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Beware of LOT - or a little story how to make sure customers don't come back..

Beware of LOT - or a little story how to make sure customers don't come back..

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Old Jul 22, 14, 8:50 am
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Beware of LOT - or a little story how to make sure customers don't come back..

Dear readers

The following story might have parts which are rather unbelievable. And as it's said, there are always two sides of the medal, so this is my side of the whole story.

Interesting enough, though, LOT doesn't deny what actually happened as described by myself in their answers, but actually just defends their actions.. but lets begin.

On a nice summer Sunday, neither in a place far far away, nor long time ago - to be exact, it was in Warsaw, and the time being July 6th 2014, I was supposed to fly back home to ZRH on LO419. Flight is at 5pm.

I went to the airport on time, checked in (no CI luggage), went airside, all fine. I enjoyed the non-happening Formula1 race as Silverstone, and frequently checked that my flight to ZRH was still showing as "boarding at 16:45" - a bit late, but then the system in Warsaw usually shows rather correct boarding times.

Around 16:35, I was taking my bag and going to the exit to go to the gate, I just noticed it has switched to "boarding" already. Off I went, rather quickly. 2 minutes on the way, "Last call to Zurich" was already announces. I rushed - a bit too quickly for my stomach that's for sure - to the gate, which happened to be 44, at the very end of the airport.

Finally having arrived on time, I walked down the jetway. Stomach felt awful. Having eating (too) much sausage, Prinz Polo and a few beers, something moved.. and so I moved, off to the bathroom. I had to throw up - yes, nothing nice, but let's stick to the truth, it happened, it happened on the toilet, at the gate. As everyone who ate too much and has to throw up in consequences know, you'll feel better after it straight away, and so did I.

Crew, though, fully in their rights, deemed me "unfit to fly", and asked me to leave the aircraft (The fact the toilet is next to the crew seat at the back of the plane certainly helped them hearing it) - which I obliged, without protest. They didn't asked me if I felt better, just asked me to leave the plane, and that I'll be taken care off at the gate.

At the gate, the single agents told me again that the crew decided to remove me from the aircraft as I seemed unfit to fly, but he already noticed I wasn't feeling that bad anymore. He told me to go to the transfer counter, where I shall be booked on the next flight home.

So I did.. or at least I thought..

At the transfer counter, an extremely rude lady "awaited" me.. basically their line was "it's your fault, your ticket is invalid now, go away and don't come back". I asked her if she was serious, she said yes.

I asked her to see her supervisor. She told me he is busy now but if I want I can wait 15 minutes. I said fine, went to the lounge for a water, and came back 15 minutes later. Obviously, it was still only her there. I asked her, where the supervisor was, she told me again to go away.

I politely reminded her that she promised me to get her supervisor to check on the case. Her reaction? Calling 4 security guys over. Who shock their shoulders - I wasn't aggressive, I wasn't doing anything bad, I simply was removed from an airplane that should have brought me home and now having 0 assistance from LOT.

So, as she still insisted my ticket was invalid, and that she won't rebook me, and that in fact I was drunk, I asked her to get a doctor to do an alcohol test, or get a breathalyser. She denied both. Guess at this point, at latest, she must have realised that I wasn't really unfit to fly.

So when I asked her, how LOT is thinking of getting me home, she told me to buy a new ticket.. ehh? Given she was reluctant to do anything for me, I moved over landside, a level up again, to the LOT ticketdesk.

Where I just saw the very lady from before at the transfer counter talking to the ticket desk lady. And once she saw me, going behind into the offices

So, I was at the ticket desk. Lady there was at least polite, but explained me that her colleague explained her my ticket is invalid due to me having been removed from the airplane, and that she can't rebook me either. But that she would book me on the LX 1353 to ZRH, departing in about 1 hour 20 minutes (departure time 7.50pm) - this was about 30 minutes after I was told by the transfer desk lady that I was a "drunkard" and unfit to fly..

She also told me, that the flight is oversold, and in case anyone shows up, I couldn't fly. Fine for me, get me the ticket, I'll pay it for now (1850 Zloty) and see about it later, it was in booking class Y anyway..

So, the flight indeed was oversold, and everyone showed up, so I couldn't fly on it. Back at the ticket counter she told me she will rebook me on LO419 - the same airplane that I was supposed to fly 24 hours earlier - which was obviously not what I had in mind, given I better should show up at work on Monday.

So, she (quite reluctantly) checked her system, and found me a connection via FRA. Arriving 11am in ZRH (next day flights) - still not what I had in mind. She explained to me, that there was nothing earlier.. and that it would cost 300 Zloty more..

