Hmmm, So You Want To Involuntarily Deny Me Boarding, Eh?

Filed Under: Qatar, Travel

Following up on my previous two posts:

I checked in for my flight yesterday:


And was about to head to the airport this morning, when I saw that I had a “schedule change” on my itinerary.

Here it is on Qatar’s website:


And on BA’s website:


Apparently my original flight “DOES NOT OPERATE.”


The way I look at it, I have two options. I can stay in my hotel room…


Or I can go to the airport and have some fun…


Anyone care to guess which option I’m going with? 😉

I have a couple of friends booked on the flight as well, so this should get… interesting.

Any lawyer types care to chime in on EC261/2004? Specifically Article 4 & 7? Now, I don’t actually plan to pursue that, but from a theoretical standpoint it seems like it doesn’t matter why you’re denied boarding.

Grab some popcorn and happy Monday, folks!

  1. sounded a bit too good to be true , to fly on an empty A350 😀 .. but sure , you can make some money of it 600e? or 300e only (since you’ll be arriving to your final destination only 15 min later than originally scheduled)..
    wonder how they’ll explain this situation 😀

  2. Hi Ben, well looking at the alternative they offer and the schedule of that QR4 flight, it’s gonna to be difficult to claim compensation based on delay (there is none, actually you will land five minutes earlier as per schedule) and if they have a business class seat for you, then i would say “enjoy your time at the Bar with Roxana and a bottle of Krug” and call it a day 🙂 Cheers.

  3. Isn’t this just a cancellation under Article 5? As you’ve been rebooked onto a flight within minutes of the original flight, no compensation.

    Bad luck on this, but you must have expected a high chance of this happening.

  4. The alternate flight offered seems to exempt them from being required to pay any compensation…….as long as QR3352 really does not operate. If that flight leaves without you on it – I’d pursue denied boarding compensation.

  5. Nothing due. You are rebooked within the acceptable window and in the same class of service. Choice of refund or rebooking.

    Serious note – don’t make a big fuss out of this if you ever want to have any sort of special access to QR in the future. This issue has no doubt gone up all the way to HE’s level and he doesn’t take kindly to people who make a fool of him/QR in public, especially if it’s their own fault. Vindictive people have long memories too.

  6. I’d ask for an upgrade to first or at least some compensation miles. Getting eu compensation is definitely worth pursuing if he flight does indeed operate as it is quite easy to claim for it

  7. Ok perhaps I’m the only one that’s a bit perturbed by Sean M’s latter comment about not messing with QR. I’ll be honest and admit that I have hatred for QR after numerous issues with them in addition to my healthy disdain for Ali Baker. If QR3352 really is cancelled then fair enough. If QR 3352 flies, you are entitled to EU comp and if Ali Baker doesn’t like it EU rules, then he shouldn’t fly into the EU.

  8. If the original flight flies without you, and assuming you presented yourself on-time for check-in, then you should be entitled to 50% of the normal denied boarding compensation because they got you to your destination without delay on an alternative route but you were denied boarding on your booked flight.

    If the original flight is cancelled and does not fly, you are not entitled to compensation because they got you to your destination without delay despite the <2 weeks notice of the cancellation.

    But I'm with Sean M., you would be an idiot to fight this one.

  9. I’d need to amend my previous post, any flight flying out of the EU falls under EU jurisdiction,
    and fortunately the rules are more customer friendly here than in the US where you might get “goodwill from UA/AA” but in this case it falls under point 3 below so at best your entitled to goodwill and not entitled by the regulation any compensation as far as I can see if it’s cancelled that is, if it flies it’s another matter.
    If a flight is cancelled, passengers are automatically entitled to their choice of (a.) re-routing to the same destination at the earliest opportunity (under comparable conditions); (b.) later rerouting, at the passenger’s convenience, to the same destination under comparable conditions (subject to seat availability); or (c.) a refund of the ticket as well as a return flight to the point of first departure, when relevant. Any ticket refund is the price paid for the flight(s) not used, plus the cost of flights already flown in cases where the cancellation has made those flights of no purpose. Where applicable, passengers are also entitled to refreshments, communication and accommodation as described below. Where re-routing is to another airport serving the same destination, the airline must pay for onward transport to the original airport or to a close-by destination agreed with the passenger. These choices, and the entitlement to refreshments, etc., apply to all cancellations, regardless of whether the circumstances are extraordinary or not.

    It is unclear whether “the earliest opportunity” requires airlines to endorse a ticket onto another carrier.

    The airline is also required to pay cash compensation as described below, unless one of the following conditions applies:

    1) the airline notifies the passengers at least two weeks prior to departure
    2) the airline notifies the passengers between one and two weeks prior to departure, and re-routes passengers so that they can:
    a) depart no more than two hours earlier than scheduled, and
    b)arrive no more than four hours later than scheduled
    3) the airline notifies the passengers less than one week prior to departure, and re-routes passengers so that they can:
    a)depart no more than one hour earlier than scheduled, and
    b)arrive no more than two hours later than scheduled
    the cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances that could not have been avoided by any reasonable measure.

