Monday, January 30, 2012

Chaos at the Airport: The Demise of Spanair

By law, airlines in Spain are not supposed to abruptly cease operations, as Spanair did last Friday.  The Spanish government is suing the defunct airline for stranding some 22,000 passengers over the weekend (lotsa luck with that fellows!). But that will do little to help the thousands of travelers who are still searching for a way to get home (or left with worthless reservations for future travel).

Spanair flies into the sunset
This morning, Spanair released its first real message to those passengers, advising them of their (limited) options.  Apparently, the company is working with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to issue refunds for all those who purchased Spanair tickets through travel agents. Whether or not those refunds materialize is yet to be seen. Those who booked directly with Spanair using credit cards are instructed to apply to their credit card companies for refunds or contact their travel insurance companies for help.

The note further points out that those tickets issued by Spanair for flights on other members of the Star Alliance may no longer be valid. So if you booked in this fashion, be sure to check the status of your reservation as soon as possible. Spanair is listing the numbers of its call center for those seeking help over the phone. They are 900 13 14 15 for those currently in Spain; and from outside Spain: +34 971 916 047.

A number of other airlines, including Spain's flagship carrier Iberia, Air Europa and Veulig will be offering discounted tickets to those stranded.  Finding those discounts on their sites, however, takes some searching. And these tickets are all for previously scheduled flights, many of which may already be full. It does not appear that any of these airlines will be adding to their flight schedule to accommodate former Spanair passengers. Oy.

Spanair had been the fourth largest Spanish carrier, its reach extending beyond the Iberian Peninsula to the Africa and other areas of Europe.

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