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Check-in / Boarding
COMPLAINT: Boarding denied despite delayed incoming flight & mismanagement

 
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Old Jun 29, 2016, 4:36 AM
PankhuriJ PankhuriJ is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
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We had booked a return trip with Etihad Airways from Bangalore(India) to Berlin(Germany) with the travel dates of 21st April, 2016 (onward) & 29th April, 2016 (return). However, on 21/4/16 during our onward journey, we missed our connecting flight from Rome to Berlin and ended up losing 1000 Euros due to the fault of Etihad Airways.

Firstly, when we checked-in from the Bangalore International Airport in India for our Etihad Airways flight, their partner (Jet Airways) issued us boarding passes from Bangalore to Abu Dhabi & then from Abu Dhabi to Rome but not from Rome to Berlin. We insisted on the same but they said that we would have to figure this out ourselves at the Rome airport, even though they checked in our bags till Berlin. This was the first time in our travel experience that we weren't issued boarding passes till our destination even though we had booked the entire journey with Etihad Airways. When we reached Rome airport, all we had were our flight tickets which mentioned the time of departure of our flight at 14:25 pm. The boarding gate number or the boarding gate closing time was not informed to us by Etihad in any written form! We inquired with various ground staff as to where the Boarding passes would be issued to us but each ground staff just asked us to proceed to the next point without giving a conclusive answer. Finally, at the Boarding Terminal we inquired with Alitalia (the only Etihad Airways partner whose counters we could spot at the Rome airport) about our boarding passes and they just told us to go to the Air Berlin boarding gates. We searched for the boarding gate information ourselves on the display screens and ran through the airport to reach the boarding gates at 14:15 pm only to be told by Air Berlin that the boarding gate had just closed 5 minutes before and that we should go to Etihad for further process!

This brings me to another important point, which is, that the incoming flight from Abu Dhabi to Rome was delayed by about 10 minutes. If we were made to miss our connecting flight for a 5 minute delay at the boarding gate (for a boarding time not informed to us by Etihad in any form, whatsoever) then how can Etihad wash their hands off a 10 minute delay!! We should have reached 10 minutes early at the boarding gate if only Etihad had been on time!

On talking to the Etihad customer care after this absolutely disturbing chain of events, we were told that even if they were 10 minutes late, we still had 1 hour 5 minutes to catch our flight but if the boarding gates close 15 minutes prior to departure doesn't that mean we were left with only 50 minutes to catch the flight?!Despite all this, we ran through the airport only to get held up at the understaffed Passport Control counter which had a long queue of more than 50 people being serviced by only 2 officers! We were forced to spend at least half an hour waiting for our turn in this queue and neither the ground staff nor the passengers in front of us in the queue, helped us to get ahead in the queue. We were later told by an Alitalia staff at Terminal 1 that Rome airport has a shortage of staff and passengers regularly missed flights because of this but are always booked on the next flight by the airlines. Even they were shocked that Etihad did not book us on the next flight to Berlin. If Rome airport has the problem of shortage of staff, why did Etihad issue us the tickets at all with such less connecting time?

Not once from the moment we arrived at Rome, did we stop to use the washroom or drink water. We ran through the airport and all the CCTVs at the airport would verify everything we have said above. At the end of the day, not only did we miss our flight but Etihad did not help us in any way. The Alitalia staff (Etihad Airways partner) to whom we rushed for help strongly agreed that Etihad should help to put us on their 17:30 flight to Berlin but on calling Etihad, they chose to wash their hands off us.