  10. Eric – your referencing the section about cancellations, but the more relevant section for Ben is Article 4 re: denied boarding. 261/2004 Article 4, Paragraph 3 “If boarding is denied to passengers against their will, the operating air carrier shall immediately compensate them in accordance with Article 7 and assist them in accordance with Articles 8 and 9.

  11. You already knew that this will happen when you first try to book it.
    Don’t be a ‘spoiled kid’, be a man.

  12. how was this a denied boarding? It’s a operational change of aircraft.

    It’s happened to me numerous times and I don’t even fly a fraction of what you do.

    Was it just a no news day?

  13. We don’t know if he was denied boarding or not yet. But it’s NOT an operational change of aircraft. He was booked on QR3352 and they have switched him to flight QR004. If QR3352 flies without him then he was denied boarding. If the actually cancel QR3352 and do not fly that flight then it was a cancellation and he was NOT denied boarding.

  14. @Roger

    Go get them for what, exactly? booking for a shady flight which you knew in the back of your mind might not work out in order to get…?

  15. it’s more complicated here i think .. QR3352 was never meant to fly with passengers , revenue tickets were not up for sale and these award business tickets might have been a glitch in the system..
    Nevertheless Ben should get something from QR because this whole situation was not his fault.. lets see what king of goodwill (if not compensation) will they offer..he should know by now , or?

  16. Ben booked a flight that, by his own admission, he knew was likely offered in error. Ben is a journalist and relies on the goodwill of the airlines for access beyond what the public is normally offered. That doesn’t mean that he should shy away from a fight, but he needs to be judicious in the fights that he picks. I would not pick this fight if I were him.

  17. @Alliance

    I have a really stupid question… It has little to do with Lucky’s situation here but I am just very curious. You said if the flight fly without him it’s a deny boarding? Does that apply to the case of overbooked flights? Say if I am flying FRA to PHL and both LH&US operate on that route. I think their flights depart just 15 minutes apart and arrives at PHL at virtually the same time. If I booked a LH flight and it’s oversold and they put me on the US flight, would I be entitled with any compensation? My instinct tells me I shouldn’t be receiving any compensation, right?

  18. @Jason, if you volunteer to switch flights, they don’t owe you anything… so you’re only going to get what they offer/you negotiate. But if they force you to take the US flight then that is an involuntary denied boarding and they absolutely owe you per 261/2004 Article 4. 50% of the normal compensation (ie. 300EUR instead of 600EUR) because they got you there at basically the same time.

  19. @alliance
    in my experience , I was a VDB 3 times (and countless times when I offered to be one ) i’ve always received (and was offered) a compensation .i never had to negotiate, or asked for the money ..even the airport stuff is very thankful and kind to me 😀 ..Being a VDB you make a service for the airline..not the other way around.

  20. “Hmmm, So You Want To Involuntarily Deny Me Boarding, Eh?”

    A DYKWIA headline if there ever was one…. These bloggers are hot stuff sometimes.

  21. This is not a battle I would pick, life’s too short. If handled well, it will be a fun exchange when you checkin at the airport.

  22. To me this is a clear cut case of “don’t be a d*ck about it.” Whoever created this flight forgot to kill the frequent flyer inventory & is likely going to get in deep trouble as a result – likely already has. It might well cost them their job – and get them banned from their lives in Qatar to boot. Think about that for a second. Making any further issue here is really inappropriate – and reflects badly mostly on whoever would do that.

    $0.02. YMMMV.

  23. Do you folks really believe this issue was brought to the CEO’s attention? Seriously? I am sure he has more important things to deal with.

    If the flight was canceled as regards passenger service, then I don’t see how you can claim IDB. For all intents and purposes there is no flight. Be happy they put you on a flight 15 minutes later and they’re getting you there at essentially the same time.

  24. @RakSiam, I 100% agree. If they actually cancel the flight and it doesn’t fly then there is no denied boarding. But if they fly it without passengers after having sold even 1 ticket (and an award ticket counts) that is a denied boarding per 261/2004 for those who had tickets on the flight.

  25. While generally I’m all about expecting compensation when airline’s screw you over and I generally find airlines to rank poorly on how they take advantage of customers, this in particular to me is ethically questionable to say the least. Regardless of the fact that it may not make a difference to the bottom line of the airline and airlines do plenty of terrible things to passengers without recourse, this doesn’t mean you should do the same in return.
    You clearly booked something you knew was likely an error and expected would likely not work out, and you were then accommodated on a flight in the same class of service on the same schedule as the other flight. What needs to be compensated for here? It may be legally / contractually justified but it just doesn’t feel right to get money when there is no inconvenience or problem…

  26. I know this will be controversial, but Qatar is a made state sponsor of terrorism. Every $600 they don’t have is $600 they can’t give to AQ or Hamas, so I say go for it…

  27. What’s a “flight”? What’s to stop QR from “officially” canceling this flight, then ferrying the plane back to Qatar under a different flight number? Would the flight still be cancelled?

