Friday, November 19, 2021

Why was this young woman from Kerala studying in Zurich not allowed to board a plane?

Chennai: A young woman from Kerala who is studying in Zurich, Bibiya Suzanne Kakkattu, has alleged that the check-in counter staff of Sri Lankan Airlines denied her entry into the plane for her air travel from Kochi to Zurich via Columba and Doha, despite her following all rules and regulations.

Bibiya has taken to Facebook to narrate her bitter experience. In a video she has posted she says that the check-in counter staff of Sri Lankan Airlines (who operate flights in code-share with Qatar Airways) denied her entry into the plane. Some reports suggest that she was denied entry because she was wearing a churidar but from what she says in her FB video one comes to know there were some issues between SriLankan Airlines and Qatar Airways.

According to Bibiya she had booked her ticket directly with Qatar Airways and the flight schedule involved a flight from Kochi airport to Columbo, Srilanka, and then a flight from Columbo to Doha, Qatar, and then a final flight from Doha to Zurich.

A native of Koothattukulam in Kerala, Bibiya is a student at Zurich.

Bibiya says that she followed all rules and regulations for international travel. She had done an RT-PCR test for Covid, carried her vaccination certificate, passport and was at the Kochi international airport at the prescribed time by the airlines. 

"On top of that I hold a Swiss passport with OCI card," she noted.

After many repeated attempts to understand the reason for the denial, she was informed that Srilankan Airlines do not have any code-sharing contract with Qatar Airways anymore. So she asked for a written confirmation letter so that she can show it as proof to Qatar Airways which they denied and didn't want to give any proof of her attempt.

Shocked by the response of SriLankan Airlines, she then contacted the customer support of Qatar airways, who confirmed to her that her booking is correct and she should be allowed to board. But the representatives of Srilankan Arlines outright refused to talk to Qatar Airways representatives in any form or shape. And also refused to talk or call either Qatar Airways or Srilankan Airlines representatives. 

"Furthermore, I also contacted the embassy also to try to seek some help. After hearing my situation, the diplomat also wanted to talk to the representatives of Srilankan airlines, but the representatives of the SriLankan Airlines India Staff refused to talk to the diplomat also. The diplomat was very surprised about the rude behavior which she experienced," Bibiya says.

"This has been a very horrible experience for me. I feel cheated not just for the insane amount of money that I spent on a ticket that I was not allowed to use but also I will be forced to book a last-minute very expensive ticket as being a student, I need to travel to continue my studies, she said.

"It is my hard-earned money and saving which I had to use to buy a last-minute ticket. I was not even offered a compensation ticket or a refund. I feel cheated by Qatar Airways for not showing the responsibility to at least arrange a flight ticket to Zurich. In addition, I would like to also point out that this has been a very difficult experience for me also emotionally. The handling of the whole situation by Srilankan Airlines at the airport not only made me feel helpless but also resulted in an emotional breakdown for me at the airport. This was a very difficult as well as embarrassing situation for me, crying in a public place like this, feeling so helpless. This in my opinion is no way to treat a woman in this country," Bibiya signed off.

18/11/21 New Indian Express

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