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Lack of an Airline Ombudsman

Ennis, Ireland
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2 posts
65 reviews
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Lack of an Airline Ombudsman

I'm in dispute with Virgin Atlantic and have exchanged many emails with them over the last six months all to no avail. We were flying with them to Cancun and then on to Belize with a very small Belizean airline. What really worries me - and, I believe, should worry Virgin Atlantic - is that, instead of directly addressing the substantial points that I have been making and the questions that I keep asking, I am being fobbed off with repetitive platitudes culminating in the hope that I'll soon get over it and be flying with them soon.

None of the replies received deal with such matters as:

• Why, at VA's Gatwick check-in, were we wrongly advised to send our cases straight through to Belize - and could such bad advice should be given again?

• Why VA failed to transfer our two suitcases to the Tropic Air check-in at Terminal 1, despite their being clearly labelled - and could this happen again?

• Why VA's system could not deal with our problem due to our having no mislaid luggage reference number, due in turn to there being no-one at VA's Cancun airport office at the time of our departure for Belize?

• Why the head of VA's Baggage Tracing Team continues to insist that it was tiny Tropic Air’s responsibility - and whether this policy may be revisited? and

• Why the Belgium-based travel agent’s message to VA was neither acknowledged nor responded to?

Related matters that I raised have also been unanswered and I fear that others will be in similar predicaments. It is for that reason that I am persisting with my queries. My offer to come along to VA's offices and discuss these matters, or to run some kind of customer relations training simulation still stands.

Is there no disputes resolution body external to VA top which I can appeal? All advice warmly appreciated


Melbourne, Australia
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2,352 posts
52 reviews
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11. Re: Lack of an Airline Ombudsman

Curious, did you get your luggage in the end or not? Oh & did you have travel insurance?

Manchester, United...
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361 posts
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12. Re: Lack of an Airline Ombudsman

I think the OP is unhappy that he was possibly misadvised by Virgin staff in Gatwick.

Virgin and this Belizean airline, Tropic Air, do not interline. I would be doubtful that Tropic Air interlines with any other airline whatsoever.

What I suspect happened is that the OP has been left under the impression that his bags have been tagged through to Belize. Once in Belize, he has discovered that his bags have never gone further than Cancun. Tropic Air's website states that all bags must be presented to a Tropic Air counter. Given that they operate tiny Cessnas (with weight restrictions), Tropic Air is probably not keen to accept through checked bags from an inbound Boeing 747.

He obviously cannot file a missing bag report with Virgin in Belize. Tropic Air have probably shrugged their shoulders and said not their problem. Idiot staff at Virgin have probably got the wrong end of the stick and insist that the missing bag report is filed with final carrier (Tropic Air). OP ultimately running round in circles and getting upset and frustrated.

It is easy for those who are just observers to this story to dismiss the OP as a drama queen...."it happens to thousands of people everyday blah blah blah." However, I suspect he has been given the run around with no resolution. He needs to keep things factual and non-emotional. There is no point dwelling on the errors that happened. We can't change that now and quite possibly there will have been reminders sent to staff. You need to present the facts of what you need reimbursed with regards to unforeseen expenses. If you have a Virgin frequent flyer account, maybe an ex-gratia mileage deposit would be appreciated. If Virgin refuses to reimburse your expenses, then the small claims court is the way to go. That will act as your ombudsman.

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13. Re: Lack of an Airline Ombudsman

Thanks pinkarrdvark, its a pity the OP didn't start with some facts like you did, though if as you say tropic air don't interline I wonder how the staff at Gatwick managed to produce luggage tags with them labelled all the way through? Is there nothing in place to prevent that? Otherwise they could arbitrarily interline to anywhere?

Unfortunately the OP posturing about visiting their premises to provide staff training etc has obscured the factual issues. Has he contacted Tropic for example and got a statement from them that they don't interline? What does he want? Did he get his luggage back?

Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
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70 reviews
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14. Re: Lack of an Airline Ombudsman


Re: 13

"I wonder how the staff at Gatwick managed to produce luggage tags with them labelled all the way through? Is there nothing in place to prevent that? "

==> It depends on how VS has their systems set up.. As I know most carriers, you can *not* print a bag tag that includes a carrier to which you (as the printing carrier) don't interline with *or* who does not accept bags from a subsequent carrier on that same ticket sequence.

However, I do know most carriers do have a "blank" option that's part of their back-up systems planning...

This option can be used essentially to make wholly manual tags ... but ... that "make-your-own-tag" functionally, where it exists, is usually limited to users who have a higher level of authority (like a supervisor) and not your front-line agent.

I wonder what exactly where the tags issued as -- what shows in that tag..

Travel Safe,

Ennis, Ireland
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2 posts
65 reviews
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15. Re: Lack of an Airline Ombudsman

I appreciate all comments, including the 'get over it' and 'that's how it is' observations. Yes, the last carrier is formally responsible and that works well if only major airlines are involved, but not when Tesco hands over to a corner shop. Our suitcases were just taken to the Virgin Atlantic office at Caucun Airport and no-one did anything about it for five days. I too have been flying for many decades: my first flight was London to New York in 1948. I look again at what happened to us and our luggage several months ago and - thoughtfully and objectively - still maintain that VA could and should have done more. Virgin on the ridiculous maybe, but good customer relations must mean more that simply reiterating inflexible rules. Anyway, thanks for all the responses...

England, United...
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16. Re: Lack of an Airline Ombudsman


Millions, possibly hundreds of millions of people, fly internationally and domestically every day. Every person's itinerary and arrangements are different, and logic suggests that quite often things will go wrong. We live in an imperfect world, and never more so than in the travel experience.

To address what I read as the nub of your enquiry, what would you think, or like to think, that an Ombudsman for travel could do to assist you? In the UK, various Ombudsman's Bureaux can only adjudicate on a complaint and, sometimes, award modest compensation. They are not empowered to fine a company or make them change their business practices.

I am not being flippant, so don't get me wrong, but if you really feel that Virgin handled things so badly for you, and you have grounds for grievance to the extent that you feel they were in breach of contract, them go ahead, issue proceedings against them, and let us know how it all works out.

I hope all your future travels are trouble free and that all arrangements entirely meet your expectations...

17. Re: Lack of an Airline Ombudsman

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