I went to Flightstats, found something earlier within a minute, and asked her to book me WAW-ATH-ZRH, LO601, followed by LX2633. Home in ZRH at 6.30am, time to change and show up at work, and even get some sleep during the night flights.. she was surprised, but checked her system, and eventually found it. Just 100 Zloty more..

I was booked on those flights, and flew them without problems, a mere few hours after I was declared unfit to fly and a drunkard by the lovely Warsaw transfer desk lady..

Adding insult to injury, the FA on the flight WAW-ATH (I got upgraded at the gate, as Economy was oversold ) tried to offer me wine at least 3 times, almost being personally insulted when I always declined.

I eventually managed to fall asleep, landed in ATH, checked in for my LX flight (LOT couldn't check me through..), went to the Aegean lounge, got onto an almost empty LX one, where I've slept another 2.5 hours or so on the way home, and was in office on time.

So "ends" an unforgettable experience with LOT, at least the flying part of it..

Now for the aftermath, I obviously contacted LOT straight away next day, asking to refund me the money I've had to spend for the One-Way ticket home in full, explaining what happened.

Their answer: Yes, we know, we removed you from this flight, we'll refund the unused part of the ticket. Which is like 10% (if we talk about 50% of the costs of the original ticket) of what I've had to spend for the One-Way ticket home, so obviously not acceptable. They deny that they should have rebooked me, and said according to their T&C, it's fine to just remove a pax from an airplane they deem unfit to fly. And then sell the same passenger a new ticket for the next flight 2 hours later..

Since then, they have remained silent.

I'm quite speechless, to be honest. I've contacted the national authorities of both Poland (ULC) and Switzerland (BAZL) about this, as well as complained with M&M (I'm Senator there) about the "service" of one of their full-integrated-members. But I guess neither of those complaints will yield anything.

I've checked with the insurance coming with my credit card. They checked the case, and while they couldn't either believe what happened and the answer from LOT, had to deny my request, telling me to contest the CC charges instead.

I've also made sure with the Swiss Lurker here on FT () that IF I contest the credit card charges, it will have no influence on flying LX in the future (I've also asked M&M the same question, ie if it could lead to my M&M account being blocked/membership ended, no answer yet) - and if LOT decides to ban me from flying them in the future, I could survive about that. They'll most likely do a MALEV soon anyway

So, what do you suggest to do? Apart from continual scratching my head over the behaviour of LOT..
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Old Jul 22, 14, 9:07 am
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As per the T&C, if you are considered unfit to fly they don't need to offer you alternative transportation for free... most airlines do, but at their discretion.
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Old Jul 22, 14, 9:08 am
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Nice treatment indeed.

I would not touch the credit card charges as those where done in your presence and with your partial consent and hence this could badly backfire.

Do the old routine. Send them three registered letters where you demand the compensation of the return flight and full 261 IDB compensation.

They will turn you down of course or offer some trinkets. Then just forward it to a collection agency. And if that fails to a Swiss SCC - as this affected your business, this should go rather swiftly.

No reason to look at them as a thinking and rational entity ... not worth the time ...
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Old Jul 22, 14, 9:16 am
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A bad experience for sure.

But if I was you I would not use the term unfit to fly, as that does imply that you have consumed too much. Instead try something more like taken unepxectandly and suddenly ill.

Then you can use the term that you were denied boarding due to your illness (actually you were taken off the plane, but they certainly didn't fly you to your destination).

Then I would file a claim under EU rules due to denied boarding, and that they didn't take due care of you as an ill passenger and made you walk throughout the whole airport and really push in order to get another flight. I am sure that you will have to go through the Polish regulator, but I think that you would have a case due to your illness.

Also, if the food in the lounge made you ill then maybe you should also consider a complaint with the local authorities in Warsaw for poor hygeine standards? And also mention to LOT when you file your EU claim that their food made you ill.
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Old Jul 22, 14, 9:32 am
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Originally Posted by oliver2002 View Post
As per the T&C, if you are considered unfit to fly they don't need to offer you alternative transportation for free... most airlines do, but at their discretion.
Well, if I was indeed unfit to fly, then I would have understood their decision at least somewhat (even if it would still be rather bad service)

But, they actually sold me a ticket at 6.30pm for a flight departing at 7.50pm, after declaring me unfit to fly around 6pm..

I'm not sure if that is within T&C's, but it's certainly against any kind of rational entity. But as weero says, probably one shouldn't use rational thinking in the case of LOT..

Originally Posted by weero View Post
Nice treatment indeed.

I would not touch the credit card charges as those where done in your presence and with your partial consent and hence this could badly backfire.

Do the old routine. Send them three registered letters where you demand the compensation of the return flight and full 261 IDB compensation.

