Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. / terrible customer service
Below is the letter that I sent through to Virgin Atlantic Customer Service. Prior to reading the letter, pplease note that it is now over a week since I sent this letter and I have still had absolutely no contact from the Virgin Atlantic Customer Service department. My suitcase is yet to be found, and I continue to struggle liaising with the Virgin Atlantic Indian call centre, that is responsibe for tracing lost luggage. I was promised a 50 pound reimbursement (more of an insult than any form of compensation) due to the fact that my bag was not located within 24 hours; I am still battling to obtain this money from Virgin despite my receipts being submitted to the relevant claims department over a week ago.
'To Whom It May Concern
Re: Complaints regarding Virgin Atlantic Airlines flight number VS602 on the 13th April 2008.
On the 13th April 2008 my friend Ian Jones and I opted to fly to London from Cape Town on Virgin Atlantic Airlines. Never, have I been so astounded by the innumerable incompetencies and lack of customer service provided by a single airline carrier.
Our Virgin Atlantic bookings were done online. It took me four days and numerous phone calls to Virgin Atlantic Airways to finally obtain confirmation of my credit card payment being received, and subsequent approval of our booking. This is unacceptable seeing as your automated email response to customers specifically states that no booking is final until payment is confirmed. In my experience, all other online airline bookings and payment confirmations are instantaneous.
Virgin Atlantic assigned us seats on a connecting South African Airways (SAA) flight departing Cape Town at 17:10 and arriving in Johannesburg at 19:10. Our Virgin Atlantic flight was scheduled to depart Johannesburg at 20:40. Thankfully, our SAA flight was not delayed. However, knowing the timely processes at O R Tambo International Airport we literally ran from the domestic terminal to the international terminal. Upon arrival at the Virgin Atlantic counter we were told that the flight was closed! The gentleman behind the Virgin Atlantic counter had to make some enquiries to see what he could do to get us on the flight. When I asked him if this happened regularly, he said all the time! I ask you, why do you allow your Virgin Atlantic passengers so little time between the connecting flights when daily there are numerous flights on SAA from Cape Town to Johannesburg?
On board the flight the entertainment system did not operate fully, and the system had to be rebooted on two occasions with a downtime of an hour after each reboot. The food served is the worst food I have ever eaten on board a flight, and I have never experienced such slow service from flight attendants. All I can think is that Virgin Atlantic is cutting costs in every direction, from staff numbers to the basic flight provisions of your customers.
On arrival at Heathrow International, Ian Jones was called to the Virgin Atlantic Customer Service Baggage Desk. He was informed that ‘his’ bag had not arrived on the plane. The bag was, in fact, my bag - a point I relayed to the man behind the Virgin Atlantic Service Baggage Desk. We were told that we would be contacted by Virgin Atlantic to advise on the status of my bag during the course of the day. I eventually contacted Virgin Atlantic Baggage Services at 18:00 to find out if my bag would be put on that evening’s flight. I was informed that the bag had not yet be located but that they would contact South Africa and get back to me. When speaking to the Baggage Services again, the point of contact, Tazim, could no longer provide me with any information without first speaking to Ian Jones! When speaking to Ian Jones he said that he had had no feedback from South Africa, however he would ensure that someone contacted me first thing in the morning. No-one contacted me. I called Virgin Atlantic just before 10:00 and was told that they were still waiting for information from South Africa! I have just arrived in London, with absolutely no clothing or toiletries, and not to mention that I also have several interviews set-up for tomorrow with subsequently no suitable attire. But, of course, this is of little importance to Virgin Atlantic, who cannot even tell me if they have found my bag or when I can expect it to be delivered! Tazim, requested that perhaps I should list the contents of my bag so that they could identify some of distinguishable items – will Virgin Atlantic Airways or Customs really have the audacity to go through my things without me being present? Tazim, also seemed to have difficulty understanding what I was saying, he kept requesting that I phonetically spell items for him! Pravin (another contact from Baggage Services) suggested that I contact the claims department; however Pravin was unable to tell me if they will reimburse me for the basic incidentals between now and my bag arriving, as Claims is ANOTHER separate department at Virgin Atlantic Airways! Pravin advised me that Virgin Atlantic would keep me updated on a two hourly basis regarding the status of my bag – he must have been joking, as I am yet to receive a call from them!
Not only have I arrived in London without my bag, but also without my Virgin Atlantic unaccompanied baggage! I was advised by Virgin Atlantic to liaise with MMA Consolidators regarding the process and costs of sending unaccompanied baggage, as they are Virgin Atlantics ‘agents.’ I dealt with Craig Bailey from MMA Consolidators who gave me a COMPLETE quote and advised that I drop off the baggage on Thursday the 10th April so that there was good time to arrange the necessary for the cargo shipment that was to be sent on the 12th April, arriving in London on the 13th April in time for us to collect the baggage on our arrival in London on the 14th April. All baggage was actually delivered to MMA Consolidators by Monday the 7th April to ensure that there were no delays regarding my cargo. When asking about collection of my shipment at Heathrow, Bradley Van Wyk from MMA Consolidators advised that I just needed to go the Virgin counter at Heathrow! On arrival at Heathrow, it soon became apparent that this WAS NOT the case. We had hired a car for the day, so that collection of my shipment would be easy, however after making our way to the Virgin Atlantic Cargo depot we realised that the car was not necessary seeing as none of my cargo had been sent to London! The gentleman at the reception of the Virgin Atlantic Cargo depot directed us to another warehouse, where we needed to go to clear the goods (a process that had never been explained to me in clear terms despite numerous requests for an understanding of the process involved in shipping unaccompanied baggage from both Virgin Atlantic Airways and MMA Consolidators). The gentleman that we spoke to at the second warehouse directed us back to the Virgin Atlantic Cargo depot, as he had absolutely no record of the baggage waybill number. We returned to the Virgin Atlantic Cargo depot, where Sandy Ridges helped as much as she could. She contacted Douglas Macdougau who is responsible for Virgin Atlantic cargo in Johannesburg to explain the situation. Douglas Macdougau then contacted Bradley Van Wyk from MMA Consolidators to find out what is going on. Eventually, Bradley Van Wyk gave me a call to say that he was off sick and that he had, therefore, not been aware that the goods had not been sent! This is totally unacceptable. The problem I now have is that Virgin Atlantic is blaming MMA Consolidators, thereby ensuring that this issue now becomes my problem to resolve directly with MMA Consolidators when, in fact, it should be Virgin Atlantic resolving this mess up, especially since as a Virgin Atlantic customer I have no choice but to use MMA Consolidators if I am to send goods as unaccompanied baggage on Virgin Atlantic airways – a service that is described by Virgin Atlantic Airways as being cost effective and simple!!! Bradley Van Wyk said that he would contact me yesterday evening or first thing this morning to confirm when my unaccompanied baggage would be arriving – I am still waiting for his call. Sandy Ridges from Virgin Atlantic Cargo stipulated that I am unable to clear my personal effects without a UK Agent; however Bradley Van Wyk insists that this is not true! So please tell me which is the correct procedure? And why isn’t this procedure clearly outlined to your customers?
The above not only reflects negatively on Virgin Atlantic Airways but on the entire Virgin brand. I await your urgent response in light of all of the above.'
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