Monday, January 16, 2012

My experience with airBaltic

UPD: Please read the entire post. I will not remove the story line written originally, because this is exactly what has happened. However airBaltic contacted me on the phone themselves and told about positive resolution of the case. Please read on.

Original story:
First of all, I would like to assure you that I'm not the best at blaming, meaning I simply don't like doing it publicly. It's probably unfair to only publicly blame an air operator and never praise them. But that's how it works. A happy customer doesn't compile an entire blog post about how cool it was to fly with a certain operator. "If I'm happy, I stay silent" principle. But believe me, if the case I'll tell you here about would resolve positively, I wouldn't hesitate to blog about it.

Here is the case. We planned a 3 days trip to Moscow from Helsinki and back together with my wife. Using skyscanner we've found the cheapest option: fly with airBaltic via Riga. Quick friend survey, all's good, settled. I went online and started my ticket search last Saturday. The cheapest option was to depart on 16:25. Chosen that, prepared to pay. After double-checking dates and times it struck me: nope, no good, departure set to 8:25. Cancelled search, started all over. First question here: is it bad luck or bad system? You choose.
Re-ran my search, all is good, paid 531 euros. But when I printed the travel receipt, this time it REALLY struck me: the return flight date was set to one month later! Another bad luck or system fault? This time I'm inclined to choose the second option. No problems, calling to the Finnish office. "On the weekends office is closed". I decided to call first thing next Monday morning. This is my first mistake and I admit it: should have called to Latvia and pay some euro and a half a minute to change the date.

Calling first thing Monday morning: young lady's voice, I described her the problem. She refused to change the date without an additional fee. I have asked her to connect me to her manager. After a couple of minutes (yeah-yeah, customer is on the first place), manager's voice: teaching and preaching me how I should have used their system. "On every page of multi-page ticket booking process, you can look on your right and check the departure and return flight dates and times." All right, thanks! But look, attempted I to explain the system fault: "Unless you really travel back in one month,there is no way to choose that different month without extra movements. No does the system suggest you the best return flights from in a month period!" This was simply noise for her and she continued teaching me how to use the system. I asked her to give me her manager / director. Guess what was the answer: "This is not possible". "Why?". "I'm sorry, but this is not possible." Being a customer, I'm pretty sure, I can talk to almost any worker of the company, who stays in the customer relations line. This time it is your fault, airBaltic.

"I would like to change the return flight date back to what it should be". But the lady tought me another time: "This is only possible if you pay 150 euros. You should have called us on Saturday and explained the problem." Which I did! And the Finnish office was closed. Is this really my problem now? I doubt it. Because, it is YOUR REPRESENTATIVE, airBaltic! What if I wouldn't have an opportunity to call abroad (yes, Riga is abroad to me) and pay for an international call? And if it didn't work, make sure to take my call on Monday morning seriously, attend to it and make an exception or a good men deal. What on Earth does this rule "if you called after two days, it cannot be changed without a fee" policy mean? Do you want to keep a customer or loose it? What do you loose by changing the month standing away date? Afraid not to find any cusomer during an entire month?

"And if I cancel the entire trip, what sum can be refunded?" "You get 76 euros back". Excellent.

Without further ramblings, I would like to publicly thank airBaltic for 531 euros worth "stay at home and don't travel with us" service. It has really taught me not to use your services. Ever.
Everything seems to be mortal in this wolrd, and airBaltic's serivce will die as well. But by making this type of "friendly" customer service and policies you only bring the end faster.

Good luck and enjoy 531-76 euros for not taking us where we wanted.

UPDATE to the story: airBaltic continues working on the case, here is what they posted on twitter: @DmitryKan Dmitry, your case is not closed. Please give us a bit more time and colleagues will come back to you.

UPDATE 2: The case has been resolved. I have received a call from airBaltic, where they said that the return flight date was changed without an extra fee. I don't know was it a result of my social media activity since yesterday evening, but airBaltic service was extremely fast and accurate this time. Since all the posts I have done on the Internet about airBaltic link here, the landed people will read these updates as well. Thank you, airBaltic.