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akshaj1986
06-25-2009, 10:06 AM
I have booked a ticket on Swiss airlines between New York and Delhi via Geneva and Zurich.
At the time of check in i was not informed about the need for any other visa and only my passport and US visa were checked and i was boarded on the flight to Geneva.
The flight started 2 hours late and reached Geneva where to my shock i was told that i was not supposed to be boraded on the flight in the first place as i did not have a Euro travel visa for my Geneva-Zurich sector.After a lot of trauma & documentation at the authorities in Geneva airport i was boarded back on the same flight to New york.
Once i reached New york Swiss did not bother to help me in anyway to enable me to travel to Delhi via Zurich.
They simply said that half of my ticket should is now considered utilised and i need to buy the same by paying a additional 1000US$.
My Swiss ticket 724-7432-020-331 and my travel date was 13th June 2009.
They told me that vacancies were available only in the flight after 48 hours.
I was very traumatised by my travel for 20 hours across timezones over the Atalantic only to have reached nowhere.
When i call the helpline to complain they are very rude and ask me to write on their website whatever i had felt.
I ultimately travelled on Air India with much better services for a extra 1337 US$.
Swiss is the airline with the worst customer service and satisfication.
I will never travel by the airline ever again.

PHXFlyer
06-25-2009, 11:14 AM
It was your responsibility to have the proper documentation for travel yet you blame the airline? Way to go.

akshaj1986
06-25-2009, 01:04 PM
Agreed, But why did the airline board me on the flight when they should have checked if i had the right documentation.

Silent Bob
06-25-2009, 01:22 PM
very true they should have checked, and its my understanding that when someone is deported the airline pays a fine. So it looks like your both in some serious hot soup. But there's nothing they can do when it comes to you not having your documents. It is something that you yourself could have checked before you left, but also something they should have checked before you boarded.

akshaj1986
06-25-2009, 01:34 PM
Agreed.
I checked on the Emirates website under Visa info and it said that i could travel to a my homeland by transiting Germany if my journey has originated in either UK/Canada or US.
The fine print about taking a second connecting flight in Europe did not occur to me until the officer at Geneva Immigration enlightened me about the same.
But anyways,i feel the airline should have refused to board me on the flight since they should know all these detail.
It would have saved me all the 20 hours of flight and also the loss of 2 days of my annual leave.
My request to the airline is that since they have not transporetd me to Delhi and they are also on the worng side, they should make efforts to resolve my issue by refunding my ticket fare.
The problem is that they do not have a proper channel for me to put forth my case.
The people on the Swiss helpline are not willing to listen.
The Swiss people at the JFK airport have washed their hands off my case and ask me to approach Swiss office in Mumbai/Delhi.
I have written emails through proper channel and next is to send the documentation by fax to them.
I am not claiming damages in millions but simply asking them to refund the original booked fare with taxes since effectively they have not carried me to Delhi.

PHXFlyer
06-25-2009, 04:06 PM
Why do I get the feeling that had they refused to board you there would have been a complaint posted anyway?

Also,when you land in a country and then take an onward flight to another point in that country you are no longer transiting. You clear customs and immigration upon arrival and from that point on you are treated a domestic passenger regardless of your onward connections. True transit passengers are kept in a sterile area and do not go through customs and immigration control. You seem to have traveled before so I'm not sure how you became confused.

Your refund request, therefore, is frivolous. Regardless of the fact that you were boarded on the flight from New York to Germany it was your responsibility to have all of your passport/visa documents in order. You continue to blame the airline and expect compensation when it's your fault. Why can't you grasp that concept?

There is another Indian national on here who posts news articles every time an Air France flight is delayed and Indian passengers are unable to be taken to hotels because they don't have visas. They were expecting to transit at Paris Charles de Gualle and go onward to India but missed their connecting flights. It's not Air France's fault they have no visas and the French government won't allow them to leave the airport!

And why is this in the Continental forum anyway? Mods?

akshaj1986
06-25-2009, 05:32 PM
All that you are saying is absolutely true and valid.

Anyways i got a mailer from Swiss saying that they will pay half of the fare that has remained unutilised in the form of a Swiss airline voucher valid for 1 year from date of issue.

So after the entire episode i should consider that half of the ticket that i purchased is now lost.
Anyways it was my mistake to have not looked into the fine print of the transit through Switzerland.
It is partly also the mistake on the Swiss to have allowed me to board.

Had they not boarded me on the flight the entire loss of the ticket and its consequences would have been mine and you would not have seen me on this board typing all this stuff.
I would have then paid a penalty and routed my journey with a single stop at Zurich which is allowed for a Indian passport holder travelling from USA/Canada or UK to India.

