A grandmother from Dover, Kent, was left stranded in Madrid after an Iberia Airlines flight delay resulted in her being two days late for a family reunion in Santiago.
Philippa Hopper hadn’t seen her son, who lives with his wife and ten year old son in Chile, for two years and the delay plus a series of unfortunate events cost her two precious days with her family.
Philippa has now turned to legal Bott and Co, to secure 600 Euros in flight compensation after numerous attempts at contacting the airline resulted in her being denied compensation without reason.
Regular Iberia Airlines traveller, Philippa chose the airline specifically for her journey from London Heathrow, to Chile via Madrid, on 21 December 2018. However, things took a turn for the worse when her flight was delayed at Heathrow Airport, causing her to miss her connection from Madrid to Santiago.
Philippa was left holed up in a hotel for two days and nights without her luggage and essential medication.
Two hour queue at the information desk
Philippa said: “I checked-in at Heathrow with plenty of time to spare, but when the plane failed to depart on time, I became concerned about missing the second leg of my journey.
The steward on the flight to Madrid said that it looked as though I would miss my connecting flight to Santiago. So, when we landed, I rushed off the plane ready to make my way to the gate but was stopped in my tracks and told to go straight to the Iberia information desk where I would be told what would happen next.”
Philippa had to wait in a queue for two hours, within that time; her connecting flight took off without her. By the time she got to the front of the queue, Philippa was told she would be staying in a hotel for two nights and the next available flight wasn’t for two days.
“I told the Iberia representative that I needed an earlier flight as people would be waiting in Santiago for me but I was told there was absolutely nothing they could do. I also explained that I had paid extra for a premium seat and was told that this was no longer available and I would lose money.
When I got my head around the fact that I only had one option, I asked for my luggage to take to the hotel and was told that I couldn’t have it as it already checked in for the flight on 23 December. I had medication in there and had to ration the medication I had for travelling which wasn’t nearly enough.
The hotel appeared to be purpose built for delayed passengers. It was very basic and there was no one available for help or assistance. My medication was running very low and my phone had run out of battery. I wasn’t offered any phone calls or emails, even though they are obligated to provide these.
I had a stomach operation in early 2018 and the food on offer did not meet my specific dietary requirements so I struggled to eat much.”
Lost money, time and belongings
After the first night in the hotel, Philippa made her way into Madrid to buy a phone charger, clothes, toiletries and some food, but said it was hard navigating her way around an unknown city with no help.
“As soon as I had phone battery, I called my husband back home to let him know I was ok, he was worried after not hearing from me. I then rang my son to tell him I wouldn’t be there on time. I spent the rest of my time in Madrid in tears, thinking about the precious time and moments with my grandson that I was missing.
I was robbed of two days with my child and grandchild. My son had made plans and every moment was going to be precious. All I wanted to do was hold my grandson and spend time with him that I had been so looking forward to.
The airline and its representatives didn’t have any contact with me, nobody was interested.”
To add insult to injury, when Philippa arrived in Santiago and retrieved her luggage, the padlock on her cabin bag had been ripped off and there was a watch and some gifts for her grandchild missing.
She then had another one hour journey to Placilla in the Valparaíso region, before being reunited with her son and grandson more than 44 hours later than planned.
Once home, Philippa couldn’t shrug off her bad experience. She contacted the airline for an explanation twice and made a formal complaint but they responded the same each time.
“The responses I received from Iberia all said that I was ‘inconvenienced beyond their control’ with no specific reason given. It is infuriating that I asked for specific answers to specific questions and got nothing! I even asked for a refund for my premium seat and got nothing!
The treatment I received from the so called customer service agents at Iberia both at Madrid Airport and when using their online complaints portal has been nothing short of appalling.
It should be an easy process. They need to pay me or justify their reasons for not paying me.”
Bringing on board the experts
After suffering such an appalling experience with the airline, she has approached Bott and Co to fight the battle for her. She realises it won’t make everything right or give her time back with her family but it will go towards some justice.
“I decided to cut my losses and take the stress out of it by handing the claim over to Bott and Co. I heard about them from Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert and knew that if anyone was going to get anything out of Iberia; it would be Bott and Co.