By Tan Tiong Ghee
In April, I booked a SIA flight through Zuji, I was given a SIA flight number, SQ2008, and a SIA booking reference; I would usually book a SIA flight through Krisflyer.com but the flight that I want, 5 Jun 11 pm, is no longer available in Krisflyer.
On 5 Jun 1 pm, I received an SMS from Lufthansa (“We regret that we had to rebook your flight to QR945/06 Jun, 02:30. Please check in for this flight. More details: “). This is a surprise. How did I end up flying on Qatar? By the way, which terminal am I suppose to go to? How long is the flight? Any transit?
The first time I called the Krisflyer hotline, the staff insisted that it was “not a SIA problem”, it “must be” Zuji that changed my flight. Giving SIA the benefit of the doubt, I called Zuji; Zuji confirmed that they had not initiated any changes. To keep the long story short, I called SIA again and was told it is “not a SIA problem” and I have to contact Lufthansa myself.
On 6 June, 2 hours before boarding time, my sister and I were denied check-in because the Qatar flight is full; This was despite Lufthansa assuring me that my flight on Qatar was confirmed. I immediately tried to call the Lufthansa and Krisflyer hotline but was left listening to music for more than 10 minutes; No one answered.
Since the Lufthansa counter was not open, I tried to approach the SIA counter for help. The Malay lady on duty again gave me the “not SIA problem” excuse and completely ignored me and pretended she was busy with something else. At this stage, my sister was already crying as we felt our trip was completely ruined. In the end, we had to go back to Qatar to beg for seats. We only managed to secure seats at 1:30 am.
– What do think would have happen if my sister and I had left the airport?
– Do you think this is a “great” way to start a holiday?
Summary of Experience:
a) Paid premium ($2k+) for a SIA flight but end up flying on a cheaper carrier, Qatar ($1.5k).
b) The flight was cancelled; Instead of arriving in Berlin at 7:45 am, I arrive at 3 pm.
c) Though I was given an SIA flight number and booking reference, SIA ceased to be responsible once I am unknowingly transferred to an alternative carrier (Lufthansa). That is, SIA staff will not provide any help once you are transferred to Lufthansa; You will need to contact Lufthansa for any problem that you have encountered; I was left in a lurch because the Lufthansa flight was cancelled, and I was denied check-in on the Qatar flight that Lufthansa rebook me on.
When I feedback to SIA about the incident, this is one of the responses I get:
“Dear Mr Tan
Thank you for your email of 23 June 2015.
We are not able to explain why Qatar could not process your check-in in the first instance. Due to the late minute rebooking of flights especially from one airline to another, there is a possibility that the receiving airline (QR) may not have the latest updates on their system in time for your check-in.
We understand your disappointment of having to travel on Qatar on a longer route. We have noted your point that if you personally book on Qatar on the same itinerary, you would have save SGD500. We would like to share that when an airline (LH in this case) transfers a passenger to another airline (QR), the receiving airline (QR) would charge the transferring airline (LH) the revenue that was collected from the passenger from the sale of the ticket concerned.
In your case, when you were transferred to the QR flights, Qatar will bill Lufthansa after the journey is performed. Therefore, whatever revenue Lufthansa collected from you, they will have to pass to Qatar. Lufthansa does not retainany bit of the revenue performed by Qatar. We regret that due to LH operational constraints, you had to go through this experience. We seek your understanding on this matter.
Mr Tan, we have already credited 5,000 KF miles to your account. Please let us know your postal address so we can send the inflight gift voucher for SGD100 each to you and Ms xxx.”
My response to SIA was that I suffered REAL delay and REAL discomfort and stress. Why am I given “fake” compensation?
In response to queries by TOC, a spokesperson from SIA wrote, “Singapore Airlines has a partnership with Lufthansa under which we each market flights of the other airline under codeshare arrangements. This provides more flight choices for our customers, including to cities that one of us may not serve with our own aircraft.
In Mr Tan’s case, he had booked flight SQ2008, which is the marketed flight number of a Lufthansa-operated flight, LH779, on Zuji, an online travel agency. It is stated at the time of booking that the flight is operated by Lufthansa, rather than Singapore Airlines. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Lufthansa cancelled the flight and booked Mr Tan on a flight operated by Qatar Airways.
We are sorry that Mr Tan was not pleased by the arrangements. Although the situation was not in our control as it was a flight due to have been operated by our partner airline, we did provide a credit of KrisFlyer miles and offered to provide a gift voucher as a gesture of goodwill, in recognition of Mr Tan’s support for Singapore Airlines.”