They will turn you down of course or offer some trinkets. Then just forward it to a collection agency. And if that fails to a Swiss SCC - as this affected your business, this should go rather swiftly.

No reason to look at them as a thinking and rational entity ... not worth the time ...
Thanks for the advise. I'm personally unsure about the CC charges myself. I've signed the 3 receipts all with "SCAM" (instead of my signature) - but yeah, it was myself, so I guess that doesn't help much..

I'm not so sure if this would be a "regular" IDB, actually. They let me board (ha, miles for WAW-ZRH even posted to M&M..) but then, according to their T&C's, removed me from the flight. So it's not like the IDB'd me because of an oversold flight, but rather because of their concern to let me fly..

And then sold me a new ticket and let me fly..

I'd guess if they at least would have insisted I was indeed unfit to fly afterwards, and while being "customer unfriendly" forcing me to buy a ticket for next day's flight, I would have understood them better.

But declaring me unfit to fly, then immediately selling me a new ticket.. that's a new low, I've not even expected from LOT..

That's where it becomes an IDB situation again, and not a "unfit to fly" one..

Honestly, writing 3 registered letters, then hiring an agency to (hopefully) collect the money, I guess it's not really worth it in the end. Do I see it right that IDB would just be 250 in that case? Which any agency would keep a share, plus the costs for the letters, and obviously my time.. hardly worth it in the end..

Thus I was thinking of the CC charge back - but as you said, it might have some risks involved with it.

It just bugs me about the situation..

Originally Posted by dj_jay_smith View Post

But if I was you I would not use the term unfit to fly, as that does imply that you have consumed too much. Instead try something more like taken unepxectandly and suddenly ill.
I was most certainly the running to the Gate which made me throw up. It was them calling me unfit to fly, not myself. I wouldn't board a plane if I felt myself being unfit to fly, that's for sure. It was them refusing to do an alcohol test when I asked them to prove I was indeed unfit to fly.

And it was them to try to make me drunk a few hours later in the air by offering me wine for couple times.. (I refused)


I've really had it with LOT, and will definitely tell everyone to avoid them as hell in the future, by explaining what could happen to you if LOT thinks you're unfit to fly. No matter if I eventually get the charges back or not. LOT ruined an otherwise great trip completely.

I'm flying quite a bit, and what happened in WAW is so far from anything I've experienced anytime before, it makes me really wonder if there is still any sanity in the company called LOT..
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Old Jul 22, 14, 9:47 am
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In order to avoid this in future: drink less!
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Old Jul 22, 14, 10:04 am
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Originally Posted by YuropFlyer View Post
Well, if I was indeed unfit to fly, then I would have understood their decision at least somewhat (even if it would still be rather bad service)

But, they actually sold me a ticket at 6.30pm for a flight departing at 7.50pm, after declaring me unfit to fly around 6pm..

I'm not sure if that is within T&C's, but it's certainly against any kind of rational entity.
Well, if I recall my college days, a sudden and indepth cleansing of the stomach does help to sober up rather rapidly.
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Old Jul 22, 14, 10:04 am
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Originally Posted by Rambuster View Post
In order to avoid this in future: drink less!
Have you actually read my posting? I've not drunken much before (5 bottles of 0.33l beers, imho, in the 2 hours prior to boarding) but eaten quite a bit too much (Lunch in the city center, plus I love their cold cuts and also cheese variety in the lounge) and was FAR from being drunk. I've ASKED them, if they insist that I'm drunk, to call a doctor to make a checkup, or use a breathalyser on me. They denied both requests.
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Old Jul 22, 14, 10:06 am
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Originally Posted by YuropFlyer View Post
..I'm not so sure if this would be a "regular" IDB, actually. They let me board (ha, miles for WAW-ZRH even posted to M&M..) but then, according to their T&C's, removed me from the flight. So it's not like the IDB'd me because of an oversold flight, but rather because of their concern to let me fly..
Let me see - what evidence did they collect? Are the FAs in any form of shape capable of assessing your 'condition'? Did you sign any document that you are inebriated or an Ebola carrier?

Add to this that the GA has zilch concern to let you board and that the agent at the airport had no qualms about planting you on the next flight ... so the airline made no qualified judgement when they determined you to be unfit to fly.
Honestly, writing 3 registered letters, then hiring an agency to (hopefully) collect the money, I guess it's not really worth it in the end.
Why? You can use the same letter over and over and for all airlines. There is no overhead involved in this IMO.

As for a collection agency that is also no real effort.
Do I see it right that IDB would just be 250 in that case?
Plus hotel, plus the return flight ... definitely worth the letters.

Also don't forget to file a DOT complaint then LOT has to provide you with an explanation...
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Old Jul 22, 14, 12:18 pm
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When they sold you the 7:50 ticket at 6:30, was it clear that you were standby? Sordid they overbook the flight and sell you a confirmed ticket? If you had a ticket and reservation, EU261 might apply for that flight.
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Old Jul 22, 14, 3:39 pm
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Come on... Who is responsable for the whole history? LOT serving you too much food in the lounge or was it your greed to maximize your lounge visit? Then almost missing the flight and now such a drama?

I fully understand the flight crew! Sure, they cannot judge how bad your body condition was, but of course they want to be on the safe side, avoid an medical emergency on board... And think about how happy you would be if somebody like you - that just got thrown up - would sit down next to you... with a nice sour smell / breath...

Just take this incident as an experience learned (and paid) and try to exclude that it will happen again... It's just your behaviour that you can control by your own!
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Old Jul 22, 14, 4:04 pm
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I don't see where YuropFlyer said anything against the actions of the flight crew. What ensued afterwards is the core of his complaint.
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Old Jul 22, 14, 4:13 pm
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I just listed facts. The rest are just the consequences... Assuming flying on a non-changeable ticket, flights full on a SUN evening, etc.
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Old Jul 22, 14, 4:32 pm
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YuropFlyer does not blaim the Crew of the WAW-ZRH flight. He only questions the action of the ground staff, especially of that Agent at the Transfer Counter.
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Old Jul 23, 14, 4:43 am
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Originally Posted by Air Rarotonga View Post
Come on... Who is responsable for the whole history? LOT serving you too much food in the lounge or was it your greed to maximize your lounge visit? Then almost missing the flight and now such a drama?

I fully understand the flight crew! ..

Just take this incident as an experience learned (and paid) and try to exclude that it will happen again... It's just your behaviour that you can control by your own!
First of all, yes, it was my fault to overeat too much prior to the incident. I've admitted to that, though. Secondary, I was relying on the (usually) correct boarding time information, which suddenly moved forward. Of course I should have exited earlier to be at the gate maybe 30min before departure, but then, which FTer does this really? I certainly know more that cut it close. When you announce "Boarding at 16:45" and then do a "Last and ultimate final call" at 16:42, wouldn't you be slightly bothered? I'm not saying it was not my fault I had to throw up - this was indeed at least 80% my fault - but I'm blaming them on their behaviour afterwards. Which I think I've made clear imho, given all the other posters seemed to understand what I've tried to say.

Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
When they sold you the 7:50 ticket at 6:30, was it clear that you were standby? Sordid they overbook the flight and sell you a confirmed ticket? If you had a ticket and reservation, EU261 might apply for that flight.
Yes, it was clear it was standby, no complaints here. Full is full.

Originally Posted by gojko88 View Post
I don't see where YuropFlyer said anything against the actions of the flight crew. What ensued afterwards is the core of his complaint.
Correct. It's one thing to offload someone. It's another to basically ignore him afterwards. (and enjoying selling him a fresh ticket for a flight a very few hours later)

Originally Posted by LH2100 View Post
YuropFlyer does not blaim the Crew of the WAW-ZRH flight. He only questions the action of the ground staff, especially of that Agent at the Transfer Counter.
Exactly. I've been fine with the fact they've removed me from the airplane. It's up to the crews discretion.

Originally Posted by weero View Post
Let me see - what evidence did they collect? Are the FAs in any form of shape capable of assessing your 'condition'? Did you sign any document that you are inebriated or an Ebola carrier?

Add to this that the GA has zilch concern to let you board and that the agent at the airport had no qualms about planting you on the next flight ... so the airline made no qualified judgement when they determined you to be unfit to fly.

Why? You can use the same letter over and over and for all airlines. There is no overhead involved in this IMO.

As for a collection agency that is also no real effort.

Plus hotel, plus the return flight ... definitely worth the letters.

Also don't forget to file a DOT complaint then LOT has to provide you with an explanation...
Thanks for this detailed analysis. Indeed, the GA let me board, I had no problem of buying a new ticket (even telling me to do so, if I wanted to get home from the Transfer agent) - that's probably clear evidence I wasn't unfit to fly as LOT tries to make up.

I've had no further hotel costs, but you're right, I'll claim my costs for the new flight + EU261 compensation for IDB, as well as the costs for the return-flight I wasn't allowed on.

Seems LOT Switzerland is handled by Swiss, as their address is at Obstgartenstrasse 25 in Kloten? So I'll send them my letters there?

The flight wasn't touching US soil, so I think DOT doesn't have any beef about it.
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