could then pick it up at the airport or the airline could have had it delivered for a fee. No harm, no foul.

Sometimes rules can and are broken depending on the agent. I think they could have used a little more compassion in this instance. Everything is not always black and white. I've even been on flights where they hold the doors open for someone arriving late. Rules are broken every day for extenuating circumstances. I guess it just depends on the airline and the agents/supervisors working at the time.
Posted by Ben There on 2010-09-25:
singsing, actually bags have to travel with the passenger on international flights - sure sometimes bags get lost and this does not happen, but it is illegal for an airline to intentionally separate bags and passengers when the flight is from or to the USA. Rules can and are broken, but much less often when the US Department of Homeland Security is the enforcer...

Also, just because other peoples bags were going on the belt does not mean they were for this flight... Virgin is hubbed at Heathrow, so other peoples bags could have been going to other cities.
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-09-25:
My bags have come without me (because they were not put on the flight), so I guess that's what I was thinking, Ben. I took the OP to mean the other's were boarding their flight too, but, it is possible they were boarding flights to other destinations, as you said.

Using an example. I know that the aircraft doors are supposed to close within a certain amount of time before a flight (15-20 minutes--not sure), but I have seen them left open way beyond that to let latecomers on, so I know they don't always follow Homeland Security rules. This has happened in the US and internationally. I think they still need to use common sense sometimes too, and I've seen the rules broken many times for different circumstances. I think illness would be a good example.
Posted by Helpful on 2010-09-26:
It's unfortunate that they couldn't or wouldn't accommodate you. I'd like to hear their side of the story though.
Posted by James_236 on 2010-09-26:
Article 33 of the Montreal Convention provides a number of alternative jurisdictions where the passenger may bring his claim and one is the place of destination, so he can surely file in small claims court in his State. Virgin is a British company but if they want to fly in and out of the United States they have to be subject to the juridsiction of US courts even for matters that take place in London if the passenger complains that those matters caused him to be delayed on a flight into the US. A losing Plaintiff in small claims may be required to pay a nominal sum for court costs to a successful defendant, but this is not for the Attorney's fees. It is a very small sum, perhaps under $100. Some jurisdictions don't allow Attorneys and those that do, do not reimburse your Attorneys fees if successful. The OP seems to think that the agent who tried to sell the upgrade kept them back so this is all he has to tell the court. The airline cannot counter with it only takes a few seconds unless they brought to the court the actual agent who tried to sell the upgrade who could give evidence that it took only a few seconds in this case. It cannot be worth the while for Virgin to fly and put up lawyers and witnesses for a small claims case and Virgin will hardly defend this case. On the day of the case the OP will simply set out in his own words what happened and the Judge will make a decision. Although Virgin is not one of main offenders, it is time passengers begin bringing airlines to justice.
Posted by jktshff1 on 2010-09-26:
james, someone will correct me, but I believe 2hrs ahead is recommended for international flights.
Posted by James_236 on 2010-09-26:
Someone may correct me too, but I think the 2 hours is the "recommended" arrival time at the airport, but the cutoff for check-in of bags is one hour, but the OP's story is that the agent looked at their documents then asked someone else if their bags could still get on the flight, bearing out that they were just minutes out of time and even the agent thought they might have made it.
Posted by Ben There on 2010-09-26:
There are plenty of time where I did not feel like getting to the airport at the proper time because I was really tired, had a broken arm, hungover, getting lucky, busy with work, not feeling well, upset because I was at a funeral, eating Christmas dinner with family, etc... There are also times when I paid money to change my flight because I knew I was not going to make the flight or I was sick and didn't want to share germs with other passengers.

However, if I got to an airport right at the cut off time and missed the minimum check in time I would never try to blame someone who was just doing his or her job of upselling a seat, or whatever few seconds diversion I might encounter... The reason I am late for the flight is all on me because I didn't allow enough time to get to the airport.

There is always the chance that something will go wrong the tube or taxi might be delayed, you forget something and have to turn around, you wake up late, but that is life, NOT A COURT CASE! I wish more people would accept responsibility for their own actions instead of suing.
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-09-26:
Ben There, I liked your list of reasons (1st paragraph). I had to laugh. It is true. I've had many of the same scenarios and have also changed my flights at cost just because I didn't feel like going yet--for whatever reason.

I still feel sympathetic to anyone who is traveling and ill and it would have been nice if things had been worked out differently by the employees since it was a close call. The $600 and 4 hour wait was the icing on the cake.
Posted by Ben There on 2010-09-26:
Yeah, I feel sorry too, but I can see both sides of the story. Risk a delay and penalize the 300 people who checked in on time, or deny boarding and penalize the person who was late.

Because Heathrow is so busy and is slot controlled, if you take a delay waiting for baggage it might mean an hour of extra taxiing if you lose your spot in line for take off. I had this happen to me in Newark - some bags were loaded, but the corresponding passengers never got on the plane. It took 30 minutes to find the bags in the hold, but we were hours late taking off because we got in the back of the line during Europe rush hour.
Posted by PepperElf on 2010-09-26:
the case one would have to prove is whether or not the 5 minutes - if it was even that long - caused this to happen.

but in order to prove that you'd also have to prove that the upsale would have caused this to happen if if the OP had been at the airport earlier.

or rather.. isn't it always the case? when you're running late everyone in front of you seems to move too slowly. or something happens that makes you even later? is it the fault of the people ahead of you?

yes going anywhere while sick feels bad, but sometimes you have to do it. and yes i've traveled while sick.. once i pretty much traveled oh... just a few hours after getting out of the hospital. people were nice to me at least. .. i left the hospital tags on until i got home.
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-09-26:
Ben, that does sound like a hellish place to fly out of. Haven't been there in years.

When I fly out of Singapore, the airport is so organized that I've started arriving 1 1/2 hours before flight time. I still have an hour or more after check-in. I wish all airports ran so smoothly.
Posted by Ben There on 2010-09-26:
Singapore has a great airport, swimming pool and all. Newark and Heathrow are the anti-Changi.

I also like the new Bangkok airport. For a city that is so chaotic, the airport experience is really nice.
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-09-26:
Hong Kong's airport is pretty nice too. Haven't flown into Bangkok yet, but at least I know the airport will be decent :) My son hates JFK, Laguardia and Newark too.

I've never seen the swimming pool at Changi--where is it? I'm usually in a daze when I get there--either coming in after all those hours on a plane or getting there at the crack of dawn when I'm half asleep. No time for sight seeing, lol.
Posted by Ben There on 2010-09-26:
The pool is in Terminal 1. There is a fee to use it unless you are staying at that airport hotel. Hong Kong is nice - the Cathay Pacific Lounges are amazing.
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-09-26:
Oh, okay, Ben. Interesting and I'll be checking that pool out--while I'm waiting for my flight in a couple of weeks. Have only been to Japan Airlines lounge in HK. It was nice too.
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