Tue, Sep 24, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Man complains of bad airline service

INDIFFERENT?China Airlines disputed a passenger’s claim that there were no ground staff to help the man, who said his nonagenarian grandfather almost had a heart attack

By Huang Li-hsiang, Chung Li-hua and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

The grandfather of Ni Ching-tai, an instructor at Cheng Shiu University in Greater Kaohsiung, waves while taking a China Airlines flight to Taiwan on Sept. 12.

Photo courtesy of Ni Ching-tai

A man has filed a complaint accusing China Airlines (CAL) of indifference and bad service, saying his 90-something grandfather almost had a heart attack because they had to walk a kilometer at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to retrieve their luggage.

CAL officials responded that the passenger, Ni Ching-tai (倪京台), could have asked for wheelchair service when he and his grandfather arrived at the airport on Sept. 12, and that there were members of ground staff on duty who could have helped them.

Ni, an instructor of applied foreign language at Cheng Shiu University in Greater Kaohsiung, told reporters that he and his ailing nonagenarian grandfather had to walk a long way from the airport’s Terminal One to Terminal Two, because the airline changed their flight’s arrival gate at the last minute.

In his complaint, Ni said that he and his grandfather took a CAL flight to China on Sept. 9 to visit their relatives and took another CAL flight on their return from Nanjing, China.

“During the flight, the airline announced that it had changed the arrival gate to A9 in Terminal One, but that our luggage had been sent to Terminal Two, so all passengers had to walk about 1km to get their baggage,” Ni said.

He said it would have helped if the airline had provided wheelchairs, because during the walk to Terminal Two his grandfather suffered shortness of breath and “almost had a heart attack.” After sitting down to rest, his grandfather’s condition improved.

Ni said he did not ask crew members beforehand for a wheelchair because he thought it was only a short walk.

“However, we found that the new arrival gate was quite far. We then tried to look for CAL’s ground crew to ask for help, but we didn’t find anyone, nor could we find any wheelchair,” he said.

Although there were a few mobile electric carts, there were no drivers, Ni added.

“We can understand the airline had to change arrival gates, but they should have considered the needs of elderly passengers or those who have difficulty walking. It was just unbelievable — that we couldn’t find any CAL ground crew to help us out,” he said.

Ni also accused the airline of being indifferent to his complaint. He said he telephoned the airline’s customer service center a few days later, but the person who answered did not take his contact information, or his flight reservation number and ticket details.

“The person only said: ‘We will find out more about the situation’ and then hung up,” Ni said.

“I felt that CAL’s customer service staff were not concerned and did not take my complaint seriously,” he said.

In response, a CAL official said that changes in arrival gates are made by the airport authorities, and not the airline. The airline said it had investigated the matter and found that there were ground crew at the arrival gate, and they said no passenger had asked for a wheelchair or an electric cart.

If the ground crew on duty had been negligent, the airline would make a review and rectify the problem, the official said, adding that the airline has been making efforts to contact Ni.

CAL also issued a statement urging passengers to notify the airline or travel agencies beforehand should they need wheelchair service. CAL said if the request was made at the arrival gate, ground crew would offer assistance upon request.

Meanwhile, CAL’s Corporate Communications Office said it had issued a press statement and apologized to Ni about the service he received at the customer service call center.

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