Air Belgium Canceled My Flight… AGAIN!

Man, I really want to root for the airline given the great experience I had flying with them between Charleroi and Hong Kong, but they make it hard.

The flight I had taken with them was already delayed by weeks. I was supposed to fly with Air Belgium shortly after they launched operations in late April, but they ended up delaying their service to early June. They made this change because they claim that bookings were very low, and because they didn’t yet have overfly rights for Russia (which seems kind of important if you’re launching flights between Europe and Asia).

I have to give them credit for their generosity in offering to rebook me. They offered to rebook me roundtrip in Cathay Pacific business class. I turned that down, because little did they know I actually specifically wanted to fly Air Belgium, so I instead rescheduled that portion of my trip.

So as compensation they upgraded me from economy to business class for my return flight, which was supposed to be in mid-August. Now, in fairness, they weren’t really doing this out of the kindness of their hearts, as I could have also requested EU261 compensation given that they only told me about the change last minute, and that would have cost them a lot of cash.

I was looking forward to my return flight from Hong Kong to Charleroi in a couple of weeks to see what (if anything) has changed, though just now received the following message that my flight has been canceled:

We are very sorry to announce to you that Air Belgium has decided to cancel its flight of 14th August 2018.

You can find attached your new ticket receipt, with reservation we propose on the day before, 13th August 2018.

Please acknowledge this email, and let us know if you agree with the new schedule.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience, and wish you a pleasant flight with Air Belgium.

Look, I get the challenges Air Belgium has, and that their flights are basically empty. I think their business model makes no sense, and they should just focus on charters. However, if you’re going to try to run scheduled air service, you’ve gotta stick to the schedule. My outbound flight was delayed by several weeks, and now they’re trying to push forward my return flight by a day.

Air Belgium has already repeatedly reduced frequencies, and right now the airline operates 3x weekly flights between Charleroi and Hong Kong. For the next two weeks, it looks like they canceled one of those frequencies (including the one I was on), so they’re operating just two weekly flights.

I wonder if that’s because the flights are so empty, or if it’s because they have a more lucrative charter contract they could get for those dates. I also wonder if they’ll progressively keep canceling one of the weekly frequencies, or if it’s just for the next two weeks.

I can’t make a flight a day earlier, so I guess I’ll rebook for a subsequent date… assuming they’re still operating scheduled flights at that point. I just don’t get how much longer this will go on before they stick to charter flights.

Comments

  1. Who owns this airline? This is quite fishy. No normal company can afford to operate like this.
    Could be whitewashing of mafia money, russian criminals or a CIA scam.

  2. Try to make them feel guilty and maybe this time they will offer to book you in Cathay Pacific First Class 😉

  3. It just a front to get around Chinese capital controls and get money out of the country anyway….

  4. Lucky, are you being paid or compensated in other ways by Air Belgium? The excessive amount of posts about a single airline which “sometimes” flies an obscure route is making me suspicious about your motivations to write about them frequently.

  5. @ Matt — Absolutely not. I cover them so much because I’m fascinated by this small and bizarre operation. Besides, if they were paying me for coverage, do you think this is the kind of coverage they’d want? 😉

  6. @ Morgan — Due to the rescheduling they rebooked me in business, so I was planning on taking that return flight. I intentionally scheduled it several weeks apart so that it would be part of separate trips.

  7. I had the same issue with Xiamen Air. They cancelled and pushed my return flight 2 days then did it again and pushed it another 2 days. I ended up getting my money back and flying with American.

  8. ” as I could have also requested EU261 compensation given that they only told me about the change last minute, and that would have cost them a lot of cash.”

    Hum, no. You are due compensation regardless of them booking on another airline or not.
    When your flight gets cancelled within 14 days of the flgihts, you have the right to be re-booked on another flight or to get your money refunded. You still have a right to compensation regardless of what you choose.

    From the EU website about this:

    “Reimbursement, re-routing or rebooking in the event of cancellation
    The airline must offer you, on a one off basis, a choice between:

    1. the reimbursement of your ticket and, if you have a connecting flight, a return flight to the airport of departure at the earliest opportunity
    2. re-routing to your final destination at the earliest opportunity or,
    3. re-routing at a later date at your convenience under comparable transport conditions, subject to the availability of seats.
    As soon as you have chosen one of these three options, you no longer have rights in relation to the other two options. However, the airline may still have to provide compensation depending on the distance of your flight and the length of the delay past your original planned arrival time.”

    So yeah, they owe you money still.

  9. Do passengers have any recourse in situations like this? Air New Zealand and Alaska Airlines both canceled upcoming flights and expect me to travel the following day.

  10. In case anyone else was wondering, Charleroi is a city of 200,000 population in Belgium. According to Wikipedia, its citizens are called “Carolos.”

  11. Can you please update your advertiser disclosure to include the fact that you write “news” articles that are actually sponsored?

    It has become obvious that Priority Pass pays you to report on all their new restaurants. I post a comment asking how it is possible for them to run a business and it isn’t published. However, you write a full article about how this airline is being ran in a less-than-ideal way and allowing people to post conspiracy theories in the comments.

    If it’s a sponsored post, just be honest.

  12. @ anon — So you want me to disclose a financial relationship that doesn’t exist? Also not sure what comment wasn’t reviewed. If you use a real email address and username I can look it up for you.

  13. Ha! A lot of haters! I personally like reading these articles just to hear the latest installment about what’s going on. It’s light reading. And interesting. One of the parts of the blog I like.

    Each to their own!

  14. Lucky, I find this interesting. Thank you for keeping us updated for future developments! Honestly I would not fly this airline at this point. I am not convinced they run a save operation regarding maintenance, fueling, crew, etc.

  15. Dont change Lucky. Its the fascination a Mongoose has for a snake and inevitably the snake dies. Ever hear of AURA? Would love to hear your thoughts on them.

  16. Hi again. Charleroi. Charleroi. Charleroi.

    No serious flyer wants a long-haul out of Charleroi unless it’s €10 or less.

  17. I wonder what happends first…
    Air Belgium going bankrupt, or Lucky’s trip report of them being published?

  18. Either Air Belgium is a very ambitious start up that is struggling to be run.

    Or its just a pet project/Tax write off for the super rich secret billionaire owners 😉

    Regardless it is very fascinating hearing about Air Belgium keep it up lucky 🙂

  19. Air Belgium has announced their flight were for 52-60% booked in July There are still improvements expected for August. ( 75-85 %)
    Am I the only one who doesn’t believe anything the CEO says?

    BTW: New flights to China are expected to be launched in the period September-November

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