A severe warning about the Oman Air Business class offering.
I flew on a return flight BKK -LHR in J class this weekend and had the
worst experience I have had with any airline in any class in 30 years
Our outward flights had gone very well and I was rather impressed with
the service.How different things were to be on our return.
Things started well in Bkk with a call to our hotel to confirm limo
pickup which in turn turned up in a timely manner. All Thai Oman
personal at BKK were excellent and the lounge offering very good.
We looked set for another good journey but sometimes things don't turn
out as you expect them to.
I couldn't help notice that the in flight service on the bkk-mct leg
was not up to the standard I had experienced on my Oman flights some
months earlier. The flight attendants seemed a tad uninterested and
empty glasses,bottles etc stayed at ones side until about 1 hour before
landing. The food was only what I can describe as average. No pyjamas
on offer this time.No toy bag for my daughter .Still no big deal I
thought after our 16 hour transit through Oman things could only get
better...but how wrong I was to be.
On our arrival at Muscat we reported at the Oman transfer desk at
midnight local time(what would have been 3 AM Thai time) along with
about 150 people from other flights. What followed can only be
described as chaos .After queuing ,filling in transit visa forms I
eventually received a voucher with ''Golden Tulip'' hotel ''lovingly''
referred to on these forums as the ''Golden Toilet'' and for good
reason as I was unfortunately going to find out.
With voucher in hand we were told to ''sit down and wait''...nothing
more nothing less...no special treatment for the paying business class
passenger here. A further wait of approximate 1 hour then ensued with
my very tired 4 year old.
I had to ask other Oman personal at the First/ Business counter what
was going to happen next but true to form they in turn had to go back
to the chaos at the transfer desk to ask themselves. Well eventually
after what seemed like forever a lady shouted out ''Golden Tulip'' and
about 20 or so people were herded down the stairs to immigration. Once
through immigration there was no sign of any Oman Air representative so
I just made my way out and tryed to guess the mini bus that would take
us to our transit hotel.
We finally found the right bus and arrived at the Golden Tulip about 10
minutes later to be greeted by further chaos at the front desk .I went
to check in and was told to go and sit down...that was it....a further
15 minutes passed with no one paying any attention to us so up I got
and for the first time lost my rag (if only a little for the sake of my
daughter). I demanded to know what was happening as I was clueless and
they seemed even more clueless. Getting a little upset finally seemed
to prompt these people into action mode and we got the key to our room
shortly after. It had taken over two hours since landing with hand
luggage to get to a hotel 5 minutes from the airport.
The room lived up to the expectations of the now legendary ''Golden
Toilet''. Now this hotel has refurbished rooms (as I was to find out
later) and is actually fully owned by Oman Air but Oman Air choose to
put their premium passengers(at least one's with infants) in their un
renovated rooms. It is fair to say that the disgusting carpet in our
room was vastly inferior to the old carpet I have in my garage
collecting my cars oil leaks. The in room safe was locked and the
balcony doors as I found out after waking were unlocked with cigarette
butt ends over the outside terrace....that just about sums up this
hotel ...the rest I will leave to your imagination.
After finally getting to sleep about 4.30 am we were woken around 9 am
by a mistake call from a rude sounding woman in reception and that
effectively ended any further sleep for myself.
On contacting the hotel reception about our transfer back to the
airport I was told that since we already had boarding cards for our
flights then an hour before departure would be ample. About one and a
quarter hours before our departure we went to checkout on a fully paid
stay. That checkout took over 20 minutes with no other guests present.
Time for another outburst I'm afraid. I wanted to know why they were
delaying things and told them in no uncertain terms what I thought of
their Golden Toilet. I had a flight to catch at 16:20 ...''16:20??''
said the woman at reception...''I thought your flight was at 18:00''.
Anyway we finally arrived at the business lounge with about 40 minutes
to spare,still plenty of time for boarding with our hand luggage and
with our hold luggage already transferred from the bkk-mct flight. This
is when the major bombshell dropped. On handing my 16:20 boarding
passes over the Oman receptionists said ''but Sir your flight departed
early at 15:00''.
