Slowly the world is discovering the many subtle - and sneaky - ways "covid" (the plandemic) have changed the world we live, work and travel in. But sometimes it simply SLAPS you in the face that the business and travel fundamentals have changed, well, fundamentally.
Never was it more apparent than my recent appalling travel experiences at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
image credit: googlemaps
Now before anyone tells me "it's not a great time to travel internationally and I should have known better", my half-Thai daughter NEEDED to be in the Netherlands to start university, and there were some legal challenges for documentation the first weeks since she was still technically a minor at age 17, and so we went together.
I should preface this all by confirming that it was CRAZY EXPENSIVE!
Flying in (August 9th) it took AGES to get our bags (like HOURS) and there was great confusion as to which part of the airport the bags were being sent to. We walked 11,423 steps around the airport as the announcements kept changing which carrousel the bags were supposed to be on, before we FINALLY collected our luggage from the Qatar Air flight from Cyprus. Sidebar: Qatar is a FABULOUS airline - recommended. Despite the huge delays and the organizational fails at the Dutch end, our bags arrived mostly OK (one broken suitcase handle on my daughter's big case) and with all the contents intact and undisturbed. Customs? Non-existent.
Flying back to Thailand on 29th August, I was advised to arrive 4 hours prior to the flight time. And so we dutifully arrived at 6.55am for an 11am flight, only to discover the flight check-in opened only 2.5 hrs before the flight. FAIL.
Stood in a HUGE queue, got checked in, said my goodbyes and was hustled through to security.
97 mins to clear the security, having all but fully undressed! Barely made the flight, which was already boarding.
It was a grueling journey, no two ways about it. Amsterdam to Chiang Mai, Thailand via freaking Sweden. Yup - you read that right. Wasn't possible to get anything direct, not with less than 7 hour layovers.
So far you GET it - I had a difficult journey, that cost a bomb and was seriously less than pleasant. But that's NOT what this post is about.
My concern is that I paid serious money for ME - and my checked, accepted and approved & barcoded luggage - to move from Point A to Point B - under very stringent conditions, all of which I met. But the luggage never came.
WHY? Because it simply never boarded the first flight in Amsterdam.
It took me more than 19 phone calls and 4 days of BARKING HARD to even get a response to WHERE IN THE WORLD my luggage was. Lost? No. Just "they were busy at Schiphol airport and your luggage wasn't boarded."
I ONLY got that response after I posted a ranty-public "thing" on social media calling out the airlines involved - Thai Airways International and their code-share-partner, SAS Scandinavian Airways.
Finally, finally the said luggage was located, sent to MUNICH in error, and then eventually made its way to Bangkok, and then finally to me, almost a week later.
And that was when I lost it...
Two of the 4 wheels completely torn off. All 4 corners beaten in - honestly, looks like someone too a hammer to it. Lock torn off. It was a BRAND NEW SUITCASE making her maiden voyage.
Now I had Gold Level Travel Insurance with a super generous daily stipend in case of delays, hugely high medical and accident and which even allowed for my gift-boxed-cremated-remains to be couriered to my Next of Kin, in case of sudden death during the journey. 😆
And so I put in a claim, only to have it immediately rejected.😱
"All luggage issues are the responsibility of only the airline".
I checked with about 5 other different travel insurance companies, just to make sure I wasn't just getting a bad deal from a bad company, but it turns out to be some standard that now applies across the board, internationally.
So far, my attempts to secure compensation is falling on very deaf ears over at Thai Airways. 😭 There are horror stories a-plenty of no response, outright rejection an people waiting for refunds over 2 years later for Covid flight cancellations. Pretty much people have told me, Don't bother. Save your energy, buy a better suitcase and get on with your life. And probably I will do that.
But there is a part of my brain niggling and asking a fundamental question.
- If I take your money for a 6 course meal and serve only 3, you're ENTITLED to a full refund for service delivery.
- If you buy from my store online and I fail to meet the delivery timeline agreed, PayPal, Visa et al =WILL REFUND YOU IN FULL, even if you do eventually receive the order, which may have been delayed through no fault of mine.
So WHY aren't the airlines being held to this same service standard??
And WHY are we accepting what is clearly NOT what we paid for?
Tonight, after I post this ranty-share 😆 I am completing my written request for not only damages to my destroyed luggage but for compensation from Thai Airways for failing to meet their contractual obligations. If that doesn't get a response within 7 working days, I will lodge a formal complaint with the Office of the Consumer Protection Board of Thailand. Cos SOMEONE has to say Enough!
I DID pay for my ticket using my visa card and I believe I still have some option for redress through Visa International. But that's not the point. We SHOULD be able to expect to get what we paid for, and to be compensated promptly when there's a failure to deliver.
Have YOU had something happen to you recently, flying internationally?
How did that resolve?
Curious: tell me about it in the comments below!