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Denied Boarding

Inverness, United...
Level Contributor
8 posts
80 reviews
Denied Boarding

I booked flights for my son, his wife and 2 month old daughter to fly from Aberdeen - Paris, Paris - Atlanta, Atlanta - Little Rock with Air France then Delta for last leg. All of the ESTA forms were filled in and apporved.

At the last minute in Paris - after security, at the gate, they were not allowed on plane because Air France said that the baby's ESTA was not approved. They did not have a printed copy of the ESTA, but had all the numbers. (The ESTA website says no printed copy needed)

They had to collect luggage, get back to Air France desk. Needless to say they missed flight. They were told no compensation and that they would have to purchase all new tickets, after re-applying for ESTA. They finally were given new tickets for today but had to pay 216 Euros each for this. Then they had to get a hotel for the night. The baby has run out of formula and had to find a suitable French substitute.

They returned to airport this morning and were told by Air France that their new tickets had been cancelled. Eventually it was resolved and they have just boarded plane to Atlanta. They were issued with boarding passes through to Little ROck for my son and his wife, however the Air France team refused to issue boarding pass for the baby for the final leg of the journey. If this is not resolved by the time they land in Atlanta, they will have to rent a car to get to Little Rock.

My son is in the Air Force and although had allowed extra time for travel, it has made a huge dent in both his money and his time as he must report at a specific time.

I do not know what to do next. Can we make a claim against Air France? I have copies of all the ESTA forms proving they were in order.

Has anyone else come up against this?

London, United...
Level Contributor
23,031 posts
28 reviews
1. Re: Denied Boarding

Ok, this seems unusual.

If you have a copy of the approved esta for the baby, approved prior to date of travel I would assume and effective for the date of travel, and a relevant passport for the baby, then yes I would assume you can claim against air France.

However, it does seem something is wrong somewhere. It would appear they are refusing to take the baby for a reason and they think something is wrong and the baby does not have the right documentation and approvals.

Why are they still refusing to take the baby for the last leg? Are they unsure they baby will be permitted access to the us when they reach Atlanta?

NYC/Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
Level Contributor
30,354 posts
22 reviews
2. Re: Denied Boarding

I would think there should be some liability if the airline messed up. BTW we do suggest that people carry copies of their approved ESTA with them. Even though not required it would definitely have been useful in a case like this.

UK
Level Contributor
49,574 posts
93 reviews
3. Re: Denied Boarding

Sounds like a misconnect between something in US Immigration and AF, since AF doesn't (obviously) have a list of who has an ESTA, they must "asked" electronically US immigration about ESTAs and either got back an incorrect answer from US immigration that the ESTA hadn't been granted, or wrongly thought they had such a negative response.

If it was US immigration that gave the wrong answer ( and dont forget, these folks have done stuff such as confuse a 6 year old with a 50+ year old terrorist just because they had similar names (not the same, just similar) then AF might argue its not their fault and US authorities screwed up) . But in my book, they would have to prove that.

I'd be looking to claim compensation against AF informally (should be at least 600€ each same as EU261) , and if they didn't play ball (it wouldn't really cost them anything to offer another set of free flights at a later date for example), start a small claims procedure.

You could also try posting on their Facebook page. Or can you start one, I dont know how that works? "incompetently denied boarding by useless AF officials" or some such?

Inverness, United...
Level Contributor
8 posts
80 reviews
4. Re: Denied Boarding

Thanks for the info. I will look into getting some sort of compensation. What I didn't add about the whole AF saga yesterday, was that when I tried to contact them, I could only get through to reservations their customer services department was closed until 9am this morning. Reservations said there was nothing they could do. Because my son is on a deadline - he has to report back to military base or be AWOL, they couldn't wait until 9am this morning and were basically forced to pay up last night.

Fredericia, Denmark
Destination Expert
for Bentota, Beruwala, Sri Lanka
Level Contributor
37,532 posts
7 reviews
5. Re: Denied Boarding

I doubt all facts have been presented.

It's too easy to judge the airline. It's pax responsibility to have correct documentation.

London, United...
Level Contributor
23,031 posts
28 reviews
6. Re: Denied Boarding

I suspect there is something wrong in the babies esta application, be it passport number or dates etc, I also thought the airlines had access to a system which showed automatically whether an approved and valid esta was in place or not,

Before seeking compensation, I would be sure that you have applied correctly and there is not an error in there somewhere. I am assuming your son reapplied for another esta which is what has permitted them to board for Atlanta,,,but I still don't get the no boarding to little rock part.

I would also be sure this was the real reason for denied boarding.

Madrid
Level Contributor
2,992 posts
7 reviews
7. Re: Denied Boarding

The system for babies is different in the USA.In Europe we pay 10% of the fare for a baby,and they get issued a boarding card.

In the USA they are called lap children,and are carried free.Not sure about Delta,but I would assume Delta just expect the baby to be carried on without a specific boarding card.

Check at the gate,but my bet is it is not required.

Italy
Destination Expert
for Livigno, Lombardy
Level Contributor
39,469 posts
177 reviews
8. Re: Denied Boarding

If you have a copy of all the ESTA forms and they are all in order then someone will have to compensate him it's just a question of who it will be. Let us know how it all goes I'm interested to know the outcome of this mess.

Elk Rapids, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Lanai
Level Contributor
8,886 posts
42 reviews
9. Re: Denied Boarding

You are close raidex. With Delta it has to say you will have a baby on your lap on your boarding pass. They are not issued separate passes.

Inverness, United...
Level Contributor
8 posts
80 reviews
10. Re: Denied Boarding

Re the documents - they are all absolutely correct and were issued approved on 16th December - since that time the status has NOT changed and I do have copies of all of them. The same ESTA forms were obviously OK this morning when they were allowed on the flight as no alterations were made. Not sure why Air France's system said they weren't and less than 24 hours later they were. It just seems odd that one was not showing as approved when it was a group application and the others were fine.

What I do know is:

1. They were not given time before flight to sort it

2. They were charged extra for something that was NOT their (the passengers) fault

3. They had extra expense/hassle for meals/hotel and trying to find baby milk

4. No customer service people on duty to help