The flight was delayed for 32 hours! Not fun but combine delays with a cigarette smoked filled airport, drunks, no seats and crying toddlers/babies and you get a recipe from hell. I am surprised they have not tried this system at Guantánamo Bay as a form of torture. Maybe they have?
The Aeroflot flight to Egypt was delayed and the plane had 'technical' problems i.e the pilot was probably drunk. We did eventually get to Egypt and got back but we wanted our pound of flesh and compensation from the airline. It's a long story, (see Snow to sand- Moscow to Sharm El Sheikh) if you want before you read this but its not vital to the plot here.
In January this year, we heard from a Russian friend that we could claim back some money from Aeroflot. We filled in the Aeroflot claim form, took our form and flight tickets stubs to a main Aeroflot office and waited and waited for news. By mid March we finally had an email from Aeroflot, telling us that we could claim back 125 euro each on our tickets and that we had to use the tickets vouchers by December this year. This email voucher ticket promise came from the main Aeroflot office, the email had no reference number on it and only said we could get back money on our delayed flight. The main office told us to collect the vouchers from their other office by the river where the metro station is closed for renovation and the only way of getting there is to walk.
April came and last weekend we took this golden precious email, by hand and on foot, down roads and up stairs to the Aeroflot office by the river to get our money back flight vouchers. A grumpy woman at the Aeroflot office informed us that the offer had expired two weeks before and that we could not get out free tickets. However, the email that we got from the main Aeroflot office did not say this rather vital information or we would have gone before to get our flight vouchers! We walked home annoyed and ticketless (without any tickets). On Monday we called the main Aeroflot office that had told us we could get money back and told them what had happened at their other office. They told us it was their 'mistake' and that we could get our free flight vouchers from their office by the river, the same office that had rejected us when we tried to get our flight vouchers. I hope you understand the story so far?
Today, on Sunday a week later after our first ticket attempt, we went down to Aeroflot by the river with our passports and only a verbal promise from the girl at the main Aeroflot office that told us we could collect our ticket vouchers. When we got to Aeroflot, they did not believe us and told us the offer had expired. 'Yes' we said "we know that ' we told them 'but didn't the other office call you?" "No" they said. What happened to communication between Aeroflot offices? A different Grumpy woman tried to call the girl at the main Aeroflot office, that had told us we could have our flight tickets but she was on holiday! Our grumpy women then spent two hours looking blankly at her computer screen for a fucking reference of this alleged 'promise' of three flight vouchers. My blood was boiling and I could feel my right eye beginning to twitch, as I fought to entertain and control my kid, while my poor wife sat and waited to hear from our Aeroflot grumpy woman, if our tickets were to be a reality or were just some delusional fantasy, told to us by another woman, at another Aeroflot office!
Finally, feeling very jaded, we left Aeroflot with three ticket vouchers worth 125 euro each to be used before Christmas this year to anywhere in Europe. We had to sign many forms, the grumpy woman took countless photocopies of our passports but in the end we got what we needed. A victory to us. I can think of better ways to spend a Sunday morning. It pays to persevere in Russia! Don't accept нет. 125 euro (90 GBP) for 32 hours of hell is not a lot but better than a slap round the face with a wet fish. At least we can visit another country and get out of Moscow for a weekend which is worth more than any gold.
My point in telling you this dear reader, is I am sure that in the UK, this process would be a lot easier and faster. After complaining and being told you could have money back on a flight or flights, you would be sent an email with a voucher reference number with a valid expiry date. You would then go to the fight ticket office or go online, book your flight, enter in your money back voucher code and get your flight with its reduction. Simple, easy, hassle free. It would be achieved in moments not in months.
I have noticed a few things about Russia. One, they love filling in forms in triplicate and rubber stamping things and two they don't seem to have heard of the strange foreign concept of 'customer service' and business reputation, perhaps this is an historic problem to Russia? Know your customer rights, although in Russia I am not so sure that 'rights' make much difference. Perhaps we were just unlucky? I like to think that not all customer care experience in Russia is the same as we experienced with Aeroflot.
Read similar stories from others here:
Airline customer policy in Europe
Your rights on compensation