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IBERIA LINEAS AEREAS DE ESPANA / Off-load of clients

1 Spain

IBERIA, LINEAS AEREAS DE ESPANA
El. Venizelos Airport,
Main Terminal Building
190 19 Spata


11th July, 2008



Dear Mr. Alvarez,

We would like to formally submit our complaint in reference to the following episodes that occurred during the materialization of the Incentive trip of Ethniki Insurance on the below mentioned dates.

The total number of guests that flew with IBERIA, a number which we consider and believe to be a substantial one and to which the service provided was extremely poor, especially noting that this occurred on the return – a regretful way to end a very successful operation.

Group bookings / payments were all handled on our behalf by Monogram Travel under the following PNR numbers:
 Z5PFGN
 Z5O5G5
 39KG8X

Flight information was as follows:
• Group A – 30 guests + 1 Tour Leader = 31 persons total
o July 1st IB 3883 Athens / Madrid
o July 1st IB 108 Madrid / Seville
o July 7th IB 117 Seville / Madrid
o July 7th IB 3882 Madrid / Athens
• Group B – 106 guests + 3 Tour Leaders = 109 persons total
o July 2nd IB 3883 Athens / Madrid
o July 2nd IB 106 Madrid / Seville {60 persons}
o July 2nd IB 112 Madrid / Seville {49 persons}
o July 8th IB 3882 Madrid / Athens

 Total guests with Iberia = 140

Ideally we had wished to have all guests on same dates & same flights, but accepted that this was not possible which was the reason in breaking the group into two different departure & return dates.

Originally we had Group B confirmed on earlier flights to Seville, but again this was changed and an afternoon flight was confirmed for the 49 guests – an issue that was not easily accepted by the client, but who eventually accepted this and in order to make the program of the clients much more comfortable we added a tour of Madrid instead of having 49 persons waiting in the airport with nothing to do.









The main issues arised when we started our return journey for both groups.

Group A arrived at Seville airport to check-in on July 7th and was informed that all 31 guests were to check-in at one counter only. The Tour Leader started this way, but managed to direct guests also to the 2nd check-in counter in order to move this line faster. A slight issue to which personally I would not give any serious emphasis on when seeing what happened to the other group.

Group B flights confirmed originally had been afternoon ones, convenient in order to connect with the Athens flight. But these IBERIA changed to morning ones which would give us a minimum of 7 hours waiting time for the Athens flight. Once again, client gracefully accepted that we move all guests by train and ensuring that we would be a minimum of 2 hours prior to take-off at the airport.

A total of 112 guests arrived at the airport in Madrid on July 8th at 16:10 hours (2 hours and 10 minutes prior} to check-in for the Athens flight. Here everything starts:
• Tour Leaders are informed to wait in front of counter 525 in order to be informed where to go.
• Local Agent is then informed to move all guests to counter 904 for check-in. We move all guests to this counter only to be informed upon arrival there that staff had completed their working shift and counters close down.
• From here we are asked to move all guests to counter 878 for check-in.
o Complaints start on the disorganization that is happening.
• We arrive at counter 878 the same time as the airline staff who open 877 and 878 only to find out that 877 is for another smaller group and only for this one. Our counter is only 878…… ONE counter for 112 persons…..
• Immediately I go to the customer service counter in the business class area and request that more counters open up in order to service the guests at a faster pace. The ladies there were very efficient and did make necessary calls and 20 minutes later a total of 3 counters were checking in the guests, but at a very slow pace.
• My four Tour Leaders along with the 2 local Agents remained at all times by the counters assisting the IBERIA airline staff on translations with the guests in cases needed.
• A number of issues arised concerning overweight on luggage to which we do admit that we counted 4 situations where guest luggage was over 25 kgs and to which excess was paid and in one where client removed items from their luggage in order to bring this down to the permitted allowance.
• 112 guests took over 1 hour and 20 minutes to check-in…. the last four guests who had excess luggage and which they paid € 50.00 for the 5 extra kilos were informed that the flight had closed, but some-how this re-opened and luggage was accepted, boarding passes given and we then had to make our way very quickly to the gate as flight was boarding…..
• By the time we made it to the gate, the last four guests that checked in last along with another 2 from our group who had checked in earlier were informed that they were STAND-BY and could not be accepted as flight was full.
• When I asked why we were not informed at the check-in counter on this issue the reply was ‘that is the problem of IBERIA and not me”. When asked who / what this person’s position was giving such a statement – reply was, “I am IBERIA flight supervisor/manager responsible for the flight”. Therefore in one phrase this









