My second trip to Europe was to consist of a one-week conference in Paris followed by a short stint in Berlin for some sight-seeing, and visiting my Tango friend Christine. However, as a result of some ill-preparation, unfortunate bad luck, and some un-professionalism on the part of Air France, this trip did not exactly get off to a fantastic start.
Friday 27 June
It all started when, while checking in at the Singapore airport, I was offered to transfer to a slightly later Singapore Airline flight because apparently the Air France flight I was booked for was overbooked (don’t know how such things can occur, but trouble??). This would have meant a later departure time by 1 hour and a later arrival time, by about 3 hours. In return, I would be compensated by Air France upon arrival, or so I was told. However, after waiting for close to 40 minutes, the “processing” was still not ready! Basically I was just kept waiting and naturally no explanations was offered, and the lady at the desk was not particularly busy.
In the meantime, two things had happened. I tried to make a withdrawal so that I can have some euros in my pocket before arriving in Paris. Inexplicably, my card was swallowed by the ATM machine! I must say, in all the years since I had my ATM card, I had probably only keyed in the incorrect PIN number once, let alone three times in a row! So, there I was, about to depart and without any cash! Fortunately, still managed to get some cash from my friend Janet at the last minute.
Secondly, it seemed that all of a sudden, there was a seat available on my original Air France flight. Of all of the people still waiting, I was “asked” to board the original flight, no choices given, and with only twenty minutes to spare on top of my cash(-less) issue. As a result I was rushed to the terminal, no apologies offered for the time wasted, nor anything about how I can claim the compensation, which naturally would come in handy given my predicament.
More trouble was to follow. I almost lost my pen-knife because I had no time to check in my luggage given all the hassles, although in the end my luggage was checked in. Once on board, I found that the seat given to me had already been taken. Again, no explanations, but after another wait of close to 10 minutes, another seat was found. No apologies whatsoever.
Once I landed in Paris, I tried to claim the compensation promised. However, I was then told that I lacked the necessary documentation for it – the documentation, I might add, no one had bothered to mention in all the rushing about. A letter of complaint to Air France can be expected from me for sure! Well, the lady at the Air France office did kindly offer me a complaint form to fill in, in French of course! I really don’t know how much worse Air France can get in terms of service, given that it was plainly obvious I did not speak French??
After such an eventful first night, guess that nothing much can go wrong, no? :huh:
Note: After reading this story, which is somewhat similar to my situation but escalated ten-fold, I am beginning to realise the hazards of flying with Air France. Let others be warned!
ps. An email of complaint was sent by me on 16/7. Air France replied on 17/7, stating “we will contact you in due course thereafter once we have more information” – the “thereafter” means after obtaining a report from the airport on this matter. No further news so far.
pps. A further continuation to this seemingly endless saga. The formal snail-mail letter arrived the same weekend 19/7. In the letter, the Customer Relations promised the due compensation. However, another few weeks have gone by since I duly replied…
A couple of weeks after my last comment was posted (mid August), Air France did finally send me a cheque and put the whole matter to rest. Well, at least the Customer Relations handled the matter rather professionally, instead of having to go through a lot of haggling which I was kind of expecting. 😉