It takes something significant for me to use my official channels to talk about a terrible experience. Something significant this is and I just want to forewarn anyone else considering Air France as their choice of airline for any of your journeys.
On Monday 8th April I was to make the final leg of my journey home from performing in Egypt via Charles De Gaulle airport, Paris. It would be my first (and last) flight with Air France.
I did accept the flight even after numerous comments from people commenting “good luck” upon hearing my decision to fly with them. Saying things to the effect of high levels of lost baggage and them doing something as crazy as overselling copious numbers of flights and leaving families and business passengers stranded.
“It’ll just be hearsay, every company is going to get some bad press. That’s just the way it works. I’m sure they’ll be fine,” I said to myself.
Upon trying to Check In at CDG Airport the machine printed a strange-looking slip that was seemingly so mysterious to the Air France staff that they took it from me and immediately turned their back saying “one moment please.”
After standing for more than 20 minutes looking at the back of 2 of their representatives’ jackets I’m forced to enquire as to what on earth is going on.
“We are just finding out,” was followed by more time standing. Standing checking out my watch as final boarding time reared closer. I’m getting anxious about it at this point. I know nothing about what the problem is. Is there something I have unwittingly done? Is it a technical problem with the machines? What was happening?
After a prolonged bit of ‘standing around’ I’m asked to follow one of the representatives who then converses with who turns out to be her supervisor to then tell me that there are not enough seats on the plane. However they will give me 450 Euro compensation as well as a meal ticket and of course book me on the next flight. Which isn’t until around 3pm. It’s currently just before 9am.
With no choice I have her check in my luggage. Once the luggage starts moving down the conveyer belt she ‘suddenly (and conveniently) remembers that, ‘since it is a local flight and not a long-haul flight’ her manager got it wrong, and the compensation would only be 250 Euros.
At this point I am let down yet again. Not by any need for 250 Euros but now wondering what Air France could actually be capable of.
As I awkwardly waited for the assistant to complete the forms and things I casually asked ‘does this happen often?’ she nodded, but I was even more shocked when the words ‘every day’ follwed.
As part of my compensation (now dwindling to 250 Euros) I was given a refreshment voucher that, according to the representative I could exchange ‘anywhere in the airport’ for a ‘starter or soup, main course, desert and a soft drink’ which was all backed up on the printed voucher.
After searching the airport for something to eat I decided upon a soup and a bottle of Orangina. Only to be shouted at my the concessions manager and told ‘Orangina was not included’ which was a suprise to me being as it is a soft drink. This ended up in this Manager slamming the bottle of Orangina down at me, shouting at me to ‘take it and go away’.
Just when I was starting to look forward to my flight, having caught a few hours sleep, cuing for the new flight I was ‘guaranteed’ a place on (no idea why ir France can’t guarantee you a place on the flight you actually book?!) the couple behind me, with a small child, were waiting to see if they could be squeezed on the flight or would have to wait with their son for another several hours.
So at this point Air France were proposing that a young family may not fit on to the flight they had booked, yet I would be guaranteed a seat on this flight – that I had not booked. So it seems a continuous series of chain reactions is being created by Air France dramatically overselling their seats.
I finally got home half a day later than expected, costing a day out of my business which of course had a knock on effect at this end too.
Have you had similar experiences with Air France? Have you had their customer services people call you afterwards to apparently help you resolve the problem, only to tell you there is ‘nothing they can do’?
I’d love to hear your experiences.