We booked an Iberia flight for 2 adults and 2 children from Alicante over Madrid back to Zurich to catch a flight with another airline from Zurich to Asia. We calculated a stopover in Zurich of 4 hours to make sure that there is enough time to check in and to catch the flight. We didn’t worry too much about the stopover in Madrid because the stopover was 1 hour 30 minutes with the same airline.
Leaving from Alicante, boarding was 30 minutes late, once boarded the plane left 30 minutes later so we started with a delay of one hour. Not such a big deal because there was still time to change flights in Madrid. We arrived in Madrid just in time to catch the next plane. But, unfortunately we could not leave the aircraft immediately because there was no bus to bring us to the terminal. We waited another 30 minutes in the plane for the airport shuttle bus to come.
Flight delays are normal and can happen. Usually, after leaving the airplane at the terminal there are airline ground staffs assisting passengers with the connecting flights. Unfortunately this was not the case with our Iberia flight. We arrived at the Madrid airport terminal with no idea what’s going to happen next, we didn’t know the gate of our next flight and we didn’t know if the plane is waiting for us or not. The flight to Zurich did not show any longer on the flight information boards therefore we had to go to the Iberia service counter to find out more. We lost another 15 minutes to find the counter. One would assume that in the home airport of the airline there will be several counters or at least the counter will be central located, but this was not the case.
Finally we arrived at the counter, in the hope that the connecting plane did wait for us and to get some fast information on what’s happening next.
Over 50 people were queuing with long faces and only two unmotivated staff were attending them. One staff taking care of the first and business class passengers and one for the remaining 50 people. There were another 3 staff in the back office, not sure what they were doing there but certainly not attending any guests. We asked someone in front how long they were waiting, we were told over one hour!
We found out from other people waiting in the line that the plane has gone and that most probably the next available flight will be the next day. So we started to queue and to re-book our flights from Zurich to Asia.
After a while of waiting, new Iberia staff arrived at the counter, we assumed they came to assist the existing crew there, but they only came to replace them. So it was back to square, 2 staff attending the bunch of 50 guests. There were many delays on that day, the queue seems not to become smaller.
It was finally our turn after over an hour of waiting. Mr. David Cuartero Villabella, attended to us and told us what we assumed already “No more flight for the day, you have to take the next one tomorrow”. He printed new boarding passes and vouchers for a hotel stay with meals for us. Without any apology for the troubles and the waiting he threw them in front of us, while saying “Here your boarding pass, hotel and meal voucher, go now to the bus station”. We felt like it is our mistake that the flight was delayed! Again, it was not explained what’s happening next, such as what will happen with the luggage and where to find the bus station. So we had to ask and got another unfriendly reply. Before we left, he gave us a disclaimer paper saying “Here, that’s your rights, it’s not our problem that you missed your other flights, goodbye now”. So we left to catch the bus to the hotel.
We had to change the flights from Zurich to Asia and because of this some other connecting flights were not available anymore. We had to book new flights. All in all we had to pay 800 Euros to change the flights and to book new ones. We have a travel insurance, hopefully they will cover the costs. But we need a letter from Iberia explaining why there was a delay in order to claim money from the insurance. We are still waiting for a reply from them, …..
Again, delays can happen for several reasons, and we have to accept them. However the way Iberia is handling them, leaving passengers on their own, topped with the rudeness of the staff is not acceptable at all. We will certainly avoid flying with Ibera at all cost.
Use Iberia on your own risk, you have been warned 🙂
Also note, on short distance flights there are no free drinks or snacks served at all, for a coffee they charge a cocky 2.50 Euro! At least the low cost airline AirBerlin serves water, coffee, tea and nuts for free.
More about Iberia and its service culture at ConsumerAffairs.com.
Update: Iberia indeed is an experience of its own. It is very difficult yo get in touch with them. You have to fill out an online form with the concern and wait for days or weeks for them to reply back. Once they answer, there is no email to reply back, so you have to use the online form again. However if you contact them on FaceBook via message, it speeds things up, it seems whoever manages the FaceBook for them must have been trained by another airline. Anyway, since my delay was due to air traffic, all the cost is not covered by the insurance. Thanks Iberia for a wonderful ending of my family holiday.