As I recently wrote, my flight from Abu Dhabi to JFK in September was rather hellish (see, My Jetihad Flight From Hell)! I decided to share the details of my flight experience with Etihad, as I believe the airline would want to be informed of such matters. I was wrong. I don’t think they wanted to know.
I filed this feedback online:
… It is hard for me to comprehend why an airline such as Etihad which works hard to protect its reputation for good flight experience, would join with an airline such as Jet Airways. From beginning to end [the flight] was horrific. First, the flight was filled to capacity. People were all over the place. Second, it was freezing. The woman next to me wrapped herself in 3 blankets, and when I got up to use the rest room, she added my blanket to her collection …. Third, the crew was understaffed and the passengers were rude. My flight attendant, Mohammed was amazing. Passengers were ganging up on him because there was no chicken dishes left, and he tried his best to make everyone happy… Speaking of food, it was atrocious. I’ve had good meals on EY flights – this was not. It was doughy, high on carbs, low on everything else. Fourth, people were pigs. They threw garbage all over…. Finally, after 12 hours in the sky…. a faucet stream of water came pouring down on my head. It was almost comical, but it wasn’t… Mohammed found some unused blankets and covered the wet seat with these blankets so I could be seated for landing
I was curious what sort of response I would receive – I wondered whether Etihad would address the issues I raised. A few days later, I received an email from the Etihad Guest Relations department essentially ignoring my complaints, and informing me that I should take my issues up with Priceline. The email said:
I am sure you will appreciate that guests have options to book their flight through Etihad website, directly through our sales office and also through an authorised travel agency. Having reviewed your reservation I note that you were booked through an authorised travel agency.
If such an arrangement exists, these Conditions of Contract will apply and our guests will be advised of the name of the carrier operating the aircraft at the time they make a reservation.
First and foremost, all bookings have a prompt that mentions the carrier that will operate that particular route.
I regret to learn that your flight was operated on a Jet Airways Aircraft and that you were disappointed in this respect.
I note from the description of the service offered onboard the flight that you deemed several aspects of the service below your expectations and I do regret any inconvenience which you may have experienced.
However, in view of your reservation being made through a travel agency, may I respectfully suggest you to liaise directly with them as it becomes their responsibility to inform you accordingly.
We are not insensitive to our guest’s concerns and appreciate you taking the time and trouble to write to us in respect of the difficulties you experienced.
On the other hand, it was a pleasure to read your positive words for our cabin crew Mohamed. I will ensure that your message is passed on to him as I know he will be happy to learn that his efforts did not go unnoticed.
Not one to leave this alone, I wrote back:
… I’d like to bring to your attention that Etihad, not the authorised travel agent, changed my flights after the initial booking to these flights. I was not aware that it was a JetAirways plane, and in any event, I would not have had much choice other than to cancel an already booked trip at that point.
Five days later, I received a further email from Etihad Guest Relations. Taking into account the language barrier, this letter nevertheless seemed to be saying something like “it is obviously people with gripes who file feedback, and obviously we can’t make all the complainers happy, so go away and be gone.”
It is disappointing to read that we have been unable to respond to you in a way that meets your expectations. Our sole intention when corresponding with any of our Guests is to address their individual concerns and seek a solution to the problems, wherever possible.
It is sometimes inevitable that the resolution derived is deemed unfavorable by our passengers. We understand your disappointment.
I have certainly looked again at what happened and taken into account everything you have told us. Whilst mindful of your disappointment in respect of the explanation and apology offered in our correspondence, please allow me to assure you that the well defined policies we have in place to ensure that we are both consistent, and fair, to all of our guests.
Whenever we write to guests it is normally because expectations have not been met, and we always try to recover the situation as best we can.
I did not take this further. Honestly, I’m not sure what I expected or if I even expected anything more than what I received. It would have been nice though not to be treated as if I were an