Finally regarding the Air France-India issue, i would like to bring it to your notice that if such a incident were to happen with Emirates airlines,they will arrange a UAE 24 hour visa and accomodate and feed you during the delay.
Emirates is the national airline of Dubai/UAE and the other benefit you have is that they will secure your visa and hotel accomodation if you have a itenarary with their airline with connecting flights more than 18 hours apart.
This is one way of seeing UAE for free for 6- 10 hours considering that you would be resting at the hotel the rest of time.
The pick up,drop and wake up alarm is also responsibility of Emirates airlines.
I beleive that it is service.
What Air France has done is left Passengers like a flock of sheep into a secure area and did not bother to address their concerns.
Air France is the national carrier of France and i am sure they can work out things such that such incidents do not happen in the future.
If you are limiting and securing the transit of passengers in a Airport for more than 6 hours, they should make sure that the travellers have enough space/room to move around instead of a small room.

Lastly my experience with Air India was wonderful on the JFK-Mumbai Non stop flight.
The flight had plenty of room space and interiors were large and spacious since the plane was a newly acquired one compared to the Swiss and Air France fleet.
Food served was very good as well.
The entertainment system was a bit sticky but much better than the broadcast style of Swiss inflight enetertainment.

akshaj1986
06-25-2009, 05:46 PM
In the case of transit, the boarding pass for the connecting flight is also issued at the port of entry.
So if Air France has issued the boarding pass for the connecting flight it is compulsory for the connecting flight to wait till these passengers board.
Alternatively Air France could have arranged for the next flight if they had any in the next 6 hours.

For Indians travelling to home from USA/Canada the best options is not to choose the European carriers for the following reasons:
1.They do not understand you.
2.You are not welcome into their lands.
3.You will not like their food and inflight entertainment as it is not customised to your tastes.
4.Your flight journey becomes longer and tedious and tiring with the transit.
5.Chances of baggage loss are more and can cause losses if you have further connecting flights once you enter India.
6.If you have issues it will be difficult for you to get them addressed to your satisfication.
7.Most of the fleet of these airlines is old and outdated atleast by a decade in some cases.So more people are sitting is less space.
8.The flight fare is expensive compared to Indian carriers like AirIndia/Jet Airways or Emirates/Qatar airlines.

The alternative flights for Indians are:
1.Air Indian non stop flights from JFK to Mumbai and Delhi.
2.Air India flights from Newark to Delhi and Mumbai via Frankfurt.
3.Air India flight to Chicago from Delhi.
4.Air India flight from Amritsar to Toronto via London.
5.Jet airways flights to India via Brussels.
6.Delta Airways from Atlanta to Mumbai non stop.
7.American airlines non stop from Chicago to Delhi.
8.Emirates airlines flights with stops in Dubai.
9.Qatar airlines with stop at Doha.

Butch Cassidy Slept Here
06-25-2009, 10:36 PM
PHONE AHEAD TO THE INDIAN EMBASSY IN THE COUNTRY OF TRANSIT: If I were transiting a country in which I was unsure of the entry/exit requirements I would phone ahead to the US Embassy. In fact I did just that several years ago and saved myself a lot of problems. NEVER, NEVER rely on what an airline tells you when it comes to entry/exit requirements!

Air India
Obviously, no problems with travel documents. You are either allowed to board at the point of origin, or not. Food service, if it occurs, is certainly compatable with a South Asian diet.

Jet Airways
Have read horror stories in the Indian (English language) media. Customers being stranded at airports, flight departures 6+ hours late. True, Northwest likes to do that too on overseas flights--while holding your checked baggage "hostage."

Delta Air Lines, American Airlines
If you're a Sikh I would think twice before using ANY US-based airline. US-based airlines like to kick Sikhs off their planes, even though it's a violation of DOT anti-discrimination regulations. Just try to get those regs. enforced! The (US-based) airlines are in bed with the DOT--at least until all the Bush appointees are fired. Generally, ANYONE who is South Asian in appearance stands a better chance, compared to Aryian-looking Americans, of facing SOME kind of discrimination with a US-based airline.

Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airlines
Probably the best choice for a Sikh or any other person of South Asian appearance.

MY choices to India:
LUFTHANSA and BRITISH AIRWAYS

LUFTHANSA, following its German roots, is probably the best airline when it comes to following the "rules." Unfortunately that includes rules which do NOT benefit the customer--such as travel document regulations. On the other hand it's unlikely you'll find Lufthansa violating any E.U. civil rights regulations.