person was taking himself out of the responsibility and on the other end wanted to somehow show he was a responsible person in IBERIA. Excellent contradiction.
• In the meantime, the remaining group onboard the flight kept calling us on the mobiles advising that there were seats available on the flight, which as it seems did cause some hesitation to the staff handling the flight who did eventually a head count only again to inform me that there were no seats available on the flight.
• Out of the 4 Tour Leaders, 3 of us stepped off the flight and gave our seats to 3 of the clients, thus leaving behind 3 clients and 3 Tour Leaders.
• We were asked if we wished our luggage to be offloaded to which we confirmed and then taken to the Customer service desk of IBERIA.
• At this point I asked to be directed to the Civil Aviations Manager of the Airport only to be confronted by a young girl that this office was closed and the only person who could speak to me was her supervisor, the same person who had said he was responsible for the flight, but unfortunately he had gone to have a cup of coffee with a cigarette. It seems he was hoping that by the time he would get back we would have left.
o I asked to have my rights provided and only then did this girl state that IBERIA, apart from our re-booking on the next flight would provide hotel accommodation, dinner, breakfast, transfers to/from the hotel.
• On the return of the ‘Flight Supervisor/Manager”, I confronted him with the request to have all 6 accommodated in a deluxe hotel, to which he immediately advised that this was only possible for one person and not the others – as only my ticket was business and the remaining 5 economy. To this I asked to provide a deluxe hotel and I would arrange to pay for the difference. Reply was that all the deluxe hotels which IBERIA cooperates with are fully booked, but again would not say which these hotels were.
• A second request was to upgrade my 3 clients to business and leave me and my staff in economy. Another rejection saying that flight of the next day was again overbooked.
• The young lady who was in customer service that was assigned to assist us proved to be extremely arrogant and rude. Following remarks are few of those we remember:
o How many rooms do you want? Six? Why – you cannot share?
o You want your luggage? Then you will have to wait for at least 2 hours and if we can find them…
o The Station Manager of IBERIA cannot see you as he is not here and it is not his job to speak to you.
o The Civil Aviation Office is closed and your problems can only be addressed by my supervisor.
o Transfer to the hotel is provided by IBERIA – but when asked where we had to go / where to find the transportation to the hotel we did not receive any reply, just a shrug of her shoulders.
o Luggage – when asked where we would find these, she told us to go to conveyor belt 8 and wait to pick these up.
o We asked where we had to go for the refund we were entitled to. Reply was just ‘2nd floor’ – where, to whom – nothing was given, just a shoulder shrug.
• Seeing that no help was been provided – we left and made our way to trace our luggage, pick up our refunds and find our hotel.










o Luggage – when we got to the luggage claim area I made my way to the lost and found to ask the ladies there where to find our luggage. This is a point where we were very grateful for the help and information provided. Your own IBERIA staff at lost and found completed the CORRECT information in the system in order to pass through the notification to have our luggage brought through. The last piece was picked up at 23:30 hours…. The flight had left at 18:30 hours…
o Refund - the ladies at the customer service on the 2nd floor were very helpful and very fast finalized all documentation and gave according refunds.
 What I find peculiar is that business class and economy class passengers receive the same amount in refund?
 € 400.00 in either case? (Attached copy of the refund slip)
• One would say that the above is more than enough to go through, but no, IBERIA ensured that the story would not be that simple… The luggage that was offloaded was more than expected and in my case – I received luggage of another client – NOT mine.
o Mr. Giotakos – not only did he receive his piece, but another 4 pieces which belonged to the ladies that checked in with him at the same counter.
o Mrs. Moschoudi {myself} – I did not receive my luggage but the luggage of Mrs. Rigou
 During check-in of group it was a massive issue on behalf of IBERIA that each guest has only ONE pieces of luggage 23 kgs maximum each…. Now how Mr. Giotakos ended up having a total of 5 pieces in his name is something that beats me.
 How Mrs. Rigou’s luggage went through as mine is again another question. (Attached stub of boarding coupon & luggage label)
• By this time, the flight in Athens had landed and we informed the according clients that we had their luggage which we placed in storage at the airport and made our way by Taxi’s to the hotel – TRYP DIANA, checked in and were shocked that this was / is considered to be a 4* hotel. Am sure that if you take the time and go and see this establishment you will acknowledge that it cannot be graded higher than a 3* hotel.
o We asked if they had any other higher category rooms, but informed that all are the same.
• A first glance at the hotel restaurant did not entice anyone to go in and try any of the dishes on display – make it been very late, make it that none of the dishes looked eatable or the horrible odor hanging in the restaurant. We decided to try the El Bergantin – another restaurant in the hotel itself.
o The food was very good which helped us relax and calm down as much as possible. The bill of course could not be charged to our room, for which I paid on the spot, € 280, 20 + € 20.00 tip for all six of us. (attached copy of the bill)

Presume you believe that this was the end of our ordeal? No – the next chapter was played the following day…. With our boarding cards in hand we arrived at the airport at 10:00 a.m. and after picking up the luggage from the storage we went to drop these off only to be advised that we had to pay excess luggage since we were only entitled to 23 kgs per person, apart from myself who could take 30 kgs. This resulted in another blow









up, the supervisor called in who for the next hour kept arguing that she did not care if IBERIA the previous day caused any problems, off-loaded clients, her issue was that she had 6 persons in front of her with a total of 9 pieces of luggage and we had to pay excess on this and then take it up with IBERIA.

