Virgin Atlantic Airways

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Virgin Atlantic appear not to need customers anymore
Posted by on
Thank you for opening this thread as I am furious with the service I have received from Virgin Atlantic and now am looking for ways to air my displeasure.
I am also very saddened at the change in attitude that Virgin Atlantic are now displaying when dealing with their customers. Until this year I was a great champion of the Virgin brand and rather naively believed that Richard Branson actually did care what his customers felt. Virgin Atlantic have demonstrated to me that their customer services organization have very little regard for how their customers feel and even worse place an extremely low value on customer retention. I initially sent a complaint (copied below) to Virgin Atlantic on the 14th January 2009, I actually believed because of the way I had been treated Richard Branson might be made aware (I know it was a stupid wish). What I didn’t expect was the complete disregard I experienced. I sent many e-mails pleading for help, however I was ignored or received replies from people who either couldn’t understand written English very well, or couldn’t be bothered to address the issues I had raised. Finally I wrote a paper letter to Steve Griffiths (Virgin Executive) to which I actually received a reply from somebody who had actually read and understood my complaint. I was amazed though to find that Virgin Atlantic claim they are unable to compensate me appropriately for my suffering because “they must remain consistent in the gesture they offer or else it would be unfair on other customers” In a nut shell, If their attitude is if we treated appropriately everyone else would expect the same.
My family of five are all members of the Virgin Flying club and no longer wish to be associated with Virgin so asked if we could close our accounts and transfer the miles, in response we were informed that we couldn’t transfer the miles but could close the accounts and give our air-miles to a charity!
Here is a copy of the mail that I sent to Virgin on the 14th Jan 2009. It has taken 11 follow-ups and over 4 months to receive a reply that basically says Virgin are sad to loose my custom, but are not prepared to give me appropriate compensation to keep it.

I have never written to a Chairman of any company, let alone somebody like you because I believe that the customer relations departments in large companies probably ensure that the men at the top do not have to spend time dealing with customers. However I have a feeling that Virgin atlantic may be different so it’s worth a try.


Hi Richard

I am (and have been for some time a champion of Virgin atlantic)
I have had enjoyed many fantastic holidays in Virgin resorts and for me and my family a huge part of the holiday is the “getting there” part.

In my opinion Virgin atlantic has the best service to the Caribbean & USA. A few years ago we were fortunate enough to enjoy the experience of “Premium economy” as a result we have not been able to consider booking a flight with your competitors or even in a Virgin standard cabin and therefore for me (until I Win the Lottery (and can upgrade to Virgin Upper Class)) Virgin Premium Economy is the only way for us to travel.

I perform as a singer and my girlfriend works in a Marks & Spencer’s. All of our disposable income is saved to be pay for the highlight of our year which is a fortnight away somewhere sunny.

Last year we chose Barbados and obviously we chose your airline to get us there. The flight experience out was (as expected) superb. All your cabin staff are just fantastic either you have a great recruitment section, great training or both. The crew really do seem pleased to welcome you on board and want to make your flight as brilliant as they can, one of your flight crew on the way out even gave us his contact details so that I could send him some comps to come to the Dover Street wine bar to see me sing.

We had a fantastic holiday and on the 16th November had to come home (flight VS030 seats 33D&E). Your crew welcomed us on board and (on the quite, I ordered a bottle of champagne to be put on ice as I had a proposal planned for my girlfriend).

As the flight prepared to take off an announcement was made that the crew had been made aware pre-flight that the entertainment system had developed a fault and therefore it would not be available.

We were seated in a bank of four seats in the center of the cabin, a teenage girl who was sitting next to my girlfriend immediately started to cry and complain to her mum that there was something wrong with the plane. To make things even worse the fault with the entertainment system meant that we could not control the reading lights (in our bank of seats three out of the four were off while just mine was on). The upset teenager stood and without asking re-adjusted my light so that it illuminated her area, as the kid was already playing up I did not make things any worse and let her have the light.

Because we were looking forward to watching the films on the way home we had left our I-pods in our cases (which were in the hold) so for many hours my girlfriend and I sat listening to a whining teenager who spent the whole journey whinging to her mum that it was unfair not to have the TV, she was scared that there was a problem with the plane, the light (that should have been directed at my position) was inadequate for her to read by, and later in the journey that she was unable to relax because she could not turn the light off. My girlfriend and I did not have a fantastic time coming home, in actual fact it was miserable.

We spent many thousands of pounds on our holiday and for us the journey home was spoiled (that’s the last bit we remember of our holiday). We were told that we could claim a £25 discount token/duty free voucher each as a measure of compensation for the spoiled flight.

We could have chosen a much cheaper way of getting to our holiday destination but we are not only loyal Virgin customers but actually champions of your company so chose Virgin atlantic. I feel that £25 does not reflect realistic compensation and hope that you will consider offering a more acceptable compensation. I realize that you do not travel Premium Economy, however if you suffered the same as my girlfriend and I, I believe you would also being sending a mail similar to this to the person you felt might help.

We do intend to travel with you again next year, please offer us reasonable compensation.

I am sorry it has taken me a while to send you this mail but since my holiday my life has been a bit traumatic.

     
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Horrendous Customer Service
Posted by on
I had originally booked a flight from New York JFK to London Heathrow for the 10th of April (last week). A couple days before the flight, a close family friend passed away. I had to postpone my departure to attend the funeral. So, on Thursday the 9th, I spoke with one of your service representatives (who did not provide me his name, but sounded to be in a South Asian call center). I asked for the next available date of comparable fare. This was apparently too confusing for him, so I had to give him a specific date. He did some typing and responded with "I'm sorry sir, but there are no available flights that day. Would you like me to search another date?" I took a deep breath to calmly prepare for what I realized was going to be a very painful phone call.

Several minutes later, we had found that the next available flight would be about two weeks later (approaching my return date). I realized that, considering the $200 change fee, I might be better off just booking a one-way flight with another airline. The representative said, "Sir, I can make this an 'open ticket' and you can call back once you've decided on the date." "Great!" I thought. "Thanks, I'll do that."

Today, the 13th of April at 3:40 PM EST, I called back in an attempt to finalize arrangements. I spoke with a woman named "Donna", but from the quality of the connection and her accent, I figured that I was again connected with a call center and her name probably wasn't Donna anyway. I gave her my booking reference and quickly brought her up to speed. She informed me that there was no note or anything to indicate that I had an "open ticket" and, in fact, I had been listed as a no-show for my flight. Understanding that the first representative had apparently taken no action during our call, and was instead probably organizing his post-its or photos of his family, I sighed and figured we'd press on and see what could be done. She said that I could re-book the outbound flight as part of the same trip but that in addition to the change fee, I would likely have to pay an additional no-show fee. I gave her some dates to search and she kindly put me on hold... for about 10 minutes. When she returned, she let me know that in addition to the $200 change fee, there would be a $350 no-show fee (note: my original round-trip fare was about $460). Additionally, the difference in fare would be about $980. SO, to re-book this flight, I would have to pay over $1500. The sheer stupidity hurt my brain.

I quickly did a web search and found one-way flights for $500-600. I politely explained to her that $1500 made absolutely no sense whatsoever and I would really have no rational choice but to fly one-way with another airline. Though, as I'm writing this, I am thinking that I better call back to make sure no one has canceled my return ticket and pocketed my money. I have no confidence in the Virgin customer service, so I'm going to have to get on that call now and suffer a bit more.

I'd like to inject an important side-note to this experience, while I'm on hold. The Virgin Atlantic website (www.virgin-atlantic.com) is all but useless. You can't actually manage your booking. "Manage Your Flights" really only means "online check-in". When I first logged in her, there were a list of account actions, including "change your dates", but the actions didn't link anywhere. There was a note next to it, as a question mark image, that also did not click, but I was able to decipher that holding my cursor over it would reveal other useless information. I tried clicking a "customer service" link, which ultimately timed out and loaded no page. I did some additional searching for fares and promotional fares which gave me some results but also the note "Are your dates flexible? We found a cheaper fare for $xxx". When I clicked the related link, it just took me back to the original promotional fares / search page. Completely and utterly useless. Overall I'd say this website is so horribly behind all of the competition that there is no real used to even having attempting to use it.

So, I'm back on hold now after speaking to a competent representative named [snip](?). I have just learned that when a traveler is a "no-show" for their departure flight, the whole booking gets canceled. This means that I no longer have a return flight. So, had I booked another one-way flight, I would be in quite a bit of trouble! I explained the situation, and the primary problems are that the original agent did not make ANY note on the account, and I failed to get his name (which I really regret, but I had other things on my mind [ie:the upcoming funeral arrangements, schedules]) at the time. So, they could try to review calls from the date/time I provide them, but without a name, it's quite hard. I understand this. [snip] also understood that the fees and costs associated with making changes would be 3 times the cost of just booking a new trip through the Virgin-Atlantic website. Why didn't the last representative understand that basic reality of mathematics? So, the minutes are ticking by. We shall see the result. In the meantime, I'm searching flights with competitors. After all, if I have to re-book, I think Virgin has already gotten quite enough of my money, without having to render any service in return.

So, I got off hold. There's nothing they can do for me. There are so many ways in which they could have been accommodating and made some more money off me, but alas, they're not equipped with the knowledge to actually generate revenue for their business. I've just booked a new flight with another airline. I don't think I'll be booking with Virgin again anytime soon. Now I'm exhausted and in need of a drink.

     
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The worst major airline
Posted by on
I have sent a complaint litter before and stated that I had a very bad outgoing flight experience and was regretting the flight back as you can read in this previous letter which was sent to you Virgin Atlantic on 5/31/2011;
(I and my two kids flew Virgin Atlantic from lax to Amman Jordan connecting in London with BMI. The flight was on time, that’s the only positive thing I can say about this flight, the entertainment, what entertainment? There was no service on the TV screen the whole flight to London, the food service was awful, and the food portions were very small. Only two food serving on the whole (11 HR.) flight, and when calling the flight attendants were very rude. In other words very poor service…I still have to fly back for the return flight. I'm really concerned about that flight. I will never fly or recommend Virgin Atlantic Airline to anybody!!!)

On the return flight back I called Virgin Atlantic airlines to confirm the flight 3days before the flight date. They told me OK you’re confirmed. Great so far so good until I went to check in at the airport ticketing desk, where they told me that I don’t have a ticket that my ticket was canceled. That’s when I called my husband in California and then he called Virgin Atlantic airlines to find out what is the problem. He was told at the first call that there was a flight change, that somebody had called and changed the flight number and that in order to reissue and release the ticket he had to pay $600.00 first, he told them that neither me or my wife had called or authorized or did any change on that flight at all at anytime. They put him on hold for about 15 to 20 minutes to find out what had happened to cause this. After about 15-20 minutes they came back saying that the person that did the change was our travel agent at that time he called the travel agent while Virgin Atlantic was still on the line but he had to leave a message because it was after hours here in California. Because of the flight time and that my flight was about take off in approximately one hour his hands were tied and had to pay the $600.00 in order for me to catch my flight so my kids can get to school the flowing Monday which I told the ticketing desk and of course they did not care and did nothing to help. After he paid 600.00 they said that to give them about 5 minutes for them to process. After about 5 minutes they did not reissue the ticket my husband called Virgin again, they re-checked the ticket validation and reason for the hold or cancellation Of the ticket again and said that the credit card number was not correct and they need a different card number which he gave them another card number so that I can make my flight. After it was processed and approved and my ticket was issued he asked them again why the extra charge, after putting on hold for another 20 minutes they came back and gave him different reason for the flight number change and the reason for the extra charge, this time they said the reason is that BMI airlines had changed the flight number only and that even though virgin Atlantic charged HIS Card for the extra charge they told him you have to take it up with BMI airline…this flight was the worst airline experience I have ever encountered from departing to the amazing heartless return flight. This would be the last time I travel with or recommend Virgin Atlantic to anybody I know and I will email copy to customer relations and post it online reviews….


     
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Virgin America's Gotcha Game
Posted by on
VENTURA, CALIFORNIA --

Re: the Virgin America “gotcha” game….

I am a vice president of a company and a seasoned “road warrior” with considerable experience flying with some of the best airlines in the world (and a few of the worst). I am also fortunate enough to be one of those “favored fliers” coveted by most airlines, as I usually purchase my first class seat/s, rather than upgrade, etc.

A fan of Virgin Atlantic for many years, I had been eager to fly the new Virgin America. In October 2007 I purchased (2) two First Class seats to fly from LA to New York for New Years. Due to unfortunate circumstances, I was unable to make the trip. As a courtesy and matter of habit, I phoned into Virgin America to notify the airline that I would not be making the trip. I was informed that an email would be sent to follow the call. To my knowledge, I never received this email, but thought nothing of it at the time.

A couple of weeks ago, I contacted Virgin America to make a new reservation for two, in First Class (considerably more expensive now). I gave the confirmation number of my original flight to use towards the new tickets, only to be told that there was NO credit on file for this former reservation. Inquiring further into this mystery… I was told that no record was found on their side that this reservation had been cancelled prior to departure. I conveyed that I had in fact done so, but still didn’t understand how this was relevant. Alas, I was told further that if either I had not cancelled the reservation prior to departure (or no record was found of such) that the entire fare amount was FORFEITED!

I was told that this forfeiture information was in their “Fare Rules”, and that there was nothing else that could be offered other than crediting me “1/2 of the total fare or the Guest Services agent would “get in trouble”.

I must confess that I am not one to read the fine print when purchasing a full fare First Class ticket/s. No airline known to me in the USA has such an absurd policy which penalizes passengers with a 100% loss (or anything close) of the fare/money spent. It is certainly way out of the norm with other US airline policies. At most, one can usually expect a nominal change fee of some amount, and even that is usually limited to restricted economy tickets, and other very restricted fares.

I had scanned originally, and have since reread, the email confirmation I received from Virgin America and NO mention is made of this policy under “Rules and Restrictions”. (I have since been able to find this policy / practice only in the “fine print” of their website.)

One can only imagine that I’m not the first to be snagged into this trap thus far. To be told that I’ve lost $2400.00 because no record (conveniently) was found of a reservation cancellation, that I didn’t even know I was supposed to have made… (but in fact actually had in this case).

There is no question in my mind that this weighty penalty is a deceptive loophole buried in the fine print of your fare rules. One could certainly deduce that Virgin America has intentionally done so to the peril of unsuspecting customers, who must be expected to swallow it and move on. Virgin America must also further anticipate that they will not see these customers again as a result, and that this loss of repeat customers is acceptable.

I feel robbed quite frankly, and I cannot compare this experience with any other short of literally being robbed. It is certainly a story worth telling to others considering flying Virgin America.

I did direct my complaint to the Vice President per the Customer Care Department’s recommendation, in writing. No response or resolution has been offered to date!



     
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Fraudulent Checked Baggage Charges
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA -- I have just got off the phone with "Ashley" and "Mathew" at Virgin Atlantic "Customer Service" phone and I am ticked, no Furious!

I am traveling on VS020 on September 21st from SFO to LHR. I used Virgins website to "manage my booking" and as we have an extra bag, I paid $85 for an additional bag.

Last night, I went online to check in. The website, after putting in all our relevant information, said that we could only check 1 bag. We had received no notification by email or text that we had paid the $85 previously, so my assumption was that somehow I had made a mistake previously and not paid for the extra bag. My credit card company had no record of the $85 transaction, so I added a bag in check in. Apparently virgins website, already knowing about the previous purchase, charged my credit card $170 for the second additional bag.

While I understand that I should have noticed the higher charge for the second extra bag, the website should have told me I could check in 2 bags, my free one and my extra one I had paid for when I tried to check in.

It was annoying, but not nearly as annoying as when I called customer service to correct the situation. Both Ashely and Mathew who I spoke to were rude and told me it was my fault. The terms and conditions explain it, I should have noticed the increased cost and derived that I had already paid for the first bag. They have refused to refund the extra $170.

I cannot believe that this is Virgin Atlantic official position or that Richard [snip] supports it.
     
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Pathetic Customer Service
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS -- This was my first time taking Virgin Atlantic from Mumbai to Chicago. The flight was OK but the entertainment system was quite outdated offering limited number of shows and movies. Also, their customer service standards are pretty low, lot of misinformation and miscommunication from their end and no one takes any accountability whatsoever. After my flight, when I landed at Chicago airport, It took me sometime at Immigration. I went at Bag Carousal but could not find my luggage. So informed Virgin Staff of the same that it took me some time at customs. Bayo- the staff, held me for 45 minutes and he told me after checking barcodes that my luggage has not arrived on Airport and it will delivered to my doorsteps in 2 days. I went home with the claim number to follow up with customer service regarding my baggage. After 10-15 times of back and forth with Virgin Staff they told me to come and pick up my luggage from the airport after two days. They gave me multiple reasons of not delivering the bags, a) I lived in city and they do not deliver luggage to place so close to airport. b) The luggage was always on Chicago Airport (but they could not locate it in first place). I later collected baggage from the airport and decided to file a formal complaint online.

I emailed a complaint with Virgin Atlantic and haven't heard anything from the company on this matter till long except for receipts for my email. I would not travel or recommend anyone to travel again with them.
     
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I Can't Book a Seat on a Flight!!!
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
This is the letter that I sent to Virgin Atlantic. I have removed the flight information, but my complaint is obvious.

I'm sorry to say that I am quite dissatisfied with your service and total lack of communication. I TRULY NEED to reserve my seats... Why could I book my seats for my return flight .... but I cannot book my departing flight. PLEASE LISTEN AND HELP. I need two seats together for me and my son; one MUST be an aisle seet. I have tried to call 18008215483 and 18008628621, but IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SPEAK WITH A HUMAN!! How would you feel in this situation?

