The rosy scenario: Plan a vacation with family to Europe. Book airline tickets with Etihad for its wonderful reputation for hospitality. Get tickets booked through BudgetAir. Eagerly dream about European cruise.  That very same night, a massive itinerary change by Etihad that adds an overnight stay at Abu Dhabi. First prick in our happiness balloon. The email says that we can cancel and claim full refund. Okay, it is a minor hitch or so we think.

The nightmare begins: Call and email repeatedly. No responses at all. Reach out to Etihad Customer Care in Abu Dhabi. First response is that they can’t help. Reach out to travel agent is what they tell us.

Engagement with Etihad: After I documented the tragic experience with BudgetAir in this post and tweet it to Etihad, there is a prompt reply to share the case at their id. Happily I do that. Then receive a call from their Customer Care Center in Abu Dhabi. The man at the other end was very helpful. Yes, as an exception, they will process our refund directly. Etihad was a dream come true. We were directed to visit Etihad’s Bangalore office. On 19th August, our tickets were cancelled on Etihad’s website. We were now waiting for Etihad to send us the refund directly. Their Mumbai call center confirmed that we will get our refund soon.

The betrayal: While we were awaiting Etihad to send us the refund, we get a reverse invoice from BudgetAir giving details of full refund of over $3000 on 20th August. Confused we reached out to Etihad who still maintained that they had processed the refund on 24th August. Their social media team on twitter asked to wait 5-10 days for the refund to reach us.

Etihad customer service

That time gone, they said wait 2 more days.

Etihad customer service

That time was gone too. Suddenly, they started saying that BudgetAir will give us the refund. Followup with them. They can’t do any more.

Etihad customer service

The disbelief: This shattered us. How could they do this? Didn’t I raise a red flag against BudgetAir before the tickets were canceled? Why did they still send the refund back to them? Shouldn’t the refund be in a disputed status or something? Now that they sent the refund back, isn’t it their responsibility to make sure that the refund comes back to us?

Etihad customer service

Etihad customer service

Apparently not! Why? Because they are callous and just don’t care.

Etihad customer service

BudgetAir is now sleeping on our money perhaps putting it in a bank account where they can earn fat interest. Who knows if they will ever refund it? What hold do we have on them? The behemoth Etihad who have control over them, can do something but they clearly want to side with cheats and swindlers like BudgetAir than fare-paying customers who fly Etihad.

This is despicable customer service on part of Etihad. Appalling because they are in a hospitality business. They ought to care about their customer’s grievances. How can they continue to work with Contractors who have reputation for swindling customers? Just google BudgetAir and Etihad and you will find many sorry tales involving both of them. Clearly, Etihad is aware of these scams and chooses to turn a blind eye.

Their Customer Service is the pits. Their only strategy is to deflect, dilly dally and essentially not do anything. The flip flops they have done with me on both their email id and twitter messages are astounding! Their standard reply is “We have forwarded your query to the concerned Department.” Or “Reach out to your travel agent.” Is this what you call any form of resolution Etihad Airways?

I will be reaching out to Civil Aviation Ministry in India to complain about them. I also want to reach out to some right-thinking higher placed officials of Etihad who can see the travesty of justice here and help. I have already emailed Etihad’s CEO, James Hogan and India head, Neerja Bhatia. If anyone has any other contacts especially in the media, do share. It will be great help. I will leave no stone unturned to get what is legally due to me. Also, I am thinking that all this harassment should be compensated as well. In my wildest dream, I would not have imagined Etihad’s conduct in all this.

A notice has already been sent to in the Netherlands. Next step is to hire a Collection Agency. For Etihad, I think a Consumer complaint is definitely on the cards. In the future, they must not take hapless customers for  a ride.

Moral of the Story: Do not book with Etihad. If you do, be aware that they have a non-existent Customer Service. You will be running around in circles to get what is your due even when they tell you that they will help you.



49 Thoughts on “Atrocious Customer Service by Etihad Airways

  1. This is really terrible Rachna, to be in this mess for so long. Do they not care for their reputation or is it the their firm belief that nothing will happen to them, given the slowness of Indian law to do anything? Social media shaming does not seem to be helping either. I mean, what more can you do? I really feel your pain 🙁
    Shailaja recently posted…Connected yet disconnected: A true story for us allMy Profile

  2. This is awful! How can they be so , I cannot even find the words… I wish I could do something to help..I hope this gets mitigated soon…This isn’t fair at all..
    Nabanita recently posted…Just Another Birthday Story..My Profile

  3. Oh no.. The title shud be ET TU. . Etihad. .I did not expect them to behave like all. I really thought they were a better airline and professional but I guess end of the day it’s all about money.

    Well I am surly going ti think twice looking at this airline..

    Well I am going to put it on tweet more people know about it..
    Bikramjit recently posted…I – Interesting Fact (ABC wednesday)My Profile

  4. This is so disgusting.. Thanks for sharing Rachna and making us aware. I hope things sort out soon..

  5. What a nightmare and these are companies that spend millions of dollars on ads to hire movie stars. Do they know all that dollars is going waste if they can not keep the current customers happy ?
    Prasad Np recently posted…When desi Traveler Met Real Solo TravelerMy Profile

  6. Oh god it’s the nightmare of any traveller. I can’t believe these big companies can be so callous about customer service. I will never use them for sure. Yes do take action and don’t leave them. Is there a way this can make to some high profile news site? Maybe that would prompt their action. I had a case of fraud transaction with icici, for three years I fought and when I took the help of high profile activists, I got my money back… no questions asked.
    Rajlakshmi recently posted…[Zentangle] GlanceMy Profile

    • Yes, they spend so much on advertising and care nothing about what their fare-paying customers go through. Do they think that this negative publicity will do them good? It fails me. Do share any media contacts that you may have. I want to make this tale reach far and wide. Thanks, Rajlakshmi.

