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Why was our Vueling flight booking cancelled at check-in?

Miles Brignall
Photograph: CFimages/Alamy

On 27 December I used the Vueling website to book two flights from Barcelona to Lyon, departing two days later. I received a confirmation email as usual, but when I went to look at the seat selection, the flight appeared to be quite full and it looked as if my wife, our infant and I would be unable to sit together.

I decided the best thing to do would be to ask at check-in to see if something could be done.

We arrived at Barcelona airport in very good time but were told at check-in that there was no trace of our booking. Customer service eventually told us that Vueling had cancelled our tickets for “security reasons”.

In effect, we were denied boarding 90 minutes before the flight was due to leave. Vueling finally sent an email saying the booking had been cancelled as we were in conversation with customer service.

We were forced to buy new flights to Geneva, and pay for a train to our final destination. We also lost our non-refundable hotel. In total we are out of pocket to the tune of £260. The final indignity is that rather than refund the full cost of the original cancelled flights – £197 – Vueling has reimbursed us only £185.

It has also refused to refund us the other costs, and says it will not pay EU compensation. It says that, as it has reimbursed us, it has no further obligations.

EH, by email

We have featured a number of stories like these in recent years – flights mysteriously cancelled without the passengers being informed. It usually occurs when the airline suspects bank card fraud – with easyJet the most prone to this, in our experience.

But you say you used your British Airways Amex card, which you have previously used to book plenty of BA flights – BA and Vueling are part of the same company, IAG – and have had no other problems.

We suspect that the flight became overbooked and you were bumped because you had not checked in.

Which? ranked Vueling second-worst short-haul airline just before Christmas, and we have had problems dealing with it before.

So we were surprised, but cheered, when Vueling agreed to refund your costs, and to pay the €250 each designated by the EU compensation rules for denied boarding.

It offered no explanation for your experience, but it has apologised.

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