How to get a CEO to issue you a flight refund

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For anybody who has been following my blog/vlog or social media you have probably seen how irate I was with Vueling Airlines. I describe the whole saga here:  https://herebebarr.wordpress.com/2016/07/22/why-ill-never-fly-vueling-airlines-again/

I received an unexpected surprise this morning. A NEW e-mail from Vueling customer service offering me a FULL refund and two-hundred and fifty euros per person compensation. How on earth did I convince them to do that? Very simply.. by going straight to the top.

I was shut down by Vueling’s customer service department the first time I reached out to them. My credit card company’s travel insurance didn’t cover delays based on airline system malfunctions (whatever that means). Even airhelp.com a website that is dedicated to fighting cases like mine for a 25% commission said I was not eligible.  After reading the outpouring of messages from my Youtube Vlog http://www.youtube.com/c/herebebarr/  one person hinted at contacting executives.  What if I found the e-mail address of the CEO and told him exactly what happened?  Did I really have anything to lose?

I found his name through the website CEOemail.com. Here is the exact e-mail I sent Javier Sanchez-Prieto.

Mr. Sanchez-Prieto,

Hello. I am trying to restore my faith in Vueling Air and other discount carriers in general but after my experience last week with your airline it is going to be quite difficult.
I flew Vueling in the past, and never had an incident. On Monday the 18th of July, I was in Rome (FCO) attempting to fly from there to Madrid for my flight home to New York the next morning. I learned my flight was rescheduled for the next day, and this began a grueling ordeal. We had to wait three hours in line, just to be told to contact customer service by phone or e-mail. Then we were promised access to a hotel , and the process of organizing the stranded passengers was appalling (I could send you a video from my cell phone) . Their was one staff member trying to organize 200-300 people into 1 bus. After waiting for two hours I gave up. It was already late at night and we had to re-book our flights for the next day to New York City from Rome.
I was forced to pay 110 euros round trip for a taxi as well as 93 euros for a hotel. Then I had to re-book my girlfriends flight on Air France, which charged her a penalty of 300 dollars. I also had to re-book my United Airlines flight, which cost me points.
I e-mailed your customer service staff as well as called for a refund on my flight ticket. I paid for a flight on the 18th and could not fly 24 hours later. My refund request was denied.
Mr. Sanchez-Prieto I am out already over 500 dollars on this ordeal and I can’t even get a refund from your company. I’m a budget traveler and someone that believes in fairness. I don’t think the way my case was treated was right and that at minimum I should be given the cost of my 2 tickets back after all of the expenses I had to shell out.
I want to restore faith in Vueling Airlines. I understand that flight’s get cancelled and rescheduled, but the customer service experience has been dreadful.  Please give me a reason to fly your Airlines again.
All the best,
Frequent Traveler,
Jonathan Barr

 

I also attached my customer service request # which rejected me and my check-in number. Notice, how I did not write a highly emotional e-mail. I used the facts and told him exactly what I thought was handled incorrectly.  I then asked for my flight to be refunded at a minimum (but didn’t ask for more compensation, I just noted what I already spent out of pocket). I also mentioned that I want to be able to give them my business again. I wrote this at 8:00 PM on Sunday. At 3:00 AM (Tuesday) I received the following reply:

Dear Mr Barr,

We are writing you in response to the claim regarding the flight XXXXX, in reference to booking XXXXX (redacted).

In response to your e-mail, we would first of all like to apologize for the cancellation of the flight and for any inconvenience caused.

Please understand the limitations we find ourselves in due to factors like technical problems, bad weather conditions or air traffic control which affect the aerial transport and have a negative impact on our working system, resulting in obligatory schedule changes against our will.

We understand the setbacks these circumstances cause the passengers and it is our policy to provide or help find the most favourable solution as long as the means and alternate flights are available.

We would like you to know that the aim of our company is to offer the best possible customer service to our clients, and that is why we are really thankful for your e-mail. We can assure you that we take into account all your comments regarding our service and that we will do our best so that these kinds of incidents will not take place again in the future.

As you have requested, we have made the refund of your booking the same credit card the booking was purchased with. You should receive the funds within a couple of days or at the end of the month, depending on the type of card you have.

After reviewing your claim we would like to offer a compensation of 250€ to each passenger. In order to make a wire transfer of this amount we would like to ask you to send us the following information of the passengers of the booking XXXXXX (redacted):

– Name of the account holder
– Address of the accountholder
– Name of the beneficiary bank
– Address of the beneficiary bank
– Account number
– BIC or SWIFT code

Kind regards,

Claims Department
VUELING AIRLINES S.A.

 

I am fairly confident that Mr. Sanchez-Prieto or one of his fellow staff members sitting in their offices in Barcelona read this e-mail and decided to do the right thing. For that, I thank them and am happy that this ordeal looks to be coming to an end. I encourage others, if you have a valid complaint and customer service tells you no, e-mail up the chain. Tell your story, and do not give up until you get just compensation.

Would I fly Vueling Airlines again? The short answer is, no. I would have to hear that they have completely revamped their customer service and company philosophies in order to get my business. Was a little faith restored in them after this? I would say so.

Have you ever written or called a CEO or an executive directly about a travel related situation and received a refund and/or compensation? Tell us about it in the comments. Thank you for reading as usual. Travel smarter.

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2 thoughts on “How to get a CEO to issue you a flight refund

  1. After a flight date being changed without notice, leaving us stranded overnight in Zurich and no response from Vueling customer service despite repeated emails, we followed your protocol emailing the CEO politely. 24 hours later we had refunds and 250 euros each compensation. Thanks for great guidance !

    Like

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