20150316 I booked a flight with Etihad Airways. This is what happened next…

I’m told that they are busy and that’s why it took them a month to reply, nothing about the fact that the reply was prompted. They make a small increase in the number of air-miles. It’s still not enough for a sector from anywhere I might happen to be or to anywhere might want to go – it’s not even enough for me to upgrade one of the sectors on my return ticket. And there is no way, I remind them, that I’m ever going to have another flight with them.

But, as often happens, life intervenes. I needed to return to the UK at very short notice because my mother died unexpectedly. I know, I thought. We can have a solution that saves everybody face, saves me about five hundred pounds and costs them nothing. Absolutely nothing. I write. I know my ticket has a fixed return date, how about you waive that condition and let me get a flight tonight, I asked. No reply.

There are no published phone numbers for “customer service” for Etihad. But there is a sales number. I call. The man on the sales desk is extremely helpful. He wants to swap the ticket at no cost but a) it’s not supposed to be swapped at all, apparently, and b) if he did swap it he would have to impose a substantial penalty, disproportionate to the original ticket price. His manager was, similarly sympathetic.

But, he said, he could not even telephone the Customer Service department because a) despite the fact it’s a global, round the clock business, their complaints department work 9-5, Monday to Friday, UK time and

b) even if it was within those hours, the complaints department don’t publish a phone number so even he can’t call them.

I flew KLM. Via Amsterdam. But the Etihad saga was still not over.

A month or so later, still no reply to my e-mails, so I again posted a note on social media. Again, I got a blank e-mail. I complained,. They re-sent in plain text. It said: