An airline passenger had a foul travel experience when she was left abandoned on Cape Town International Airport on Christmas Day. Picture: Supplied.
An airline passenger had a foul travel experience when she was left abandoned on Cape Town International Airport on Christmas Day. Picture: Supplied.

Airline leaves passenger stranded during festive travel

By Chevon Booysen Time of article published Jan 4, 2021

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Cape Town - A local traveller has slammed German airline Lufthansa for leaving her stuck at Cape Town International Airport on Christmas day.

Lynne Arnotte told the Cape Times she was due to fly from Cape Town to Amsterdam on December 25 and then onwards to Barcelona but the airline had to cancel her ticket after Germany and the Netherlands placed a ban on arrivals from South Africa, Britain, and Northern Ireland until January 6 to curb the spread of Covid-19 when a new infectious strain had emerged.

“I contacted the Lufthansa support. They assisted me with rebooking me onto a new flight which was due to depart (December 25). I was issued booking confirmation and my flight reflected clearly on their app as confirmed. I checked it repeatedly. I had taken the required Covid-19 PCR test at my own expense, tested negative, had all of the necessary paperwork and was ready to go,” said Arnotte.

But her attempts to continue her travel plans were in vain as the electronic booking confirmation appeared to have not been done correctly and the airline was not available for passenger support via their customer support channels, she said.

“We struggled for three hours to get hold of any Lufthansa assistance centre. There is no contact number in South Africa that functions out of office hours or deals with ticketing emergencies. Due to the fact that Lufthansa did not have any active flights their own airport support at their counter was not there, the window was boarded shut and no information in the case of any emergency was posted.

“I was abandoned with no assistance, no accommodation assistance and no flight and no real way to contact Lufthansa support. I understand that these are unprecedented times but this clear lack of any customer service leaves me very fearful of flying,” said Arnotte.

Lufthansa spokesperson, Anja Stenger, said: “We apologise for the inconvenience caused to Ms. Arnott. Upon request, it was confirmed to us that Ms. Arnott had been reimbursed for her ticket costs.”

Arnotte said although she received confirmation that her tickets would be reimbursed, this was a “rubbish resolution” for the predicament they had put her in.

“I do not think that any airline abandoning their passengers and being completely out of contact at the time of flight is acceptable. That is a big issue.

“I think there are a huge number of people being held ‘hostage’ by the airlines. They are hard to reach, unable to do much in their personal capacity and basically put the customer in a very uncomfortable position,” said Arnotte.

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