Airline Forces Duo To Book Return Tickets Worth 84k | Bengaluru News

Bengaluru: A 33-year-old woman and her elderly mother heading for a holiday in Tanzania recently had a harrowing time at Kempegowda International Airport where the ground staff of Ethiopian Airlines threatened to deny them boarding for having their return tickets booked with another airline.
They were allegedly forced to book return tickets again for Rs 84,000 with Ethiopian Airlines. They had earlier bought return flights with Qatar Airways. The ground staff allegedly cited vague immigration rules before letting them board. Experts say the rules are unheard of and is a case of passenger exploitation.
Bellandur resident Swati B was looking forward to her holiday in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, where she was to join her husband. While Swati and her mother di lei were to fly from Bengaluru, her husband di lei was to come from Dubai. “I had booked return tickets on a travel portal in June itself. I had also confirmed tickets to fly Ethiopian Airlines from Bengaluru to Kilimanjaro airport via Addis Ababa and to return on Qatar Airways from Kilimanjaro to Bengaluru via Doha, ”said Swati, an HR executive.
On the night of July 11, they reached KIA where they were scheduled to board Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 691 to Addis Ababa. “Much to our shock, the staff cited a new immigration law and denied boarding stating that our return tickets were booked with a different airline. I’m a frequent traveler and had never heard about such a rule. ”
With less than an hour for take-off, the staff stood their ground and asked the duo to buy new return tickets with their airline. “They even told me it was the travel portal’s fault to have sold us return tickets with a different airline and I should take up the matter with the portal. I was forced to book tickets with Ethiopian Airlines for US $ 1,044 after which we were allowed to board the flight at 2.30am on July 12, ”she said.
However, Swati and her mother returned to Bengaluru on their initially booked Qatar Airways tickets on July 18 without any immigration hurdle. She canceled the Ethiopian Airlines tickets but lost Rs 32,000 in the process. “I wrote to Ethiopian Airlines questioning the so-called rule, but I didn’t get a proper response except for an airline official from Bengaluru airport stating that our return tickets were invalid and it was mandatory to book them with the same airline,” she added.
When contacted, TOI received a response from Ethiopian Airlines that “due to immigration rules, any passenger must have a return trip unless she is a resident or citizen of the destination country.” However, the airline failed to respond to a pointed query on the Bengaluru passengers having valid return tickets and whether a flyer could be denied boarding on the ground that he / she booked return tickets with another airline.
According to C Arpita, a senior air travel and tour designer, there is no rule which says that passengers must book onward and return tickets with the same airline. “The matter needs to be probed by aviation authorities,” she said, adding that this could be a case of passenger exploitation by the airline staff.

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