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COMPLAINT: Alitalia cheated me out of $3,000

 
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  #1  
Old Jun 3, 2013, 5:48 PM
freda1414 freda1414 is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
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I booked two flights LAX to Italy on-line with Alitalia. The name on our on-line booking did not exactly match the names on our passports. Alitalia would not change the name on the booking and said that our tickets ($3,400 total) would not be honored. They would not refund our tickets (said the tickets were non-refundable) and the only recourse (our trip had already been planned.) would be to buy new tickets. We are out over $3,000. BEWARE.
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  #2  
Old Jul 5, 2013, 6:06 PM
jonfairbanks jonfairbanks is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1

They did something similar to me. Their customer service dept. spends most of its time searching for ways to screw customers. They are worse than anyone else.
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  #3  
Old Sep 7, 2013, 3:28 AM
DKW DKW is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 4

My partner and I were travelling round the world on a itinerary put together by
Flight Centre in Australia. We confused our date of departure from NYC with our a rival date in Rome and missed our flight. When we realised our mistake on the following day we went straight to the airport arriving 6 hours before the scheduled flight that night. We were confronted with rude, arrogant and unhelpful Alitalia staff who informed us the rest of our itinerary was cancelled. There was seat available for $2500 each to Rome but the rest of the itinerary was still cancelled leaving us stranded in Rome. We were prepared to pay a penalty for our mistake but not prepared to be ripped of. Fortunately we had enough cash to purchase new flights to Budapest and back home to Sydney. Many young travellers may not be so lucky and remain stranded there. $4500 later back home. Give Alitalia a miss.
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  #4  
Old Sep 7, 2013, 6:45 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

I am not sure this is Alitalia's fault. Was your ticket an official 'RTW" ticket? Usually with a RTW ticket, you purchase a number of itinerary changes, up to 4 or 6 and the travel agent will manage any changes or problems. You should have gone back to Flight Centre to see what they can do for you.

My son has been on a year long RTW. Whilst in Australia he missed a flight to NZ, due to a communication error and missing email. He was initiallly told he had lost that segment and would have to pay for his Cairns to NZ segment and re pick up his itinerary from Aukland. However, after discussions with his agent (STA), Emirates re-instated the segment and he had to pay $40 only to make a change.


The rules on RTW's are slightly different from normal non-refundable tickets and you can normally work with the agents to find a solution. Airline employees often do not know the details of these tickets and this is one of the cases where I would always use a specialist RTW agent to help manage the ticket. STA are excellent for this, but I think Flight Centre may also have been more supportive and helpful. I think you are unlikely to get your money back, but it might be worth going back to Flight Centre and seeing if they can do anything.
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  #5  
Old Sep 7, 2013, 7:09 PM
azstar azstar is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 375

Originally Posted by freda1414 View Post
I booked two flights LAX to Italy on-line with Alitalia. The name on our on-line booking did not exactly match the names on our passports. Alitalia would not change the name on the booking and said that our tickets ($3,400 total) would not be honored. They would not refund our tickets (said the tickets were non-refundable) and the only recourse (our trip had already been planned.) would be to buy new tickets. We are out over $3,000. BEWARE.
Minor name changes should not be a problem on any airline. The problem is, I believe, that too many airline agents are a)incompetent, b) stupid, c) lazy, or 4) all of the above and simply do not know how to do a name change in the computer. So, they will cling to the "no name changes allowed" rule, pointlessly.

If the name in the booking was totally different and cannot be verified that the traveler is the same person, then they are justified.
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  #6  
Old Sep 7, 2013, 10:31 PM
DKW DKW is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 4

We don't expect to get a refund of our airfares. We contacted Flight centre when we returned home and were told we may receive our taxes back. Our complaint is with the way Alitalia staff at JFK in New York handled the situation. When we we spoke to the Air France and Qantas representatives who were our carriers from Budapest back to Sydney they said our ticks were still open and if Alitalia would let us continue on our itinerary to Budapest they would honour our tickets. Alitalia staff at the airport didn't want to try to be flexible at all . There answer was just NO, go away. Can you imagine what this is like when you are so far from home. They had spare seats. Wouldn't it be better to fill these seats with a $1000 penalty to us and have us spend tourist dollars in Rome than fly with empty seats. No wonder their airline is in financial difficulty.
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  #7  
Old Sep 8, 2013, 9:56 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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Location: Shropshire, England
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Absolutely.. you are correct. It must have been a nightmare. It is too late probably now, but I do think for the benefit of others in this situation it is far better to get the agent involved, especially for RTW tickets. These tickets have special rules and many airline employees simply parrot the rules for normal, non refundable tickets without any understanding of the nature of RTW tickets. Flight Centre in the UK are specialists in RTW tickets, and I expect they are the same in Australia, so it may have been that they could sort something out for you. You were also unfortunate that this event occurred in the US. Sales of RTW tickets are far more common in the UK and Australia where the RTW, back-packer experience is prevalant and gap years are common. In the US, this is much less common and they are less experienced at dealing with these types of events.
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  #8  
Old Sep 8, 2013, 11:41 PM
DKW DKW is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 4

We will put it down to experience. Word of mouth is very powerful and $4500 will seem like a drop in the ocean to the loss of business to Alitalia. We are telling everyone we know about our experience with them. We do a least 2 international holidays a year from Australia and we will not be flying with Alitalia in the future. Looking at the history and complaints on their website they may not be around much longer and those rude employees may be looking for a job. They have to nice to someone.
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  #9  
Old Sep 9, 2013, 6:26 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
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We can only hope... in fact Alitalia went bankrupt last year, after the EU finally did something to put an end to years of illegal subsidies. It has long been abondoned by Italian's in their domestic and european travel, who preferred to use low costs, who were cheaper and more efficient and actually got your bags to their destination. Years of abuse from staff, who thought they were civil servants immune from the market, was too much even in their own domestic market. It re-emerged from bankruptcy as new airline, consolidated with some other local carriers, and an injection of equity from Air France and joined skyteam. It can only be hoped that the new management can sort it out, but I am doubtful. It is only a matter of the Italian governments pride that there remains an entity branded Alitalia... if it was up to their customers, it would no longer exist.
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  #10  
Old Sep 9, 2013, 7:06 AM
DKW DKW is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 4

You would think after going to the wall once they would pull out all stops to improve there business. They must have keep the same old management. Obviously they haven't learnt their lesson yet.
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