Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > Airlines and Mileage Programs > Etihad Airways | Etihad Guest
Reload this Page >

Most expensive check-in of my life with Etihad in BOM

Most expensive check-in of my life with Etihad in BOM

Old Aug 19, 16, 9:38 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Programs: BA Gold, LH SEN
Posts: 40
Most expensive check-in of my life with Etihad in BOM

Last week I was flying back to Berlin from India. I had booked a TXL-AUH-BOM-AUH-TXL ticket in business class on the AirBerlin website, so AirBerlin ticket stock and all AirBerlin flight numbers. TXL-AUH and AUH-TXL were operated by AirBerlin, AUH-BOM was operated by JetAirways, BOM-AUH was operated by Etihad.

On the way to Mumbai, the AirBerlin agent in Berlin was unable to check me through to Mumbai, and said I would have to get checked in for the second leg in AUH. At the transfer desk in AUH, the agent also had difficulty checking me in, and after a while suggested I settle down in the lounge, and she'd figure it out. About 40 minutes later, she found me in the lounge and had my boarding pass, which looked fine. No problem boarding the flight to Mumbai.

On the way back, I was unable to check in online with Etihad, and received a non-descriptive error message. I did not make too much out of it, and assumed I could easily get checked in at the airport.

The flight (EY205) was scheduled for 4:20AM and I arrived at BOM at 0:30AM. Proceeded to the check-in counter. The agent asked me for my ticket number and then proceeded to work on her computer for 5 minutes or so. Finally she said that she could not check me in, as my ticket had already been used. I told her that must be a mistake, as I am obviously still in Mumbai and had not used the ticket. She insisted the computer showed the coupon for BOM-AUH as "Used" and she could not check me in. I politely argued that it must be a mistake and if there was nothing she could do to help, but she was very insistent that there was no way she could help me. She agreed that it did not make sense, as both the reservation and the ticket were for today, and that it being only shortly past midnight I could not in fact have flown with that ticket. She also agreed that I could not have left the country, as I could show from my passport that there was no stamp that I had left India. Still, nothing she could do. She directed me to call AirBerlin, as it was their ticket. She made it clear that was my only option and asked me to leave her counter.

So I walked away and called the AirBerlin Gold hotline. Had to wait for more than 20 minutes, then got an agent who looked up my reservation and ticket and said that everything was in order and he did not understand why Etihad could not check me in. He asked to speak to the Etihad agent directly. She was now busy checking in other passengers, so I queued up to wait for the next available agent. This was a different agent, I quickly explained the situation, and only very reluctantly he would take my phone and talk to the AirBerlin agent on the phone. I could hear him repeating the same thing over and over again "But the ticket shows "Used" and I can't check the guest in". Finally he handed me back my phone with a disapproving look. The AirBerlin agent explained that he had gotten nowhere and with the Etihad agent and that he would speak to a supervisor, and I should hold.

This experience continued for a few more rounds, with absolutely no effort on the part of the Etihad agents on the ground to take ownership of the situation or help in any way. It seemed they did not want to try and help in any way. I was sent over to the Service Counter, where this continued. The AirBerlin agent put me on hold several times and asked to wait as he was trying various angles to get to someone at Etihad who could fix the issue.

Time was passing and after about two hours I was getting really nervous I would miss the flight as check-in cutoff time was getting closer and closer. After a total of 110 minutes on the phone with AirBerlin, they had finally managed to find someone at Etihad who sent a message to the agents at BOM to let me check in, even though I had "no valid electronic ticket". They explained that apparently Jet Airways had messed up my check-in in AUH for the flight to Bombay, and that that flight coupon still said "Airport Control", which had caused the whole mess. I got a boarding pass like in the old days of paper tickets that said "NOT VALID WITHOUT FLT CPN" and they assured me I would be able to board the flight without problem. Reached the gate one minute before boarding started. After that, no more problems, great crew and good flight back.

