So, I’ve had the “great pleasure” of kicking my well deserved holidays off with a bad case of the flu, maybe even the famous one. Ever since friday night/saturday morning, I’ve been very feverish, dizzy, coughing and feeling as “wimpy” as men do that catch a virus. As you can imagine, and as my holidays were well deserved, I had had other plans: London!
Going back just a slight step, some may remember my episode with Luxair in 2007? Where I was not allowed to “lateboard” (or JIT-board if you like :)) a plane in London City Airport as I looked like a student? If you don’t, here’s the brief summary:
I was travelling the UK for a few days to meet the EF School staff on site as this was helpful for sales in the Luxembourg office. Extremely exhausting as it was, I arrived at London City Airport late, 30 minutes before departure, but I had one bag filled with all the stuff that needed to be scanned, and in the other hand my papers (no checkin luggage), so in theory, I could have been at the gate in 8 minutes (I’ve managed that in the past). The guy informed me it was too late, and when I pointed my preparedness out to him, he agreed to call the gate. Whilst in call, he looked at me, replied to the other person: “no, a student”, hung up and informed me that it was indeed too late, and I needed to buy another ticket. It took me a few minutes on my way to ticketing to realize what had happened, and so for the longest time, all new EF students would fly with VLM instead of Luxair – I couldn’t risk them being refused boarding just because they looked like a student!
Then however, I managed to get a hold of the marketing director at Luxair, a very friendly fella, who apologized for all the mishaps (there had been quite a few after that), and asked what it was he could do for me. So I informed him I was not the goal, that it was the students that should get a good deal, which he gladly agreed to, and this is how Luxair got back to being in my good books, and we sent quite a few students to London, Nice, Barcelona with Luxair after that.
And as a good planner, for this holiday, I decided to compare offers, and funnily enough, I found the best deal for me to be flying with Luxair, so I booked the ticket a good month and a half in advance at 165€. When I was feeling so off the day before the flight, I decided to ring Luxair and seek out options, coughing and drowzy as I was. I pressed 2 for french, and then explained to the german (?) service rep that I was really quite ill and looking for options, not reimbursement, just ideally the chance to fly a day or two later. He informed me it would certainly cost something, and I said I totally agreed to it, that I was just happy to be able to change the departure flight as I was feeling really rather terrible.
After a couple of minutes waiting, the guy got back to me and said he was afraid he had bad news. In my ticket, it was saying something along the lines of: you can not change this flight, and you can only get reimbursed in case of death, or in case of death from a person of the closest family.
- This is the kind of information they should give you at booking: not changeable, or changeable only under these conditions. To me, their terms only meant: changes cost money.
- If I was to die, who in their right set of mind would think of calling Luxair to get a less than 200€ ticket reimbursed?
- If you have someone call, that is very obviously very sick, very open to suggestions, and absolutely ok with paying an additional fee to change one of the “flight-legs”, you really shouldn’t close down all options at the first opportunity.
- The fee he could have charged me could have been up to the price of a new ticket, my price-sensitivity was at its lowest as I was just hoping to find any kind of solution. Today, I am feeling much better, as anticipated, and because of their lack of flexibility, London was ruined for me.
- If you give people a choice for language, make sure it works.
As the typical annoying customer that I am, this can only mean one thing to me: Luxair, you’re back in my bad books, and this time, I won’t continue trying to support local businesses: you ruined my trip to London just before Christmas! **two thumbs up – yay**
In case you didn’t know, VLM changed names to Cityjet: New Name, Same Great Service. I remember flying VLM when I was still at Uni in London (Luxair’s student fee was only valid until the age of 24, and a good friend pointed out VLM to me), and I flew back to London once with a case of the flu that wasn’t as bad as this one, but upon entering the cabin, I asked the crew if it was at all possible to seat me somewhere without anyone next to me as I did not wish to pass the flu onto anyone else. They agreed in a very charming manner, got back to me with a glass of water even before departure to make sure I could take any medicine I might wish to take, and came to see me regularly to ask if everything was ok for me. This is what I call a good memory of flying, and this is what I will choose again in the future.
I still leave it up to you though what company you decide to fly with, but my priorities are set: VLM (Cityjet), Eurostar, Car, Bicycle, Walking, Luxair.