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swiss air did not honor my ticket and refuses to return the money

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Summary: I purchased a ticket from Swiss Air on Feb 12 to get to my Grandmother's funeral. They sent me an e-ticket and receipt, and an email confirmation. But upon arrival to the airport, they claimed there was an issue of payment and refused to let me board. They allowed me to be escorted into the airport and give them cash AGAIN for the ticket. Upon consulting the credit card company, the payment was processed and now Swiss Air is refusing to return the money for the ticket they did not honor.


On February 12th, I purchased a ticket from Swiss Air. My grandmother had just passed away and I was desperate to attend her funeral and provide support to my family. I was travelling from Hong Kong to Warsaw, via Zurich.

I live in Shenzhen, China. We are able to take a ferry to the Hong Kong Airport. There is an airline counter in Shenzhen that checks your ticket, then you depart China via the Shekou Port immigration. I did this on February 14th, on the last ferry of the evening.

When I arrived, I was informed that because my husband had purchased the ticket, it was not valid and the payment was not accepted. It should be noted here that I received an e-ticket, a receipt for payment, and email confirming the flight, and had passed through the airline counter in Shenzhen port. The e-ticket clearly listed my name as the passenger. At no point did Swiss Air contact me to let me know there was a problem with the flight.

The counter staff said that I had to buy another ticket at over $1000 USD cost. I began to cry and beg the counter staff to help me attend my grandmother's funeral. One man replied to my begging by waving his hand at me dismissively and yelling at me in Cantonese before walking away. I informed the staff that all I had was a bank card.

The woman at the counter tried to get permission to allow me to enter HKIA to withdraw cash to repay for the ticket. During this time, the man who yelled at me came back with the ferry staff and customs officials and they yelled at me some more. They had absolutely no compassion and no interest in the fact that I had a receipt of purchase.

The woman at the counter finally gained permission to escort me into the airport to withdraw cash. I gave her $8250 HKD and she gave me a boarding pass. The boarding crew provided me with a receipt and I was allowed to board.

To add insult to injury, Swiss Air HAD accepted and processed the original ticket and REFUSED TO RETURN THE MONEY. To restate: Swiss Air issued me a ticket and receipt, then refused to honor the ticket, but kept the money. If this sounds like theft, you are correct. This is absolutely illegal under the Hong Kong Supply of Services Ordinance, which states:

"When a consumer buys a service but the contract itself is silent on certain aspects, the parties can rely on the Supply of Services (Implied Terms) Ordinance ("SSO"), which provides:

services should be carried out with reasonable care and skill (which generally means the services must meet the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory) ( section 5 of the SSO );

services should be performed within a reasonable time if the time of performance has not been fixed by the contract ( section 6 of the SSO ); and

a reasonable charge should be paid if the charge has not been fixed by the contract ( section 7 of the SSO ).

If service suppliers fail to meet any one of the above conditions, they would be "in breach of contract". Under these circumstances, consumers are entitled to sue defaulting suppliers for compensation."

Additionally, I suffered great stress and mental anguish due to this event. Upon my return trip, I suffered a panic attack in the Warsaw airport due to my concern that Swiss Air may have again denied me transport back to Hong Kong. I now have a fear, not of flying, but of airports! I will always worry now that I will arrive at an airport and be denied the right to fly.

Furthermore, I have spoken to many people at Swiss Air in person. All professed to understand that Swiss Air acted poorly in this situation and under no circumstances should keep the money for the original ticket. However, they made no attempt to correct the situation and insisted that I have to apply for a refund. A refund for a ticket which was not honored, when I have a receipt for payment for a new ticket.

I would like Swiss Air to give me a written apology and compensation for my suffering. I would also like them to change their policies so that they will honor all tickets with receipts. In this case they should have allowed me to fly and contacted me to resolve any payment issues afterwards (which, to be clear, there was no payment issue because Swiss Air processed the payment and refused to return the money). They also need to improve their customer service. I contacted them via phone and email, even emailing the CEO, but have heard no response.

I am currently disputing the charge via the credit card company, and I am also investigating the possibility of taking Swiss Air to court in Hong Kong as I believe the act of accepting payment for a service and then denying service and keeping the money is illegal.

Thank you,
RM Symotiuk

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