(Original Post published January 24, 2015)
I write this post as a follow-on to my previous post How To: Get Here.
There’s another airline that’s becoming one of the options to fly between the US and Georgia: Qatar Airways. On paper, it seems like a great option (5 Stars!), and their prices are competitive compared to the other airlines flying into Tbilisi. Seemed like a good idea? Oh, how wrong I was!
When my ticket was booked including a 14-hour layover in Doha, the travel agent confirmed with Qatar Airways that a hotel would be provided as part of the itinerary (this information is consistent with their website). Tickets on other carriers were available, and the fact that a hotel was provided was a key component of the decision to fly on Qatar rather than on Turkish Airlines, which offered more convenient travel times and a shorter layover, and is my favorite so far. The layover scheduled between flights was about 14 hours, and we landed a little early. However, upon my arrival in Doha, I was informed by the staff at the transfer desk that there were no rooms available, although I was eligible to receive one. They provided me with a meal voucher and told me to come back later to check. I then attempted to re-book or re-route my reservation so as to avoid the long waiting period, but there were no other options available. I returned to the transfer desk later, as I had been instructed, and was told there was still nothing available, so I should go through security into the terminal, where a Customer Service agent would be able to assist me.
In the terminal, when I requested help or advice from agents I was treated rudely and repeatedly insulted and berated. Really, really, rude things were said to me, and as I was already pretty tired from the previous 20ish hours of travel, I didn’t deal with the insults very well and spent a lot of time in tears. I ultimately went to the Oryx Lounge, as had been suggested by a staff member. I intended to spend my own money in order to receive a service that should have been provided (a place to relax and rest between flights). Since I had been told that it was only possible to stay in the lounge for 6 hours, I went to the lounge 6.5 hours before the boarding time for my next flight, so I would have time to relax before I departed. However, I was not allowed to enter the lounge. At this point, I was quite upset and demanded to be allowed to return to the transfers desk, where a very kind and helpful agent, Sonia (the nicest person in Qatar) was able to get me a hotel room with no problem whatsoever. However, more than half of my layover had passed. With the delays going through immigration and awaiting transportation, and the limitations of return transport to the airport, I was only able to use the hotel for 2 hours out of the more than 14 I was in Doha. Though I ultimately did get a hotel room, it was of little utility for such a short time.
Then, to add injury to the insult I had already suffered, I got food poisoning from the meal served on the Doha to Baku flight. I was very ill, and had to take a day off of work to stay in bed and recover.
I’ve submitted a detailed account of my problems to the airline’s customer service, and after a few days I have received absolutely no response. I give you all this warning.
UPDATE: FEBRUARY 27, 2015:
I have received replies from Customer Service, but they have been entirely unsatisfactory. The gist is that my travel agent messed up, and the airline was blameless. The issues of rudeness and food poisoning have been ignored completely. My employer, travel agent, and I are continuing to pursue the issue.