We bought tickets for my wife to go to Iran recently, upon inquiring in Tehran about baggage allowance 1 week before her return to the United States it was discovered that she would require a transit visa between the Rome and Paris return leg of her journey. She was informed by one Alitalia employee that it would take 12 days for her to get this visa and by a second that it would take 1 month, not leaving enough time for her to get this transit visa before her return journey to the United States. We requested that the $943.78 it has cost us to reschedule her flight to allow her to fly back to the United States without the requirement of the transit visa be returned to us as there was no effort made on Alitalia's part to inform us of this requirement. Given:
1. The requirement of this transit visa was not mentioned anywhere on the website while purchasing the tickets;
2. The requirement of this transit visa was not mentioned anywhere in the confirmation email that we received;
3. The requirement of this transit visa was not mentioned by the website upon checking in online;
4. The requirement of this transit visa was not mentioned anywhere at all during the entire process of researching or purchasing the ticket;
We asked them to return the money that it had cost to change the ticket back to us. It might serve future customers well if they designed their website in such a way that when you are purchasing a ticket that involved transit between two European airports you first
1. Say your nationality
2. Enter your passport number and country of issue
3. The website at that point should pop up with a notice that a schengen transit visa is required in order to make the journey.
4. Useful information should be provided on how to obtain such a visa.
This would be a great alternative to the current process which does nothing to inform the customer that such a requirement even exists, thus putting individuals at risk of not being able to return to their loved ones without being gouged unjustly with the cost of changing a ticket.
This is the response we received from Alitalia after informing them of the above and requesting a refund:
"We would like to inform you that, as under General Conditions of Carriage, Art XIV; the passenger must hold the necessary travel documents and must comply with laws, regulations, orders, rules, and conditions emanated by the country of departure, destination, or transit.
Therefore, he/she will have no right to any damages or refund from the Carrier due to consequences deriving from the lack or falsity of such documents or visas or from the infringement of such laws, regulations, orders, rules, and conditions.
The Carrier can deny the boarding to passenger who lacks the above-mentioned documents or who presents documents that are not in order.
We would like to inform you that the only official institutions which release information about travel documents and visa are embassies or local governmental relevant authorities which passengers must contact before the beginning of their air travel.
For all the above, we are unable to comply with your request for refund and trust you will understand our position at this regard"