Here’s What Avianca Offered After Bumping Me From a Flight
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
On Monday, I was expecting to fly Avianca’s A330 from New York (JFK) to Bogota (BOG), connecting to a 787-8 Dreamliner to Lima, Peru (LIM).
I purchased the business-class ticket in March for a very reasonable $758 round-trip, including a couple legs in the airline’s new lie-flat biz seat — with a 1-2-1 reverse-herringbone arrangement, it was a huge step up from the old 2-2-2 angle-flat product, and ripe for a TPG review.
However, at check-in, I noticed that the airline had bumped me from my A330 flight to Colombia, even though the flight itself was still operating as scheduled. I was rebooked on a narrow-body plane, connecting in San Salvador (SAL), instead.
With Avianca’s reputation for frequent delays and cancellations, I wasn’t about to risk getting stuck in El Salvador — which, after reading a US State Department warning, isn’t a country I have any interest in visiting:
“Reconsider travel to El Salvador due to crime. Violent crime, such as murder, assault, rape, and armed robbery, is common. Gang activity, such as extortion, violent street crime, and narcotics and arms trafficking, is widespread. Local police may lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.”
The new flight also got me into Lima just under four hours later than expected — 3 hours and 50 minutes late, in fact (which ends up being a very important detail, as I’ll explain in a moment).
After nearly an hour on the phone with Avianca followed by several calls to Amex Travel, where I booked the flight, my request to be rebooked on United’s nonstop from Newark (EWR) to Lima was not approved. I was offered an even less appealing connection in Medellín, Colombia (MDE) or a full refund. I opted for the refund.
The next day, I got in touch with Avianca’s social media team, who promised to follow up via email. That response arrived promptly, and I was offered my choice of compensation:
- $675 cash
- $725 Avianca voucher
- 30,000 Avianca LifeMiles
Naturally, I chose the cash. $675 may seem like an entirely random figure, but it actually sounded familiar. As it turns out, that’s the exact amount I’m entitled to for involuntary denied boarding — had my arrival been delayed by just 10 more minutes, I would have gotten double the amount, instead.
However if you dig through the Department of Transportation’s policy, it’s clear that Avianca isn’t required to offer compensation if I was bumped specifically due to an aircraft change.
The agent did confirm my suspicions there — the flight was overbooked in business class following an aircraft substitution, and, for whatever reason, I was one of the passengers selected to be bumped:
“First of all I would like to express our most sincere apology for all this inconvenient. Unfortunatelly there are some routes and dates where our operation is much more demanded and our flights have high occupation profile; however, I think your are absolutely right and we did not deliver the experience you were expecting.”
In addition to the compensation, she offered to rebook my flight at no charge, which seems reasonable given that I was involuntarily bumped. I’d have to choose this instead of a refund, but if we can review the new product as originally planned, it could certainly be worthwhile.
We’ve also reached out to Avianca’s PR team for more details, but have yet to hear back. It seems clear that the aircraft swap was to blame, and I was probably one of the lowest-fare passengers, given the deal I booked. While I would have figured that my Star Alliance Gold status (via United) would have helped to secure my seat, it seems that didn’t factor in here.
Ultimately, I’m satisfied with the response — Avianca doesn’t have to compensate me according to the DOT rule, but there’s no question that it’s entirely warranted here, given the initial inconvenience, inflexibility and general shadiness surrounding my bump.
Have you ever been bumped from an Avianca flight?
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees