A newlywed couple said they missed out on their honeymoon due to airport errors – with the bride’s wedding dress even going missing with her baggage.
Soumaya Elliott, 30, and husband Justin, 33, shelled out $ 6,000 on a four-week trip to Asia to follow their wedding last month.
But their dream honeymoon soon turned into a nightmare marred by flight delays, lost luggage and expensive rebookings.
Soumaya Elliott, SWNS / Zenger
Frustrated by the ordeal, the couple from Newbury, England, eventually decided to just scrap the trip.
Soumaya said the experience was so upsetting that she ended up in bed for days. “It was really really horrendous. It was horrible. It was the worst experience of my life, I think.”
Soumaya and Justin, who married July 10, were planning for a trip to Bangkok, Thailand; Phuket, Thailand; Tokyo, Japan; and Seoul, South Korea, and they booked it through Kiwi.com.
But after flying from London Heathrow to Vienna, Austria, without any problems, they got caught up in three-and-a-half hour delays at passport control, check-in and security, causing them to miss their Saudi Arabia Airlines flight to Bangkok by two minutes, they said.
“They didn’t call our gate – we were just sat there waiting,” Soumaya said.
“Then we looked at the time and we were about two minutes late, so we ran down to the airport staff, but they said we were too late and basically told us to go away.
“We were stuck. We didn’t know what to do.”
Having contacted Kiwi.com, the couple said they were told they didn’t qualify for a refund or new flights.
They then used wedding gift money to rebook on a 1,300-pound ($ 1,500) flight for the next day – and said the agency assured them they would not need any additional visas.
Soumaya Elliott, SWNS / Zenger
“At this point we were panicking, so we just went with their advice and went to rebook flights,” Soumaya said.
But this meant they had to sleep on the airport floor while they waited, they said, with Justin using just a flipflop to support his recently-broken back.
He said: “I had several back spasms where I had to sit on the floor for about 20 minutes to get myself to stand up straight.
“I wasn’t allowed to bring any diazepam through a lot of the borders because you can only bring a restricted amount, so I just didn’t bring any.
“I didn’t think I was going to be under that kind of stress.”
The couple were then denied check-in for their flight the next morning because they did not have visas, they said.
Soumaya said: “I ended up having a panic attack on the floor and I was being sick.”
They said Kiwi.com still refused to offer them any help or refunds, so they had no choice but to return home to the UK, costing them a further 800 pounds ($ 975).
And, to make matters worse, their baggage, one of which contained Soumaya’s wedding dress, got lost on one of the legs to get back home while traveling from Vienna to Frankfurt, Germany.
The couple have been refunded 1,235 pounds ($ 1,500) for the extra flights they had to purchase to get to Bangkok. They have also been given around 1,000 pounds ($ 1,200) worth of Kiwi.com vouchers.
But Soumaya said she is after full compensation.
“It is just terrifying that they are happy to take two or three grand off you and not actually help or deliver a service,” she said.
“I had to argue so much with them. It was two days after our wedding which should be a happy time.
“We don’t want vouchers – we don’t want to use them again. They need to give us back our money.”
A Kiwi.com spokesperson said: “We can’t imagine the distress Mr. and Ms. Elliott went through. Once the couple missed the flight in Vienna, they contacted our Customer Support department and were advised of the Transfer Protection conditions.
“Given the nature of the situation, our Customer Support agent also informed of the option to purchase flight tickets directly at the airport – this option, however, requires a final agreement with our team prior to purchase.
“The customers decided to select and buy a flight without the consultation and unfortunately missed the visa requirements information alerting them of specific conditions to be met at their transit airport.
“Given the unpleasant hassle Mr. and Ms. Elliott had to experience, we went an extra step and processed the full refund for this booking, as well as refreshments that the couple had to purchase (1319.83 pounds in total, equivalent to $ 1,608.19).
“As a gesture of goodwill, Mr. and Ms. Elliott were also offered 1000 euros [$1.017] and 300 euros [$305] on top in Kiwi.com credits, contributing to future honeymoon plans. “
Produced in association with SWNS.
This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.