Can I not travel to Oman?
I would like to raise an issue I faced with Etihad Airways. It happened around April, when I wanted to travel to Oman for a short diving vacation. I have travelled to Oman several times prior to this, as I have many relatives there. I usually drive, but this time, I decided to fly since it was more convenient.
When I reached the airport, I went straight to baggage drop, since I had checked in online. The person at the counter checked my passport and asked if I had a residency visa in Oman. I was surprised by this question, but told him I can enter Oman with a visa on arrival. However, he replied that there was a new rule that Yemenis are not allowed to enter Oman. I was shocked and asked to speak to someone from security to clarify the matter, but they wouldn’t allow me to do so. So, I spoke with a manager from Etihad, who wasn’t helpful.
It was a Thursday evening, so there was no way to confirm with the Embassy of Oman. On the following Sunday, I visited the embassy. They informed me that there is no such rule and Yemenis can travel, as long as they are residents of the UAE, working professionals and the passport is valid for six months.
I returned to the airport to complain to the manager on duty. First, they had avoided providing me the names of the people on duty on the evening I was supposed to travel, saying they didn’t have records, which is not believable. Second, when I told them what the Embassy of Oman had told me, they said I could now buy a ticket and travel.
It was so unprofessional. How could I travel, when half of my vacation time was over? I cannot just call work and ask for an extension. Additionally, I already had a booking with a diving centre in Oman and had rented a car for the duration of my vacation and booked a hotel. Who will compensate me for all that?
They didn’t seem to care or take me seriously. When I logged a complaint with Etihad through email, they also didn’t bother to follow up. They just replied that they will look into the issue. Despite that, no one contacted me. I had to personally go to Etihad’s office and follow up on my case.
I met with a guest relations officer who promised that she would look into the issue. She got back to me saying they would pay for the first night of my hotel booking, a full refund of my ticket and for my car rental expense.
Three months later, I only got a partial refund of my ticket. Upon following up with them, their reply was the financial department had tried to transfer money to my account, but the bank refused. I immediately contacted my bank to confirm my details including IBAN number, account number, account name and swift code. They were the same details that I had provided to Etihad. I also went an extra mile and told my friend who works at the bank for over 10 years to transfer the money to my account with the same details, just to prove to Etihad that there was nothing wrong.
I then provided Etihad with a summary of my transaction history, screenshot of the text message received from my bank regarding the transfer, and a screenshot of my bank details from my online account. Till date, there has been no response from Etihad.
From Mr Khalid Bin Breik
The management of Etihad responds:
We have apologised to Mr Bin Breik for this unfortunate incident and have offered him compensation, which we are pleased to say has been accepted.
Mr Bin Breik responds:
Yes, Etihad has resolved the issue and deposited the compensation in my account. Thank you Gulf News, for the assistance.
(Process initiation: August 7. Response from organisation: August 12. Reader confirmation: August 24.)
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