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

First, despite being told over and over again that our email security systems do not permit the delivery of html content (so all I get is sender, title and any plain text parts of the message) Etihad persists in sending what are, when I get them, blank e-mails. I point out that even their own legal department understands that people block html – and we can tell that because the only thing I receive in the body of a mail is a disclaimer notice.

I make enquiries about the EU compensation scheme where I am denied boarding without good reason. It turns out that Etihad can behave like this with impunity because EU considers an onward flight transit stop to be a separate flight. Therefore, even though I’m on a single ticket booking out of the EU, I’m outside the scheme. Had I made my transit stop in Amsterdam or Paris, for example, I would have been within the scheme. That’s a useful fact if you are making multi-hop flights. For a long-haul flight, for circumstances such as mine, the compensation is set at 600 euros per passenger but only for flights, not itineraries, with a direct EU element which kind of makes a mockery of the compensation scheme if you are hubbing through anywhere outside the EU.

Eventually, someone works out how to send a mail I can read. It’s full of standardised platitudes – and offers me a derisory number of air-miles in compensation. I point out that I’m never going to fly on their airline again, after using the ticket I’ve already bought. And even if I was going to fly with them again, the air-miles aren’t enough for even a single sector. And I don’t feel like roaming through an on-line catalogue to see if there is anything I might want that such a paltry number of miles would provide. So air miles are not a valid form of compensation.

They ignore me.

I go back onto social media. Someone who might actually be a manager sends an email telling me that she will get it dealt with. I get an e-mail from the customer service department.