An Inside Traveller subscriber was booked to fly from Verona to Birmingham on Air France with a change in Paris. He has written to us with the following tale of woe:
At Verona, although my luggage was booked through, the check-in official refused to issue a boarding pass for the second leg of the trip (ie Paris/Birmingham), directing me instead to go directly to the Paris departure gate where the boarding pass would be available. She gave the same advice to a couple behind me in the queue with a similar itinerary. We all explained that this seemed improper and that the connection time was too tight to mess about but she insisted.
At Paris, there was no boarding pass and we were told that because we hadn’t checked in, our seats had been reallocated: the result was that we had to spend the night at the airport and were re-booked on Air France flights the following morning – a delay of some 11 hours.
There was some problem at Charles de Gaulle (CDG) that day and our suspicion is that Air France were deliberately delaying those passengers travelling in the evening so that back-logs from earlier in the day could be cleared. Air France help-desk officials at CDG did not seem to be at all surprised that we hadn’t been given boarding passes in Verona.
He has complained to Air France (under EU Regulation 261/2004) but they insist that the problem is not theirs but that of the Verona/Paris carrier, Régional, despite the fact that it is a wholly owned subsidiary.
Harrumph! It seems that Air France was indeed having problems in Paris that day and had obviously blocked off issuing boarding cards for passengers at other airports. This is quite common when the airline is aware that they might not be able to accommodate all passengers. But trying to blame the connecting airline (which they happen to own) is outrageous.This should be an open-and-shut case which, if Air France do not settle themselves, could surely be resolved by starting a Small Claims action (one cannot imagine they would be foolish enough to defend it). No airline wants to pay compensation but it is sad when a brand as big as Air France resorts to such obfuscation to avoid payment of a few hundred euros.