News Tip on Seaborne Airlines

244

Letters to the Editor

Dear Sirs,

In March 2016 I had a horrific experience with Seaborne Airlines flight from SKB to SJU. The complaint to airline has been absolutely ignored. My experience resembles numerous other customers’ reviews on Yelp: www.yelp.com/biz/seaborne-airlines-christiansted.

I would like to share my story so that other passengers avoid such distress. I’m asking for your support to raise awareness so that the airline feels the need to better their service when this case becomes public.

Please find the detailed description of my experience below. I can provide copies of all travel documents if required. I hope your team will find this subject worth of your attention and an article, I will be happy to provide any additional details if needed.

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Issue Summary:
1.     Seaborne airline cancelled the first segment on my itinerary and rebooked the flight with 24-hour delay in departure from airport of origin and 3-day delay in arrival to final destination, rerouting with multiple extra connections and extra overnight layover in Puerto Rico.
2.     Seaborne was obligated to rebook the equivalent class as booked with initial carrier. Seaborne did not comply – I was rebooked in Economy Class instead of Business class. No refund was made to date.
3.     Seaborne representative in SKB has inaccurately charged me extra US$50.00 for luggage on 27 March 2016 and did not provide a receipt.
4.     Seaborne reservations agent rebooked my cancelled flight with jaw-dropping amount of errors – six mistakes on a single flight itinerary.
5.     2 out of 4 rebooked flights were not guaranteed/confirmed by the airline at the time of travel/boarding.
6.     Seaborne customer representatives throughout have lied to me numerously, were extremely rude, unprofessional and incompetent.
7.     Excessive worrying and troubles, along with literally racing trough the airports and numerous occasions where I had to lift my heavy luggage during delays and layovers has caused my enormous distress, frustration and moral damage putting my health and the health of my unborn baby at risk.

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My original flight itinerary purchased from Condor airline: SKB >> SJU >> FRA >> KBP.
Segment SJU >> FRA was booked in Business Class.
Departing SKB on 26 March 2016.
Arriving to KBP on 27 March 2016.

26 March 2016
I arrived to SKB airport at 12:00 PM. As per departures monitor BB4587 was departing on 26 March 2016 on time. Seaborne check-in counter was closed with no sign or notice of flight cancelation. No announcements of flight cancelations were made on the airport speaker.

I subsequently learned that the flight was cancelled from the neighboring Delta check in assistant, who suggested that I should check with Liat check-in desk for any information.

I was unable to locate any Seaborne representative at that time. Liat check in desk advised me and other passengers from cancelled BB4587 that we should wait until our tickets are rebooked. All in all we waited until 3:30 PM with no update on the status whatsoever. No representative made any efforts to keep the passengers informed, answer our question and make us feel well taken care of. As I kept checking the progress update with any TDS Airline Services customer agents in sight – every single one of them bounced me off, ignored me and made every effort to get rid of me. The only information we were given before 3 PM was to wait. Airline representatives did not answer our questions like: 1) if we will depart the same day or next day, 2) if they will provide a hotel room for overnight stay, 3) if we can get a refund for the cancelled flight and book another more convenient flight on own.

At around 2:30 PM I asked to see the manager. TDC Airline Services Ltd manager came to speak to us eventually at around 3 PM and was very loud and rude, did not answer any of our questions, was interrupting us and eventually waived his hand at us and departed. He officially refused to tell his name ad position. One of the passengers from USA asked if they can purchase another ticket on own and get a reimbursement for their cancelled trip later. TDC Airline Services Ltd manager said that no one is getting reimbursed for anything and passengers’ travel plans and negative customer experience was not his problem. I was unable to find out his name.

At 3:30 pm the customer service rep finally came to tell us that our hotel accommodation will be booked. This was the same employee that was working on rebooking the passengers’ tickets with Seaborne main office in San Juan. At that time she told me that I depart on Monday, 28 March 2015 with BB4587. The rest of the connections were supposed to be informed to me at check-in. I asked to tell me the E-ticket number. She promised to be right back. 40 minutes later she came back with a print out of my rebooked ticket and hotel accommodation voucher.

At that time all other passengers received their hotel vouchers and departed to the OTI hotel.

