Flight Chaos – Calling them is Hell!

There can be no excuse why the airlines cannot function in honestly and promptly now that we are into the recovery phase of the Virus.

At the end of January 2020, your correspondent purchased 2 flight tickets from Helsinki to Innsbruck on Austrian Airlines for an outward trip on 20th June and a return trip on 10th July 2020. We received a single 6-character Flight Code Number for the whole return trip for both of us. According to our tickets Lufthansa, the 100% owner of Austrian Airlines, handled the flights from Helsinki-Frankfurt-Helsinki, while Austrian Airlines covered the Frankfurt-Innsbruck-Frankfurt flights.

Naturally, the virus caused the flight to be cancelled. But note, we only received a no-reply  email from Austrian Airlines at the last minute, on 18th June, that the flight package is cancelled. We had already cancelled our holiday apartment because Austria had such strict entrance restrictions.

Austrian Airlines gave us a voucher for the full price that entitled us the right to rebook a flight within 18 months. That was acceptable since we thought that next year will be safer to travel abroad…

Then this week (6th July) we received a no-reply email from Lufthansa asking us to confirm the seating for the flight from Frankfurt to Helsinki on 10th July 2020 from our now cancelled original booking under the same Flight Code Number!

What do you do in a situation like this? Sane customers will call the airline and explain that there has been a misunderstanding in the airline’s computer system. Lufthansa owns Austrian Airlines and these companies probably have the oldest legacy computer systems that never really work properly. How many times have I watched them writing down codes and dates by hand when going from one IT system to the next to change a flight!

Anyway, you may be sane when you make the first call to either Austrian Airlines or Lufthansa Customer Support… after 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes and multiple calls nobody answers, and the phone just disconnects…

You phone again and the same is repeated. Then you try the Austrian Airline Service number in Finland which appears to be disconnected and never rings. You are then forced to call an Austrian number. After 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes nobody answers, and the phone just disconnects…

It is exactly the same with Lufthansa who have a working local Finnish number that Mr. Nobody answers. It is the same with their German number.

By this time, you are far from sane – simply angry…

Neither airline have any email address where you can register a written complaint – there is no evidence of an unanswered phone call. They just send you horrible no-reply emails.

They have no way for you to communicate with them – they are prehistoric in the way they handle customers – or do not handle customers.

Who is taking the risk that you are paying and do they really expect you to pay for expensive minutes wasted on the phone?

I can recall how Telia and ComHem in Sweden and Saunalahti, Elisa, DNA, Finnair, and others in Finland left consumers hanging on the line for an hour while repetitive music pinged in your ears. Eventually the media screamed, and the Consumer Regulator regulated.

But how do you deal with international players like Lufthansa and its subsidiaries who sell tickets and never answer the phone but just send annoying no-reply emails?

The EU consumer protection regulators appear to do nothing…

… they probably get to sit in Business Class at super low prices and do not dare to upset the apple cart by demanding that these companies treat consumers in the EU with respect and honesty. Can you imagine your local store treating their local clients like the “non-service” handed out to us by the airlines?

They should not be allowed to send out email to which you cannot reply – they should be forced to employ sufficient staff to service paying clients without undue delays.

So far, I have made 15 calls and spent almost 2 hours to get through to Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines.

This article is a living testimonial to their incompetence.

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