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Cancelled GoToGate Flights London to Dubai, Pegasus, and Emirates

Yes, it happened, the day we never anticipated. After 5 and a half years of full time travel we met our first major booking related problem. We turned up to board our flight to be told that no, actually, we weren’t getting on their plane today. Our tickets didn’t exist, our flights had been cancelled and we were standing there at the check-in desk with 2 kids and 6 backpacks ( which were, like me, overweight) with nowhere to go, as Go To Gate continued to message us with flight confirmations.

Our day started around 5am with the usual frantic packing activity that goes with a big airport day. I muttered, grumped and organised 3 people’s gear into packing cubes and bags while Chef just shoved all his stuff into the top of his backpack, as usual.

The kids whined and complained about budget flights, no food, no movies, as usual.

I quietly agreed with them, but the budget flight had been a lot cheaper than the premium airlines.

Sixt at Stanstead Airport Car Hire UK
2 kids and all but one of our bags at Sixt Stanstead ( we weren’t working with Sixt here, its coincidence) heading, we thought, to Dubai and Kathmandu. 2 kids 6 bags. 2 big backpacks to check, 4 hand luggage. Find details on gear and companies we recommend on our “resources” page, click through here or find it in the top menu.

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We had time to have breakfast at our Premier Inn in Crawley, near London Gatwick ( which at under 5 UKP each was a real bargain, you’d barely get a couple of coffees for that in the UK usually) before driving to Stanstead, just north of London.

A long drive and a crappy one, driving in London has become way worse since we left over 12 years ago, but unusually for the M25 and Dartford Tunnel, no delays.

We dropped off the car at Sixt, no sweat, no bother, no checks, because we’d reduced our excess to zero. After 2 bad experiences using 3rd party excess insurance recently we’d highly recommend you do this.

Another bus ride to the terminal, swaying precariously shouldering heavy packs and trekking gear, and we entered the over-populated mosh pit that is the Stanstead terminal.

Stanstead is not our favourite. It’s generally clean, modern and staff are usually friendly, but there’s nowhere to sit, no power points for charging, and some of the toilets were off the scale disgusting.  It’s not a great place to spend a day. 

Luckily, I’d remembered just the day before to buy a new power bank, so our descent into insanity was cushioned by juiced up phones and Kindles.

We’d spent a few days, over a month ago, figuring out how best and cheapest to get to Nepal from London. We had flights booked on Pegasus, a budget airline, from Stanstead to Istanbul and from Istanbul to Dubai. We then had a couple of days in Dubai before our Dubai to Kathmandu flight in the relative luxury of Etihad.

We were looking forward to getting to Dubai, but those 2 budget flights ahead of us, both around 4 hours, weren’t sounding like fun.

Finding Out Our Airline Tickets, and Our GoToGate Booking, Had Been Cancelled

After handing our passports to check-in guy on the Pegasus desk, we could see something was wrong. Check-in guys don’t normally disappear out the back with your passports.

“Do you have booking details?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have confirmation?”

“Yes.”

Everything seemed OK to us and the company we’d booked with, Go to Gate were still emailing us confirmations as we were standing at the desk.

Our money had been taken from our account, but our names just weren’t on the list for that flight.

It took a while to figure out, but our seats, our entire airline booking, had been cancelled by Go to Gate with Pegasus.

They hadn’t thought to tell us they’d cancelled, nor had they refunded our money or even cancelled our flight on their system. Everything was still ” live” from our end, but our tickets just didn’t exist. We weren’t flying.

The only slight suggestion we had that something may be wrong had been when we tried to check in online the day before. We got a system error. That’s not unusual, it happens regularly, so we ignored it and planned on checking in at the airport, no sweat.

Check-in-guy could do nothing and washed his hands of us, but as we were standing at a nearby counter frantically emailing and telephoning, the Pegasus supervisor appeared and was very helpful so I can’t be down on Pegasus, it wasn’t their fault. He said this happens not infrequently.

While my husband yelled down the phone at the Go to Gate telephone jockeys in Delhi, Mr Pegasus found me our best option. That had to be a direct Emirates flight, Stanstead to Dubai, that evening.

Being last minute, direct and Emirates, it cost a lot, almost 2,000 pounds and Go to Gate were still holding our 700 UK pound booking money for Pegasus. We are now skint.

Screaming down the phone at Go to Gate really didn’t help as operative after operative passed the buck. They had monumentally screwed up and they knew it, but the original problem the root of this cancellation, lay with Barclaycard.

We took a while to figure this out, but a combination of Barclaycard and GoToGate screw ups had landed us flightless at Stanstead.’

I would never use GoToGate ever again, absolutely no way. I’m also inclined to say that I would be cautious with using Skyscanner again. It’s a useful tool for finding the best days and routes and we’ve used them successfully for years but I’m not happy to book through them when third parties like GoToGate are involved. From now on I’d prefer to book direct with the airlines and I think we’ll be sticking to premium airlines, not budget, for a flight of any length.  

I’m over budget airlines, after almost 6 years, that time has finally come.

Why Had Our Flight Been Cancelled?

