Since several years I am a loyal customer of Oman Air, flying countless sectors between Frankfurt and Muscat, either in Economy or Business Class, recommending the airline to family, friends and colleagues. But last Wednesday, 8th of July, my trust in Oman Air got a huge disappointment on the embarrassing experience with flight #WY113 from Frankfurt to Muscat.
The flight was scheduled to departure from Muscat at 13:20 GMT+04 and to arrive in Frankfurt at 18:35 GMT+02. Performed online check-in for my two colleagues and myself a day in advance, being happy about getting the seats of our choice, because obviously the flight was not fully booked. This was confirmed while dropping the luggage at the counter, with less than 100 passengers being booked on the flight. Spending some time in the smoking cabin in the Irish Pub and in the Duty Free, we moved towards the gate at 12:30 GMT+04, being ready to leave beautiful Oman for a couple of weeks. Surprisingly the gate was closed with only a hand full of people in the waiting room. With us some other 10 to 15 passengers were found with question marks in the face in front of the gate. After a while we heard rumors from Oman Air staff, that the Frankfurt flight would be merged with the flight to Milano, which was set to depart at 13:50 GMT+04. Why? Nobody knows until today. Some said that the plane to Milano had some technical issues, others said, that flights will be merged, because the Milano flight also had only a very low number of passengers. Sources were talking about 80 passengers for each flight. Hence it might make sense to merge flights, if this will not cause some significant delay for concerned passengers.
While our scheduled departure time already had passed, and because none of the present Oman Air staff was able to provide reliable information, I sent a tweet to Oman Air’s twitter account, asking for some clarification. Unfortunately this tweet was not answered until today.
— Henning Schwarze (@HenningSchwarze) 8. Juli 2015
Time was running and after 2 to 3 hours waiting without information, people became nervous and wanted to know whats going on. The only information we got, was, that the Milano and Frankfurt flights would be merged and that we might depart before 17 GMT+04. Departure at 17 GMT+04 in the late afternoon with a flight time of nearly 7 hours? I was thinking to myself, that it is a must to fly to Frankfurt first, not to be effected by the night flight restrictions at Frankfurt airport (23 GMT+02). Also this would make sense, as the same plane would fly back to Muscat the same night, which now could stop in Milano, where passengers could drop off, and new passengers from Milano to Muscat could board the plane. Time passed by and on a sudden Oman Air staff was starting to distribute new boarding passes for passengers to Milano and Frankfurt for one plane, with the flight number for Frankfurt and the departure time of the Milano flight. This distribution of boarding passes was absolutely not organized and more than a chaos. Finally, after a while, all passengers met in the waiting room of the gate and a new rumor made the round: first we will fly to Milano and continue to Frankfurt. I was not the only one with doubts regarding the night flight restrictions in Frankfurt. Passengers booked to Frankfurt started hectic verbal discussions with Oman Air staff. The atmosphere became light aggressive. I also was talking to some senior staff, where we all have been told, that we will reach Frankfurt today and that we should not worry.
— Henning Schwarze (@HenningSchwarze) 8. Juli 2015
Don’t worry be happy!? Of course it would not be comfortable for us to reach Frankfurt a day later. We all had business appointments on the 9th of July. But it was not possible to convince Oman Air staff about the night flight restrictions and, and that is the worst thing of the story, Oman Air knew already that we will not reach Frankfurt, but the staff was knowingly providing false information to its valuable customers.
After another 30 minutes of discussions, all passengers were finally transferred by bus to and into the plane. While still being on the ground in Muscat I checked the webpage of Frankfurt Airport, where it was already written black and white: Flight #WY113 from Muscat to Frankfurt has been cancelled, as well as the #WY114 from Frankfurt to Muscat later that day. So, why does Internet and Frankfurt Airport knew more and better than Oman Air ground staff, the pilot and the flight attendants? Is it so difficult to be honest to valuable customers?
But there was even more evidence of scrupulous customer treatment… In general Oman Air is a modern airline, where you can use your mobile phone in the air and therefore I was able to communicate by SMS with a colleague, who was booked on the #WY114 from Frankfurt to Muscat. 30 minutes after departure, when I was asking the supervisor of the flight, if we would reach Frankfurt toady, or what might happen to us, what she couldn’t or wanted to answer, I received already the information, that we would be booked in a hotel in Milano and that we would continue with Lufthansa to Frankfurt in the morning.
And this is also how the story ended: We reached Milano’s Malpensa Airport late in the evening, got a room in the Sheraton Airport Hotel and reached Frankfurt at 8 GMT+02 in the morning, with an on time and organized flight by Lufthansa. My colleague in Frankfurt was booked on an Etihad flight and reached Muscat with approximately 6 hours delay. Instead of being with my family on Wednesday evening at 21 GMT+02, I reached them at 12 noon on Thursday, after cancellation of my Thursday meetings.
@HenningSchwarze Hello and welcome at FRA! Nice to have you here and we wish a wonderful day. ^VA
— Fraport AG (@Airport_FRA) 9. Juli 2015
Personally I am highly disappointed by the latest Oman Air experience. In particular in the aviation industry, trust and customer care are playing a very important role. Oman Air made an excellent example, how passengers should not be treated. This level of dishonesty, in particular in the holy month of Ramadan, is absolutely unacceptable and the level of unprofessional communication is shocking. Have to book at least 9 tickets to Muscat within the next 6 months. What remains are doubts…