In October 2017, my family and I booked a flight via the Dutch company KLM (member of the Skyteam) to Colombo, Sri Lanka, to celebrate our 25 years anniversary (of our marriage) with our four children. This is a tradition in our culture.
The flight to Colombo from Genève (to Amsterdam – Mumbai ending in Colombo) was planned for the 23rd of February. The return flight with a planned flight from Colombo to Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam and finally back to Geneva should have been in the evening of the 9th of March.
As planned, we presented ourselves at check in desks at the airport in Colombo on the 9th of March (at approximately 7 pm) for our Etihad flight KL3944/EY 269. Once it was finally our turn to check in, there was a lot of hustling around and uncertainty on our side. Nobody was telling us what was going on.
After waiting for at least 15 minutes at the service desk, the employee informed us that only Pauline VAN SCHAIK and Martijn VAN SCHAIK were registered for the flight to Amsterdam. And if this was not bad enough yet, they told us that our son of only 13 years old, Valentin VAN SCHAIK, was registered for the flight to Amsterdam and Geneva. The other passengers, Theodorus VAN SCHAIK, Anne-Fleur VAN SCHAIK and myself, Sandra WASSINK, were not registered and could not board the plane. This was absurd as I booked 6 tickets and not three.
Afterwards, more Etihad personnel came to check what was happening and the hustling started again. Calls were made, including to the main office of Abu Dhabi, but they informed us that the problem was with KLM and that the three of us could not board the plane, which was about to depart. Later, they also told us that the plane to Abu Dhabi was full and that no exceptions could have been made. In the end, this was not true as our son and daughter, Pauline and Martijn took this plane and saw numerous empty seats, in economy as well as business class, which, dear sirs, makes this even more ridiculous.
After a great deal of discussions with the airport personnel we indeed sadly had to let our two eldest children, Martijn VAN SCHAIK and Pauline VAN SCHAIK, board the plan as Martijn had school exams the following Monday and could not take the risk of waiting for another flight. I cannot describe this with other words than tragic and frustrating. Can you imagine spending a lovely holiday with your entire family, and ending this trip by being separated? This is unacceptable.
At first, it was insinuated that we should also let our younger son, Valentin VAN SCHAIK, board as he had a seat. But this again, would have been unacceptable and ridiculous. He is thirteen years old and in no possible way old enough to make such a long journey (all the way to Geneva) by himself. Therefore, we demanded to have him checked out of the flight again so that he could travel together with his parents.
Still, after our eldest two children left, there was no acceptable solution offered to us. We were send from one agency to the other and according to them neither one of them was to blame and we were treated badly, as if we were the bad ones, while we were without a doubt the victims of a terrible malfunction of some technical planning or system. No one was taking any responsibility in the matter, which is a true shame.
After some time and still no solution, I decided to call the KLM in the Netherlands as this is where I initially booked and paid our tickets. I demanded their help. This was all, while the initial plane had not yet left the grounds of Sri Lanka, as we were hoping to still board this plane.
At this moment again, the KLM employee, on the phone, was telling me that they had done their part of the deal and that everything was correct from their side. But as you may now know, it definitely was not okay nor correct. After handing over the phone to an Etihad employee of the airport three times, there was still NO solution. Etihad could not possibly understand what was going wrong and did not understand why they could not find us on the list. Eventually, I demanded from the KLM employee to be booked on the next flight from Colombo to Amsterdam, which was planned to leave Sri Lanka at 2am; 5 hours after our initially booked flight with Etihad.
Once we indicated this to the Etihad personnel, they could suddenly also offer us a flight, which would be leaving the next day at 4pm. This was too late and not acceptable. We were in a bad situation and not treated fairly. We had obligations at our home in Europe as well and young children, therefore, the 4pm flight would not have worked out. We decided to take the 2am flight from KLM.
In sum, we conclude the following points:
1. We spent 7 long hours at the Colombo international airport.
2. Our initial Etihad flight was not full, making this an even more ridiculous succession of events.
3. We had to make expensive phone calls to Europe, resulting in a € 265,- bill.
4. We had to arrange dinners as we had to wait much longer than planned. This again resulted in two bills of $ 64,- in Colombo and € 33,80 in Amsterdam as our layover was again much longer than it should have been.Therefore, we firstly demand a full refund of all of the above, thus in total € 350,80. Secondly, we request a full compensation of our flights as it is our right. .
Till this day they say we have to go te KLM because they can not find us in there system!!
KLM claims that they did everthing right and that the problem is Etihad.
Where do we go ???
this is how they treating us as a client.
We never have a proper answer from Etihad.
Up till today they are still telling me the are busy with it.
I started writing them begining this year on the 15th of March. How difficult is it to find out what happened ???