At OTI hotel reception desk I found out that my check out date on the voucher was wrong. It listed check out date as 27th March 2016. My new ticket listed departure date as 28 March 2016. Voucher was wrong booking me for 1 night instead of 2 nights.

OTI hotel receptionist requested the corrected voucher so I went back to the airport to get it corrected. As I was waiting for any Seaborne rep at the TDC Airline Services Ltd desk, I studied my printed ticket carefully and found 2 more mistakes:
1)    Mistake #1: My Last Name on the E-ticket was misspelled.
2)    Mistake #2: The flight BB4587 from SKB to SJU was booked for Monday, March 28th, arriving to San Juan at 14:55. The following flight B6 004 from SJU to JFK with JetBlue was scheduled to depart at 11:52 same day (March 28th, 2016). Hence, the departure-arrival times of connecting flights did not align with each other. If I departed from SKB to SJU on Monday I would have missed my JetBlue flight from SJU to JFK.
3)    Seaborne re-booked itinerary with 2 mistakes was executed by agent Karla Carrion.

FYI, TDC Airline Services Ltd representative on duty at the desk told me that it will not be a problem to fly on the ticket with misspelled last name. Young gentleman did not have a name tag and did not share his name.

I insisted to rebook the ticket and correct 2 mistakes above. So I was asked to wait again. It took another 1 hour to do the needful. After the ticket was rebooked, I was assured by the TDC Airline Services Ltd representative on duty on 26th March 2016at 5 pm that my ticket was rebooked for business class on all further flights.

While I was waiting on the rebooked ticket, I saw TDC Airline Services Ltd manager again and complained about numerous mistakes on the ticket and hotel voucher. He was very loud and rude, again. Among other things, he told me, quote: “We dealt with you already.” He raised his voice and yelled at me. I was deeply humiliated, my blood pressure went up, which is a dangerous condition for pregnant women. I strongly believe that such attitude is unacceptable in a business that values its customers.

27 March 2016
Next day, on Sunday, March 27th, I asked the lady at Seaborne check in counter (the same TDC Airline Services Ltd representative that was working on rebooking my ticket the day prior) during my flight check-in to re-confirm that I am booked on business class on my flight from JFK to CDG and that I have 2 bags booked. She confirmed both – business class and 2 checked-in bags. However, she charged me US$50.00 for the 16 extra pounds on one of my bags – the difference between Seaborne and Condor allowance. She did not provide a receipt. As I was later advised by Seaborne Customer Service Agent Marenid Planell in SJU – I was not supposed to be charged for the difference in luggage weight as it was accurate as per my original cancelled ticket. SKB TDC Airline Services Ltd representative at check in also failed to record the US$50.00 charge in the system.

Therefore I consider US$50.00 stolen from me and would like to get a 100% refund.

I now wonder if Seaborne understands the level of service that is provided to its passengers by TDC Airline Services Ltd as its handling company in SKB. Its representatives refuse to tell their name and position, provide passengers with unacceptably rude service, make numerous mistakes. I wish the airline takes the responsibility for the actions of it’s representatives.

Upon arrival to San Juan I consulted with JetBlue check-in counter to double-check if my ticket was booked. I discovered that my JetBlue flight B6 0004 from SJU – JFK was pre-booked but not issued/confirmed. If I haven’t checked – I would not be allowed on this flight next day.

Mistake #3 – my flight from SJU to JFK with JetBlue was not confirmed.

When I consulted with Delta to reconfirm that my seat on flight DL0404 from JFK to CDG was rebooked in business class I discovered that it was confirmed in Economy/Main cabin. Delta representative referred me to Seaborne for any further questions as they did not have the authority nor instructions to upgrade me.

Mistake #4 – my seat on Delta flight from JFK to CDG was confirmed in the wrong class.

I conclude that a total of three TDC Airline Services Ltd representatives in SKB have lied to me confirming that I had business class confirmed on my flight from JFK to CDG.

