I purchased tickets for my girlfriend that was going to fly Moscow-Prague-Amsterdam (Czech airlines) and then Amsterdam-Cancun (Martinair, a wholly owned subsidiary of KLM). First, Martinair surprised me when I called them 4 days before the flight to confirm the departure. I was told that my girlfriend called Martinair and cancelled her flight. She didn't. She couldn't have. She doesn't speak any language besides Russian and we both really wanted to go on that trip. After confirming with her that she did not communicate with Martinair, I contacted the airlines and requested to reinstate the ticket.
Now…, bare with me for a moment… it was hard to have a meaningful conversation with martinair. A Dutch company (martinair) has an office (decision makers) in the USA (that’s where I live!, great!) but… the customers are not allowed to talk to the USA office directly. Instead, the calls go to India, and, I have to talk to someone who never was on a plane or crossed an international border. Very difficult…
My request to reinstate the ticket was denied at first. Then, they promised to conduct an investigation. Then, after two emails (with a promise to initiate litigation process) and about 3 hours on the phone… they agreed to listen to the tapes of the recorded conversation between the operator and the person who cancelled the ticket. Finally, the ticket was reinstated. Martinair never played the tape back to me and refused to provide a copy. Pretty sure they overbooked their flight and were trying to get rid of some passengers that might have been easy targets (not Dutch, not from western Europe).
Then, the departure day came. My girlfriend arrived to Sheremetyevo airport (Moscow) to board her flight to Prague-Amsterdam. But (insert the needle-drag sound here) the Czech Airlines representative told her that she could not fly with them because she does not have Schengen visa. This is a total nonsense because transit passengers from Russia do not need Schengen visa. Using logic with the Czech Airlines representative and referring to official documents did not help. Furthemore, the incompetent representative told me on the phone (and in a rude manner too) “I, as a representative of Czech Airlines, have a right to deny flight to anyone and that’s what I’m going to do”. I had to urgently buy another ticket online (thank you Internet!) so that my girl can get to Amsterdam and catch her flight to Cancun. The rest of the trip worked out fine and she did arrive to Cancun but it only happened because (1) I was always on the phone, (2) was willing to pay more, (3) had great experience in travel and (4) dealt with incompetent people before. Project management and legal training paid off!! So, what happened there? Just the stupidity of the representative or was the flight overbooked and they were getting rid of easy targets? If they don’t return the money for new ticket I am going to sue them. Then, they will have to reveal their booking records under subpoena and, if they indeed overbooked, they will not be able to get away with just the ticket refund.
An attempt to contact Czech Airlines with complaints and ticket refund failed when I tried to use their online form. Then I called the European office and they gave me fax# in Czech republic. Haven’t heard from them yet. My advice to you: stay away from KLM, Martinair, Czech Airlines and anything that’s associated with them.