Check-in / Boarding Experienced problems during check-in or boarding?

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  #1  
Old Oct 29, 2009, 9:53 PM
ronaldboesaart ronaldboesaart is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4
Thumbs down refused boarding and unsolicited change

I had a reservation confirmed by Continental for a flight on August 10, 2009 from BWI to Bogota, Colombia via Houston, Tx.
Thus I checked at BWI airport for my flight. It being a public holiday there were not many passengers in the departure hall so the staff was quite busy with their own private conversations in which I was obviously intruding. When they very finally finished they helped me albeit in a very sullen and unhelpful way. When I presented my documents they refused to check me in as I did not have a visa for Colombia. After winning the first argument by telling them that I do not need a visa I was then told they would still not check me in as my return flight from Bogota was scheduled for January 20, 2010, which would exceed 3 months and thus I would need a visa. No matter how much I argued saying that I am a resident in Colombia - that I intended to leave anyway before the three months were over to go to Ecuador and Peru, only to return to Bogota on the 19th of January, 2010 in time to catch my return flight to Houston and BWI. And anyway, if I would overstay beyond the 3 months it would be MY problem and not the airline’s. Yet they insisted I could not board and that I had to change my reservation. And, according to them it had to be done by the original agent (Expedia). I asked them to lend me their phone as I did not have mine with me, to which they answered that making private calls on the airline’s phone system was not allowed and besides changing my flight was not their problem. I managed with the help a stranger to call Expedia who told me that they could not do anything as the change must be made with the airline. So back at square one. Finally, the supervisor took over and arranged the flight to be changed to November 8, which was all that she would do. But that is not what I wanted which was to honor my confirmed and paid for reservation, as I have connecting flights from the US to Holland to Egypt, in January, 2010. Moreover, not only did Continental change my return flight from Bogota they also canceled my flight from BWI to Dulles. (My next flight to London leaves from Dulles).
And to add insult to injury they also lost one suitcase. But here I have to admit that they did an excellent job tracing it and returning it to me at Cali airport.

But wait, that is not the end of the story. Once in Bogota I wrote a letter of complaint to customer service in the US and a request to change the flight back of November 8 to the original one in January. I received a very short reply in which no mention was made of my previous complaint and no apology of any kind, and was told to go to Bogota to the Continental office. Mind you, Bogota is an eight hour drive from where I live, and then back again. So I went to Bogota and spoke with the International CIO Agent over there. He was quite sympathetic but at the end he would not do anything as he needed the authorization of – yes, you guessed it – the same person who sent me there in the first place. SO, I made a two days’ trip and spent more than $ 100 for nothing.

DO you think I will ever fly Continental again? What a crummy airline. I have had no problems with the crew: it is the customer service that is a real stinker.





  #2  
Old Oct 29, 2009, 10:37 PM
azstar azstar is offline
 
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Something is missing here. If you say you are a permanent resident of Colombia, you should either carry a Colombian passport, or a resident's visa in your US passport. If you have two passports, you travel TO Colombia with Colombian passport, and travel TO the USA with your USA passport and it would not be a problem. Did you show them proof that you were a Colombian resident?

As for your statement "it would be my problem not theirs" is inaccurate. If Colombian immigration requires that you leave the country within 90 days unless you have a visa, YOU must be able to prove that you have transportation to leave the country within that period. Airlines are subject to huge fines, thousands of dollars, plus deportation expenses, for every passenger they board who is not properly documented.
  #3  
Old Oct 29, 2009, 11:07 PM
PHXFlyer PHXFlyer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azstar View Post
Something is missing here.
You bet!

If the 90 day issue was the only issue then why not just buy the cheapest refundable ticket from Bogota back to Houston sometime within that 90 day window? That way the agent is satisfied that the entry requirements are met and that it won't come back on them. Then when you get to Bogota, clear customs and immigration, go to the Continental ticket agent there and ask to cancel the ticket and get a refund to your credit card. PROBLEM SOLVED!

However, as azstar said, I don't think you're telling us the whole story which is odd because it took you so long to tell it!
  #4  
Old Oct 30, 2009, 12:30 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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Location: Shropshire, England
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As usual.. the stock responses. There is absolutely no evidence that you are not getting the whole story...
  #5  
Old Oct 30, 2009, 12:55 AM
ronaldboesaart ronaldboesaart is offline
 
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Posts: 4
Exclamation refused boarding and unsolicited change

Quote:
Originally Posted by azstar View Post
Something is missing here. If you say you are a permanent resident of Colombia, you should either carry a Colombian passport, or a resident's visa in your US passport. If you have two passports, you travel TO Colombia with Colombian passport, and travel TO the USA with your USA passport and it would not be a problem. Did you show them proof that you were a Colombian resident?