I have later spent the rest of the day at the Seaborne counter where Seaborne Customer Service Agent Marenid Planell worked on confirming my JetBlue ticket (not surprisingly, the cause of confusion was my misspelled last name and conflicting departure dates from SJU to JFK – refer to mistake #1 and #2). She has also confirmed to me that I have 2 checked in luggage pieces and that I am placed on priority wait list for business class. The reason that I could not get the business class seat confirmed was that there was no availability.

On the spot I have checked availability on flight DL0404 from JFK to CDG online with 2 online booking engines, AirFrance website and at the Delta check-in counter – the flight still had seats available in business class.

Seaborne team-member has lied to me again.

I was also advised to check with Elizabeth Rodrigues, Seaborne Customer Service Supervisor on duty same evening before 10 pm regarding the business class upgrade. After I checked into hotel I came back to see Ms Rodrigues, waited from 9:10 PM to 9:25 PM by the desk but she was not there. I have checked with arrival/departure monitors – there were no Seaborne flights boarding/arriving at that time.

28 March 2016
During my check-in with JetBlue next morning I was unable to check both of my suitcases in since I had only 1 checked-in baggage confirmed on my ticket, as opposed to the guarantee given by airline representatives the day prior. Both on Saturdayand Sunday Seaborne representatives in SKB ans SJU have been assuring me that I have both suitcases confirmed as per my original ticket. This issue was resolved 2 hours later by Daniel Martinez and Julio Duran. Both suitcases were checked–in manually to KBP (Kyiv, Ukraine). I was assured that the luggage will travel from JFK to CDG and from CDG to KBP on the same flights as I do.

Mistake #5 in rebooked ticket – incorrect amount of luggage items booked.

Prior to boarding in New York, I have checked at the Delta gate if I am on the priority wait list for business class on my flight DL0404 from JFK to CDG. The gate staff on duty advised me that they have no such list in existence. They have suggested that Seaborne did not pay for the Delta business class because of it’s high cost. As a result, my seat could not be upgraded to business class.

Nevertheless my original across-Atlantic flight DE 2103 was booked in Business Class, I flew in main cabin from JFK to CDG. Seaborne airline has rebooked the incorrect class against international aviation regulations (Airline liability is governed by the Montreal Convention of 28 May 1999 and the Warsaw Convention of 12 October 1929 or as amended at The Hague in 1955). When I asked if I can rebook my own ticket and get a refund for the cancelled ticket – this option was denied by Seaborne representative.

29 March 2016
Upon arrival to CDG I needed to get the boarding pass for the last segment on the itinerary: CDG to KBP with AF1752.

The self-service check-in terminal recognized my itinerary but refused to print the boarding pass with an error message – Request assistance from Air France customer care desk.

Air France customer care desk confirmed that the itinerary is in the system but they can not let me on the flight because they do not have a partnership agreement with Seaborne and my ticket was not guaranteed by the airline nor paid by Seaborne. Just as with JetBlue, my AirFrance flight AF1752 from CDG to KBP was pre-booked but not confirmed.

Mistake #6 – AirFrance flight AF1752 from CDG to KBP was pre-booked but not confirmed. I was denied boarding.

I was denied boarding and advised that I will need to purchase a new ticket if I wish to fly to KBP.  Since it was 3 AM in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Seaborne Customer Relations Hotline is not in operation 24/7 I was not able to get any assistance from Seaborne.

Eventually, 1,5 hours later, AirFrance Shift Supervisor on duty managed to obtain a guarantee from Delta on behalf of Seaborne and I was allowed to board the flight. I have barely made it to the gate in time as it closed 2 minutes after I boarded.

Upon arriving to KBP I discovered that my luggage is lost. I filed a claim and finally received it late night the following day, 30 March 2016.

Excessive worrying and troubles, along with racing trough the airports and numerous occasions where I had to lift my heavy luggage has caused me enormous distress, frustration and moral damage. At the time of the event I was 18 weeks pregnant.

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I have filed a claim to Seaborne customer relations in April and received only replies with “we will investigate” message, including from the company GM (I’ll be happy to share the entire chain of our unfruitful e-mail communication). However, no resolution is received so far. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you require any details/quotes. I’m convinced that only public awareness can make Seaborne Airlines better their service, which all it’s customers from the Caribbean, NA and WW will benefit from.

Thanks in advance,

Ms Maryna Rudnytska