  7. Gosh, this is so bad! I am tweeting this again.
    Parul recently posted…Sunday Punch #40My Profile

  8. What a horrific experience.
    C. Suresh recently posted…Standing on tiptoeMy Profile

  9. Having flown Eitihad, I had a good impression of the airlines, till I came across this back and forth shuttling that you have been going through. This is pathetic.
    Somali K Chakrbarti recently posted…How Brands promote content with BlogsMy Profile

  10. This is so horrible. I really wish this gets sorted out soon. Atrocious seems too small a word to use for them actually. You should have had your money back already. I thought with Eitihad intervening this would be sorted soon, and now it drags on.

  11. Not sure if dealing directly with them would have made a difference.. I have been many a time wanted to go through Expedia, Budget Air, Make My trip, but have been scared.. Reading your post, good decision… To that extent, I have found Jet to be quite helpful and professional both in communication and in assistance… In terms of coverage, have you tried to put this in any of the papers? That may help…. All the best

  12. very unfortunate. Will share this.
    Shrinidhi Hande recently posted…Kaunas Castle on the banks of Neris RiverMy Profile

  13. oh God! this is terrible! 🙁

    I travelled to US for the first time on Ethihad and it was all fine – but then my tkt was booked thru K’s company.
    Such terrible customer service!! I didn’t expect this from such a reputed airlines.. Sad really

    I hope it gets resolved soon..
    Pixie recently posted…Monday Musings – its usually always about foodMy Profile

  14. Pingback: How dreams of a ‘European cruise’ went down the drain for this writer! | Newsmobile

  15. Whatever happened to the good old idea- there is no business without customer? Seems like this is becoming a worldwide trend – keep selling without any concern for customer service. Hope your situation gets resolved soon. Terrible, really!
    Beloo Mehra recently posted…The Organisational Cycle: The Age of Reasoning (Part 1)My Profile

  16. Well, look on the bright side – you got a great blog and publicity out of it 😉
    In my travel experience Lufthansa has been the best in terms of handling tricky situations, but this last trip didn’t go flawlessly, so I’m about to contact them. Curious what kind of blog it would lead to 🙂 Strength, darling!
    iliana recently posted…No ExitMy Profile

  17. It’s so unprofessional and not happening at all, Rachna. Hope you get your money soon. It’s so unethical for a company that has a reputation of being among the best in terms of customer service. Good that you shared your experience.
    Vishal Bheeroo recently posted…#100WordsonSaturday: ‘Swimming against the tide’My Profile

  18. Rachna you took so many pains to get justice but no use.I shudder to think of how the elderly with a tight budget can deal with these unethical practices.
    indu chhibber recently posted…The # friends we have,the company we keep.My Profile

    • Oh, I will get justice. It may take some time but I will. I agree with your point that the world is increasingly becoming a difficult place for all including the elderly.

  19. Udayashankar on September 16, 2015 at 1:15 pm said:

    The pain you are going through will definitely be seen by the Almighty,

    Any reply u got from Neerja Bhatia??

  20. Oh my!
    You’ve seem to have been put thro’ a lot.

    Thank you for the ‘beware’ message.
    dNambiar recently posted…Dam BejewelledMy Profile

  21. Oh my God! First BudgetAir and now Etihad Airways too! How unscrupulous can people get?

    You definitely deserve compensation for this ordeal. Hope everything sorts out soon.
    Kaddu recently posted…Book Review: The Apocalypse Trigger by Douglas MisquitaMy Profile

  22. I seriously didn’t think it will take so long upon seeing the immediate response from Etihad. I think it is cheaper to fly to NZ and break their office…Idiots! You know I am facing/fighting a similar case with the sellers of our washer and dryer. We bought them last DEC 3rd and paid more than $2000 and still not have the exact product yet. Just telling this to make you feel better that you have some company here 🙂 But I am very sorry man.

    • hehe Nowadays, nothing surprises me. Strange that this one incident has made me so cynical. I guess, I will no longer trust anything unless I see the money in the bank account.

  23. I hope this mess gets sorted out soon.

    Surprised that a reputed airlines like Etihad takes no responsibility for bookings made through travel sites like Budget Air.

    I guess this is a lesson for all. Always book through the Airlines site.
    Purba recently posted…Moved to TearsMy Profile

    • I hope so too. Well, in the course of research, I came across some sorry tales of airline refunds too. I guess Customer Service is very low on their priorities.

  24. Its a terrible mess indeed. On top of it, this was supposed to be a vacation. I hope you get your money fast.I am sure your blogs on social media also wont go unnoticed.
    Asha recently posted…The Perennial SnifflesMy Profile

  25. Rachna,It is terrible to know what you had to go through and hope it gets sorted out soon.I wonder how they will keep their business up and running smooth with such a poor customer focus.I wish you all the best in this ‘uphill battle’.
    Will surely share….

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