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PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 May, 2007, 12:00am

The column for anyone fed up with bureaucracy, frustrated by delays or furious about poor service. Tell us your complaint and we'll try to fix it ...

Ms Cheng is a frequent traveller with British Airways, but she was disappointed by a series of delays on her way to Germany last December.

'We bought tickets from London to Munich for December 19. The weather on that day was bad and foggy but we checked in our luggage and got through immigration.

'We were waiting at the departure lounge for about three hours with no indication of which gate to go to and no announcement on what happened to our flight. So we went to the help desk. Staff told us to wait and keep checking the screen.

'After about an hour, finally we were called to go to the boarding gate where we were told the flight had been cancelled and we needed to collect our bags at the arrivals hall.

'Amazingly, no one showed us how to get to the arrivals hall from the departure lounge. We had to find the collection point ourselves, where we waited for two hours for our luggage to come out.

'Then we went straight to the ticket counter to have our ticket rebooked and yet again waited there for more than an hour. The staff told us there were no seats available to Munich, but there were flights to Hamburg or Stuttgart the next day.

'I asked if there would be any compensation, such as dinner or accommodation. The staff answered us in a very unfriendly and unhelpful tone, saying that if every time they cancelled a flight due to bad weather they paid out compensation they would go bankrupt.

'She said we could take a train to Munich at our expense. We had to accept the offer as we had booked our holiday and it could not be postponed.

'As soon as we got out of immigration at Stuttgart, we headed straight to the BA counter to find out if there were any flights we could take.

'Surprisingly, we were told that we had been put on a waiting list for the connection to Munich. Unfortunately, no one in London told us about it and what we should do in Stuttgart. Finally, the staff arranged for us to take a flight to Munich. Although we needed to wait two hours, we were grateful.

'I know that under BA policy we are entitled to a meal or accommodation. Unfortunately, their staff were not willing to offer any help and therefore, we found our hotel for that night and paid for our own refreshment.'

British Airways apologised to Ms Cheng for the inconvenience she experienced.

A spokesman for the airline explained that the heavy fog that day had lowered the visibility and prevented many flights from taking off and landing at Heathrow. The airline therefore cancelled a number of flights.

'But please be assured that throughout this situation, our greatest concern was for our customers and the effect that it was having on their travel plans,' he said.

The company has contacted Ms Cheng, offering her reimbursement for the hotel and meal expenses incurred during the delay.

Mr Yau said China Airlines refused to check in his luggage and threatened not to give him a meal as punishment for checking in late.

'On April 4, I took a CAL flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok. When I arrived at the check-in counter, there was a long queue, because of the Easter holiday.

'From my experience, I thought the flight would be delayed. So I went to buy a drink and got back at 11.25am. Yet I had misjudged the situation, as not everyone in the line was checking in for the 11.50 flight. Some of them were going for the 1.30pm flight.

'When I got to the counter, it was already 11.30am. The man who appeared to be a supervisor told me I had missed the flight and could only buy a ticket for the next day.

'I insisted on boarding the plane. He said I could get on the flight but without lunch and I also had to carry my luggage to the boarding gate. Since the gate was far away, I had a really hard time getting there.

'I was furious about the attitude of CAL towards a passenger checking in late. Not only did they threaten to cancel my lunch, they also offered no assistance to show me the way to the boarding gate.'

A spokesman for China Airlines said it was so late when Mr Yau checked in that there was no time left to help him handle the luggage.

'And we didn't threaten him but just wanted to remind him that there might be no lunch served, as the flight attendant possibly had inadequate time to prepare his lunch,' he said. 'But certainly we need to improve our service, especially the way we communicate with our customers.'


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