After all this time spent on talking to Etihad and retrieving our luggage from Lost & Found (because it was booked till Berlin but taken out at Rome by Air Berlin), we didn't have enough time to catch the next Air Berlin flight at 17:30 even by ourselves. This was the last flight to Berlin for that day from the Rome airport that we had landed at and after running from counter to counter, inquiring about any other flights, we found out about a Ryanair flight from another airport in Rome(Ciampino) that was due to depart in 2.5 hours (which meant we had to report there within 1.5 hours). Considering it was peak traffic hours, the airport staff warned us that it could take us anywhere between 1.5 to 2 hours to reach there and the fastest mode to travel would be a taxi. This meant that we couldn't book the tickets in advance because we weren't sure if we would reach there on time but not booking the tickets also meant that after spending 50 Euros to travel to the other airport, we may find the flight fully booked only to have to return all the way back to our landing airport for flights for the next day. Praying every minute of our way to the Ciampino airport & after requesting the taxi driver to take alternate routes wherever we faced a hold up due to traffic, we finally reached the Rome Ciampino airport just a minute or two before the ticketing counter closed for the day. Imagine our anxiety all this while!! The Ryanair flight cost us another 448 Euros because we were carrying baggage as per the international route check in allowances.

Another big let down in all of this (which we found out when we spoke to the customer care) was that Etihad cancelled our return flights to India! We had to re-book our entire retrurn journey which cost us another 35,000 INR (approx 500 Euros)! Goes on to show the insensitivity of Etihad in all aspects!!!

The detailed timeline of the entire incident is as follows:
13:20 - Flight from Abu Dhabi lands at Rome (10 minutes late).
13:25 - Exited the flight and entered the airport.
13:30 - Took the connecting train to Terminal 1 as informed by ground staff.
13:35 - Security check completed and proceeded for passport control.
13:35 to 14:00 - Waiting in the long queue of passport control.
14:00 - Passport check completed and proceeded for the Bus to boarding Gate B19.
14:00 to 14:05 - Bus waits to fill completely before leaving even after we informed about our flight timings to ground staff.
14:10 - Bus reaches the entry to the terminal.
14:15 - After running continuously (and inquiring with Alitalia on the way about our boarding passes), we reach the boarding gate B19 but are not allowed to board.
14:15 to 14:30 - Requesting Air Berlin staff to let us board and asking for a solution.
14:30 to 15:30 - Talking to Alitalia staff at the Transfer desk (Terminal 1). They checked whether we have been re-booked on the next flight by Etihad, and also tried calling Etihad on our behalf. Finally, we were told to call Etihad Milan Customer Care call centre, which we tried on our own but not able to get through to them. Simultaneously, also informed our travel agent in India.
15:30 to 15:45 - Went to the ticketing office of Alitalia at Terminal 3 as directed by Alitalia staff at Terminal 1
15:45 to 16:00 - Explained our problem to Alitalia staff at Terminal 3, who connected us to the Milan customer care centre as they said that they cant help.
16:00 to 16:30 - Speaking to Milan Customer care and the staff on the phone also couldn't help and told us also to re-book our return flights to India as they had cancelled it. Also, we couldn't book the 17:30 Air Berlin flight as communication from Etihad was very delayed.
16:30 to 18:00 - Speaking to our Travel agent in India for a solution who spoke to Etihad on our behalf but was told to re-book the return flight to India. Also, he tried for some others flight to Berlin. We also collected our luggage from Lost & Found.
18:00 to 18:30 - Inquired at the ticketing offices of Lufthansa, Ryanair, etc and were directed to Rome Ciampino airport for the only flight (Ryanair departing at 21:00)
18:30 to 19:55 - Taxi to Rome Ciampino airport at peak traffic hours.
19:55 to 20:05 - Rushed to Ryanair ticketing counter and bought the tickets. Had to pay extra for luggage due to local connection having less baggage allowance.
21:00 - Flight departs for Berlin

The whole incident has cost us an additional 1000 euros for no fault of ours. We went through immense amount of stress & frustration that day and want Etihad to wake up to their faults and compensate us appropriately. We have been following up with Etihad customer care via email since 1st May, 2016 (as soon as we returned from our trip) and had been receiving assurances of a reply till finally they replied to us last week giving an explanation & saying "I apologize for leaving you with a poor impression of our services" without compensating us for any of our losses (not even the money they collected from us for re-booking our return flights to India!)

Would urge everyone here to never fly Etihad!!
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etihad bad service, etihad delayed flights, etihad fleecing, worst airline ever, worst service ever


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