Airlines all over Europe are proclaiming how zealous they have been in looking after their passengers over the past days. Yet well do we all know that many European airlines have behaved in a quite despicable manner towards their customers.
Air Berlin today offers a revealing case study on how not to treat passengers. While some airlines have upped the number of personnel in their call centres, Air Berlin has simply stopped answering phone calls altogether. A message calmly announces that flights are pretty well back on schedule and that passengers should travel to the airport as normal.
The reality is that 14 of the airline’s 23 departures from Berlin Tegel this afternoon are definitely cancelled. Assisting a neighbour booked on the 5.25 pm flight for Copenhagen, we looked at Air Berlin’s website for her. Sure enough the afternoon flight to Copenhagen is cancelled. Air Berlin kindly offer an alternative, suggesting that if passengers make their own way to Vienna, they could be accommodated on a 5.50 pm flight to Copenhagen operated by Fly NIKI.
Now we may be simple souls, but quite how would-be travellers could ever possibly reach Vienna in time for that flight is quite beyond us. It is a ten hour train journey from Berlin to Vienna. Our neighbour opted instead to travel from Berlin by direct train to Copenhagen – it is an easy seven hour journey.
Air Berlin has buttoned down the hatches and declines to speak with its customers. “Let’s pretend all is normal” is a curious corporate communication policy and an utterly reprehensible approach to customer care. To offer an alternative flight from Vienna to travellers wanting to fly from Berlin is the very height of cynicism. And, of course, there is not a word on the company’s website about refunds for passengers who continue to be so sorely inconvenienced by Air Berlin.
Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries