Monday, 19 April 2010

Profiteering, Anyone?

As UK and much Northern European airspace remains closed, flights are being cancelled in swathes. Each new day is bringing more destroyed travel plans and now news is emerging of airlines behaving scandalously.

Not least among these are Aer Lingus, which is not only continuing to display a happy 'we sell cheap flights' website (only a one line link to a sparse volcano information page on the home page would even give away the fact that there's any problem at all), but is still not answering its phones to customers, providing any sort of telephone based information or even changing its standard messages or daytime only working hours.

Alongside this, Aer Lingus is actually still selling tickets on flights this week - flights that people whose travel has been cancelled are actually trying to rebook onto - flights that the airline is charging high prices for, too. Take a one-way from Dublin to London. Pre-crisis they asked €24.99 for that sector - now a ticket to travel
later this week (Wednesday, in fact) is being shopped out for as much as €149.99.

So people like us, stranded thousands of miles from home, can't get onto new flights following cancellations because the airline is selling our places to new travellers. What's more, if you take a look at the prices being offered, it's like a bookies' odds on the days when travel will actually go ahead!

Emirates, with a UK helpline that simply tells customers that it's not taking calls, is hardly doing better - and BA is, according to Sky News, behaving atrociously to passengers - including refusing to pay hotel costs for passengers it has stranded in Beijing, trying to charge them one-way fees for rescheduled return flights and failing to provide consular services for pax whose visas are expiring through no fault of their own.

I'm frankly amazed at the lack of fury over the cack-handed communications of the airlines, let alone the lack of media coverage at how badly airlines are communicating with their customers and managing the situation. Now they're selling out people's hopes for higher fares while restrictions still apply.

I'm quite sure fussing about it on this Middle Eastern blog backwater won't help, but at least I've got it off my chest!


Grumpy Goat said...

Indeed. Qatar Airways is offering flights LGW-DOH on 24th April, but the Goat isn't being offered anything prior to 1st May.

alexander... said...

One young lady on Twitter, @iamshaima, tells me that Etihad is asking Dhs10,000-odd for an AUH/LHR flight next week.

Which is quite a lot, no?

Nick-F1 said...

Emirates have been pretty good for me, I'm stranded in london, although it did take 40 mins to get though the second time round, I have been able to reschedule my flight twice and they were happy to let me switch between Gatwick and Heathrow for the next available flight.

Having said that, it is a bit of a gamble... you dont want to book too soon, and risk being caught in the cloud, but you dont want to be stuck here to long either!

Mita said...

My friend Guy Whitcroft has just sent off an email to Qatar Airways citing all sorts of regulations to them - I should forward his email to you all to see what he said. Perhaps if we get enough people hounding them, they might listen

the real nick said...

You had a nice long holiday and now it's even longer and nobody can blame you. It's not a matter of life and death, now is it? It's a matter of another day at the pub or Satwa. Get over it.

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