Air passengers in Europe and the United States have become accustomed to certain rights enshrined in law. Unfortunately no such protection exists when you book with carriers in the Middle East. Most of the time this presents no major problem, but I found out the hard way what can happen when things go wrong.
During the summer of 2010 I booked a one-way flight from Bahrain (BAH) to Dubai (DXB) with flydubai for two people at a total cost of BHD 43 (approximately €90). This flight was one small part of a two week trip taking in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, India, and Singapore.
Roughly two weeks prior to travel, a friend booked on the same flight received a phone call from his travel agent informing him that it had been cancelled. The airline did not have any local phone numbers available, forcing me to make a long distance call to find out what was going on. After twenty minutes on hold the agent informed me that the flight had indeed been cancelled, and that I was entitled to a voucher for the amount paid which could then be used on any other flydubai flight within twelve months. The crucial point was that I was not entitled to a cash refund. It goes without saying that a travel voucher valid for an airline with one base located over three thousand miles from my home wasn't exactly useful.
My credit card company advised me that the charge to my card could not be reversed as I'd admitted to making the purchase and in so doing had accepted the terms and conditions of trade.
- flydubai cancelled a service with just two weeks of notice.
- flydubai only contacted a subset of their passengers to tell them about the cancellation.
- flydubai refused to refund me for the flight, only offering a voucher that was utterly useless.
- That voucher never actually arrived.
We rebooked on Gulf Air.