Bravofly / Bravonext SA — flight ticket lost
My brother (Michael Burch) and I (Alexander Burch) were booked onto a China Southern Airlines flight from London, Heathrow to Auckland, NZ via Guangzhou, China on the 18th October 2017. We used Bravofly to book our tickets.
My brother had changed the date of his return flight from 18th April 2018 to the 22nd March 2018.
When we arrived at the check in desk, my ticket appeared but they were unable to find my brother's ticket.
We spent 90 minutes on the phone to Bravofly over several phone calls back and forth and they were unable to resolve the problem for us before check in closed and we weren't able to board our flight.
It is our understanding that after my brother changed his flight, his ticket was taken from our group booking and put on a separate booking. Although a new ticket had been created, China Southern Airlines (CSA) could not access the booking at the check in desk and thereby check us in. CSA tried to use our names, ticket numbers and PNR codes (including the new code from the new ticket) to access our ticket but couldn't.
At this point I'd just like to say that a CSA senior representative at Heathrow called Joel was incredibly helpful and supportive towards us throughout the evening and we were very thankful.
CSA (China Southern Airlines) requested us to ask Bravofly to create a new booking for Michael so that CSA could access it. After about an hour on the phone, Bravofly agreed to create a new booking for my brother and told me personally that it would be ready in ten minutes for CSA to use. Whilst I was being told this, my brother was phoned by Bravofly who asked if he had a problem with his booking. At this point, Bravofly had told me that the situation was being resolved so my brother told them that this was the case.
Ten minutes later, no new booking had been created. We spent the remaining twenty minutes before check in closed on the phone to Bravofly trying again to have them create a new booking for CSA to use to check us in. With a few minutes to spare, Bravofly suddenly said that they needed written confirmation from CSA to create a new booking. This didn't happen (there was only about three minutes before check in closed at this point) and so after a further twenty minutes of circular conversations, we were unable to check in.
After we had missed our flight, my father became involved with our issue and phoned Bravofly. They informed him that as our tickets were FullFlex tickets he could cancel them up to one minute before the flight left and get a full refund. At this point there were only a few minutes left until the flight took off so under immense time pressure my father agreed that this was the best option. Upon agreeing to this, he then discovered that although he had been told we were entitled to a full refund, what we would actually receive was 90% of the worth of our tickets in the form of vouchers rather than as a monetary refund.
In addition to this miscommunication to my father, who was unclear of the details of our tickets having not been involved with our reservation until this point, as we had booked our tickets many months in advance, we are completely unable to book new tickets for the same price. Therefore, we missed our flight and could not purchase new ones with the vouchers.
Bravofly refuse to accept responsibility for the problem and say that they sent all of the information to CSA. They have blamed our inability to check in entirely on CSA without any proper investigation.
We were forced to leave Heathrow at almost midnight on the 18th and try to find accommodation in London for the night. We were forced to stay in London for two nights before we gave up on Bravofly being able to get us onto a plane anytime soon.
My brother then rang CSA and after being on hold for 50 minutes got through. He explained the situation and CSA said that if they hadn't received the booking then it was not their mistake but a technical error.
At this point, neither Bravofly nor CSA would accept responsibility for whatever caused us to miss our flight. I then engaged in a lengthy phone call with CSA to gain some insight into their side of the situation. I was told that at 15:25 on Wednesday 18th October (the day we were originally due to fly), my brother’s ticket was cancelled by Bravofly. CSA sent a message to Bravofly saying that they needed a new ticket number in order to make a new booking and requested this by 16:12 at the latest. They told me that they never received any communication from Bravofly at this time explaining what was going on nor a new ticket number. Therefore my brother’s booking was cancelled.
The CSA employee who I spoke to couldn’t explain this without talking to Bravofly but suggested that there had been an error with the sabre booking system that meant that the ticket number didn’t transfer correctly. She told me to get in contact with Bravofly again and request that they contact CSA in order to resolve the situation by discerning how the error occurred and getting a waiver code from CSA so that they could give us new tickets.
I then phoned Bravofly and was told that the my brother’s ticket had been cancelled in order to be changed at 17:39 on Wednesday. This was at Swiss time and equates to 15:39 UK time, so I’m confused as to how CSA were aware the Bravofly had cancelled the ticket before Bravofly were aware that they themselves had cancelled it?
A Bravofly employee told me that they would contact CSA to investigate the problem and try to obtain a waiver code. I was told that I would get a call back within three hours with the results of the phone call.
(Foolishly) I felt reassured by this information and we left the house for a few hours to try to regain some sanity. I got home at around 21:00 and immediately called Bravofly having not heard anything. After explaining our situation again on the phone, I was put on hold and then realised that absolutely nothing had happened. After my previous phone call we had been put on the bottom of a queue and CSA offices had shut before Bravofly had taken any action.
This is yet more evidence that Bravofly are not taking our problem seriously. This situation should be a major priority for Bravofly as our booking agent. Bravofly had approximately 2.5 hours with which to phone CSA and request a waiver code and yet nothing had happened. We had been unable to check in to our flight, had our travel plans completely disrupted, spent hours on the phone, had over 1500 euros of our money held by Bravofly in the form of vouchers and yet we were being given as little attention and help as was possible!
On the morning of the 20th of October I phoned Bravofly and was informed that they had finally contacted CSA and requested a waiver code. Why Bravofly didn’t call me to tell me this as they had said that they would and it was obviously a pressing issue I do not know. I was told that within an hour or two they would call me back with an update on whether or not they would be able to acquire a code.
Five hours later I called back and was told that there was no new information, that a waiver code could take any length of time to come and that within a few hours CSA would be closed for the weekend and that there would be no progress over the weekend.
Just to recap, I had been told by Bravofly at 15:30 on the 19th that I would know within three hours whether or not a waiver code was likely and that they would call me. There was no call and at 21:00 I phoned and was informed that nothing had been done but that they would call me when there was an update. At 11:00 the following morning I called and Bravofly had contacted CSA but had not communicated this to me. I was also told that I would hear back regarding the waiver code in the next hour or two. Five hours later (and about 24 hours after our first conversation regarding waiver codes), I had heard nothing, phoned Bravofly and was told that there was no update and that nothing would happen for the next sixty hours or so. Originally I was told progress would be made within three hours, several days later and I have heard nothing to suggest that progress will ever be made.
On the 21st of October I called Bravofly again and came to the conclusion that communication between CSA and Bravofly was incredibly slow and that this waiver code could take an indefinite amount of time to arrive. I tried on several occasions to phone CSA on the 20th and 21st of October to check with them that Bravofly had contacted them and had requested a waiver code and to try to get an idea about how long this might take. After spending hours on hold to CSA I gave up as my phone bill was getting enormous.
Our travel plans already having been delayed by three days at this point and with no hope of progress due to the vague and constantly changing information from Bravofly, we decided to use the voucher codes that Bravofly had given us and book two new tickets for as early as we could afford even though it would require us to pay hundreds of extra pounds to do so. We didn’t elect to buy FullFlex tickets as they cost an extra 100 euros or so and they didn’t seem to have helped us before. Although Bravofly had given us vouchers to the sum of 90% of our previous tickets, it became apparent that only one voucher can be used for one booking. So we were actually unable to use all of the money anyway as we had been given two vouchers, one for 1474.82 euros and one for 100.96 euros.Yet more money seemingly lost to Bravofly.
We booked two tickets to fly with Qatar airlines at 15:05 on the 24th of October. Unfortunately, upon receiving the confirmation email we had realised that my brother’s name appeared as Michael Burch Burch. We do not know the cause of this error and accept that it could have been us accidentally entering the surname into the forename category. We immediately phoned Bravofly to see if this was a problem and spent 90 minutes in one of the most stressful conversations of our lives. Bravofly could offer us no advice on whether or not this would be a problem and put immense time pressure on us, saying that we had to make a decision within 30 minutes of whether or not to cancel our flights in order to change the name on the booking.
Feeling like we had a gun put to our head to make a decision by a Bravofly employee, it seemed our options were:
-Risk having the name incorrect and not being able to board the flight, thus losing all of our money.
-Cancel my brother’s tickets and rebook them
The safer option seemed to cancel them and we were told we could have the money either as a voucher or as a refund to a debit card. However, after being give these two options it became apparent that a voucher would likely take 72 hours to arrive and therefore not come in time for my brother to rebook his flights for the same time. A card refund was not guaranteed to work as we had partly used vouchers to book these flights, it would take 5-15 days and as our faith in Bravofly to function as a booking agent or keep promises had been so demolished over the past few days, we weren’t even confident we would receive a refund at all.
Therefore, the only safe option seemed to cancel both tickets and reclaim money in the form of yet another voucher for Bravofly. Currently, we have more than £2000 in the form of Bravofly vouchers which will arrive sometime in the next 72 hours. Although we accept that this mis-typing of Michael’s name could be our fault, we would not be in the position in which we had to book new tickets if it wasn’t for Bravofly. We are incredibly frustrated by the way in which Bravofly has repeatedly put immense pressure on us to make snap decisions when we have no information about the best course of action. We are extremely disappointed with the completely contradictory and constantly changing information that Bravofly provides us. I do not understand why Bravofly, as a booking agent, would not know if two surnames would or would not be a problem. Surely it is their role to know the answers to such questions?
This is now the fifth day from missing our flight, we have no idea if anyone will ever resolve this problem and we have £2000 in the form of Bravofly vouchers which we cannot use for probably another 72 hours. What are we supposed to do?
As our booking agent, it is Bravofly's job to resolve this kind of problem for their customers. It is not their job to try to shirk all responsibility for errors and provide no help or information.
I understand that Bravofly would want to investigate the cause of the technical error before claiming responsibility. But I do not understand why Bravofly could not have put more effort into resolving the problem in the first place. It seems that not only have Bravofly rejected any responsibility for the cause of the error, they also accepted no responsibility on resolving the problem when it first arose and getting us onto the plane. As our booking agent, they should have put more effort into this. When we were at the airport, Bravofly had 90 minutes to create a new booking for CSA to use (I was told this would take all of 2 minutes to do) and thus solve the problem.
Instead, Bravofly have done nothing. They have made promise after promise and delivered nothing. They say they have contacted CSA but we have no idea if this is even true. If Bravofly have and CSA didn’t reply, why haven’t they followed this up? Why haven’t they called CSA every hour to make sure they are resolving it?
We feel completely robbed of a great deal of time and money. Money spent on flights with Bravofly. Money spent on phone calls to Bravofly and to CSA. Money spent on travel to and from Heathrow and London. Money on accommodation and supporting ourselves while we waited hoping for Bravofly to provide a solution. We have spent hours and hours and hours on the phone to Bravofly and CSA. We have wasted five days, waiting for a new means of travel and have been forced to change our plans and accommodation in New Zealand.
A brief search online shows me that many other people have had exactly the same issue with their booking as we have - that it was mysteriously cancelled and never recreated. Clearly this is not a one-off mistake that requires investigation to understand. This is a recurring problem that Bravofly still have not resolved. Resolve it.
We have absolutely zero trust in Bravofly to resolve this situation or ever function as a booking agent. We feel we deserve compensation for the lost time, money and distress caused to us.
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