After massive complaining, calling IBERIA Athens, continuously arguing she eventually advised the check-in staff to put a note in the system that luggage was accepted as had been offloaded due to overbooking of aircraft…..
• Why could this not have been done from the 1st moment?
• Why make us go through all this hassle and stress?

When at this point the counter staff went to check luggage through the system came up and said that flight had CLOSED…. It was very interesting in seeing how uncomfortable at this point the IBERIA staff became, but eventually she managed to get the pieces through and again we only had 20 minutes to get to the flight as it was boarding….

Eventually we made it back and happier when we saw the entire luggage come through in Athens. A nightmare over.

Questions:
1. Been in the travel industry for 27 years, it is understood that flights are overbooked in order to ensure that they leave with no free seats, but when overbooking’s do occur, common knowledge is that the priority line on off-loading is the same as guests on a stand-by basis. Therefore why was this not taken into consideration?
a. 1st – free tickets
b. 2nd – airline / travel staff on discount tickets
c. 3rd – last minute bookings
d. 4th – individual bookings
e. 5th – group members / groups
f. All others

2. Why was this not mentioned at the check-in counter and pointed out to clients or to us – the Tour Leaders?

3. What has happened to a small but very valuable service called “Customer Satisfaction”? Is IBERIA only interested in dissatisfaction?

4. Who is responsible on the recruiting of hotel for the offloaded passengers?
a. Do you not have any quality control to ensure that these hotels are of the category they say they are?
b. Is this the category that represents IBERIA?

5. Is IBERIA aware that their staff believes that by offering a refund, a disgraceful hotel, having rude – disrespectful staff in frontline customer positions is considered more than enough for servicing off-loaded customers?











6. Business class guests and economy receive the same service?
a. Where is the line drawn in such cases?
b. Why did I have to pay € 1, 320.00 for my roundtrip ticket to Seville in business class {economy not available} only to be treated in this disgraceful manner? I am on purpose pointing this out, even though I refused to be accommodated in another hotel and also gave up my seat to Mr. Giotakos on the way back.

On another level and equally very important my end was that on July 9th I was booked to fly to Rhodes at 8:55 a.m. on OA 702 and return same day on A3 217 leaving Rhodes at 22:15 hours {attached copy of my electronic ticket issued on June 27th}. On Rhodes were already my clients for a very important project which we are handling this year in September for 2, 500 guests. Unfortunately we are not permitted to disclose the name of the client for security reasons. This was the final site inspection for all logistics to apply since on this project an activity is to take place that the goal is have this placed in the World Book of Guiness. As you now can see this did not take place and am at present trying to see how this can be rectified which is proving to be an extremely difficult task to have again 30 different level clients at the same time on Rhodes for ‘another’ site inspection. Maybe, IBERIA can give me an idea on how this can be done….. A very high level project that plans to go down in history and the recklessness of airline staff with no consideration on what value time is for others. From one end my reputation is at stake with Ethniki First Insurance and on the other I have to find solutions on what can be done in order for this other high end project to be secured from all ends and have NO surprises during the actual operation.

Different class of service does not necessarily mean that we are of a higher category than another fellow passenger in economy. We are all entitled in been treated with dignity and respect. A service that IBERIA showed to be unaware of.

As it seems IBERIA is unaware on what an Incentive trip is – please allow me to explain. It is a trip clients work very hard on in order to ensure that they meet their company target in order to go on a trip. This trip the company needs to ensure that it will be successful, all details seen to ensuring that it will be memorable so that all participants will look forward to the next trip and achieve higher goals. With such an ending to this trip – for those that did fly back and those that were left behind – what feelings do you think apply? What position do you think you have brought not only the management of our client but also our agency? We strived and ensured that the most minor details were seen to only to have this disaster occur at the end. A very unfair position to be brought to by a reckless thought / procedure implemented by a third party – IBERIA.





















This letter I am not only addressing to IBERIA but also to Civil Aviation at Madrid Airport and to which I would highly appreciate receiving a response from both.

We look forward to your soonest reply and what you believe to be a fair compensation for the problems implemented by IBERIA.









Yours sincerely,


Irene-Maria Moschoudi
Vice President, Operations




cc. Civil Aviation Madrid Airport
cc. Ethniki First Insurance

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