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Anonymous30 Jan 2015
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"30 Jan 2015
Not a flight review at all!
Seems a case of ‘MS’ buying a ticket without first being aware of any Visa requirements.
The airline cannot be responsible for individuals who do not make themselves aware of Visa requirements before purchase, it is so easy to access such information on line,30 Jan 2015
Apart from the maxim that passengers need to be aware of their documetary requirements, nearly every passenger with an Iranian passport, or related to someone with an Iranian passport or of Iranian birth, after 35 years of sanctions and srtict visa requirements, is hyper sensitive about visa requirements. A popular expression in Persian states that while most languages have three tenses, Persian has four: Past, Present, Future and Before the Revolution. So the realities of post Revolutionary Iran form an every day part of life, maybe even form an obsession — and post Revolutionary social changes and internatioanlly dictated restrictions on travel are part of this national obsession. Even if not Iranian, the passenger clearly does not hold a US or EU passport, or a passport from a country whose nationals do not rerquire visas for EU’s Schengen area; as such it is reasonable to expect that the passenger should have been apprised of visa requirements of their passport . Also, travelling to Tehran, which is as safe and routine as one can get, but which nonetheless has is ruled by a regime with particular regulations — covered daily in the world news and press since the fall of the modernising monarchy in 1979 — should have given the passenger cause for special thought about travel details. Finally, I assume the AZ ticket routed via FCO on the way from the US to Tehran. What happened to this visa requirement? Did the check in agent in the US miss the requirement? This is highly unlikely as the computer’s check in system brings up a an automated message to check visas based on the passport / nationality inputted at check in. My experience has been that no matter how bad the service of a major European or North Amercian airline can be, nearly never do they act unreasonably in the face of clear regulation when these are brought to their attention. The review should focus on the fact that AZ uses short haul A320 planes, and dubious service and catering, on the FCO-IKA sector but charges long haul fares, including in business class which has 6 across 31″ pitch economy seat with the middle seat unoccupied and which provides what is probably the worst flying experience of any airline flying in and out of Tehran. Even this falls under caveat emptor – when paying thousands in Euros and buying this AZ business class ticket, one cannot expect the website to state “beware, we charge full business fare but give you an economy seat, indifferent service, minumum number of cabin crew, dated and window less lounges and small portions of cold and bad food”. This is why we have a concept called “branding”….31 Jan 2015