I’m a frequent flyer and regular traveller – they don’t call me the The Glomad for nothing, you know. As such, I thought I was wise to rip-offs. But I have been ripped off beyond belief by an airline called Niki. Here’s my sad tale of woe (fellow travellers, beware; avoid this airline at all costs!)
I booked a return ticket: Paris to Vienna. The fare? A very reasonable R1 544,85. That excludes luggage, which is quite common in Europe. I fly regularly with Lufthansa and pay €15 extra to check in a piece of luggage. So I wasn’t fussed.
When I went online to pay for my checked in luggage I was charged in Russian Rubles (6 840 Rubles to be precise). I wasn’t fussed. I knew it would be the normal €15 charge. Or maybe less. Lufthansa is a premium airline; Niki, which is part of Air Berlin, is a cheap and supposedly cheerful outfit.
And then my credit card statement arrived. They charged me R1 559,86 for suitcase to go into the hold! THEY CHARGED MORE FOR THE LUGGAGE THAN THE PRICE OF MY AIR TICKET.
I still wasn’t fussed. As you’ve guessed, I don’t get bothered easily. So I wrote them a nice email, explaining that they had made a mistake.
So I wrote to their media relations department, explaining that I was a journalist and would like their assistance to resolve the issue.
Eventually I wrote to the CEO (it’s amazing what you can find on the internet; feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org any time you require assistance).
He ignored me too. So I wrote to him again (I am quite a persistent old bat). He continued to ignore me. But I did get a response from the press officer. Her response? ”Thank you for your inquiry. We regret the inconvenience which occurred to you. However, the fees that were levied are correct. If a passenger registers a piece of extra luggage up to 23 kg for a European flight earlier than 30 hours before the departure of their flight, Air Berlin charges €35. If an extra piece up to 23 kg is booked less than 30 hours before departure this is charged with €60.”
I was aghast. Lufthansa charges €15 for exactly the same thing!!! So I put some questions to the esteemed Mr Pichler, and here they are:
- Mr Pichler, with all due respect, how can you justify these charges? How do you justify charging more for a suitcase than for a person?
- Do you honestly think that these charges are fair?
- Have you studied the charges of other airlines?
- Do you intend reviewing these charges in future?
- Why don’t you specify the €35 and €60 charges upfront when a customer makes a reservation, so that he/she understands the real cost of flying with your airline.
- Why was I charged in Russian Rubles?
I have been waiting for answers to my questions since 11:48 on September 9, when I sent the email. I’m assuming that Mr Pichler has no intention of having the courtesy to respond, since it’s now almost three months later.
But I can give you the answer to one question – right now. Will I ever fly with Niki or Air Berlin again? Not a chance. Never.
My friends call me a glomad (a global nomad lest you don’t get it). That’s a particularly apt word, because I am always trawling all corners of the globe, looking for stories. As a result, I have slept in some seriously strange places … Read more