It’s always nerve-racking when friends come to visit you abroad. On a ‘normal holiday’ you’re all at the mercy of the various staff you meet along the way. However, when someone is coming to visit you, in a location you’re meant to know well, suddenly it feels like every aspect of the holiday is now your responsibility.
Now of course, our friends don’t see it that way (thy wouldn’t be friends if they did) but it’s hard not to feel that sense of responsibility as the (kind of) host. So when not one, but two companies try their hardest to ruin all your planning, it’s hard not to get a little angry…
We’d booked our flights a few weeks in advance, we arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare and were some of the first people to check in and yet we still didn’t get on the flight.
We’d got up very early so the chance to relax and have some breakfast before the flight was nice, we were sitting just 20 metres from our gate in a very empty domestic departures lounge. The flight began boarding and we casually joined the back of the short queue.
“Ah yes, sorry sir you don’t have a ticket for this flight”
“Well, yes I do, I’ve just given you my boarding pass”
“Yes, but you don’t have a ticket”
“Sorry I don’t understand, my passport was checked, my boarding pass was printed and handed to me by one of your colleagues at check in and now you’re telling me we don’t have a ticket?”
All we wanted to do was get to Cluj…
We produced an email that clearly stated “Your reservation is booked and confirmed. There is no need to call us and reconfirm this booking” followed by confirmation of the total paid for 4 passengers. For a brief period, it seemed like this might be enough to get us on the plane. That dream was quickly shattered with the refusal to talk to us any further and insistence that we go talk to her colleagues back at the check in desk.
“Is there any chance we can get on this flight?”
“I dunno, maybe if you’re quick but we have space for you on the flight this afternoon”
Both of these turned out to be lies. Her manager even admitted to us she was probably just saying that to get rid of us. They closed the gate the moment we walked away and there was no space on the later flight. Back at the main desk (the first time I’d gone the opposite way through security) we were told that although Ebookers had confirmed the tickets and price for 4 people, they had only sent Tarom (the airline) the money for one ticket.
Nice one, Ebookers.
They confirmed the flights and payment but failed to send Tarom the correct money, in that respect, it’s easy to understand Tarom not wanting passengers to fly who haven’t paid.
Despite this, the most frustrating thing was being treated like we had tried to do something wrong. It felt like they suspected the 4 of us of trying to sneak through on one ticket. It was only after a 30 minute, at times heated, conversation and repeated reading of the email that they accepted we weren’t to know that the money had not been forwarded on to them.
So, ultimately it’s ebookers who are at fault.
However, Had we been made are of this at check-in (you know that bit where they check everything) over an hour and half before the flight we could have done something about it.
Had there been an announcement to let us know as soon as they realised, we could have done something about it. As I mentioned before we were just sitting around drinking coffee just 20 metres away.
Had they looked around the very quiet departure gate for 4 people, 2 male, 2 female (1 blonde 1 ginger – not very Romanian) all in their 20’s maybe we could have done something about it.
Maybe the last point is a bit optimistic but you get the idea, ebookers were at fault but Tarom could have cleared it up all very quickly. We’d have been able to pay for the addtiional seats, enjoy the holiday with our friends as planned and taken it up with ebookers later.
Despite being told earlier by the manager that the 3pm flight was full, she (now on our side) said there might be some space once seats got returned from the various websites they’re sold on but, we’d have to wait a few hours to find out. A few hours that were spent on the phone to ebookers.
After much back and forth and multiple calls we eventually had written confirmation that any flights we bought at economy fare between the original destinations would be refunded.
Thankfully Cluj was worth the effort…
Much to our relief, we were able to get on the later flight and finally start the holiday our friends had been looking forward to. We’d lost a whole day in Cluj, it’s not fun to get up in the middle of the night but it was done with the intention of having an extra full day in the city. That was a day we were not getting back and Ebookers frankly pathetic compensation doesn’t even cover the extra we spent in the airport during our extra 8 hours there.
The moral of this story? There isn’t one.
In the follow up emails, phone calls and twitter conversation the same thing kept coming up again and again: “I don’t understand how you were able to check into a flight you didn’t have tickets for”. We agree but these comments are coming from Ebookers and Tarom, the people who let it happen…
Have you ever been allowed through airport security without paying for a flight. No, I didn’t think so.