Alitalia — the worst customer services
I thought I would share the response I received from Alitalia's Customer Services Department as it has to rank as one of the worst responses I have ever seen to a complaint.
The background was a cancelled flight and a delay of over 5 hours on the outgoing flight with absolutely no information shared as to the length of the delay or indeed whether there was going to be another plane. On the return flight there was a delay of 1hr 20 minutes. To top it all despite having checked-in 2 hrs before the flight they didn't have 2 seats together so that my 6 year old daughter could sit with one of her parents so despite being a nervous flyer, she had to sit by herself. When we asked the cabin crew if there was anything they could do they were really rude and unhelpful.
Here is Alitalia's response:
Dear Mr xxxxxxx
Re: AZ205 – London, Heathrow/Rome
AZ208 – Rome/London, Heathrow
We write further to our acknowledgement letter dated xxxxxxx.
We regret to learn that your flight AZ205 on xxxxxx from London, Heathrow was cancelled.
Our records confirm that the flight was cancelled due to technical reasons.
Whenever such technical failures occur at very short notice Alitalia make every reasonable effort to try and rectify the fault to allow operation of the service before declaring the aircraft unserviceable and cancelling the flight.
We sincerely regret any anxiety that this situation has caused and we trust that you will understand that the safety of all our passengers is of paramount importance to us. Therefore, we could never allow a situation to develop where the safety and well-being of our passengers would be compromised.
We can confirm that no compensation is due on this occasion as outlined in Regulation EC 261/2004 which stipulates (under Article 5.3 and Recital 14) that the liability of the Airline is exonerated when the cancellation of a flight is due to “extraordinary circumstances” (such as technical shortcomings, strikes, weather conditions, political instability, security risks etc.) which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.
As per standard procedure in similar circumstances, our airport staff did everything possible to safeguard our passengers’ travel and alternative flights were arranged as quickly as possible, which is subject to availability of seats.
In your case we note that you and your travel companions were offered alternative flights from London, Heathrow to Rome at the earliest opportunity. In doing so, the Airline has fulfilled its contract of transportation as per the Terms and Conditions of carriage.
Furthermore we note that your return flight AZ208 from Rome to London, Heathrow was delayed.
Our records confirm that the flight was delayed due to air traffic control restrictions for 1 hour 20 minutes.
Although as an airline we are acutely aware of the importance of keeping to our planned schedule, like all airlines we cannot always guarantee that our aircraft will operate as per schedule. We trust that you will appreciate that an airline’s operations depend very much on external circumstances as well as third parties.
As a matter of policy and in accordance with AUC recommendations, Alitalia makes every effort to provide as much notice as possible to try and ensure alterations in future travel plans are kept to a minimum
According to article 6.1, no compensation is due for delayed flights.
We deeply regret the lack of information, which seemed to take place on this occasion whilst alternative arrangements were completed, as it is in complete contrast to our usual Company policy to pay utmost care and attention to all our passengers.
Furthermore we note that our on board staff on your flights were perceived to be rude and unhelpful, especially with your daughter.
This is a complaint, which grieves us most as there is no reason for it. Furthermore, it is in direct contrast to our Company policy to pay the utmost care and attention to all our passengers. Our staff are expected to perform their duties with competence and efficiency, with a sympathetic and compassionate attitude towards a customer’s situation, irrespective of their individual position and their personal circumstances.
Although we understand your predicament at the time, please be advised that the Airline is not liable for consequential damages such as loss of time, mental stress, out of the pocket expenses or general inconvenience as per its international Terms and Conditions of carriage.
If private travel insurance were arranged for the journey, we would recommend that the claim be referred to the insurers for their further consideration.
Finally, we thank you for giving us the opportunity to clarify this matter and sincerely hope that we will be given an early opportunity to welcome you and your travel companions on board Alitalia again in the near future.
Alitalia Customer Relations Team
Thank goodness there is a choice of airlines so you don't have to get treated like this.