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Problems with Qatar Airways - 18 days without trekking equipment

November 2008

In October 2008 we went with Qatar Airways Zurich - Doha - Kathmandu, to go for a 3 weeks trekking into the Mustang Area. Actually we wanted to fly with Singapore Airlines, but due to delay/ missing connecting flight, we were transferred to Qatar Airways. In transit in Zurich the Qatar Agent (Dnata) took our luggage receipts from Singapore Airlines and issued new luggage receipts for Qatar. The corresponding baggage tags he wanted to attach to our yet to be localized luggage - which he did not, which he did not even mention in the Qatar system.

Interestingly both the check-in Zurich, as well as the transit desk in Doha confirmed that our luggage would be on board, which was not true as we found out later. When we arrived in Kathmandu, there was no trace from our baggage and no trace from Qatar Staff either.

We informed a Lost & Found agent about the loss and left local contacts with him. Qatar personnel did not respond even the next day and was not reachable. An e-mail request to the Doha headquarters remained unanswered. On day 3, we reached Qatar employees. Qatar Airways did not even know where our luggage was.

We were left on our own with only our hand luggage. There was no support and no compensation or assistance for the planned trek (3 weeks with a tent, 0 deg C at night in the Himalayas). Qatar staff behavior was of indifference.

We decided to risk the trekking despite the circumstances, with last minute temporary purchases and borrowing equipment from our tour operator, not to loose the trek and vacation, worth 3000 USD plus airfare. We had a significant loss of travel quality, 3 days in lost time, spending 500 USD extra on purchases and took a higher health risk.

It lasted 18 days until our tour operator was able to locate the luggage in a large warehouse at the airport. It was waiting for us already 17 days - with the original tags from Singapore Airlines, send from Zurich, with only 1 day delay.

Qatar could and should have known this, and with better communications, without such logistics problems, the entire trek would have been possible without any additional cost. In addition to the above losses, we had to inform about a theft from one of the bags (new functional wear worth 600 USD).

For all this - after lengthy discussions and bureaucracy - Qatar Airways gave us 100 USD compensation per person on the departure day and declined further compensation.

Unfortunately, it is true that a non-European airline may decide for themselves how they want to compensate for delayed or lost luggage. Lost vacation time does not have to be taken into account.

Maybe Qatar Airways needs less flight time and is a little cheaper for travels to Nepal. As long as nothing happens, this is ok. But the criterion for good service is simply if something happens, and here I am not satisfied with Qatar Airways will try to avoid this airline in future.

Quite different was the response from Singapore Airlines. Although the situation was not their fault, SIA issued a flight voucher for the next trip.

The hole story is on File KTMQR12005

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