It took ages to figure this out but both GoToGate and Barclaycard were at fault. Barclaycard cancelled our card a few days after we booked our flight because of a skimming or fraud event. We knew about it, we’d spoken to their people on the phone and had a conversation about how our flights MUST NOT BE CANCELLED.

They promised it would be fine. But still they issued a fraud alert that caused GotoGate to cancel our flights, so say GotoGate, Barclaycard claims this is impossible.

GoToGate were at fault for NOT TELLING US IN ANY WAY that our flights had been cancelled and keeping our flights active on their system while holding onto our money. If you start searching online for information on Go To Gate reputation, you’ll find plenty of social accounts with names like “GoToGate is a Scam”. That doesn’t bode well. We didn’t know about this when we booked Go To Gate flights.

Once we got to the root of it, Barclaycard were extremely apologetic and  instantly guaranteed us 500 UK pounds in compensation. To get the full amount refunded we were told to speak to a higher office which we couldn’t do until we were back from the Himalayas. We were told that will be fine.

Now we need to get our cash refund from GoToGate, which hopefully won’t be an issue, we don’t know yet.

UPDATE: When I contacted Barclaycard for the second time, from Nepal, the woman I spoke to was rude, unhelpful, and refused to believe what had happened, had happened. She also refused to believe I’d already been promised 500 UK Pounds, despite my having the name of the guy I’d spoken to.

We  had to claim under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act which offers protection for purchases over 100 pounds in instances of failure to deliver and covers cost of replacement. We had to print, fill in and post paperwork with supporting evidence from Kathmandu, not the best arrangement.

GoToGate refuse to even talk, let alone refund our money as they placed all blame on Barclaycard. How any company can not return money after failing to deliver is beyond me, but that’s what we were dealing with here.

Incidentally, from what we can see, Go To Gate are based in Sweden, which you’d think would be a solid, reliable sort of country.  

In transactions like this, under the act, both Barclaycard and Go to Gate are equally responsible. That is the law.  

Barclaycard eventually refunded all costs. It took several months and there was endless inconvenient paperwork – we were in Nepal – but they sorted it. I feel bad for them, despite their rude employee, it wasn’t really their fault.  The whole incident was just a big fat mess.

Our Very Expensive Replacement Flights After our Flight Cancellation

We spent a full day sitting in Stanstead airport, it’s not the nicest airport in the world, but still it could have been worse had we not had power packs .

We missed our first day in Dubai and arrived exhausted. Today has been a right-off but tomorrow, hopefully, we can do all the things we wanted to do in Dubai.

Flying with Emirates is always something to look forward to and we made the most of it. A brand new plane, comfortable seats, loads of movies to choose from, decent food and free-flowing drinks softened the blow of a crappy day. Chef and I tried to make up a thousand pounds in free drinks, but after 2 movies each we all nodded off to wake up over the UAE.

Our hotel in Dubai is good, we’ve used it before and we have a big family suite to chillax in, get our laundry done, indulge in wifi and be ready for a big day tomorrow. The lovely front desk staff at The Golden Sands even let us check in early and have breakfast, finally winning!

UPDATE: We have had 2 troll comments suggesting that having insurance would have fixed all of this. These people can’t be travellers. We do have travel insurance, very good insurance, and always have, this one.  But that is not, in any way, going to help you get on a plane when you find yourself stranded. It is also not going to be possible for us to deal with insurance nor the above 2 companies when we are about to head up Mount Everest. I also want to stress (as I already did in the post) that none of this is, in any way, the fault of Pegasus. Being a budget airline does not make them a bad airline and in 5 years, hundreds of flights, we’ve never had any sort of problem even close to this. Budget airlines do a great job in getting people from A to B at the best price and an airline’s budget status has no bearing at all on the above issue. Likewise, Skyscanner, 5 years on the road full time, zero problems until now.

Onward now, onward to Nepal and Everest Base Camp. Tibet and Bhutan currently have a black cloud of financial uncertainty hanging over them but I’m open to the universe to provide after this disaster as it generally does. (Update, we made it to Everest Base Camp and Tibet, Bhutan had to be scrapped, sorry, but we’ll get Bhutan on the website some other time ) I’ve been working like crazy these last few months to get the money together and now a big chunk of our Bhutan and Tibet fund is gone.

Expect posts like this over the coming weeks, the stories, not the business posts as we spend three months, at least, in the mountains. This website is our record of our adventures exploring the world, we always hope you’ll find our experiences useful. Soon, I’m going to write a post on budget v full-service airlines, flying premium is just so much nicer all round. Budget sucks in the comfort stakes and I never want to dread a flight ever again, even less, be refused a flight.

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Aboobacker

Monday 16th of March 2020

OMG! The same happened to me last week. I was supposed to fly from London Heathrow with Middle East Airlines and the flight cancelled. MEA said that I need to contact GoToGate for the full refund.

Then I had to book Emirates flight with AED 2300 for one way to Dubai.

I couldn't still connect with gotogate, and they are not replying to my emails.

Alyson for World Travel Family

Tuesday 17th of March 2020

Sorry to hear that. GoToGate never co-operated, we had to go through legal channels described above. Best of luck.