But, overall quite a stressful experience in the middle of the night, and I was very much taken aback by the complete lack of helpfulness on the part of the Etihad agents at BOM. I would have expected for someone to take ownership of what was obviously some IT mistake, but all they did was point fingers at AirBerlin and treat me with a "go away, you are creating problems here" attitude that bordered on hostility. Only once they had gotten the message that finally caused them to send me a boarding pass, I received the first ever smile from them in the whole process.

I am looking for your advice where I should seek compensation for the phone charges I incurred in trying to resolve this mess. I was on the phone to AirBerlin for a total of 110 minutes at a roaming rate of 2,51 EUR per minute, for a total of 276,10 EUR. I would like to get reimbursed for that. What's your take on how to best approach this? Or should I forget about it as there's no chance anyway?

Also, any insights how I could have handled the situation better would be appreciated. The whole thing makes me not want to deal with Etihad again in the future, as for me an airline's capacity in dealing with irregularities is a very important consideration, and the experience I had here was certainly one of the worst I've ever had in dealing with any airline.
VirtuallyThere is offline  
Old Aug 19, 16, 10:09 am
  #2  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Oakland, California, USA
Programs: AA PLT,AS,UA PP,J6,FB,EY,LH,SQ,HH Dmd,Hyatt Expl,Marriott Plat,IHG Plat,Accor Gold
Posts: 10,528
Very sorry to hear about this. Based on other reports here at FT, Etihad indeed seems to be very tough to deal with if anything goes wrong and the whole management style seems to be to discourage or even block representatives from taking any initiative to correct glitches.

You asked what you could have done differently Having received misleading (and fortunately in the end, incorrect) error messages from the often dysfunctional Etihad website myself, I could understand your figuring you could simply check in at the airport without a problem. But still, with the wisdom of hindsight, it would have been good to get on the phone to Etihad (and if necessary, Air Berlin) when you saw your own error message when trying to check in online.

As for what to do now...for the most part, I'll leave it to folks who know the Etihad customer service system better than I do. (There is an Etihad rep here at FT who frequently chimes in when problems happen, but that function seems pretty useless in actually getting anything resolved.) From the little I do know, I wouldn't be optimistic about getting anything out of this. But perhaps there are other avenues to pursue, such as an EU complaint mechanism, or Air Berlin, or Jet Airways, or taking your story to a travel magazine or website that offers a travel ombudsman column???

Anyway, thanks for sharing this cautionary tale. I hope you get some compensation out of this, though I'm not confident about that happening.
Thunderroad is offline  
Old Aug 19, 16, 4:39 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 5,122
Originally Posted by Thunderroad View Post
(There is an Etihad rep here at FT who frequently chimes in when problems happen, but that function seems pretty useless in actually getting anything resolved.)
EtihadHelp is now not supposed to "chime in" on every thread, but the OP might post on the dedicated thread with a link to this post.
SeeBuyFly is online now  
Old Aug 20, 16, 9:26 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: South Central US
Programs: UA Lifetime GS, AA EXP 1 MM, Delta Diamond, Hilton Diamond, SPG Plat, Hyatt Gold, Hertz 5Star PC
Posts: 181
I think they have "buzzed off" on this one.
pharmalady is offline  
Old Aug 21, 16, 12:46 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Economy, mostly :(
Programs: Skywards Gold
Posts: 7,784
Sounds like typical Etihad ground service. With their cut-throat pricing and terrible quality and mixed bag fleet I'd lump them in more in the category of KQ than EK/QR these days.
skywardhunter is offline  
Old Aug 21, 16, 12:50 am
  #6  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Sydney Australia
Programs: No programs & No Points!!!
Posts: 13,553
Unbelievable from Etihad. I would of been so annoyed.