As for your statement "it would be my problem not theirs" is inaccurate. If Colombian immigration requires that you leave the country within 90 days unless you have a visa, YOU must be able to prove that you have transportation to leave the country within that period. Airlines are subject to huge fines, thousands of dollars, plus deportation expenses, for every passenger they board who is not properly documented.

Yes, I mentioned to the check-in staff that as the husband of a COlombian woman I have residency there. Moreover I did indeed travel to neighbouring countries so the question of the 3 months (3 1/2 actually) is solved as I said it would. And what would prevent me from taking a short trip anyway to either Quito (which I did) or Venezuela to mention a few examples). Even so why were they not prepared to help me at first and give me advice? And as for the question of my delayed reaction: I did indeed travel outside the country and thus did not have the opportunity to make the arrangements. And I finally did go to the office to request a change. ANd now the big question is still there: why did I not get an answer to my question about changing the flight even if it means paying extra?
So, all I want is some proper advice as how to go from here. I am here in the middle of nowhere and the Cont. office is eight hours away. We are not in the US or Europe where there is an airline office at every corner.
  #6  
Old Oct 30, 2009, 1:31 AM
The_Judge The_Judge is offline
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Why did you not show them your resident card? Problem solved.

I too have denied boarding passengers without visas. When they told me they are a resident of that country which they do not hold a passport for, I ask them for their resident card, they show it to me, I say thank you very much and enjoy your flight. Simple
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Yes, the rules and policies favor the airlines unfairly. I do not dispute that.
  #7  
Old Oct 30, 2009, 5:07 AM
Silent Bob Silent Bob is offline
 
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ronaldboesaart, I think you made this more complicated than it needs to be. First off, if you are a residence by marriage or a resident period, then the best thing to do would be to show proof of it. In your complaint you state you only "tell them you're a resident by marriage", but what did you show them that makes it so? What documents did you bring? Just a passport? Second, you don't have to take the airlines word because they say so, ask for a print out of the rule, which they can and/or should have given you. third, though it never comes up because usually one is upset at the time, you can buy a one-way refundable ticket that would satisfy customs of your departure and and you can then get a refund when you arrive. (Phx already stated that). The thing is I had the same experience when I was denied boarding trying to get to brazil, I didn't have a visa, nor did I check it out before hand (I went along with one of those guys who say "yea I go to brazil all the time without a visa".). They gave me a print out and a new flight, which satisfied the brazilian counsel to issue me a visa.

Since you are in Colombia, what happened when you went through customs?

My advice would be to try another customer care agent to resolve the flight issue, since there was only supposed to be a change of the return nothing more. They might be skittish to change it because they think they may run into some legal ramifications upon your return and going through customs. I dunno, I've never had a problem with customs before so I don't know what that experience is like. But there is no reason why they shouldn't change it, if there is no problem. I mean you're already there.
  #8  
Old Oct 30, 2009, 3:59 PM
ronaldboesaart ronaldboesaart is offline
 
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Yes, that is all good and well. But when one is waiting at the counter to be checked in, and I did not have my marrige license with me, only my valid passport, AND the airline is refusing to help me with a telephone, what can I do?
No, they only showed me that visitors to Colombia need a visa for 3 months which will be given at the border, which I knew as I have been there many times albeit not with Continental airlines. And YES I could have bought a cheap ticket but where? And why did they not make that suggestion? And what to do with the ticket that I had bought already two months in advance?
And yes, I am already here and I DID go to the Bogota office (the only one in the country) and NO, the guy refused to change my ticket.
And NO, the customer support office in the US has not ackonwledged my letter sent to them after my visit to their Bogota office.
  #9  
Old Oct 30, 2009, 5:24 PM
PHXFlyer PHXFlyer is offline
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No comment!
  #10  
Old Nov 5, 2009, 6:39 PM
ronaldboesaart ronaldboesaart is offline
 
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Well, here is the final message regarding this subject. I finally DID get a reply from Customer Service and here is what it said:I have thoroughly researched this matter regarding your comments. It has come to my attention that your reservation should be allowed back to the original itinerary. Therefore, I have authorized that your reservation may be changed back to the original itinerary without penalty. Please contact our Reservations Department at 01.800.944.0219 (Toll Free) to speak with a reservations agent to make the changes to the return portion of your ticket.

Please be advised that I will also like to offer you a $100 Electronic Travel Certificate to help offset your travel expenses to the Bogota city ticket office. You may use the ETC on a future trip with Continental. I will be happy to send the ETC via email, however I will need your mailing address to complete you file.

I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience you have experience.


Well, I guess that I was right after all. I also want to change my opinion of Continental customer service. They were wrong and they apologized. Good show. SO now I will fly Continental again.
  #11  
Old Nov 5, 2009, 10:15 PM
Gromit801 Gromit801 is offline
 
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Took'em long enough though! Glad you reached a resolution.
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