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28 October 2014

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Thrusters Diary

You are in: Cornwall > Surfing & extreme sports > Thrusters Diary > Airline Rip Off

Virgin planes

Airline Rip Off

Airlines. I've written about them before. It's partly therapeutic, to vent some frustration and anger at being ripped off, and partly to help you, the reader, because I love you.

Facts about Thruster

Thruster didn't take up surfing until he was 19, but soon became hooked and was determined to let neither a late start, nor a remarkable dearth of natural talent stand in his way.

Now aged 40 he still sincerely believes it is only a matter of time before he becomes world champion.

Also obsessed with snowboarding, at which he is marginally more impressive (he can stand up), Thruster has been writing surfing and extreme sports articles for 15 years. His next journalistic challenge is to write a good one.

Home Break: Gwithian

Surf Trips: Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Philippines, Fiji, Indonesia, NZ, Hawaii, Australia, South Africa, Canaries, Portugal, Spain, France, Ireland. El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama.

Surfers' Ear Operations: 3 (but needs another)

Would love to live in: Galicia

Board: 6'4" x 18 ¾ rounded pin (and a 7'4" log when really desperate)

Standard: Easily one of the best in his cul-de-sac.

And it is precisely because I still love you that once again, I'm going to vent some anger, and give you some info that you really need to know if you are planning a surf trip.

A few months ago British Airways got all "anti surfer" and decided to no longer accept surfboards.  It was a big blow, but slightly tempered by the news that Virgin International were making a big "pro surfer" by accepting surfboards on all flights with no excess baggage charge.

With this in mind, when I was scanning the net for a flight to Central America, I was pretty chuffed to find that by far the cheapest ticket was through Opodo and with Virgin Atlantic.  Obviously, I bought it.

I was emailed the details. The email clearly stated my ticket was with Virgin. The flight from Gatwick was with Virgin flight VS3115. I checked the Virgin website and yep, definitely no charge for boards.

Having been ripped off in the past by airlines that tell you one thing on the phone and then another at the airport (Eg. "You owe us 200 quid for the board") I was being over cautious, but this time there was surely nothing that could stuff me. Or was there?

When I got to Gatwick, there was no flight VS3115 to Newark, but a flight CO115 to Newark, with Continental. Alarm bells started ringing.

At the counter I was told I'd have to pay £50 quid.  I complained that all my documentation said it was a Virgin flight but was told Continental and Virgin share flights, and I was on a Continental plane I'd have to go by Continentals rules.

The counter staff told me I should have read their rules on the internet. Why the bejeezuz would I read the baggage rules for an airline I'm not flying with?!

They insisted it was Virgin's fault as they should have told me I was on a Continental plane. So I rang Virgin to have a good shout. But no, predictably it wasn't Virgin's fault, but Opodo's fault for not making it clear on their site.

Imagine me trying to ring Opodo and asking for my £50 quid back. Laughable. So I didn't.

Richard Branson

Didn't he win the hotdoggers this year?

So, be extremely careful when you book, or think you've booked with Virgin. I'm still confident that they are trying to help surfers out and aren't trying to deceive anyone... after all they didn't get the extra £50 quid, Continental did. BUT, something has to be sorted so that we at least know for definite if we are going on a Virgin flight. 

The website said Virgin flight to San Jose, my receipt said the same and gave the Virgin flight number, and yet STILL I got stuffed. 

To make matters even more worrying, the Continental staff told me I was lucky they had taken the board at all as they have surfboard embargoes at busy times of the year. 

So no doubt there are going to be some surfers who think they've booked with Virgin and find they have to abandon their boards at the airport.  Unthinkable.

I've had my rant.


last updated: 04/06/2008 at 12:29
created: 04/06/2008

You are in: Cornwall > Surfing & extreme sports > Thrusters Diary > Airline Rip Off

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