Caroline Hurry
Caroline Hurry

Airline leaves 82-year-old woman stranded without offering her so much as a blanket or a phone call, in what they laughingly refer to as their Business Class service

Words cannot begin to describe my fury with Qatar Airways right now. My 82-year-old mother-in-law who lives in Copenhagen recently underwent a harsh medical procedure so we invited her to come and recuperate with us here in South Africa.

We duly booked her on a Business Class ticket with Qatar to fly from Copenhagen via Doha to Johannesburg. As she is frail, my husband requested wheelchair assistance for her.

However, due to her plane from Copenhagen being delayed an hour and 20 minutes with no reason given, she missed her connecting flight from Doha. She managed to call us from her cellphone in the early hours to say Qatar staff had left her in a waiting room but that they would fetch her to catch another flight  in four hours, which meant we would have been able to fetch her this afternoon.

You can imagine our distress when we discovered that she was not on that flight either. Frantic with worry, my husband kept trying to call her but her phone was dead. Eventually he got through to find her in tears.

Nobody from Qatar Airways had bothered to come and fetch her, which meant she had missed the second fight as well. Distressed, she had made her way to a Qatar help desk where she was told she had missed the second flight and would have to wait in the airport nearly 24 hours until the next flight. Staff would not let her use the phone to let us know. When she asked if she could please stay in a hotel she was told no.  Qatar staff then just left her alone again in the waiting room with a couch but no blanket, even though she was cold and confused. By the time my husband got through to her she was in tears.

I have tried call Qatar Airways myself only to be told that the office is closed today. So here we sit, worried sick about our mother, feeling impotent and furious. All I can do is warn others  … Not having a helpline for these sorts of emergencies is just one reason why I cannot recommend this airline.

Update: My mother-in-law is finally home. Three times she asked for a hotel room. Three times she was refused at Qatar Airport. She then asked for something to eat and was told she must pay for it herself. Bear in mind, this is Qatar’s Business Class service! And it was Qatar staff that had agreed to assist her and failed to do so, with the result that she missed TWO flights. She was kept in a waiting room without a blanket, pillow, or food for 12 hours after being cross examined by staff as to whether a person in a red or a green uniform was supposed to assist her. She said she did not know and was then just ignored. Eventually Qatar staff must have relented after social media pressure and found her a hotel room to stay in for the remaining six hours or so but she arrived home tearful and exhausted.

Her  booking reference is 4V3YGQ. I would like to know why the flight from CPH was delayed, why she was not put on the later flight to JHB, and why she was left all on her own for 12 hours. When she missed her second flight, why was she not given a hotel room despite asking three times? She was told Qatar Airways would not pay for her to have something to eat.  As a so-called assisted passenger could she not have been shown to the Business CLass lounge and given some food? I’d also like to know why she was not permitted to use the phone to let us know after she missed her second flight.

  • Read more here for how Qatar Airways handled the case.