The consumer watchdog “Which?” has accused Airlines of acting unfairly when passenger miss their flights. Many airlines currently cancel all remaining legs of a trip if one is not taken. They protect this right by adding clauses to their terms and conditions. The action is to stop passengers from Skiplagging. This is all despite the fact that a Spanish court recently ruled that Iberia had no right to punish those who miss one leg of a flight. Despite the measures being in place to stop Skiplagging, it frequently punishes those who miss a flight for genuine reasons.
What is Skiplagging?
Skiplagging is a process that involves passengers booking a ticket from C to B via A when they only intend to travel from A to B. A real-world example is that it can often be cheaper to buy a ticket from Billund to Los Angeles via London with British Airways, than booking the same flight from London to LA on its own. Many people would book a cheap flight from London to the origin point of the skiplagged booking. For example, I have previously flown with Ryanair to Billund to take advantage of a cheap fare to Los Angeles myself. The punishment stops me from missing the flight between Billund and London and trying to board the flight to Los Angeles. Essentially it is forcing passengers to pay for the higher fare or travel out of their way.
Punishing Regular Travellers
The downside to these rules is that they are punishing regular travellers. People are having to reebok their entire travel plans when they have missed their outbound flight, maybe because of traffic or a train delay. Unfortunately, many passengers don’t realise that their flights have been cancelled until they reach the airport for their return flight, then having to fork out extra for a last minute ticket home. Surprisingly Ryanair is one of the few companies that won’t cancel a booking if one flight is missed. This is as they treat each flight as separate.
Which? argues that the booking cancellations violate section 62 the 2015 Consumer Rights Act. This states “a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights” describes the unfair clause which is acting to passengers detriments. In fact, Which? Managing Director said “We don’t think there’s any good reason for a no-show clause to exist. It only works in favour of the airline. It should be removed immediately by airlines, who need to show more respect for their passengers.”
Airlines Defend Themselves
Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic defended themselves in comments given to The Telegraph. A British Airways Spokesperson told The Telegraph “It is common practice within the airline industry for customers to be required to use flights in the order stated in the booking, and they are asked to agree to these terms when they make a booking.” Before adding “If a customer arrives at the airport after genuinely missing their flight, their return flight will – of course – be protected.”
Virgin Atlantic said “We are aware of the report and are in the process of investigating further. We never want to disappoint our customers and make our terms and conditions clear at the point of booking.”
Have you been affected by these unfair practices? Let us know in the comments down below!