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COMPLAINT: Austrian Airlines - Dysfunctional airline, incredible mistreatment

 
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Old Sep 23, 2012, 7:03 AM
dperazzo dperazzo is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
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I flew with Austrian Airlines from Dubai to New York with my wife, son and baby girl. The airline made a mess of our seating arrangements, the ground staff "misinformed" (or lied) to us twice about the seating and then we were grossly mistreated by the staff on the plane. A disastrous experience.
We have formally sent in complaints through the post and e-mail demanding an explanation from Austrian Airlines given the incredible mistreatment received by some of their staff and the lack of respect of previously confirmed sitting arrangements. These were sent 4 weeks ago and we still have not had any response whatsoever.
As both my wife and I are frequent flyers, both on business and economy class, with experience with multiple worldwide airlines, we find these series of incidents unacceptable and demanded a written apology. Needless to say that the experience has been so appalling, that we will not book another personal or business trip with Austrian.
Below is an account of the trip:
The trip was a roundtrip Dubai-Vienna-New York. We had reservations made weeks in advance, including a written confirmation from Austrian Airlines in Dubai that we had 3 seats reserved together in a row with a bassinet for my 7 month daughter for all 4 flights. The confirmation unequivocally says “Basnit Seats are confirmed all together in front row for all 03 paxes”.

[I would expect the Airline understands the difficulties anyone faces when travelling alone with a baby on a long flight. If the baby is upset by the strange experience and a parent is alone, it becomes almost impossible to go the bathroom, to eat, get something out of the over-head compartment, etc. etc. The bassinet makes a big difference and sitting both parents together is very important. Therefore the airline should understand the request in advance (whcih as accepted and confirmed in writting) to seat both adults together with the baby and son in a bassinet row.]
Dubai-Vienna, August 3rd
The check-in staff realized that in fact we were not assigned a row with a bassinet and requested that we deal with the staff on the plane to try to switch to nearby seats. The staff on the plane was able to place us in a nearby row, but not three seats with the bassinet as Austrian Airlines had confirmed we would have.
Vienna-New York, August 3rd
The seats were already assigned in Dubai and confirmed as 3 seats together with a bassinet at the check-in. At the gate we saw some commotion and approached the desk to confirm the seating was correct. We were informed by the Austrian gate staff that we effectively had the 3 seats with a bassinet assigned. We continued to hear commotion at the gate, including a family who was supposed to have a bassinet complaining that they did not have one. We approached for a 2nd time the desk, minutes before boarding, and this time we were informed by a different Austrian Airlines gate staff that in fact our row did not have a bassinet. The manager told us it was too late to change as the boarding was starting and requested we deal with the staff on the plane to try to switch seats. On the plane the stewardess managed to move my wife and baby to a seat in bassinet row. I had to intervene myself to ask passengers in nearby rows if they would switch, which after a while I achieved. Again not three seats with the bassinet as Austrian had confirmed we would have.
New York-Vienna, August 12th

After the previous two experiences, at the check-in we specifically asked for confirmation that we had 3 seats together with a bassinet. We were informed by the Austrian Ailines check-in staff that we effectively had the 3 seats with a bassinet assigned. However, when we boarded the plane we found that our row did not have a bassinet (AGAIN, AFTER RE-CONFIRMING THIS AT CHECK-IN!). We informed a stewardess that this was the 3rd time this happened and that check-in staff had confirmed we had a bassinet. The stewardess, displaying no predisposition to help, said there was nothing she could do as ground staff manages seat assignment.
After insisting that they take care of our request and solve the problem, she asked me to accompany her to the gate to talk to the ground staff. We went together and as I was discussing the stewardess left and returned to the plane. The conclusion from the ground-staff was that the seats were assigned, bassinet rows were taken, they could not do anything about it and the stewardess should help us to relocate.
[It is worth noting that we later realized that with the exception of one older man, the seats in the basinet rows were assigned to passengers with no babies and no obvious disability that would merit giving them priority, increasing the frustration at this whole ordeal].
On the plane the stewardess informed she managed to get my wife a seat in bassinet row (row 10) and free the seat next to it (which was of no use as I was with my son anyway and needed 2 seats). I told her that we needed to be seated closer as I was still in row 33. She said this was what she could do, again displaying no sign of sympathy or understanding, and speaking with a negative tone which we think we, and nobody, deserves. Finally, I started to ask the passengers nearby row 10 if they would be ok to move rows and after some time, with the stewardess just watching, I managed to get 2 seats nearby my wife. At that point I asked my wife to come forward to the new seats.
A minute later the stewardess returned and asked my wife if she was ok with the arrangement. My wife was of course not happy as this was the 3rd time this happened, the confirmed seating was never respected, and we were still not sitting together. The stewardess, who seemed surprised we were upset after this ordeal, said that she expected a “thank you”!
This was of course a ridiculous and surreal situation as she could not have been more out of touch with reality. My wife with a baby in arms tried to explain again that she was not happy because the ground staff had lied to us, the confirmed seating was never respected, that it was the 3rd time this happened… at which point the stewardess, seemingly surprised and offended, ran off to the front of the plane. She came back moments later and informed us we had been reported to the captain as “unruly” passengers.
We were astonished by this whole situation. This is supposedly a world class airline for which we paid a significant amount of money and both my wife and I are civilized persons and we do not expect airline staff to:
1- Point fingers and blame different areas or the company for a mistake done without offering any kind of support;
2- Misinform (or lie) repeatedly about the seating arrangements
3- Demand that we be thankful (as we were literally asked to do by this stewardess) for an arrangement that did not make sense to us and which was partially secured by myself and after begging other passengers for help;
4- Threaten us - the message the stewardess seemed to convey was that we would be kicked out of the plane if we did not accept whatever was offered to us [regardless of whether it made sense to us and any prior written and verbal confirmations received and without even once apologizing for the Airline’s mistakes even if these were made by other departments]

We found this whole negative attitude and reaction to a genuine issue which was caused by the airline in the first place to be outrageous and deserving firstly, a written explanation from the Airline, and secondly, that we avoid flying with Austrian Airlines in the future for both personal and business related trips.
The mentioned flights were:
August 3rd, Dubai-Vienna OS840
August 3rd, Vienna-JFK OS87
August 12th, JFK-Vienna OS88
e-tickets: 257 2246152118/19/20

Unfortunately I did not note the name of this outrageous stewardess, but she seemed to be a senior person in the team of that flight.
I expect an apology from the airline and the stewardess.

Daniel


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