Air China / flight canceled disaster

Western Australia, Australia

This happened to me and did not get any compensation so far.

E-ticket number: etkt 999 [protected]
Booking reference: amadeus: 6fdb2b, airline: ca/mdssv3
Sydney - beijing: ca 176 u 23jul 1020, beijing capital arrival time: 23.05
Beijing - munich: ca961 u 24jul 0010, munich arrival time: 5.30am

To whom it may concern,
I recently took a flight that was scheduled to fly from sydney to beijing and beijing to munich. No other scheduled stops were planned. The initial flight, ca 176, was delayed for one hour in sydney.
During the flight from sydney to beijing there was an cabin announcment that we had to return to our seats and fasten our seat belts because we were about to land in shanghai. Everybody onboard was very confused because nobody had booked a flight to shanghai. Several people asked the flight attendant why we were making an unscheduled stop and were concerned that something was wrong with the aircraft.
It was explained to us, in very poor english, that we were to land in shanghai for a short while (No reason was given for this unscheduled landing) and would then fly to beijing where we would be on time to catch the connecting flight to munich. We were forced to take our carry-on luggage with us and leave the aircraft.
Inside the terminal, we were made to pass through the immigration counter. Nobody explained why. As we arrived at the immigration counter we were instructed to fill in arrival cards, despite the fact that we had no intention of leaving the airport. We were eventually told that we had to fill in these cards because we arrived in shanghai. Everybody was very confused and upset. As we arrived at the counter, the police officer told us we had to fill in departure cards as well. As a result of this, every single passenger had to go back to the desk fill in the departure card and return to the queue.
After the immigration check, we met the flight attendant again and she gave each of us a scrap of paper with a number hand-written on it. She explained that this was our boarding pass for the flight from shanghai to beijing. At this point, it was becoming clear that the stop in shanghai was absolutely unplanned otherwise the correct paperwork would have been issued.
We were instructed go to the end of the airport hall and turn right. At the end there was another security check waiting for us. After the check we were forced to walk around the whole airport to end up at a completely different gate but on the same plane; many of the passengers were elderly and everyone was exhausted, especially as we had to carry our bags. We all re-boarded the aircraft, noting that we were all sat in the same seats as before, with exactly the same people around us. The staff hadn't even bothered to clean the aircraft. Nobody could explain why we had to disembark and reboard the aeroplane. Overall we spent more than ninety minutes at shanghai airport. Everyone was complaining about the lack of consideration, courtesy and professionalism shown by air china's staff.
Shortly after we reboarded, a cabin anouncement said that we have to wait for one more passenger who had a problem with their luggage. This took another thirty minutes to resolve. The air china staff could not tell us if our connection flight to munich would be waiting for us in beijing.
We arrived in beijing at 01:30; the connection flight was scheduled to depart at 00:40. By the time we arrived, our connecting flight was no longer detailed on the scheduled departure screen. No air china staff were available to give us any information or to help us in any way and we were all tired and distressed. None of my fellow passengers, or myself, had any idea what to do, so we followed the passengers who intended to take the 01:30 flight to frankfurt (And who were running to attempt to make it to their flight) in an attempt to try to get on board, or at least get some information from air china staff.
Unfortunately, the airport personnel didn't let us through to the gate because our original flight had already departed. We didn't get any support or advice regarding what to do and so myself and my fellow passengers went back to the airport service counter. The member of staff on duty informed us that he was unable to help us but that the air china manager would return at 05:00. Obviously, by this point, many people including myself, were extremely angry, tired and disappointed in air china's terrible performance.
Eventually, one of my fellow passengers convinced the airport employee at the service desk to book us into a hotel. Note that this was the first helpful thing that anyone had done for us since leaving sydney and that it was an airport employee and not a member of air china staff who provided assistance.
We arrived at the hotel at roughly 03:30. I was informed that I had to share a double bedroom with two other people who I had never met before; they didn't know each other either. Just to clarify - three strangers were expected to share a double bed as a result of air china's incompetence. Some passengers were informed that they would have to share a bedroom with members of the opposite sex, which was absolutely unacceptable.
We then were given the information that a bus had been arranged to take us back to the airport at 04:30. Which left us, after checking in at the hotel and introducing ourselves to the people we had to share a room with, with just forty minutes for three of us to take a shower and to get in touch with our families to let them know just how badly air china had let us down. We all wanted to inform our families that we had no idea when we would be able to get a flight.
At 04:30, the bus returned us to the airport. Unfortunately, the air china manager didn't open the service counter until 05:30 and a large queue had formed. At around 06:00, when it was my turn to speak to the manager, I (Like my fellow passengers) was told that my options were to change my tickets to a different destination or to get on the next flight to munich 24 hours later.
It should be noted that many of the other passengers had connection flights to other destinations in europe that, by now, they had already missed. The state of health of some more eldery customers was deteriorating quickly. Even the younger passengers, such as myself, were suffering badly with stress, hunger and fatigue. As a group, we complained that if we were to stay for a whole day in beijing, then we would at least need a hotel and some food. The air china manager was unable to provide this and said that it wasn't air china's responsibility. Obviously, this caused more anger and distress, since air china had, so far, failed in all their basic responsibilities and obligations as an service provider.
Eventually, the air china manager was persuaded to try to get us onto an earlier flight to munich if it was possible, although he was not confident that he could arrange this. He recommended that we should go to the ticket change counter to attempt to change our flights to a different destination in germany. We were then to return to the air china manager's counter to find out if hehad been successful in arranging for us to take an earlier flight to munich. After another hour waiting in the queue at the ticket change counter, I was able to change my ticket to a different destination in germany.
By now, it was time to return to queue at the air china manger's counter. He said that he could book us onto an earlier flight to munich but only if we had not changed our flight tickets so far. Unfortunately, by this point, everybody had already changed their tickets as recommended and so we had another conflict. The air china manager refused to engage with us in person, prefering to communicate by shouting at his employees at the desk. Finally, the air china manager issued pieces of paper with three passenger's names written on each and informed us that these were our tickets for a flight at 13:20.
It became apparent that lufthansa airlines had assumed the responsibility for flying us to munich, since air china was too inept to do so. Unfortunately, this meant that we had to locate our luggage, which air china had lost somewhere in the airport. The airport staff were unable to help us and so we had to search for it ourselves. Ultimately, we had to go the the 'lost luggage' section in the airport basement and search for our own luggage there. After another hour, we located our luggage and could go to the lufthansa check-in counter to board our new connecting flight.
By this point, neither myself nor my fellow passengers had been provided with any explaination, assistance, apology or quality service of any kind from air china. No - one had been provided with any food or drink for over ten hours and no kind of compensation had been provided. I had been unable to contact my family to let them know that I was delayed, causing them considerable distress. The way we were treated by air china was degrading, uncaring and utterly unprofessional.
Instead of arriving early in the morning at my destination, I arrived late in the evening and missed my father's 60th birthday party, which was the only reason I had been traveling. This caused myself and my family a great deal of distress.
That was my first flight with air china but both I (And everyone I talk to about my journey) would never consider using air china again unless proper compensation is made.

Manuela hecht.

Feb 18, 2013

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