There were many ways the ground person could of fixed the situation. They just couldn't be bothered.
Annalisa12 is offline  
Old Aug 21, 16, 3:42 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Programs: BAEC Gold
Posts: 951
Another rambling post that would have been far more effective if the op had cut out all the superfluous waffle.

As I understand it the op was traveling on an Air Berlin ticket and was denied boarding in BOM due to a mistake made by JET. How is this EY responsibility?

The op has a right to be upset, given he has done nothing wrong, but don't shoot the messenger.
Agent69 is offline  
Old Aug 21, 16, 3:53 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: west coast best coast
Programs: TINDER GOLD, STARBUCKS GOLD, COSTCO EXECUTIVE!!
Posts: 3,576
Originally Posted by Agent69 View Post
Another rambling post that would have been far more effective if the op had cut out all the superfluous waffle.

As I understand it the op was traveling on an Air Berlin ticket and was denied boarding in BOM due to a mistake made by JET. How is this EY responsibility?

The op has a right to be upset, given he has done nothing wrong, but don't shoot the messenger.
Because EY is operating BOM-AUH!

This is absolutely EY's fault for not liasing with AB properly and getting the pax on board the EY plane.

Furthermore, pax are NOT supposed to be calling their ticket issuer since everything is under airport control and the responsibility of the operating carrier, in this case, EY. Especially when it involves international calling and crazy roaming rates!
keitherson is offline  
Old Aug 21, 16, 11:38 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: ORD
Programs: US Air, UA BA LH AI DELTA MARRIOTT CHOICE SGP
Posts: 9,793
Originally Posted by Annalisa12 View Post
Unbelievable from Etihad. I would of been so annoyed.

There were many ways the ground person could of fixed the situation. They just couldn't be bothered.
It is my experience that most Asian< Midd East airline counter persons are not allowed to use their initiative or common sense. They are beholden to the letter of the law in the rule book or what the bosses have told them.
HMPS is offline  
Old Aug 21, 16, 1:25 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Programs: BAEC Gold
Posts: 951
Originally Posted by keitherson View Post
Because EY is operating BOM-AUH!

This is absolutely EY's fault for not liasing with AB properly and getting the pax on board the EY plane.

Furthermore, pax are NOT supposed to be calling their ticket issuer since everything is under airport control and the responsibility of the operating carrier, in this case, EY. Especially when it involves international calling and crazy roaming rates!
Sorry but I don't buy any of this.

The op's contract is with AB, and that is where they should seek redress. In an ideal world the op would take up the issue with the ticket issuer at the airport. Not easy in this case as AB don't operate from BOM.

As the previous poster has said, EY counter staff may not be authorised to address this problem.As for the cost of international calls, not really relevant?
Agent69 is offline  
Old Aug 21, 16, 1:29 pm
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Programs: BA Gold, LH SEN
Posts: 40
Originally Posted by Thunderroad View Post
You asked what you could have done differently Having received misleading (and fortunately in the end, incorrect) error messages from the often dysfunctional Etihad website myself, I could understand your figuring you could simply check in at the airport without a problem. But still, with the wisdom of hindsight, it would have been good to get on the phone to Etihad (and if necessary, Air Berlin) when you saw your own error message when trying to check in online.
Yes, I should have mentioned that this is my main lesson learnt from this mishap. I had gotten used to online check-in sometimes not working, especially with codeshares involved (and even more so with AirBerlin tickets). I used to always call in those cases, only to learn that "everything is OK, but we can only check you in at the airport". I will definitely not ignore instances of online check-in not working in the future :-)

Originally Posted by SeeBuyFly View Post
EtihadHelp is now not supposed to "chime in" on every thread, but the OP might post on the dedicated thread with a link to this post.
OK, thanks. I will do that.

Originally Posted by skywardhunter View Post
Sounds like typical Etihad ground service. With their cut-throat pricing and terrible quality and mixed bag fleet I'd lump them in more in the category of KQ than EK/QR these days.
OK, seems to be common wisdom here that this is not unexpected. I will try and stay away from Etihad in the future. In-flight experience was very good, though.

Originally Posted by Agent69 View Post
Another rambling post that would have been far more effective if the op had cut out all the superfluous waffle.

As I understand it the op was traveling on an Air Berlin ticket and was denied boarding in BOM due to a mistake made by JET. How is this EY responsibility?

The op has a right to be upset, given he has done nothing wrong, but don't shoot the messenger.
Sorry this post came across as rambling. I tried to put all the info in the initial post. Believe me, there is a lot of irrelevant detail I left out of those three hours trying to check-in :-) The absurd thing about Etihad blaming the mistake on Jet Airways is that it was Etihad agents checking me in at AUH for the flight operated by Jet Airways...
VirtuallyThere is offline  
Old Aug 21, 16, 9:47 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Thailand
Programs: QRPC-Gold & Star-Alliance
Posts: 205
Originally Posted by Agent69 View Post
Another rambling post that would have been far more effective if the op had cut out all the superfluous waffle.

As I understand it the op was traveling on an Air Berlin ticket and was denied boarding in BOM due to a mistake made by JET. How is this EY responsibility?

The op has a right to be upset, given he has done nothing wrong, but don't shoot the messenger.
Aren't Etihad part-owners of both Air Berlin and Jet ?

The OP was trying to check-in for an Etihad (the parent airline) flight, the ticket had been issued by one Etihad-associate (Air Berlin) and the IT-cockup was by another Etihad-associate (Jet Airways).

And the OP was traveling Business-class, isn't that supposed to give a smoother service ?

I don't think this experience was a good advertisement for the airline-group, or for their Business-Class service, somebody on-the-ground in BOM should have had sufficient authority to sort out what was an obvious error on their group's part.

And if the passenger hadn't actually used flown that sector BOM-AUH, surely there was a seat waiting for him, in Business-Class on that flight ?
Richard Bell is offline  
Old Aug 22, 16, 4:11 am
  #13  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Netherlands
Programs: Platinum: KL Gold: A3 Rust: BA
Posts: 25,372
Originally Posted by Agent69 View Post
Another rambling post that would have been far more effective if the op had cut out all the superfluous waffle.
I'm definitely someone that would pile in if it was a "rambling post". But in this case, it wasn't.

Originally Posted by Agent69 View Post
The op has a right to be upset, given he has done nothing wrong, but don't shoot the messenger.
Well, I am not sure that Etihad have their own staff at Mumbai, but if you read the detail, their lack of empathy and unwillingness to sort out a problem that clearly was not of the travellers' making would be breathtaking...except that this is what I have come to expect from Etihad.
irishguy28 is offline  
Old Aug 22, 16, 5:31 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Palm Springs ca
Programs: aa lifetime platinum
Posts: 747
the etihad meals range from atrocious to pretty good in business class on their ultra long hauls-the service on board is inconsistent depending on who is serving you and the dine on demand as opposed to set meal times bothers me in the sense that it gives them an excuse to ignore you if you don't know you're supposed to ask for something. as for me, it was very unclear how or when or what i was supposed to be ordering. i did see trays flying past me which gave me a hint . it comes across as too loose and disorganized and to boot i had a forgetful and lazy flight attendant serving my side. this was auh to lax- should be their best service.
when i first called them to inquire about online check in, and the told me not possible, due to the fact that this was an AA award, i feared i would be in deep water if there were such a thing to happen as irregular ops .
i will never take them again for the above reasons and now i have another- the experience of the OP above. BTW, their free limo service, was the tie breaker as there were business class seats available on QR.- but no limo.
marbles dad is offline  
Old Aug 22, 16, 8:26 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Tyrone,EU
Programs: Avios Hunter
Posts: 2,646
I see that on the official response thead, the OP is told to contact air berlin, basically taking no interest whatsoever in EY's part in the OP's woes.
tangey is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: