Brussels Blogger

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.

Brussels Airlines Gift Voucher

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


UPDATE (15/02/2009):

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.

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  1. Sounds like they are becoming a bit like the dreaded Ryanair. I am planning to move to Brussles next month and I guess I wont be using this airline. Fools. What a way to run a business and keep your customers coming back !!

  2. Thanks for sharing this information. This is bad. I sure hope they will improve their services.I just found the coolest website! I never heard of it but it looks like the next mega website. You can swap frequent flyer miles for stuff, services and miles. It’s like buying stuff on eBay without spending cash. Here’s a link: Hey – if you have miles, maybe we can do business! Definitely worth checking out. Good luck!

  3. I am not surprised that Brussels Airlines have not met their obligations to customers.

    Their customer service is probably the worst of any airline I have ever used.

    The staff are rude, could not care less about their victims (oops! sorry, customers), and they are liars – using any excuse to hide their shortcomings and avoid their responsibilities.

    The horror stories I heard from regular customers (forced to use them from BHX to Brussels (where they work) were something to behold.

    They should be renamed ‘Cowboy Airlines’ and they should be avoided at all costs!

  4. Brussels Airlines is a so-so airline under the best of circumstances- but if you have a problem then you will find out just how bad customer service can be!

    The concept of customer service is unknown at Brussels Airlines- you will be met with nameless, faceless, incompetent personnel with no desire or ability to resolve any difficulty you have. “you can send an email to customer relations” seems to be maximum response you can hope for. According to their website it might take up to 4 weeks to get a reply from customer relations. What if you have an immediate problem?

    My suggestion is to avoid Brussels Airlines whenever possible- if you absolutely must use them, hope and pray that you don’t have any problems, because no one at the airline is going to help you if problems do occur.

  5. Keith, as my example shows a blog article plus letter to customer service resulted in a prompt reactions. So there are means, even if it might take a bit more effort than a simple email.

  6. I have noted the comments made by Keith and can only concur.

    My experience merely confirms his observations.

    My dealings with Brussels Airlines are through a travel agent who manages (or at least did manage my flight bookings), there is a claim in progress for loss and expense caused by Brussels irlines negligence and incompetence (not to mention their provable lies).

    The travel agent in addressing the problem directly with Brussels Airlines had the telephone call abruptly terminated (the phone was “slammed down”) – the observation made to me (I was present during the call) was: “that was the rudest person I have spoken to in 25 years wotking in the travel industry”

    My case rests!

  7. Your point is well taken and I’m happy that things worked out well for you.

    My problem relates to the airline booking money against my credit card and being told credit card authorization was refused, please try again (which I did) and again was told authorization was refused. I called the credit card company and they told me no problem, the charge was authorized both times and that the amount (well over 1000 Euros) was reserved for the airline for about 7 days. I called the help desk at the airline and they told me that I had no reservation, no ticket, and that the money amount didn’t matter since they would not proceed with the charges. This problem does matter to me as I travel on business and do not want my credit limit reduced for no good reason.

    They suggested I try again via the web(!) or make the reservation via telephone but would have to pay more if I did so by phone. They refused to do anything about the money booked against my card beyond suggesting that I send an email to customer relations, which would be answered within 4 weeks.

    In my opinion all companies have problems at one time or another. The difference between and a good company and a bad company is how a problem is handled once it occurs. In my case “within 4 weeks” is simply not acceptable. and I refuse to pay a higher ticket price because of errors by the airline.

    I think it is very sad that this airline has such total disregard for customers.

    The bottom line is that I have booked my flight with another airline.

  8. Gift Vouchers are not the only aread where they try and rip off their customers. Another scam that they run is called the Lowest Fare Guaranteed, where they will supposedly beat any competitors price by %10. Which of course they won’t, and you’ll be left with a way overpaid ticket, and much frustration.

    Read the details on Bradley’s blog at:

  9. On the topic of poor service I can add my experience with b.airlines – they lost my luggage and for 3 weeks I was left with a recorded message (“your luggage has not yet arrived”) and an e mail address that didn’t respond. Today, 4 1/2 weeks after my bags went missing, they offer me 650 Euros, while the inventory list I have supplied twice shows a value well above 2000. I understand that there’s a cap, but they should pay the money when they mess up.
    I paid 7000 Euros for the ticket, and find their behavior incompetent and cheap.

  10. The worst airline in the world is Brussel airline. They often rip off customers. Once, they delayed luggage. They promised to send it to my home. But, only send it to the airport.
    I got angry and called them. They promised to pay taxi fee, still didn’t mention about the lose of my time and others. I endured. But, finally, They proved themselves they are liar. They said the delay was caused by the carrier company, so it is not their fault and cannot compensate even one penny. I lost taxi fee 100$, bought a necessary underwear 60$, and the releasing fee of the airport 100$. The direct loss is total 260$. They did not compensate at all. They simply ignore their rule on their webpage. Don’t believe what they are saying. They are terrible, worse than rubber. If the robber did that, I forget soon. But, I can not forget their lying, rude, mishandling. Brussel fucking bitches’ airline.

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