  28. @J – If they did that they would have no liability. Nothing wrong with canceling a flight and then later ferrying the plane back to base on a different flight plan/#. There could _maybe_ be some issues if they intentionally did that just as a method of avoiding compensation otherwise due, but in this case I would think they would be in the clear if they did that.

  29. I think the question may turn on what it means for a flight to be cancelled or to “operate”. That it takes to the air doesn’t seem to mean it operated as a flight, necessarily. If a flight has an issue — crew, mechanical, even operational — that makes it unsuitable to fly passengers — that it takes to the air to be repositioned seems not the only issue. But since this is all handled by a set of specific codes I suppose it comes down to language.

  30. Chill, guys.

    Maybe I wasn’t clear, but:
    — I DON’T plan to pursue compensation, as I clearly stated in the post.
    — I went to the airport not to argue, but simply to hear their reasoning. I had a backup flight booked on Etihad out of the same terminal departing at the same time.

    There was no argument, and the entire airport experience was actually rather anti-climactic. I’ll have an update on it shortly.

    So read into it all you want, but those are the facts…

  31. Whew, thanks for putting that to bed Lucky! See everyone . . . chillax!! Our favorite travel blogger wouldn’t embarrass his loyal readers like that!

  32. Instead of thinking about Ben vs. Qatar, think from Qatar’s point of view. The employee who made a “mistake” has generated a fair amount of lead up publicity to the A350 inaugural at virtually no cost to Qatar. Tweets, Blog posts, links, comments and active interest for several days leading up to big event.
    They also managed to keep him from flying to Doha on another airline and possible reviewing or publicizing that product.

    Hopefully (for Qatar), Ben is on the A380 right now. If they are smart he’s been upgraded to F and he’s reading these comments on complimentary wifi through a happy haze of Krug! Cheers Ben!

  33. Travel agent here – flight status – it did go just probably empty as planned:


    TOOK OFF 1417

    LHR 1400 MO (CLASS NOT AVAIL-) 359 6:59

    DOH 2359 MO 6:59


  34. @wwk5d
    As long as he’s confirmed and has his ticket in hand, then he is entitled to get on board… even if he got the place by mistake, he is still entitled to board the flight

    So go get them, yeah, either make them let you board or ask for a compensation for that…

  35. Arguing/fighting them would have been entertaining, but I’m glad you weren’t planning on going that route because that’s a winless battle. At least you’ve got your back up flight ready to go! Looking forward to the A350 review in a couple of days!

  36. Why was it listed as a bookable flight when it clearly was not? Is there a reason why they would intentionally do that?

  37. Expanding on my prior question … is it possible that QR is getting some benefit by listing the flight as they did?

  38. @Rogef

    Then the airline should be just as entitled to deny him boarding and offer him a refund or book him on an alternate route, at best. Especially if it was a mistake.

  39. It was a deliberate attempt by you to get on a flight that was not going to operate for passenger transportation or generate revenue. You knew it, you posted it and implied. You had multiple failed attempts to book and you described it, then you finally succeeded by finding the weakest link and now you post this. QR can charge you for fraud.

  40. @ dmodemd — Well you can “imply” whatever you’d like, readers should chill because nothing exciting happened/that wasn’t the plan. 😉

  41. Ryan – Benjamin is not a journalist and he does not a journalist; if you would have bothered to read the blog you would have seen that he is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. (his own words mind you..)

    Secondly, if the flight was not meant to ‘go public’, then why was a boarding card issued stating his Emerald status?

    Thirdly, he has a right to compensation.

  42. First off, I agree with Stuart. Someone at QR made a mistake, one for which they probably would not have been punished under ordinary circumstances. Now that Lucky’s turned this into a public spectacle, that person is probably going to be in serious trouble, especially with a boss as unstable as HE. Like Stuart said, being fired and/or deported are real possibilities given QR’s track record.

    To some extent this reminds me of the CZ A380 review. I wouldn’t be surprised if the cabin crew on that flight were disciplined or fired because of the bad press the airline received. We need to remember that reasonable measured responses are not always the way things are done in the developing world. I for one hope Lucky never flies on Air Koryo, because his negative review might actually get the cabin crew shot in that case.

    Second, I’m going to support dmodemd on this one. Both the title and the post implied there was going to be a confrontation. There are THREE GIFs of NeNe in the body of the post and it ends with “Grab some popcorn”. If that doesn’t suggest drama, what does? If nothing else, it’s clickbaiting.

  43. I had two flights in the past month (one usair and one AA) get cancelled without notification– both booked with Avios.

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