Tourism Fails

Tourism Fails

As someone who travels constantly, I have numerous interactions with airlines, hotels, tour providers, and everything in between. I witness the superlative and the truly, incredibly awful. I will be highlighting interactions with the latter.


Despite the flydubai flight being in the middle of the night, the 3:30 am flight from Dubai to Asmara, Eritrea should have been straight forward. The flight is only about three hours and we arrived early Monday morning. After immigration processed our visas, we (I was part of a group of seven people, joining others for a tour) made our way to the baggage carousel. This is where the fun begins. Flydubai neglected to put our bags on the plane. No bags and no notice. It was shared that flydubai was dealing with an extended backlog of luggage. In other words, our luggage was not on the plane, but the passengers from the previous flight’s luggage had been placed in the hold instead of ours.

A lone woman checked off your name for those whose luggage had been left behind. No other staff from flydubai was present. No help, no assistance, no compensation, no solutions, and no answers. I made my way to the Departure Terminal and I found two hapless and dimwitted flydubai staff members sitting at their desk.

I questioned why they were sitting at their desk instead of assisting scores of frustrated and confused passengers looking for their bags. They shrugged their shoulders. I asked why the staff in Dubai had not apprised us that our luggage would not be placed on the plane. If I knew that I would have been able to compensate by cramming a toothbrush, a t-shirt, and boxers into my carryon. They shrugged their shoulders. I asked for a letter detailing my left luggage. One of the staff handed me a form letter, no details, no dates, no luggage claim number. In other words, absolutely no help in filing an insurance claim. I then requested an actual letter with relevant details. This was a challenge for them, but after a ten minute struggle they produced a half filled-out form.


Not sure how this will help?

I then asked when my luggage would be delivered. Thursday, was the answer. Four days without luggage. The flydubai is obviously not a daily flight. And, obviously, flydubai was not making any special considerations for their slighted customers. No thought of flying a larger plane, or heaven forbid, an extra plane to bring our luggage. I then asked for some compensation to buy some toiletries and sundries. My request was refused. I sprinted out of the terminal to meet my group so we could head to our hotel.

A whole lot smellier, my group of seven returned to the airport on Thursday. Flydubai had honored us by delivering our luggage to the Asmara airport. Two new frustrations. Our entire group had to change our week’s itinerary. We were not even supposed to be in Asmara on Thursday, but had to change our entire eight day agenda to retrieve our luggage. Why is that? Flydubai refused to deliver our luggage. It was our problem, not theirs. And, even better, we were responsible to pay for the taxis. It was our problem, not theirs.

The group jammed into the same flydubai office. The same two dimwitted staff members sat at their desk. We explained our need for letters documenting the situation with the missed luggage. They looked totally befuddled. One of the staff begins to type an email to corporate in Dubai asking for advice. The group turned ugly. What had they been doing for the past 96 hours? No answers. After 30 minutes, one of the staff members was able to produce a letter for the group.

In the meantime, the flydubai manager entered the office. Not to apologize or provide solutions, but to act like a bully of a banana republic. We demanded he pay for our taxis back to the hotel. He adamantly refused. Three of us pulled out phones to video his dismissive attitude. He turned on us. A small-minded man. “This is illegal! You cannot take photos in the airport. I will get you arrested!” Flydubai’s service summed up in a single statement. Our fault, your problem. Don’t like how we treat you, we will threaten to arrest you. We left empty handed.   After an hour we managed to make it back to our hotel after paying the taxi mafia $40 for a 15 minute ride.

After ten days of emailing, flydubai offered me a $150 voucher for a future flight.

In short, flydubai is incredibly dismissive and simply contemptuous. Their errors are our problems. No solutions to the problems they created.

According to Skytrax, flydubai earns a 5 out of 10. In other words, an “F”. I guess we were not the only ones with a poor experience.  Tourism fails.

Read about the amazing train ride in Eritrea!

Eritrean Train

Tarom Airlines

This one really irked me.  It was a short morning flight on Tarom (the Romanian carrier), up and down.  Chisinau to Bucharest.  I arrived in Bucharest, and watched the baggage carousel gently spin.  After 30 minutes, I was the only soul, gazing at the baggage-less carousel.   I made my way to the Tarom’s lost luggage department.  I handed my baggage slip to the dark haired woman.

“Oh, your bag was left in Chisinau,” she stated.


“There was no room on the plane so they left it,” she sterilely explained.

“If Tarom knew my luggage was left behind, why did Tarom make me wait for 30 minutes at the carousel?  Would it not have been a little bit more courteous to have a representative with a sign informing me to head to the lost baggage department?”

She shrugged. No answer. A typical airline attitude.  They simply don’t care.

I was then informed by the Tarom representative that my bag would be delivered on the next flight.

“Oh, great, so you will deliver my bag to my hotel this evening?”

“No, we only deliver once a day, so it will come tomorrow,” she informed me.

“That is unacceptable, I would like you to deliver it today.  I really could use my clothes for this evening.”

“No.  You can come back to the airport to get it later today yourself.”

So, again, a typical airline response.  Their fault is my problem.  Their solution was for me to spend two hours and 50 Euros taking a taxi to retrieve my bag that they decided not to put on the airplane.  They refused to make an extra delivery to help their customer.  They had no issue or concern that I should wait 30 minutes at the carousel for a piece of luggage they knew they did not send.

Tarom Airlines.  Another tourism fail.


China Eastern Airlines

Hello sir…OK, you are flying from Chicago to Bangkok on our airline today?

“Yes.” I asked.

“How long is your lay over in Shanghai?”

“Do you work at China Eastern Airlines?” I asked, my eyebrows scrunched up.

“Of course,” the attendant answered, standing underneath a China Eastern Airlines sign.

I was a little confused. How did the check-in agent not know how long my layover was when I transferred airplanes in Shanghai. This was not a real confidence booster.

The agent then informed me that I needed to retrieve my checked luggage in Shanghai and recheck even though I was flying on the same airline to Bangkok. Again, I was confused. The agent affirmed this was correct, but the lack of trust was the basis of our relationship.

After an average uneventful flight I arrived in Shanghai 14 hours later. I gathered my luggage and made my way to the transfer counter. The transfer desk agent furiously typed on his computer. After 20 minutes he informed me my flight did not exist. Twenty-five minutes later, the agent placed me on a different flight.

Again, how does China Eastern Airlines not know that my flight was canceled? This should not come as a surprise to the staff, and heaven forbid they send me an email updating me, or even the agent informing me when I checked in for my flight in Chicago. Scary.

I sent a tweet informing me of my disappointment with their service. They responded back. And then I never heard from them again.

Here is some of our communications on Direct Messaging on Twitter. Well, some of my communications with no response from China Eastern Airways.

tourism fails

Not sure why they feel so comfortable in not responding to their customers, or why they feel so comfortable in providing poor service.

China Eastern Airlines. Another tourism fail

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4 thoughts on “Tourism Fails

  1. Anil Lohia

    Absolutely right…FD are pathetic… I had even worst experience…I was cheated by their booking team…and when I probed into the case they sent me a similar apology mail citing some system problem.. they claim to be a budget airline but in actual are sometimes expensive then normal carriers…

    1. Ric Gazarian Post author

      We are not alone! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. A lot of frustrations with flydubai which is typical of an airline, but when an issue arises, they simply don’t care.


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