Suzanne Fluhr

Wednesday 30th of October 2019

I'm about to go down something like this rabbit hole myself as one of our booked airlines went bankrupt and we learned about it when we tried to check in (Adria Airlines). Our credit card's 3d party insurance company says our card no longer covers carrier insolvencies. Their on line info says they do. I might have to play the lawyer card.

Alyson Long

Wednesday 30th of October 2019

Ugg!! Well at least you know your rights. That little British law was a Godsend to us. Best of luck! Never heard of that airline. Greek?

Amy Blyth

Friday 21st of September 2018

What an absolute nightmare! Publishing this gives a glimpse into what travel can really be like though, sometimes things do go wrong, through no fault of your own and despite having insurance, and you just have to deal with it. Glad you finally arrived though and hope you get all your money back and the compensation.

Alyson Long

Friday 21st of September 2018

Cheers Amy. Not even thinking about it for now, nothing is going to pop my Himalayan bubble :) Glad you're settled in Portugal too, looking forward to hearing how life there unfolds.

Drew

Tuesday 18th of September 2018

I had a very similar experience on our recent trip home from Europe via China, only waaaay more expensive. Our booked flight home was Rome-Wuhan-Guangzhou from which we intended to take advantage of their 72-hour visa free arrangement to do a 2-day stopover, then home from there to Sydney. When we stopped in Wuhan, unbeknown to us we had to clear customs to return to the same plane on to Wuhan and that's where the trouble started.

We were asked for documentation showing our flight out of China, then refused entry because the 72-hour visa free arrangement was only allowed at the port of entry i.e. Wuhan for us, not Guangzhou. Fine we said, return us to the plane and put us on a plane immediately back to Sydney. No way, they said, no flights were available and, in any case, we now had to buy new tickets.

The result was that we were detained for 6 hours, no food or water (i.e. they denied us water until we resolved the situation), passports withheld, until we purchased new flights to immediately leave China to any port with no stop inside China. Two calls to the Australian embassy was no help: they told us we were on our own and we were going to have to do what they said.

Because of the time we were travelling, buying new flights home ended up being Wuhan-Singapore-Bali-Sydney which cost us a little over $10K (not a typo!).

We had the top level of insurance with Covermore and they refused to pay. Yes, it was our fault that we didn't know the visa rules but the tiniest amount of flexibility would have saved us a huge amount of money. Suffice to say, China, we won't be back.

Eeva

Thursday 30th of May 2019

Haha that’s hilarious. 10k is unfortunate for sure, but do you actually expect a country to change their visa rules because you didn’t bother reading the information about the visa?! 😂

Alyson Long

Tuesday 18th of September 2018

OMG that's terrible experience! 10K !

Astonished

Tuesday 18th of September 2018

Sorry to hear about your flight problems but maybe one of the reasons the post went viral was because you thought it was somehow ok to ask people to help pay for your upcoming self indulgent and unessential adventures via a Patron account when you already have insurance etc!?

I'm pleased to see no one has actually donated money via it though - why should people pay you direct to have all these new experiences when you always boast about how much money you make on here? How can losing £2000 for a few weeks until it is paid back to you warrant setting up such a page. If £2000 temporary loss sinks you maybe you need to build up savings not stretch yourself on further trips?

If I had money to donate to anyone it would be to charities and you are certainly not a charity case. Sad that you have lost perspective so much

Alyson Long

Tuesday 18th of September 2018

Dear astounded. You are a blogger. I think I know which one. Strange and bizarre that you went to all the trouble of setting up a fake email account to hide your identity in such a cowardly way. Many, many people have patreon accounts, it's normal. People LIKE to support channels they enjoy or find useful. I resisted at first, but after taking to a few people it seems that this is perfectly OK, many people do it including some good friends of ours, people who give freely receive freely. It may not happen to you, but people ask us regularly if they can in some way contribute or support us. No, we don't really need it, we have a decent income, I never said we were a charity case. " Boast" seriously? You think telling it like it is constitutes boasting? It's a word only bitter people use, I don't think I've ever used that word in my life. I do not disclose our finances, never have, but I do share my knowledge freely and help many, many people every day, behind the scenes, you wouldn't know about that. We also give freely to the businesses we use, no sponsored travel bullshit, we just help and support where we can. Maybe people don't support you because you are so mean spirited. Put some love in your life, it goes a long way. If you visit the Patreon, you'll see that I'm actually trying to set up an exchange of services, but as you obviously didn't look properly you wouldn't know. Get over yourself and go away. And by the way, they have, direct , not through Patreon, which quite honestly is a bit of a pain in the butt because of the monthly nature of the beast. But sitting at the airport it was the best I could do.

nomadic family life

Alyson is the creator of World Travel Family travel blog and is a full-time traveller, blogger and travel writer. A lifetime of wanderlust and now over 7 years on the road, 50+ countries allowed the creation of this website, for you. She has a BSc and worked in pathology before entering the travel arena and creating this website. World Travel Family Travel Blog has been helping you travel more, better and further since 2012, when Alyson and James first had this life changing idea. On this site you can find endless travel information, tips and guides plus how to travel, how to fund travel and how to start your own travel blog.

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