My first encounter with AIR FRANCE (AF), was sometimes in 2014. I had booked a flight on KLM from Lagos, Nigeria, to Rome, Italy to attend the IAPC Conference.
I enrolled on KLM’s frequent flyer program. My number is 2118631346. When my membership card arrived, it had KLM and AF on it. I started receiving promotional emails from AF thereafter.
In November 2019, I bought an AIR FRANCE ticket to travel to Munich, Germany. I was in the Premium Economy Cabin. The service wasn’t great. The inflight attendants were unfriendly and unresponsive. They barely did their job and left us alone - no extra. I didn’t read so much into what happened because I thought it was just people having a bad day at work.
On 06 March 2020, I purchased two AF tickets for my wife and myself with Booking references WUC5NU and OWC3QH respectively. We bought the Premium Economy at N1.3 million-plus. We were scheduled to travel on 14 May 2020 to attend our daughter’s graduation from Post Graduate studies at UPenn. We couldn’t because COVID happened.
Air France and other airlines suspended their operations and were barred from flying into the country by the Federal Government. So, it wasn’t our fault that we couldn’t fly and it wasn’t theirs that we didn’t.
But we had a transaction which was still valid, or so we thought!
When AF resumed operations after the initial disagreement with the government, we applied to revalidate our tickets.
We were told that vouchers will be issued to us and we can use them in the future by upgrading our flights or maintaining this same cabin if fares paid are sufficient at the time. We waited and they did not issue the vouchers.
Meanwhile, they issued vouchers to people who are in the same situation in other countries without asking.
My friend and brother, Alf Kongor, got his voucher, re-issued the ticket and travelled. He didn’t have any issue because AF knows that such behaviour will not be tolerated in Europe.
But we are in Nigeria. Africa. Where anything and everything goes. So they refused to issue us refund and vouchers.
Then, we had an emergency and my wife had to travel ahead because my Visa had expired.
I applied for renewal of Visa and it was granted by the US Embassy. They treated me so kindly and showed touching empathy. I needed to use my ticket with AF, so I asked that the ticket be revalidated.
They told me I need an Airport Transit Visa (ATV) to be able to use ticket.
I applied and was issued an ATV, took COVID test that came back negative and applied to AF to have my ticket validated.
After excuses and stories, they contact my agent with a voucher for NGN 148,496 out of over NGN600,000 that I paid for the same ticket.
I rejected the voucher and promised to take legal action.
My agent contacted them and they promised to work on it and comeback.
And I needed to travel urgently, and so I bought another AF ticket for Premium Economy with Booking Reference QK96G3 dated 10 February 2020, at a high cost because I needed to be on the ground in the States tomorrow at a specific time.
Their timing was perfect.
I got to the Airport and to AF check-in-counter and gave them my documents- passport, ticket, C-19 test, forms from French Embassy etc. I overheard a lady shouting behind the counter and asking for a refund if she was not going to travel.
The lady at the counter summoned a man who is her superior.
He came and asked me some deeply personal questions. I asked him” why all these questions“?
"You will not be allowed to travel with us because you did not meet the conditions. You said you are travelling because of your children, but you can’t because they are not US citizens”, he said.
I asked, why did you sell tickets to people when you know they can’t travel? Why didn’t you tell people about these conditions before they buy your tickets?”. I got no answer. I was not allowed to board and I left for home.
One thing I have told myself is this: I will recover my money. It is the right and proper thing to do.
I’m not doing this to demarket Air France, I’m doing it to stop you from falling into their hands. They are ugly and uncaring.
Since I started having this issue, I have learned of over 15 other cases.
At the airport today, it was a mess. The purpose of the experience is that two people don’t have to suffer the same things to lesson the same lessons.
A stitch in time saves ten.
Don’t buy Air France ticket. AF will be hearing from us.
Goodbye to absolute nonsense.
Have you had any experience with Air France airlines? Share them in the comments sections below, I'd love to hear your thoughts.