Wrongly barred from flight- chances of reimbursement?


May 8, 2017

I'm a study abroad student based in Luxembourg. Back in January I attempted to board my flight over to Europe at BWI airport, flying Delta to JFK, JFK to Amsterdam and Amsterdam to Luxembourg. I had booked my return flight home for May already, and when I went to the desk I was asked if I had a visa since I was outside of the 90 day period.

Luxembourg likes to complicate things a bit and actually does not issue travel visas to Americans - they issue temporary residency permits. Instead of a visa, I had an official government document that essentially stated that I was to receive my residency permit when I arrived in Luxembourg. My school has been doing a study abroad program in Luxembourg for many years and has never had any major issues with students boarding their flights with these documents, as they were, in fact, official and valid government documents to travel with.

The woman at the Delta counter had never seen these documents before, and basically after an incredibly frustrating two hours of arguing with this woman, I was not allowed on my plane to JFK. It had gotten to the point where I literally had the embassy of Luxembourg on the phone and she still refused to let me check in or board. It was important to me to make this flight because I had classes beginning the next day and no way of getting from the airport to my host family if I missed the group flight out of New York.

Once I realised that I had missed my flight, I decided to drive to JFK and pick up my connection, as I had a very long layover. I had to call Delta on the way over, because the woman at the desk, without my consent or knowledge, had unbooked me from all of my flights over and all of my flights home and had flagged my documents as insufficient.

Thankfully, I made it to JFK on time and boarded my flight to Amsterdam without any issues, as the people at the desk there were more knowledgable and had seen the documents before.

My question is: with this having happened back in January, what are the chances that I will be able to get a refund on the flight that I was prevented from boarding, on the way from BWI to JFK? If there is any chance of being able to do that so long after the fact, who would I reach out to?

Thanks for any input.
You could give it a try by writing to Delta and including all pertinent documents--such as, the statement that you would receive residency status when you arrived in Luxembourg. That would be the cheapest and easiest approach.

If Delta refuses to reimburse, then you would need to file a formal complaint with the Federal Government agency responsible for airline ticket rules. Here's a link that I think would be a good starting point. https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer. There might very well be a statute of limitations restriction upon the time between the incident and your filing of a complaint. Be sure and include an explanation that you were studying abroad. That might overcome statute of limitations regulations.

Good luck.
Truth is, there's probably not much to reimburse for your BWI-JFK segment. BWI-JFK-AMS is usually the same price as having flown nonstop JFK-AMS.

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