BRITISH AIRWAYS ("BA") is probably the most knowledgeable airline (outside of India) when it comes to travel to India. As you know, India IS a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Occasionally, you may even see a South Asian flight attendant on a BA flight. Still, all too many BA flight attendants have a personality not far removed from their American counterparts--NOT a good thing!

PHXFlyer
06-26-2009, 12:29 AM
In the case of transit, the boarding pass for the connecting flight is also issued at the port of entry.
So if Air France has issued the boarding pass for the connecting flight it is compulsory for the connecting flight to wait till these passengers board.
Alternatively Air France could have arranged for the next flight if they had any in the next 6 hours.

If the delay is more than a few minutes it is certainly not compulsory for any airline to hold a flight for connecting passengers. This is the unreasonable expectations many have while traveling. We see it all the time here. Their biggest complaint was that a connecting flight wasn't held for just 5-10 minutes or so. What they don't realize is that if an aircraft waits even a few minutes they could potentially lose their slot for takeoff and be made to wait on the ground causing even further delays. Not to mention that it's a dis-service to a plane load of passengers to potentially delay them for a few people running to make a connection.

If a passenger can be reasonably re-accommodated on a future flight then it's better to do so than hold a plane. Also what the average traveler doesn't realize is the decision to hold or not hold the plane is not made by the gate agents yet when they arrive at the gate that's who they vent their anger on.


For Indians travelling to home from USA/Canada the best options is not to choose the European carriers for the following reasons:
1.They do not understand you.
2.You are not welcome into their lands.
3.You will not like their food and inflight entertainment as it is not customised to your tastes.
4.Your flight journey becomes longer and tedious and tiring with the transit.
5.Chances of baggage loss are more and can cause losses if you have further connecting flights once you enter India.
6.If you have issues it will be difficult for you to get them addressed to your satisfication.
7.Most of the fleet of these airlines is old and outdated atleast by a decade in some cases.So more people are sitting is less space.
8.The flight fare is expensive compared to Indian carriers like AirIndia/Jet Airways or Emirates/Qatar airlines.

The alternative flights for Indians are:
1.Air Indian non stop flights from JFK to Mumbai and Delhi.
2.Air India flights from Newark to Delhi and Mumbai via Frankfurt.
3.Air India flight to Chicago from Delhi.
4.Air India flight from Amritsar to Toronto via London.
5.Jet airways flights to India via Brussels.
6.Delta Airways from Atlanta to Mumbai non stop.
7.American airlines non stop from Chicago to Delhi.
8.Emirates airlines flights with stops in Dubai.
9.Qatar airlines with stop at Doha.

I would add Continental's non-stop service from Newark to Delhi to your list. They have meal options tailored to the Indian palate and dietary restrictions and operate the service on newer 777's with excellent in-flight entertainment. The seat pitch in coach isn't as generous as some of the others you have mentioned but really that's the only negative aspect of an otherwise excellent product.

Commercial over.

PHXFlyer
06-26-2009, 12:44 AM
PHONE AHEAD TO THE INDIAN EMBASSY IN THE COUNTRY OF TRANSIT: If I were transiting a country in which I was unsure of the entry/exit requirements I would phone ahead to the US Embassy. In fact I did just that several years ago and saved myself a lot of problems. NEVER, NEVER rely on what an airline tells you when it comes to entry/exit requirements!

Excellent advice. Not always feasible when one finds themselves on an extended layover due to a late arriving aircraft. My reason for posting about the other complaint was to point out issues of immigration, customs, passport and visa requirements are not regulated by the airlines. Yes it is incumbent on the airlines to verify those documents are in the passengers' possession prior to travel however it is the responsibility of anyone traveling abroad to be aware of what is needed for each individual country they visit. When issues arise you can't really blame the airline as they are not the ones enforcing the laws.

The OP pointed out that Indian travelers transiting the UAE are able to expeditiously obtain temporary visas allowing them to stay at nearby hotels and tour the city. The OP still did not make the distinction between the airline and the government:

Finally regarding the Air France-India issue, i would like to bring it to your notice that if such a incident were to happen with Emirates airlines,they will arrange a UAE 24 hour visa and accomodate and feed you during the delay. (bolding/emphasis mine)

It is not Emirates who takes care of this process but the government of the UAE which his highly efficient. In the other example we're talking about the French government. Really, what can one expect. It's really not prejudice it's just that anything involving a government agency in France is mired in red-tape. I really wouldn't expect anyone to be immediately issued an emergency temporary visa in a country where you can't buy a stamp in a post office! You need to go to a tobacco store for that.