DUBAI 3 June 2017: A young Arab expatriate lady flew from the UAE on a major airline based in one of the northern emirates. She was very much looking forward to her trip to India’s famed city of Jaipur.
All was well until it was time for her to board the return flight.
After waiting patiently in the queue, she reached the counter and that’s when horror struck. She was told she could not board the flight as “her visa to the UAE had expired”.
As an Arab, she pointed out that the visa validity [as in Arabic] was from the date of arrival in UAE and not from its date of issue.
The airline staff was implacable, she says. “I talked to the supervisor, who too insisted he could not let me board the flight. I asked them to call an immigration official in the UAE to check, but the airport staff sent a mail to the airline’s headquarter in the UAE. This was no time for emails but for calls.”
The upshot was that she was not allowed to board her pre-booked return flight.
She had to take a taxi to a hotel, pay for the night and her dinner. Next morning she took a taxi to the airline’s Jaipur office, where she claims the staff were as adamant, and even rude. “After a lot of back and forth, they finally agreed that my visa was valid and that I could return to the UAE – but there was a catch.
“I was told to buy a new ticket as the previous day’s was not valid any more,” says the aggrieved passenger.
“Apart from the anxiety and stress and added expenses, I was forced to buy a new ticket and managed to return to the UAE without any incidents at the immigration,” she added.
The passenger filed a complaint with the airline asking for an apology and reimbursement of the return ticket price. “I think it was only fair. I did not ask for the extra expenses I had to incur on hotel and food and taxi let alone the stress and anxiety I suffered from,” she said.
Getting nowhere with the airline, the passenger approached the UAE media. The airline did not respond to questions sent in by Emirates News 24|7.
To the passenger, the airline responded by saying, “While we regret the inconvenience that you may have encountered, we have taken your points into consideration as we ensure we maintain the utmost level of service and customer satisfaction.
“Although the above mentioned was beyond the control of the Airline, we would like to inform you that – as a gesture of our deep appreciation – we have cancelled the unused sector from JAI-[city] on 31/03/2017 keeping the full amount paid (AED 628.50) as a travel credit with our compliments. The amount has been adjusted under the reference number 47466958 and can be adjusted against your next booking within [airline] network for traveling till 11.JAN.2018,” said an airline official to the passenger.
The matter does not end here.
The young lady says she has no intention of flying the airline ever again – and so cannot and will not – use the “credit”. She wants the reimbursement to be credied to her account with the travel agent for use with any airline.
The northern emirates based airline is silent on the issue.
By Eudore R Chand