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13.02.2023 Featured Qatar Airways Fails to Make Full Refund After Cancelling Nigerian Family’s N2.5m Flight

Published 13th Feb, 2023

By Tola Owoyele

Jude Okey (surname anonymous), an Abuja resident, has narrated how Qatar Airways withheld his N360,360 after the airline cancelled a flight that was supposed to take him and his family from Doha in Qatar, to Amsterdam, in the Netherlands.

Okey told FIJ that the flight was originally scheduled for January 7, only for the airline to abruptly cancel it without returning his money.

“I booked the flight on October 22, 2022. It was an Abuja to Amsterdam round trip ticket for me and my family and it cost N2,518,732. The trip was supposed to be on January 7. It was a two-legged trip: Abuja to Doha, and then Doha to Amsterdam,” Okey said.

READ ALSO: UK-Based Nigerian Student Cancelled Flight Over Change of School Resumption Date. Qatar Airways ‘Seized’ His 1m

“When we went online to carry out some of the pre-flight protocols, we saw that the connecting flight from Doha to Amsterdam had been cancelled. We then called the airline to tell them that the cancellation would make our trip a bit difficult.

One of the Flight Tickets Booked By Okey
One of the Flight Tickets Booked By Okey

“I was supposed to travel with two kids. I also added that the lay-over that we were then going to have to contend with as a result of this, was going to be unsustainable. It was definitely going to disrupt our plans. To that end, we asked if it was possible to get our full refund when we cancel the flight.

“As a matter of fact, the flight Qatar Airways was planning to put us on was going to be later in the day and that was not okay for us.

“More importantly, and going by the airline’s regulation and aviation practices generally, if an airline cancels a flight and then reschedule it after two hours of cancellation, passengers are entitled to a full refund. If the rescheduling takes place within two hours after the cancellation, passengers are then not entitled to a refund.

“In our case, and because the rescheduling would take several hours, the airline officials themselves told us we could cancel the flight and get a full refund. When they gave us that confirmation, we cancelled the flight.”

QATAR AIRWAYS FAILS TO MAKE FULL REFUND

A mail Okey sent to Qatar Airways
A mail Okey sent to Qatar Airways

While interacting with Okey, the Qatar Airways officials said that the airline would make the full refund within 45 days. In addition, they also requested for his family members’ passport details and other important details before the refund could be made.

“On January 23, I suddenly received an alert showing that a part of the flight cost had been refunded back to me. Out of N2,518,732, Qatar Airways only paid back N2,158,372. They actually did not send me any mail or pre-notification that would have reflected the exact amount they were planning to pay me back,” Okey said.

“On the same day, I immediately sent them a mail, letting them know that I was supposed to get a full refund and not a part-payment. I then demanded for an explanation on why I have not been refunded in full.

READ ALSO: Out of N1.1m, Qatar Airways Refunds N973,633 to UK-Based Nigerian Student After FIJ’s Story

“Three days later, when I did not get any response from the airline, I sent them a follow-up email, referencing the one I had initially sent. They still did not respond to me.”

NO RESPONSE FROM QATAR AIRWAY’S LAGOS OFFICE

The Abuja resident said he then resorted to calling the Airline’s customer care lines when its officials failed to respond to him via mail.

“They checked their records and also confirmed that we are entitled to a full refund. However, they said they were not the ones to process the refund, and thereafter referred us to their Lagos office. Since January 28 till this moment, the two Lagos office lines have refused to pick my calls,” said Okey.

“I sent another email to the Lagos office but they still did not respond to my request. When I then called the customer complaint desk again, they escalated the matter and gave me the complaint ticket. Again, they said they had escalated the matter to Lagos and that the Lagos office would pay. We waited but nothing still came from Lagos.

“I then wrote back the airline’s headquarters and copied Lagos to register my displeasure with the way the matter was being handled.

“This is my money; the cancellation wasn’t of my doing, give me my money back. This time, the headquarters did not reply, Lagos office did not also reply.”

THE TREATMENT FROM QATAR AIRWAY’S LAGOS OFFICE

Okey said he eventually got a call from the Lagos office on February 4, but whenever he picked up the call, it was immediately cut off. He said the incident happened twice.

READ ALSO: 6 Months After Flight Cancellation, Dana Air Yet to Refund Stockbroker

“I decided to call the number back and when I was eventually able to speak to one of Qatar Airway’s representatives, she said the person that initially called me would call me back. Till we speak, I am yet to get a call from them.

“It is clear that these airlines deliberately do these things to frustrate customers. They expect that you’d become irritated and leave the money for them. They see it as a kind of game. I absolutely want my money back. There has to be a system put in place to punish these airlines whenever they behave this way.”

FIJ REACHED OUT TO QATAR AIRWAYS

When FIJ sent a mail to Qatar Airways for comments on the matter on Friday, Maria Katherine, one of its officials, responded by stating that “she was not in a position to speak to a third party on the issue”.

“Please allow us to share that due to our data protection policies, we are unable to communicate directly with third party entities, family members, friends, spouses, travel agents or employers without signed letter of authorization from passenger attached with passport details,” Maria wrote.

“In order for us to review your concerns, we kindly request for you to provide the abovementioned documents or alternatively for you to advise the concerned passenger to write to us directly in order for us to address their concerns, requests or feedback from their own email address.”

THE RULE GOVERNING QATAR AIRWAY’S FLIGHT CANCELLATION

According to Airhelp, a claims management company that promotes and enforces air passenger rights in cases of flight disruptions globally, with any Qatar Airways flight cancellation, passengers are entitled to being offered an alternative flight to their destinations.

READ ALSO: 17 Months After Failed Flight, Dana Air Hasn’t Returned Customer’s N68,400

They are also entitled to getting their monies back with a full refund if that is what they prefer.

In addition, if the flight was cancelled less than 14 days before departure to a European airport, EU laws say passengers may be entitled to up to $700 per person in compensation.

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Published 13th Feb, 2023

By Tola Owoyele

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