SriLankan Airlines / Denial of boarding in Srilankan Airlines Flight UL 218 on 13 July 2016 at Doha Airport and inappropriate behaviour of the airlines staff
This is with reference to me and my friend's bitter and spiteful experience with the SriLankan airlines staff resulting in mental anguish, loss of time, money and energy.
o We reported to the airport after 7.45 pm on 13/7/2016, when our flight was due at 10.30 pm. There was a long queue there. We were standing in the queue from then onwards, till 9 pm when we reached the counter. We tried to check in the baggages we had packed together. We had three bags together to check in. They insisted that we can't put our baggages together. We explained that we are travelling together to my home in Kerala and we have our bags together. But they insisted that we separate our luggage! We were surprised- it’s not the first time we are travelling with friends –we had always packed together and checked in together in various airlines. I myself had travelled in SriLankan Airlines in 2013 with a friend like that. But, the staff explained that it is their airline policy and they instructed us to repack – make our baggages separate 40 kg each and report before 9.30 pm.
o We followed their advice and repacked. As I didn't have an extra bag, I borrowed my friend’s hand baggage to put a few kilos for check in. We rushed back to the counter by 9.15 pm, and they refused us saying we need to go back to the end of the queue again. We don’t know about this policy, but we very well know that if there is excess baggage to be given outside or to be paid, we come back to the same counter and not to the end of the queue. But Mr. BIMAL was insistent that we have to go back to the end, as if we are bypassing the queue. We tried to explain what he already knew that since more than an hour we have been in the queue and we have been at the counter before, we did not bypass anything. I was upset and argued that this is not fair on us. But, very calmly, Mr. Bimal SWITCHED TO A THREAT MODE, saying” if I don't agree the staff won't attend to you”, VERY CLEARLY IMPLYING THAT BECAUSE UNFORTUNATELY WE BOOKED SRILANKAN AIRLINES, WE ARE LITERALLY UNDER HIS MERCY ! I WAS SHOCKED BY THIS BEHAVIOUR AS YOU NEVER EVER EXPECT AN AIRLINE STAFF TO BEHAVE LIKE THIS EVEN IN REAL THREATS. But, we were left with NO CHOICE, so we went to the end of the queue again.
o BUT I WAS SO SHOCKED, that in between I went and asked that I wanted to talk to the supervisor . Then Mr. BIMAL told that he himself is the supervisor. So I asked him straight away that if I wanted to complain, how and where I should do that .
o Later, we reached another counter again . This time the staff, Mr. BALWIN checked my baggage, even tagged one of them, then we saw Mr. BIMAL showing him some signals ...and suddenly he stopped the procedure .. and made us wait . We got worried as the time was running out for the flight and the staff telling, he doesn't know what happened . Then Mr. BIMAL was persistently commenting that our baggage is pooled . And we were explaining that we had gone and repacked as they advised. IT SEEMED THAT MR.BIMAL WANTED TO DELAY US ON PURPOSE - AS IF TO SHOW “ OK . IF YOU DARE COMPLAIN, LET ME SHOW WHAT I CAN DO .” – THAT WAS EXACTLY HIS ATTITUDE!
o We waited for another 10-15 minuetes without knowing what happened. Now appeared MADAM BINUSHA or DINUSHA whatever, who later turned out to be the embodiment of vengeance . She came and insisted that we are still pooling our baggages! We again tried to explain that – “ yes, we came together from same home, now going together to my home in India, had packed together, had bought some gifts also together - but we had followed the advice by the staff and had repacked our stuff and is coming back for a second time to the counter .” Then she found out that my friend was carrying a bag with my initials. I tried my best to explain that I already had a big baggage and rest of my stuff I had cargoed already. Since she wanted an extra bag I have lend her my bag and also pointed out that I am using her bag to put my things because I wanted a smaller bag. However we explained, this embodiment of stubbornness won't listen. And they are keeping on saying we can't allow, without suggesting a solution. Then frantically I told that, if it is because of my initials on my friend’s luggage, okay put it for me, I will pay for excess baggage, please let us go!” . Then, she immediately switched to -NO, THE COUNTER IS CLOSED ! When we are still in the counter after being in the queue for TWO HOURS NOW ... We definitely know that we could/should have been allowed to travel; we were denied boarding because this lady did not want us to be on board, for reasons which may be hidden or unknown to us.
o And without any suggestion or help from any of your staff who all just left us bewildered, I went after Ms. STUBBORN EMBODIED -MADAME BINUSHA OR DINUSHA WHATEVER PLEADING, BUT OF COURSE, SHE TURNED A DEAF EAR TO KEEP UP WITH HER STUBBORN TITLE .
o I didn't know what to do next, because my old parents would already be on the way to pick me and they will be waiting for us in the TVM airport ...
o Then, since my friend was coming with me, we had made lots of arrangements for travel. Changing the tickets and bookings by one day is a lot of hassle. So we had to travel in the next available flight at any cost. SPOILING MY FRIEND’S ENTIRE TRIP TO INDIA IS A BIG PRICE TO PAY FOR SRILANKAN AIRLINE STAFF’S REVENGE ON ME BECAUSE I TOLD I WANTED TO COMPLAINT! So we had to pay an extra huge sum to avail tickets in next possible flight.
o NOW MY QUESTIONS ARE :-
1. Why did your staff tell us to repack and come in the first place, if ultimately they are not going to allow it ? What did they expect when they told so -they already knew we packed together and wanted us just to separate things and comeback before 9.30 pm and THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT WE DID !
