I wish to share with you my experience in August 2009 on Swiss International Air Lines. I had previously written to their Manager in Bangkok, Thailand; herewith is a condensed version
The routing was Bangkok – Zurich – Madrid – Zurich – Bangkok.
Bangkok-Zurich, 7 August 2009
Check-in was fast and efficient, pleasant and helpful staff, with special mention to the comprehensive information on the short connection time between flights in Zurich.
At the boarding gate, the agent offered an upgrade to First Class to either me or my colleague. We both declined as we intended to do some work during the flight, upon which she showed displeasure with a frown.
After boarding, I switched seats with my colleague. I informed the flight attendant and she said it was not a problem. The flight was full due to passengers transferred from a cancelled flight of Emirates.
The major problem began when the passenger on seat 6D sat down with her baby. The child was crying, howling and screaming for most of the duration of the flight except for lapses of 10-20 minutes. I was surprised to be told that the mother and child were upgraded from Economy. This was refuted by the Manager in her reply to my letter, saying that the mother had an economy class ticket which was exchanged by her husband who was also on the flight but had a business class ticket.
As the crew started to prepare the dinner service, a female flight attendant came to us, addressing my colleague thinking that it was me. When he pointed to me instead, she took my order for the main course, looked at my colleague and said “I will be back for you”, and never came back. He was much later served by another flight attendant.
During the beverage service, the same forgetful flight attendant seemed to have the sniffles and was constantly sniffling and wiping her nose with her hands. She served me my drink with the same hands after touching her runny nose. I did not touch my glass nor did I drink from it. When she served the main course, she was still wiping her nose with her hands, then serving the plate. Again I did not eat my main course.
There was a problem with the IFE. It was announced that it would be shut down and restarted. There were no further updates after that and for the entire duration of the flight there were no movies or music to distract from the noise of the screaming baby.
Upon landing in Zurich while waiting by the door to be opened a young man dressed in shorts and tank top exited from the First Class section, we were told he was upgraded from Economy. He was later on our flight to Madrid and, true enough, he was seated in Economy.
Zurich – Madrid, 8 August 2009
The flight was peaceful as there were only 3 passengers in Business Class. Breakfast was initiated by one male flight attendant. He was holding 2 plates and asked which one I preferred while asking me to pick it up. Not being told that the plate was burning hot, I unhesitatingly picked it up and put it down just as quickly on my tray table. I had burn marks on my fingers and blisters for several weeks. He served the plate to my colleague.
I wrote a letter to the Swiss Manager on 19 August 2009. She replied on 10 September 2009, the reply was a standard template of a reply mentioning that all matters will be referred to the relevant departments. There was no mention about what action would be done on the flight attendant who had a runny nose considering this was the time when the H1N1 virus was rampant in the region. Neither a comment on my burned fingers!
I pursued the matter with a letter to the CEO of Swiss in Basel on 26 October 2009 informing him of my experience and requesting for a refund for the one-way sector of our flight itinerary, there was no reply from his office. A letter came from the Manager in Thailand on 11 December mentioning that my request for a refund has been declined.
I sent another letter to the CEO on 21 December 2009 stating that if they are unable to give a refund would they give me mileage credits instead for the Bangkok to Madrid sector. As of today and even more disturbing, there is no reply from the CEO neither from the Manager in Thailand. The amount of time between the correspondences has reached 7 months.
It is very disappointing and frustrating when hard-earned personal money is paid for air travel in a premium section of a long flight and uncaring attention and service is given. Adding insult to injury, “template” or “copy and paste” responses are used in correspondences. It is very unfair, inconsiderate and unprofessional to deal in such a way with clients.
It would have made a whole lot of difference if the Manager of Swiss took some thought on the situation and made an effort to call me and offer a simple box of chocolates (regardless of what company policies they have on refunds) to appease the whole incident. The situation with the baby was regretful and does happen, unfortunately, but what was more disturbing was the flight attendant with the “sniffles” and her handling of food and drinks, and the hot breakfast plate which burned my hands.
All of this for a reply of “apologies for the inconvenience you have been caused”!