Drama at the airport

I AM an American citizen who was left stranded in Brunei Darussalam because of an airline company at Brunei International Airport.

The airline denied me boarding last Saturday (April 29) on a flight I had paid for and it refused to rebook me on another flight.

It was the most outrageous, horrific, shocking, upsetting travel experience of my life that day.

An airline denied me boarding from Brunei Darussalam (BWN) to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (KUL) because my two small backpacks weighed in at Gate 7 at a combined 14.9 kilogrammes (32.8 pounds).

The gate agents said the combined limit for the allowed two carry-on pieces is seven kilogrammes (15.4 pounds). This was not clear on my ticket (purchased online from kiwi.com). I read it as seven kilogrammes per piece; they insisted it is seven kilogrammes total.

After a lengthy argument, the options presented were for me to: (A) Throw away 7.9 kilogrammes (17.4 pounds) of my computer and camera equipment, food, toiletries, reading materials and other items in my two carry-on backpacks; or (B) Pay an overweight fee (I had already paid online to check in a small suitcase weighing 24 kilogrammes).

There was no way I could dispose of 17.4 pounds of items, so I finally relented and agreed to their ludicrous ransom demand of $70 Brunei Dollars (US$50.10) for the “heavy hand luggage” fee.

I handed the gate agent my MasterCard and she responded, “Cash only.”

I opened my empty wallet to show her, “I don’t have any cash. I’m leaving Brunei. Why would I have 70 Brunei dollars in cash?”

To my utter disbelief, she then radioed the ramp to offload my checked suitcase and said I was being denied boarding.

Several minutes later, the A320 pushed back from the gate without me aboard – after a 15-minute delay due to my situation and that of several others.

Some passengers were forced by the airline to abandon their clothes, food and even entire suitcases on the floor at Gate 7 because they did not have cash to pay the “heavy hand luggage” fee.

It was total, absolute, head-spinning insanity. I have flown on 985 flights aboard 77 different airlines, and I have never encountered the mayhem I experienced last Saturday.

If you can’t accept someone’s card payment, then you waive the fee and allow them to board with the ticket he has already purchased.

You do not refuse to board the customer because you are technologically inept and don’t have a credit card terminal at the gate in an international airport.

I retrieved my checked suitcase that the airline offloaded after refusing to board me because it said my two small carry-on backpacks were too heavy and they had no means to accept my credit card for payment of a US$50 excess carry-on fee. There were no other flights options to get me toward Laos that night.

I was in stunned disbelief at what has transpired. I connected with travel booking site kiwi.com customer service online chat, however the agent refused to assist me and failed to honour the site’s booking guarantee stating they would aid stranded customers with flight rebookings, a hotel room, and meals. This was all utter insanity.

After establishing contact with the airline’s customer service chat, I had to wait 17 minutes in the queue before an agent came online.

The airline’s agent provided horrible customer service – refusing to rebook me on another flight and/or put me up in a hotel in Brunei for the night.

I was told to submit an “e-form” so the airline could “investigate” what had happened. But this does not help me get another flight out of Brunei. I was then shocked when the chat automatically disconnected without warning after 10 minutes. What absolutely horrendous customer service – never in my life have I experienced an online chat terminate like this before when my problem was not resolved. I was invited to start another chat, and found myself #32 in the queue with an estimated 17-minute wait time.

Lucas Wall