2. IS THERE ANY POLICY IN ANY AIRLINE THAT I SHOULDN'T BORROW A BAG AND TRAVEL? BECAUSE I DO SOMETIMES TAKE MY FRIEND’S OR BROTHERS BAG WITH THEIR INITIALS, DEPENDING UPON THE SIZE OF BAG I WANT AND VICE VERSA. I THINK IT'S UPTO ME TO DECIDE WHICH OR WHOSE BAG I SHOULD USE!
3. AFTER COMING TO THE COUNTER A SECOND TIME DOING REPACKING AS YOUR STAFF INSTRUCTED WITHIN THE STIPULATED TIME, WHY WERE WE DELAYED UNNECESSARILY AT THE COUNTER AGAIN ?THAT TOO AFTER TAGGING MY BAG, WITH SIGNALING FROM THE SUPERVISOR ! IT IS QUITE EVIDENT THAT MR. BIMAL WANTED TO DELAY US ON PURPOSE, AS A REVENGE BECAUSE I WANTED TO COMPLAIN ABOUT HIS THREATENING ATTITUDE!
4. SECOND TIME AT THE COUNTER, WHEN THEY ARE KEPT ON TELLING, ”WE CAN'T ALLOW, YOU HAVE POOLED THE BAGGAGE”- AND WE WERE ASKING, “SO WHAT SHALL WE BE DOING ABOUT IT” - WHY NOBODY IS INSTRUCTING US WHAT IS THE SOLUTION IF THEY ARE NOT ALLOWING? AS ANY OTHER AIRLINE STAFF, WE EXPECTED THEM TO HELP US, NOT CREATE MORE PROBLEMS! THEY WERE JUST DELAYING THE PROCESS FOR ANOTHER 10 -15 MINUTES.
5. WHEN, I, IN A HAPLESS STATE, SUGGESTED IF YOU INSIST THAT IT IS MY BAGGAGE, I WILL PAY EXCESS - LET US GO - WHY THEY DIDN'T ALLOW THAT ? Though now I wish they had asked my friend what's inside, she could have told and proven at least !
6. We had come to the counter within the time limit TWICE, then isn’t it the airlines responsibility to help us to travel ? Or is it this way your staff is trained to behave to two females travelling together ?
7. After being purposefully delayed at the counter for 10 -15 minutes by your staff, how can they say that we have closed the counter when we are still there after standing in queue for two hours totally twice, after repacking as your staff advised, after standing in the queue a second time as your staff instructed - HOW CAN YOU SIMPLY GO OFF SAYING WE HAVE CLOSED AND WE CAN’T FLY. YOUR STAFF IS NOT JUST CUSTOMER UNFRIENDLY TO THE HILT – IT WAS AS IF THEY ARE PUNISHING US.
8. That reminds me of your staff, Mr. BALWIN ‘S TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR TO THE CLIENTS. IS SRILANKAN AIRLINES PAYING HIM TO TEACH US HOW TO BEHAVE ? At the counter, we are bewildered on why they are delaying us ...and we are asking him what's happening :
Mr. BALWIN is preaching us on “why we are looking at him as if he did something from the time we are there, and why we are staring at him, and THAT THIS IS NOT THE RIGHT WAY FOR US TO BEHAVE !!! “ OF COURSE, THOUGH I DEFINITELY KNEW THAT IT WAS NONE OF MR. BALWIN’ S BUSINESS ON HOW WE BEHAVE - I, as politely as I could when you are being RAGGED, replied that “sorry if you felt that way, our frustration is not against you, but against the whole situation and that we did not stare at him ”, Carefully NOT adding that, as such he is not a pleasant sight to stare .
9. And, when we met the Srilankan airlines Station Manager, Doha Airport, Mr. D.J. Ahamat who was polite and calm and did listen to what we had to compliant in such a desperate state. But seemingly he too couldn’t help us much. When we asked him for a report that we were there on time and why we were not allowed to board - he just wrote and gave due to baggage pooling. There was no written answer to my question of why they didn't allow me to pay excess baggage then.
10. And are your supervisors entitled to switch on threatening mode and take revenge on clients who just by Ill fate happened to book on your flight ?
11. So, how do you plan to compensate for the mental anguish caused, loss of time, loss of money by cancellation and booking next flights and loss of energy caused by your unhelpful staff? I FEEL THAT THEY SHOULD ALSO BE TRIED FOR THE ACT OF HARRASSMENT.
12. When we had reported well in advance of the time almost three hours ahead, why should we pay for the losses incurred, if the Airlines was unable to attend to us and solve our problems and purposedly delay us?
I even felt so scared that if YOUR STAFF CAN TORTURE IN THIS RASH WAY TO US ON GROUND, THEY ARE CAPABLE OF PHYSICALLY OR MENTALLY TORTURING US ON BOARD OR EVEN AT THE STOP OVER IN THEIR NATIVE COUNTRY OF SRI LANKA.
Previously mine and my family member’s experience with SriLankan Airlnes had been really good. My brother and family always remember with special thanks, the hospitality your staff in Colombo airport had extended to them. My travel with my friend also in your airlines was smooth. So, I really don’t know what happened on this doomed day – may be it was just that the DOHA TEAM of your airlines that day consisted of the most unhelpful and malicious of your group and we happened to be the victims.
Overall, our current experience with Srilankan airlines was truly horrifying, unheard of, and I sincerely hope that this doesn't happen to anyone else .