Returning from a recent trip from Greece my flight from Athens was delayed by nearly 3 hours. There was a plane fault which eventually required a switch of aircraft, not the airlines fault and the sensible decision was taken.
I had booked an on-going train journey to Manchester however and had allowed 3 hours but the ticket was non –transferrable. Due to the delayed flight I missed the train and was forced to purchase another expensive ticket.
On arrival at Heathrow I visited the airline desk; Aegean. In fact going some distance out of my way to report to their desk. Despite the delayed flight and the possibility that passengers may wish to speak to a representative there was not anybody from the airline present at the desk.
Instead my query was eventually dealt with by a ticket sales representative from BMI who explained that airlines do not hold themselves responsible for missed on-going travel arrangements. When I asked about this dodging of responsibility she basically just absolved herself from further explanation by saying she did not work for Aegean. The implication was that she was doing me a favour by providing any explanation at all.
In fact Luma from BMI was quite unsympathetic even when I pointed out that there was obviously some form of reciprocal cover and she was actually talking to me as a representative of Aegean. She was quite obtuse and evasive in her replies not providing any further explanation when I enquired if this dodging of responsibility was an airline wide policy.
My encounter with customer services had been totally unhelpful. It is particularly disappointing that an airline can appear not to consider its passengers important enough to have its own representative available to field any queries.
I do not have any issue with the delay, these things happen but to merely absolve themselves from any responsibility, thereby requiring passengers to pay for a second ticket is disgraceful.
The only possible redemption left for me was that Virgin Trains maybe more helpful and exchange my ticket even though they were not under any obligation to do so.
Their ticket office however was unfortunately equally unsympathetic, and for the second time that day I was faced with an unreasonable attitude.
I accept that it was not essentially a Virgin Trains issue. However, surely exercising a little common sense would be preferable to having a customer need to purchase another full ticket and travelling with a sour taste in their mouth. It would not really have been difficult for the train company to replace the ticket; the missed train was not any fault of mine. This could have been proven as the flight details were still available.
Even if there had been a small administration fee for making the exchange it would have been preferable to paying twice the cost of the original pre-booked ticket. The important point here is I would have left in a much better state of mind and been far happier with Virgin Trains.
This is the problem of monopolies, without competition they do not feel they need to really please customers. I wonder if this was Mr Branson’s original vision for public transport.
My experience demonstrates how little customer care travel providers and airlines in particular really have. The lack of a real policy for dealing with delayed flights and on-going travel arrangements is shocking. Their only policy appears to be to absolve themselves from blame or responsibility which is disgraceful. The motive for this policy is certainly financial, flights are delayed too often and compensation would make a dent in the huge profits of most airlines.
Not even having a representative available to discuss the concerns of delayed passengers seems to display a lack of customer care and respect for passengers.
I have taken the only advice offered by Luma, which was to contact Aegean through their website and am currently waiting for their reply. I will keep you informed of any developments or communication from them. The representatives themselves are not really to blame they are only relaying the policies outlined to them by the companies they work for. Their attitude however could have been a little more helpful and sympathetic. the meaning of customer care appears to have been lost on them.
After over a month I finally recieved the following reply from Aegean Airlines, customer services:
It would be useful to hear of any airline/transport company customer service you have experienced good or bad, providing a balanced and complete article. Are other forms of transport better at dealing with passengers? Please add your feedback in the comments section, help me finish this article.