I hate to threaten you, but I will put this problem on Facebook and other complaint websites if I get no reply. Also, I will make it a point not to fly Virgin Atlantic again. That would be a loss for you, seeing that I travel to London often.
     
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I used to rate Virgin Atlantic quite highly but no more!
Posted by on
My elderly parents visited me from the UK and I tried to use the online check in to ensure they got seats together for their overnight return flight. The system does not allow you to check-in more than 24 hours ahead of the flight departure but as soon as the clock passed the -24 hour mark I logged on but got an error message saying the system was unavailable. After several more attempts, I called by phone and after 20 minutes or more on hold was told there was a problem with the sysstem and to try again later. I tried again and again over the following 2½ hours without success so I called again but gave up after 30 or more minutes on hold. I hung up and called again for another 35 minutes on hold before someone assured me they could help and transferred me back into the menu system where I managed to navigate my way to a hang up. Calling back it only took 20 minutes to get an answer out of New Delhi or wherever. The eastern gentlemen informed me that all online seats were already allocated so the only remedy would be to check in 3 hours ahead of the flight instead on 1½ hours. I asked how the online check in seats could be taken if the system had been down. Not surprisingly, he couldn't provide an answer.
Unfortunately, instead of asking to speak to a supervisor, I ended the phone call (politely). It was then I decided that I was unsatisfied enough that I wanted to escalate the problem - two calls and 1¾ hours later, I finally talked to someone who refused to put me through to a supervisor but couldn't do anything about the situation except notify the airport departure desk about the issue - to what end remains to be seen.
All that money and they can't provide a consistent online check in system or reasonable customer service!
     
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Rudest Customer Service from CATHY in lost Baggage Department
Posted by on
My daughter flew on Virgin America on May 29th as unaccompanied minors and were flying to New York to connect to Emirates International flight EK204 to Dubai. Upon checkin the agent forgot to give her back her passport and Akeza flew to newyork with Virgin America by the time it was recovered. On arrival to Newyork she did not have her passport to board the international flight. Further more, Virgin America left one bag in San Francisco. Emirates also insisted that there was no way for them to transport the bag to dubai without a passenger. When I called Baggage claim 650 821-8485 I spoke with Paula who seemed caring but needed instructions from someone named CATHY. Cathy instructed Paula to let me know there was absolutely nothing they could do and I needed to call guest care on Tuesday June 1st. I spoke to Cathy who was the most rudest person I have ever spoken to. She basically told me to shut the F off and she did not give a D...n about my child and it is not her responsibility because she was not the agent and she had nothing to do with the delayed bag. Cathy also said that Virgin America does not take responsibility for anything lost or missing. She insisted that bags can be delivered at anytime as long as they are delivered. I asked if they could bring back the children to California, but she ignored that question. I asked if Virgin would take responsibility for the missing bag and she said no because she was not handling the bag. She then banged the phone on me. Meanwhile, I have an 11 yr old traveling unaccompanied stuck in New York because of their mistake. First I had to change the connecting flight because of the missing passport and missing laggage. The change was $1,400 and the cost to fly to New york with United Airlines to hand over the passport the agent did not had over when checking in.
     
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Penny pinchers
Posted by on
CRAWLEY, UK -- My flight was cancelled because of the volcanic ash situation. At this point I have no grievance as the decision not to fly is for all our own well being. The flights we were allocated we decided to give up for another more desperate family than ourselves, since we have our own house in Orlando. The Virgin Atlantic representative said “thank you very much, no one else has offered to give up their seats”. No big deal. We then went to check in 10 days later, the first available date they could re-allocate seats for us. The lady at check-in at Downtown Disney made us weigh our bags and sure enough they were over weight. We had the choice of paying $50 per case or taking stuff out. I mentioned that we had given up our seats and could she do us the courtesy of allowing our bags. At the end of the day, if the weight restriction was for safety or some kind of baggage handlers policy, Id understand. However it is a monetary issue, they want more of it from me! That stinks. Having refused to pay the $50 extra and having had to empty some of our belongings, we now have to travel with them as hand luggage. That’s clever, Virgin! After we left the weighing station and stood at the check in desk, the representative then came over to us and asked us to come back to the weighing station. She said"you can't put stuff in your case after its been weighed" I told her that I hadn't, but she still made me drag it across the forecourt, weigh it and then then take it back again. "Your apology is accepted", I told her. Youve now lost us as customers and the rest of our friends and family, who all fly with you at least twice a year.
     
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