To: Star Alliance,
I am writing to report an incident my wife and I had involving Croatian Airlines from Sarajevo to Rome via Zagreb.
We had purchased tickets from an accredited travel agent in Sarajevo, " V.I.P Travels", to fly to Rome (FCO) on a Star Alliance carrier for April 27th. The ticket indicated that the Croatian Airlines flight was flying over Zagreb and connecting directly to Rome. To double check, our agent called Croatian Airlines to make sure my wife, who is a Belorussian citizen, would not need a transit visa for Croatia if she took this flight. Croatian Airlines representatives told her that it was indeed an international flight. Upon check-in, our baggage was registered by Croatian Airlines to Zagreb-Rome FCO, like any international flights with connections. However, upon landing at our connection point in Zagreb, a border security guard asked to see our tickets. He explained my wife would not be able to fly on to Rome because she did not have a transit visa through Croatia. I explained to him that we are international travelers, but he said that there is no direct international flight from Zagreb to Rome. He explained the flight passes over Split, although there is no indication of this on our tickets. I said this cannot be, and showed him my tickets. He then called a representative of Croatian Airways (who seemed very familiar with this problem) who begged the border guards to grant my wife a transit visa in order to fly to Rome. These border guards relented after much persistence, but explained that my wife would need a transit visa to fly back to Sarajevo via Croatian Airlines on May 6th (our return date).
Croatian Airlines representatives were very rude and claimed it was our fault for buying these tickets. We know this is not the case. In Sarajevo Croatian Airlines has been advertising itself misleadingly to customers as providing direct international flights from Zagreb, their capital city, to other destinations, including Rome. They were by contract obligated to fly me and my wife to Rome without any domestic stopovers, and should have done so through their Star Alliance connections by rerouting us over Munich or Vienna. We have kept the original tickets, and boarding passes as evidence, along with the baggage tags which clearly indicate that Croatian Airways is trying to appear as if it is offering direct international flights from Zagreb in order to attract customers. For people like myself this is no serious issue, except that I was not permitted to use the Star Alliance lounge in the international waiting area. However, for my wife, it means creating a lot of unexpected hassle, expense and humiliation, and our vacation in Italy has been sorely compromised by our dealings with the Croatian embassy in Rome, among other things.
We were passengers on OU 341 Sarajevo-Zagreb, OU 380 Zagreb-Rome via Split on April 27th, 2007.
Steffen Cambon and Hanna Adeyema
Bosnia and Herzegovina