Austrian Airlines had to cancel flight OS 238 from Berlin-Brandenburg to Vienna on Sunday evening after a long delay. The passengers were denied rebooking on an earlier flight and no hotel rooms were provided either.
The affected travelers have no choice but to find accommodation for the night on their own and at their own expense. In a statement, Austrian Airlines speaks out on the handling partner on site. This had no staff available. Office Park 2 never came up with the idea that Austrian Airlines is responsible and that the handling company commissioned is merely a vicarious agent, because the company, which calls itself a “premium carrier” in media releases, would certainly have come from Vienna from which accommodation can be arranged. But you don't.
But first things first: The Airbus A320neo with the registration OE-LZN caught a considerable delay on the London Heathrow route. As a result, the plane arrived at Berlin-Brandenburg Airport significantly late. Affected passengers report to Aviation.Direct that there was initially no information for the passengers on site. Also, no catering services such as drinks or vouchers should have been issued for them.
No take-off permission received in Berlin - passengers had to disembark again
At some point the long-awaited announcement about boarding came. The passengers board and shortly after 23:00 p.m. it should start. However, bad news came from the cockpit, because the OE-LZN was denied the start in Berlin-Brandenburg. The passengers and crew had to exit the aircraft. There was no on-site support, because the flying AUA staff informed the passengers that the handling partner no longer had any agents on site and that everyone had to see how things went from there. Hotel bills can then be submitted to the AUA.
A spokeswoman for Austrian Airlines told Aviation.Direct that the incident happened as follows from the company's point of view: "Due to the foggy weather on the rotation to LHR yesterday evening, our OE-LZN was unfortunately delayed on its way to Berlin. The machine was prepared for takeoff as OS238 at 23:05 p.m., but the tower did not give take-off clearance because the de-icing and taxiing times were considered too short (latest possible departure 23:30 p.m.). As a result, both the crew and the passengers had to disembark. After Austrian Airlines was informed by a station employee in Berlin that there was no longer any handling staff on site and that there were no contract hotels available, he announced in an on-board announcement that the passengers were unfortunately looking for hotel rooms individually for these reasons and that the bills would then be sent to Austrian Feedback management would have to submit".
Rebooked flights were delayed and OE-LZN flew empty to Vienna in front of the passengers
But the odyssey was not over for the passengers. The next day they were to be flown to Vienna on the AUA flights at 9:10 am and 11:20 am. These two flights were also delayed. The OE-LZN, on the other hand, was transferred to Vienna as an OS1402 ferry, i.e. without passengers on board. At that time, however, numerous travelers were still waiting in Berlin for their flights to the Austrian capital, because those on which they were rebooked were delayed. Understandably, some were very annoyed that they had to wait even longer and their "original plane" flew empty to Vienna in front of their eyes.
An AUA spokeswoman explained: "Due to the crew duty time regulation, the OE-LZN was not allowed to start before 11:30 a.m. today. Therefore, all affected guests were rebooked on the Berlin-Vienna flights at 09:10 a.m. and 11:20 a.m. or directly to their final destinations. In the end, the OE-LZN flew to Vienna without any passengers because all the passengers from yesterday's OS238 had already been rebooked or transported. The fact that the flights were delayed at 09:10 a.m. and 11:20 a.m. was partly due to the fact that clearance in Berlin took longer”.
The AUA hotline did not help the travelers either
Austrian Airlines did not respond to a point that was reported to Aviation.Direct independently by several passengers. In the event of delays, passengers have the legal right to rebook, also to another airline, to reach their destination as soon as possible. Since there was no one on site who could have helped those affected, the Austrian Airlines hotline was called. This is said to have explained to the travelers that a free rebooking on the earlier flight that was not delayed is not possible. You can only comply with the request if you pay the fare difference and the rebooking fee. Some travelers are said to have tried to use the hotline to get a hotel room with direct billing to Austrian Airlines, but this request was also turned down. In its statement, the AUA did not address the fact that the customer service hotline of Austrian Airlines, which is the only possible point of contact with the airline at many airports, refused the passengers rebookings or provided them with no hotel rooms.
In recent months, it has repeatedly happened that various airlines, including Austrian Airlines, have only insufficiently or initially not at all fulfilled essential tasks arising from passenger rights on the spot. It is noteworthy that the providers always excuse themselves from the ground handling service provider commissioned in each case in the event of such "irregularities". In many European countries, these suffer from an acute shortage of staff, but this is literally the client's problem, because the passenger's contractual partner is the airline and not the ground service provider. In today's world it is easily possible - for example - to organize hotel rooms and transfers from the company headquarters. The corresponding will must be there for this, which was obviously not the case on Sunday with the Berlin-Vienna flight. One can only hope that Austrian Airlines will quickly reimburse the submitted hotel bills and any transfer costs.