Etihad Airways / bad service
We are writing to let you know of the horrific travel experience that we had on Etiahad airways. We spend a lot of time before deciding on Etihad for our travel to Kochi, India from JFK Airport in New York. We booked our flights well in advance after considering layovers, flight lengths and other factors. We were traveling with 2 young children (3 yr old and a 1 yr old) and a senior citizen (my mother) so we wanted to ensure that our journey was a pleasant one.
We began our journey on Dec 1st from JFK. Our son was so excited to travel and loved meeting people at the airport. Everything went smooth until we were on the runway ready to take off. They had a child (8-10yr old) in the plane who was vomiting and the parents wanted to continue with the flight but the crew wanted the child unloaded. It took them 2 hours before they decided that they were going to unload the child and the family so we had to return to the gate. By the time we took off the flight was delayed several hours and many customers on the flight were in danger of missing their connections in Abu Dhabi. They reassured that all the connecting flights have been notified and that they will wait for us. However, when announcing gates for connecting flights on our approach to the airport, they didn't mention our connecting flight # . When asked about that, they reassured us again that when we get off the plane they will let us know, as it is too late to get information from Abu Dhabi.
When we got off the plane the five of us rushed to the gate that was posted on the television screen to find out that the gate was closed and we missed the flight. We arrived at the gate at 9:45p and the flight was scheduled to leave at 10 PM. The airline knew that there were several groups of passengers depending on that connection and that they had landed and would be only a few minutes late for the connection. Instead, they close the gate and inconvenienced those passengers for many hours (in our case a day and 1/2) rather than having the plane delayed a few minutes.
We were told to go back to to the "transfer counter /desk ". When we reached there, we were quite amazed at how disorganized and chaotic things were. People were just going up to the counter with no queues. We finally got to the desk and a lady named was helping us (by now it was after midnight). She claimed to have made arrangements for the following morning (8:30am) to fly from Abu Dhabi to Kochi. She failed to mention that we would have a connection in Muscat (Oman) before arriving in Kochi. IN addition, it meant that we would have to travel to a hotel at this late hour and get up again a few hours later to return to the airport and then get off the plane and re-board with 2 kids and my mother . She didn't explain any of this or give us options. When we realized what her arrangements meant, we went back to the desk to request a more reasonable solution.
This time a different gentleman (gentleman A) was going to help us, as the first agent did not have a computer at her station. Our children were very tired and we really needed to get them some rest before proceeding. We asked if we could stay in Abu Dhabi and fly out the next evening on the same flight # that we had missed. Another gentleman (gentleman B) joined in and assured us that we could take the flight we requested. He suggested that we go and have some food, make phone calls if needed and come back to pick up the necessary paperwork including the boarding pass. So, we called India to let the individuals who were picking us that we would be arriving 24 hours later than scheduled. We had our dinner and came back to the desk.
The paperwork was not ready when we returned so we waited while they arranged for the hotel, the limo, and printed what we thought were our boarding passes . When we asked if we need to arrive earlier at the airport, they told us that it was not needed, as they have made arrangements for the limo and all we need to do was be ready for the limo. Gentleman B came over to us as we were leaving to reassure us and show us where to go next and explained the procedure to us. He told us that we should go through immigration, go to the Etihad desk and present them with the paperwork and they will take us to the hotel and they will also pick us up at a certain time the next day. He also told us that we need not worry about our checked-in bags as they will go to our destination with us the next day. All we need to do is show up at the gate tomorrow. He really made us feel at ease about everything. What a mistake!
The next day, the limo was 15 minutes late and the limo driver did not know which terminal to take us. I asked him to stop so I could get the paperwork out of my bag but he said he knew where to go. He took us to the wrong terminal before asking someone and finally dropping us off. We had to rush through immigration and security and reached our gate just in time. It was clear that we were scheduled to be picked up from our hotel much too late. We got through the immigration and made it for boarding.
When we were to board, we presented our boarding passes to the agent and the computer was not accepting it. After multiple tries, she discovered that the date on the boarding pass was wrong. It was from the previous days boarding pass. She couldn't see a booking under our names. The agents at the transfer desk had simply given us the previous days boarding pass!!! It was the same boarding pass that we presented to them when we first came to the transfer desk. At this point we were in total disbelief! How could anyone be so incompetent? My wife and I had to leave one of our children with his grandmother and take the other child with us to the transfer desk to try to get things straightened out AGAIN . They asked us why we didn't come earlier to the airport!! Interesting indeed!! as it was their agent who told us not to worry and be ready for the limo!!
They were apologetic at the desk, but they REFUSED TO MAKE ROOM FOR US ON THE FLIGHT. I asked if all the Business class seats and/or first class seats were taken. They did not answer (On our return flight last week I noticed that the Business class section was almost completely empty). Meanwhile, our son was so upset as to why they wouldn't let us on the plane. He could see that we were upset as well. He was crying and wanted to go back home. He was so traumatized by the whole experience that he cried every time we had to go back to the airport. He had his grandmother and mother crying as well, as we were all on our wit's end.
After all this we were given two options...Either wait another entire day and fly out on the same flight the next day or drive to Dubai and take a flight on Emirates to Kochi. We were already delayed a full day and needed to get to Kochi as soon as possible. We needed to restart our children back on antibiotics. The people who were picking us up had to travel over 3 hours to get to Kochi airport and were expecting us that day. So, we opted to fly out of Dubai. We had to get all our luggages and go through immigration again and go to Dubai airport in 2 cars as our luggages wouldn't fit in one car as there was 5 of us!!
When we presented our confirmation # and paperwork at the Emirates counter, they couldn't pull up the reservation. However, as they had plenty of seats on the plane, the agent was able to make a reservation right at the check-in desk. We finally arrived in Kochi safely on Friday morning, over 30 hours later than scheduled . Our son had to be taken to a doctor in India and his antibiotics had to be changed as he didn't finish his entire course of antibiotics with the delays, etc.
On our trip back from Kochi to USA, we tried to check-in 24 hours of the trip via the internet. After being on the computer for 3 hours trying to check-in, we decided to call the Mumbai office of Etihad as the Kochi office was closed. They told us that Kochi airport doesn't let us check us on line. So, we asked to check in through her. She told us that she couldn't find a reservation under our names. She told us that the reservation that we had was canceled by the system since there was an interruption in our flight to India. She said that it was a glitch in the system that was responsible for the cancellation.
Once again we were in total disbelief. How can so many incompetent individuals be at the same airline. We were so upset and in tears again. She told us that she was going to email headquarters and for us to call her in the evening. Fortunately, they had seats on the plane and they were able to get us on the flight.
The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful as far as the schedule was concerned. However, the flight attendants on the plane from Kochi to Abu Dhabi were rude and abrupt with the passengers. They were careless with their carts and barked out orders rather than politely asking passengers to follow directions.
We were truly traumatized on both ends of our journey.and felt that the employees of Etihad airways were unprofessional and ill-prepared to make things right. Are there no policies in place to handle sick passengers? The transfer desk was very chaotic and disorganized. There should have been well defined lines for passengers to wait in. AS an agent with a computer monitor became available, they should summon the next person in line. The counter was a free-for-all with the loudest, pushiest people getting assistance rather then the first people to approach the counter. Every agent should have a computer to work on and to look for information! so that things are more organized. They should explain and give us options.
Based on our experience and the lack of any effort to compensate us or make up for these inconveniences, we are unlikely to be using Etihad airways or to recommend it to our family and friends. We feel like we paid good money to be inconvenienced and abused mentally, emotionally and physically!!
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