Compensation Clinic: Thai First Class Service Failure, Lies & Mileage Compensation To Star Alliance Partner Program

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This weeks Compensation Clinic case stems from a Thai Airways First Class flight from Osaka to Bangkok that wasn’t exactly excellent, if not quite the opposite.

Thai Airways First Class is usually ok for the price they command (quite low) but when compared to the competition which also offers First their product usually doesn’t hold up too well.

I booked the ticket as Incheon – Osaka (with a long transfer to go into town) – Bangkok one way and Thai uses an Airbus A380 on this route which is the reason why I picked it so to use on board internet.

The flight from Seoul to Osaka on Asiana was fantastic, brand new A350 and excellent service. Unfortunately that stopped as soon as the flight landed in KIX and I was back at the airport later.

Thai Airways Lounge at Osaka Airport is an absolute hellhole. Small, dark, low ceilings and it smelled horrible. I asked for the ANA Lounge and was promised the staff (trainee) would bring me there. Half way en route the lady (non-japanese) suddenly stopped and realized she doesn’t know where the lounge is located. I eventually found it myself, in fact I should have refused the escort from the get go as apart from security checkpoints they are usually slow and inefficient.

At the boarding gate the staff checked the passport three times. Really? As on my last two Thai Airways First Class flights there was always something broken on my seat I made it a point to ask the station manager if today everything is in order or if I should change the seat. He assured me everything was ok and that there were ‘no defects today’.

Once on board and settled (First Class was booked full) I noticed the staff was already way over their head serving everybody wrong drink orders, something which should continue throughout the flight.

After takeoff it turned out that the internet was inoperative and that this was known already when the flight was on the ground. The pre-ordered meal Lobster Thermidor was then served with the inside still raw. I ended up having a beef steak from Business Class instead. After the same crew member served the third incorrect drink order in a row and one of the passengers in First coughed loudly with his open mouth for more than an hour (disgusting!) I decided to abandon my seat in First and sit back in the empty Business cabin for the remaining 4:30h of my flight.

I requested a receipt for it just in case, even though I didn’t expect to get much or anything back for it, sitting in First for the sake of it, just to be coughed on and with awful service is a no win situation.

This was probably the worst flight I ever had in First Class related to on board experience and ground services overall. Upon arriving in BKK they discovered the pick up buggy has no more space because other passengers had so many suitcases and shopping bags. I decided to just walk instead of letting the Thai staff invent the wheel new and try to resolve the problem. I was at immigration even before the first buggy arrived.

After sending an email to Customer Relations the response was a complete joke, pretty much denying any of the incidents noted even took place:

… Your evaluation of the Royal Orchid Lounge at Kansai Airport have been noted.  The Station Manager had acknowledged your comments for corrective action to be taken.  According to the report, a staff was assigned to escort you to ANA lounge in accordance with your request.  The escorting staff reported that she was stopped by other fellow passenger for gate location guidance and she confirmed that she did not stop to ask for the lounge location as you understood. 

We are sorry to learn about the wi-fi inoperative on board this flight. We do realise how inconvenient it was for our passengers experiencing such malfunction and we try to keep them to a minimum by following stringent maintenance schedules for all our equipment.  Despite our efforts, defects can sometimes go undetected and crop up while the aircraft is in service. We do assure you that the Technical Department has already been notified for corrective action.   Please accept our sincere apologies for the overall inconvenience and unfavourable experience.   

Your remarks about  lapse in good service on the part of our cabin crew have also been noted.  The cabin crew responsible to look after your seat were contacted and they confirmed that the  correctly served sparkling water for you. …

Ridiculous. So their response to customer complaints is that the staff denies it took place and therefore it didn’t happen? Maybe passengers should take video evidence in the future (in fact I did take some).

They eventually offered 5,000 Miles in compensation which I requested to be added to my Singapore Airlines account as I consider these miles to be most valuable.

I think the last passage of this email should have better been cut out considering the experience on this flight and the subsequent customer service.

The miles showed up on the Singapore Airlines account like this:

Interesting indeed that Star Alliance airlines can communicate between each other to credit points to a member account for customer service recovery purposes. Should you ever have a problem with a Star Alliance airline maybe remember to request miles if suitable and request to have those credited to a partner program. John mentioned that he heard about a 7,000 miles limit for such transactions.

Conclusion

The compensation was rather terrible considering I ended up sitting in Business more than half of the flight but again I found that a better choice than ending up getting sick from the guy coughing through the cabin, beside the fact that it was so loud even my headphones couldn’t cancel it out. Once I changed cabins and had a different flight attendant service was also much better for the remainder of the flight. At least I squeezed 5k miles out of them that Thai Airways has to pay Singapore Airlines for, better than nothing.

Thai Airways reply from customer relations was really a joke and I forwarded them links with uploads to the video files, proving they are lying to the customer once again. No response to that as expected. This reflects an unfortunate pattern with customer service in Thailand and South East Asia to a further extent where they are neither ashamed or keen at all to make up for problems that occurred due to the service providers negligence. They rather come up with a lie and then not even blink when caught up in it.

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