''WHAT???? ''....yes I do believe that was my first response. Now only
two days earlier our flight had been moved from 14:00 to 16:20 and was
still 16:20 when we arrived at MCT the previous night. ''How could you
have changed our flight to an earlier time on the day of departure and
not of informed and transferred us in good time while we were staying
with boarding passes in hand under your roof?'' I asked.....Now I asked
this question to numerous Oman Air personal following this and I can
reliably inform you that Oman Airs training of it's employee's has been
successful in universally making each and everyone of them give the
same reply which is ''sorry'' a shrug of the shoulders and a very meek
bemused look on their faces.
Following this the situation even (if that is possible) became slightly
amusing with somebody telling us that our flight that left at 15:00 was
now back on the tarmac due to a technical problem. There now might be
an opportunity with the captains permission to get on the flight after
all. My optimism rose,great I thought...all will be forgiven...the
waiting,the toilet, the communication and even that carpet if you can
play the ''get out of jail free'' card and get us on that plane.
So off we went in a hurry to a far off gate with my poor young one
complaining about feeling tired. At the gate we wait for about 30
minutes while the ground staff make calls to the captain explaining
that it is not the passengers fault ...but it is all to no avail as the
good Captain Terrible does not want to play monopoly today. I decide to
ask the ground staff what the technical issue had been and get the
reply ''a seat that was not working properly sir''.
Now I had to smile at this one ...an aircraft that had been turned
around because of a wonky seat. ''But assuming this is a business
seat'' I said , ''couldn't the passenger just move to one of our free
seats?''. Yes you guessed it I got the shrug of the shoulders and the
now familar bemused look.
So that was that,another long walk ensued back to the business lounge
where I was given three options, 1-take the same flight tomorrow,2 -fly
British Airways at midnight, 3 fly Gulf air via Bahrain later that day.
By now I wanted out so took what I assumed ,due to not being informed
otherwise, was a direct flight with BA .However after what had already
happened I was stupid to assume anything with Oman Air but my stress
levels were very high by this time and my in built damage limitation
system was obviously malfunctioning due to overload.
Off we went again to the tune of my daughter ''daddy why are those
people doing this to us'' ,more paper work for the Golden T,more visa
forms and back to my now favourite hotel in the world. Much quicker
this time by private transfer and on arrival we were allocated one of
the renovated rooms which are just about what you would expect from a
reasonable 4 star. So now you all know what is required of you to get a
A few hours later back to the airport again during a very busy period,
we had to collect tickets from the Oman Air office and then check in as
per normal. We then had the pleasure of using a vastly inferior BA
shared lounge which is where the second bomb shell struck as I looked
at the flight monitors and discovered for the first time that our BA
flight flew to AUH and then spent an hour on the ground waiting for
passengers to board before departing LHR. So the plane left for AUH and
my daughter fell asleep for a full 20 minutes before having to be woken
for landing. She was very tearful by now...(can you feel the
stress)...a few grumpy looks from some of the passengers but please
remember that the next time a child crys on your business flight it
might not be because of a bad parent but more a case of a bad airline.
The Club World seats on BA were no where near the standard of the
latest Oman business seat offering and to be honest with the exception
of the lie flat seats the whole offering felt like a premium sort of
economy class. However the flight personal treated us like royalty and
at least seemed to have some empathy with the nightmare that Oman had
put us through..empathy is something that is sadly lacking with Oman
Airways. No offers of compensation,no explanation for basically at the
end of the day was their total negilence with our flights. Just a
''sorry and we hope to see you again on Oman Air''....
Anyway my daughter slept the entire time from AUH-LHR so that was
indeed a blessing.
We landed at Heathrow terminal 5 at 06:45 am and thankfully despite the
large Easter holiday crowds passed through immigration very quickly.
Our bags that had been unloaded from our Oman flight were waiting for
us on the BA luggage belt.
Oman had at least arranged for our limo to pick us up from terminal 5.
Great I thought our Oman Air Nightmare is finally over and drifted into
sleep on the back seat of our limo only to wake up later about an hour
later to ask the driver ''what road is this,it doesn't look like the
M4''.....the Oman Air Chauffer service was taking us to Oxford instead
of our destination of Bristol.....
Oh Man!, Oh Man!, OH Man !....Believe me it really dosn't get much
worse than this...maybe I'll book economy next time..
I will naturally be making a complaint about the unacceptable service we received and will post Oman Airs customer service response as and when I receive it.