I recently got back from a trip to Europe. While I was there I ‘accidentally’ managed to cancel my return flights to Sydney. An honest, simple mistake. Who knew if you miss on of the legs they automatically cancel the rest of your trip outright. No exceptions. Not me, obviously.
Having not realised about this rule and had stupidly decided to travel on from Finland (where I had stopped over to go to my good friends wedding and eat some amazing chocolate cake) onto the UK on Ryanair, so I could travel with a friend in need of my company rather than take my connection with Finnair from Helsinki. I never thought to tell the airline, surely they wouldn’t even miss me – I had paid for the ticket, it was no loss to them if I didn’t turn up? Surely?
This is not the case. I found out a few days later airlines all follow a policy that if you don’t show up for a leg of a flight they will cancel the remaining flights on that ticket with no refund. It is apparently to prevent people taking advantage of combination fares but only using certain legs of the journey.
I spoke to Flight Centre, who I had booked my flights with after my travel agent Mel emailed me to break the news. Stating I would need to purchase a one way flight back to Sydney. There was nothing they could do. I realise it is standard policy, but it seemed pretty extreme and unreasonable to cancel out my return back to Sydney. I was faced with the prospect of having to admit this massive cock up to my family and fork out another $1000 to get back. Except I didn’t have $1000, I would have to ask my parents for the money. Yep, the 29 year old daughter returning home for her little brother’s wedding after 18 months away. ”Great to see you Mum and Dad!” I couldn’t even face the reality of that situation I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, but in my despair I knew there must be some way out. So, I did what any person who works in marketing would do. Bombarded the call centres with calls, asked to speak to supervisors, tried to debate my way through any loophole I could find. When that didn’t work I scoured the internet looking for something, anything that resembled a customer commitment or a piece of marketing I could base my case on to try and get my original flights back.
After 15 minutes of digging through the Finnair website I spotted a small link in the bottom right hand corner. The Finnair blog.
On it I found Marku Remes. He called himself ‘a defender of customers’ interests’, he sounded exactly like the kind of guy I needed to talk to and so I crafted up my emotional plea, took a guess at what his email address might be and then held my breath in optimistic hope he would get back to me.
Luckily for me I found my hero. Mr Remes 100% delivered on his blog bio claim, while everyone else I had spoken to could do nothing to help me he looked at my case with some evident human emotion and understanding.
I understand your worry and frustration very well; I would feel the same if this had happened to me in Australia. I try to find a solution by talking to my superiors. I’ll get back to you when I have answers.
And he did, the very next day
Finnair has now evaluated your personal situation vs. occurred ticket contract breach. Finnair is a friendly airline of the Northern skies so we have decided to assist you in as much as we can. Our ticketing expert will be in contact with you later today for the required arrangements.
I got a call later that day, the rep was extremely helpful – got me back onto to my original flights with only a small admin charge to pay. He also mentioned to me that Mr Remes had been instrumental in resolving my situation and had even taken the time to clear it with superiors in Sydney to override this strict rule. I considered myself to be a pretty lucky girl. The news made me so, so happy and meant I could appreciate my time with my family and not have to be the one spoiling the celebrations with bad news. For that I am extraordinary grateful.
So, this post is a thank you to Finnair and especially Mr Marku Remes. It is refreshing to experience a company can look beyond rules and conditions to consider the human situation surrounding them, plus go beyond the call of duty to help that person out.
I also have to say that my flights home were all utterly smooth and other than British Airways delaying my bag in Heathrow Terminal 5 I had no problems whatsoever. I even quite enjoyed the chicken meatballs for dinner.
Remember the yoghurt pot?
I also recognise how fortunate I am that my error was able to be resolved. We make so many decisions in life without taking the time to think them through. I should have at least checked with the airline before making assumptions it would be fine. Not for the first time Finland has reminded me to take the time to think things through before rushing into something. So Finland, Finnair and Marku Remes, thank you – you rock.