I am writing to express utter disappointment in my experience with Swiss International Air Lines. The customer service team’s first instinct seems to be to deny responsibility, rather than to serve the customer.
I travelled from Singapore to Freetown (Sierra Leone) on Swiss Air with three other companions. Our flight departed Singapore on May 3, arriving in Zurich at 6.10am on May 4.
As we were transiting through Zurich to Brussels, a companion of mine was denied entrance to the flight because she lacked a Schengen visa that prevented her from proceeding on to Belgium.
We split ways, with two members going ahead while I stayed behind to help my friend and prevent her being deported. After three hours of negotiation, Swiss Air offered new tickets that would take three additional days to get to Freetown, via a two-night stop in Johannesburg – for which they refused to provide accommodation. With no monetary resources to hand, and no access to wifi, I was pressured into accepting any way out.
With the matter “resolved”, my friend was released from the security area and I was finally able to connect to wifi. I got in touch with another friend in Singapore who helped us book entirely new tickets to get to Freetown just 12 hours later than originally intended.
The ordeal was further extended by the airline’s bungling the handling of our luggage, which we were only able to retrieve four days later, plus Swiss Air’s consistently sluggish response to emails and inconsistent replies via multiple phone calls.
While I fully acknowledge that there was fault on our part by failing to ensure my friend had valid documentation, Swiss Air was extremely negligent of their responsibilities.
The Convention on International Civil Aviation Annex 9 Section 3.4, states it is the responsibility of airlines to:
Clause 3.34 1: “Examine passengers and ensure that they have the correct documentation (passport/travel document and visa where required) and to deny boarding to improperly documented passengers”;
Clause 5.4: “Ensure return conveyance of persons who are refused admission, within a prescribed time frame and to advise the authorities of the travel arrangements”, and;
Clause 5.9: “To pay the costs of returning an inadmissible person that may include accommodation, transport, costs of escorts including travel and accommodation costs, fees to obtain travel documents and visas for the passenger and escorts, meals, wages paid to escorts, expenses incurred for interpreters and medical and other personnel who may be involved in the removal.”
Instead, Swiss Air has been entirely uncooperative. It has refused to offer any sort of refund for any segment of the flight and additionally voided my return because I had not fulfilled the entire segment of the flight.
I am extremely disappointed with my experience with Swiss Air. They have proven themselves to be completely disinterested in their customers, and I hope that this time they will at least be willing to clarify their commitment to decent customer service.
Jensen Chiang, Singapore