My nephew booked a trip to Bolivia to go and visit his girlfriend. The trip was booked in a travel agency in Berlin in March and was for departure 27 July from Berlin, via Frankfurt and Madrid with Lufthansa and then on to Santa Cruz with Aerosur.
He picked up his tickets on the 25th July from the TA and was told everything was in order and as planned. In Berlin he was told by Lufthansa that his suitcase would be booked through to Santa Cruz directly.
Then he arrived in Madrid and was told that there was no Aerosur anymore...the company had ceased to fly on the 17th July, because of bankruptcy and this was already known since April.
In the end he flew back to Berlin. Every party involved is blaming each other, but this does not help my nephew get his money back and a new flight to Bolivia.
Can you suggest what he should do next? And what his rights are in a case like this?
The airline had been in trouble for a while and suspended operations 31 March 2012 because of unpaid taxes.
6 April it resumed flights EXCEPT for the Madrid route.
21 May it ceased operations but has hopes of picking up again.
The travel agent in Berlin has behaved appallingly in not keeping your nephew updated, and telling him that he in fact had no flight.
I assume that the airline was not bonded with IATA or any other organisation?
I would try the small claims court in Germany against the travel agent for loss of money and loss of holiday. A letter stating that to the travel agent might get some response out of them, but probably not. Their heads will probably be firmly in the ground till a court paper arrives on their mat.
The best and fastest way would be to put in a claim with the credit card bank IMMEDIATELY - I have found that the airlines are extremely slow in offering refunds. You will then have to book another flight.
It's always the responsibility of the passenger to reconfirm prior to travel since emails from the airline can be lost in spam folders, etc.
You don't say if the Lufthansa and Aerosur flights were on the same ticket or not - it makes quite a big difference. I would also complain to the IATA about any travel agent who advised you to book Aerosur. I believe you are quite safe as long as you paid by credit card.