Saturday, 6 December 2014

Air Europa and Travelpack. DON'T DO IT!!!

When looking for flights to Patagonia, Vijay and I settled on a great deal we saw through Travelpack. It was excellent value, approximately £500 each for a one way flight from London Gatwick to Ushuaia, via Madrid and Buenos Aires. We checked out the bicycle policies and everything seemed perfect. A look at Air Europa's special baggage policy and you can clearly see that it costs just €75 to take a bicycle as extra baggage. We thought this was perfect, so booked the tickets.

Closer to the date we emailed Air Europa to book our bicycles onto the flight. They told us that they were not accepting any extra luggage between 15 November 2014 to 15 January 2015. This information was detailed under "checked baggage", however it wasn't even clearly displayed on the page, you had to expand a link saying check the exceptions for your destinations (see below).

Why would exceptions for excess baggage be displayed on the "checked baggage" page? Why is it on an expandable link? Why wasn't it simply there on the page for all to see in the first place? I am very disappointed that Air Europa have created such unintuitive set of information on baggage. The really sad thing is that the sole reason we booked with them was because their site gives the impression that bicycles are accepted. It would take some serious digging around to find those excess baggage exceptions. There wasn't even an asterix(*) to bring it to your attention that there were exceptions.

So unfortunately we have lost our £500 (each) because travelpack has a no refund policy. We contacted Air Europa to see if they might be able to give us special dispensation to carry these bikes despite their rules, but they refused to make any exceptions for us. This is a dream trip for both Vijay and myself and we felt hugely let down by both Air Europa for the deceptive information on their website and travelpack for their policies. We have lost £1000 between us, which is a massive sum of money to us, but very little to companies like Air Europa and Travelpack.

I asked a member of staff at Air Europa why they weren't accepting excess baggage. They replied that it is a very "busy" time. Personally, I don't accept this excuse. Most airlines carry excess baggage during even the busiest times of the year. It is possible that and Air Europa plane could be full outside of this busy period, yet they would still carry excess baggage in those circumstances. It seems clear to me that Air Europa must be making additional income during this period by carrying commercial packages and post. This is something that they denied over the phone.

I would not recommend flying with Air Europa. They have a lot of negative feedback online, yet stupidly we decided to give them a chance because the deal seemed so good. That has come back to haunt us. I don't like to pay too much attention to online negativity, but this has shown me that sometimes you really should!

In the end we have just had to wave goodbye to £1000. I am pretty bitter about this. We have made alternative travel arrangements and have booked directly Turkish Airlines. They are more expensive, but a great airline to travel with. I previous flew with them from London Gatwick to Seoul in 2013 and I took my bicycle with me. It is going to cost just €90 to carry the bikes from London to Buenos Aires. I regret that we didn't simply book with them in the first place. It's worth paying a little extra to fly with a reputable airline. Booking with a shoddy company like Travelpack just leads to tears.

Nonetheless excitement levels are high. We are still about to go away on an epic trip, we just happen to have haemorrhaged a shed load of money in the process thanks to Travelpack and Air Europa. I'm looking forward to flying with Turkish Airlines and filling my belly with Turkish food at Istanbul airport during the layover.

I received an email to say that we would receive a refund, but that there would be a £150 cancellation fee each. The refund should take 5-6 weeks. Watch this space!

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