January 15, 2009
Beware of Brussels Airlines – their gift voucher system is a rip-off! [Article updated after reaction from Brussels Airlines. Please see below!]
Your nice friends who bought you Brussels Airlines gift voucher really only wanted the best for you but you will have a hard time using them.
When I got my vouchers worth 80 euros for flights with Brussels Airlines I was very happy. Living in Brussels, I will certainly have occasions to use them.
But then I found out the following:
– you cannot use the voucher when buying online and
– you cannot use the voucher when buying via the phone hotline
So, asked where I can buy the tickets I was referred to the Airport desk of Brussels Airport. Already suspicious whether they would have the same ticket prices I asked for a telephone number: nope, the airport office has no phone number, you can only go there. But the call centre person assured me that it would be the same price (except that the booking fee is 14 euros more than when booking online).
This means that just because Brussels Airlines has forgotten to implement a system for the vouchers online you have to go to the airport to use them and pay 14 euros more (but that alone wouldn’t make me write this story).
On my way to the airport
Today I went there to book my flights (I have found a 99 euros flight to Vienna in February where I wanted use my 80 euros voucher). But when I arrived at the airport Brussels Airlines told me that the flight is 179 euros. I said that I just checked the price online at home and that it was 99 euros. The Brussels Airlines representative told me those cheap flights are sold very quickly and that they would no longer be available at this price.
I couldn’t believe. I grabbed my laptop and thanks to mobile internet I could show the representative that all three flights on that day where still available for the price of 99 euros. His answer: “then we cannot book this flight here, I cannot help you”
Conclusion: never buy Brussels Airlines gift vouchers for people you like!
It looks very much like the vouchers are a rip-off and you are better off giving the money in an envelope. In this specific case paying 80 euros more for a flight when you have a 80 euros voucher (plus paying your train ticket to the airport to make the booking) can be considered a scam!
PS: at the time of writing, the flight is still available for 99 euros
Brussels Airlines has reacted to this blog article and a letter sent to them. They apologised for the fact that the same price wasn’t available at the airport ticketing desk and promised to look into the problem, as it shouldn’t be like that. They further offered to refund the gift voucher as they see that I’ve made a normal online booking on the website of Brussels Airlines.
As far as the gift vouchers themselves are concerned the company explains that they are not real gift vouchers. While you can use them as gift, it is apparently not intended as such.
So, the headline of this story remains the same: Don’t buy gift vouchers from Brussels Airlines. But as an airline, don’t hesitate to fly with them, as their online booking (and treatment of complaints) works well! Though I would still encourage the airline to setup a proper gift voucher system that can be used without problem when using online booking.Author : brusselsblogger