Compensation Clinic: Etihad Airways Flight Delays & Out Of Pocket Expenses

A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me an email back in December how to proceed with Etihad when it came to out of pocket expenses due to flight delays and I had it as one of the reader questions at the time.

Compensation Clinic Etihad Airways

Remember that you can always email me, send me a Facebook message or Tweet me about the issues you have with hotels, airlines and other travel providers. we’ll feature one new Compensation Clinic case each week.

You can access Etihad’s web page for Guest loyalty program here.

Here’s the email from the reader:

Situation:

My husband and I were booked in first class on Etihad Flight #2455 (SYD – AUH) on Thursday, October 1. Departure was supposed to be at 9:25 PM with arrival at 6:10 AM. (Reservation attached as Ex. A; confirm #REMOVED

Instead our departure was delayed over ten hours, to the next day at 7:55 AM with arrival at 4:40 PM. (Modified Reservation attached as Ex. B.)

As a result, my husband and I had to book an additional night at the hotel in Sydney (October 1) and an additional night in Abu Dhabi (because we had to delay our departure for a day because the meetings we missed on October 2 had to be rescheduled). The cost of the two additional hotel nights was 425 AED (307.36 AED plus 5,000 Starpoints) and $237.66 AUD. (Hotel receipts attached as Ex. C1 and C2.)

Our October 1 dinner and October 4 meals and taxi to another hotel–the hotel where we were staying didn’t have any vacancy for the third night–totaled $37.50 AUD and 264.25 AED. (Meal and dinner receipts attached as Ex. D, E, F.)

In sum, our out-of-pocket expenses caused by the flight delay totaled 1,423.67 AED ($387.67 USD). I spoke to an Etihad representative at the First Class Lounge and she instructed me to send the details and receipts to feedback@etihad.ae and request a refund.

Results:

I have sent four emails to feedback@etihad.ae and called the customer service line three times. I receive a standard response to each of the emails* but that is it. Customer service says they can’t help me; I can only file a claim via the feedback@etihad.ae email address.

Possible for you to look into this? I would so very much appreciate it.

Here’s what I replied at the time and wrote on the Reader Questions:

I have said it many times before on LoyaltyLobby and will probably continue saying in the future as well that Emirates, Etihad and Qatar are wonderful when everything goes according to the plan. If there are any irregular operations such as what you have encountered here, everything will fall apart regardless what class of service you might have been flying/ticketed on.

It is unclear where you are located based on your email. If you are from Australia, I would contact the local Fair Trading office. Those that are based in the United States or some other countries can file a small claims court case against Etihad. In some countries, you can do this entirely online.

You can try your luck and forwarding your complaint to the CEO of Etihad (probably someone at the executive office screen his emails). The email address is jhogan@etihad.ae.

It is really unfortunate that you must go to this extend to resolve an issue with Etihad, but none of these Middle Eastern airlines have any customer service.

And here’s reply from the reader:

Thank you so much for the CEO’s email — that will be my next line of attack. 🙂 (For what it is worth, we live in the USA.)

And the final follow up:

After many, many (did I say many?) emails and several phone calls, I finally received a check for $388.20.

What seemed to help was I found a person on the reservation side to submit my claim to the  customer service side. She told me she—like me—could only communicate with them via email. She told me to touch base with her every week; if I hadn’t heard or received anything, she’d email them again. I touched base with her  three times; the fourth week, a check showed up out of the blue.

Conclusion

When I originally replied to the reader, I had no idea where they were based. They could have filed a complaint with the Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection unit.

The DOT wouldn’t have had jurisdiction on this case as everything happened outside of the US, but airlines tend to take complaints that they receive via DOT more seriously (and it will hurt airlines on the DOT complaint statistics as well).

I am glad that the reader was able to recover the out of pocket expenses due to the serious flight delays, although I would have put a value of $125 for the Starpoints used.

The reader could ask for some compensation miles too due to the hoops that they had to take to get Etihad cover the expenses.

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