Background:Back in August 2008, with much enthusiasm and excitement we (my wife and I) made a reservation for a sight seeing tour to Egypt, from March 16 to 25 , 2009, with GATE1 Travel (10 Day Egypt For Less with 4 Day Nile Cruise). We decided to make an early reservation to make sure that there is ample time for GATE 1 people to provide us with a smooth and seamless itinerary. We planned to enjoy our vacation. We were taking our 10 year old daughter with us. She was very exited to make the overseas journey to the ancient land of Egypt. We trusted GATE1 with our travel arrangement. Having Leona with us we wanted to show her a good time so, we chose GATE 1, based on our successful experience last year to Italy, to make it happen. We gave our hard earned dollars to GATE 1 and trusted GATE 1 with our vacation plans.
In and around February 24, 2009 we received our itinerary by e-mail, we were exited.
Nightmare BeginsOn March 16 2009, we flew out of San Francisco to Frankfurt , upon landing at around 9:15 am local time we rushed to the gate to make our connecting flight to Cairo that was supposed to be at 10:05 am. To our dismay and shock the airline clerk at the gate counter told us that we are not on the morning flight, but our reservation is for the night flight leaving Frankfurt at 10:48 pm to Cairo. I could not believe it, I showed her the itinerary I had with me she checked her computer screen and said we are not on this flight, sorry, and stated that even if she wanted to board us on this flight, she could not, because the flight is full.
Here we are at around 9:50 am on March 17, 2009 in Frankfurt, after a long flight (about 11 hours) from San Francisco, we are told that our connecting flight to Cairo is 13 hours later. What a shock. What do we do in Frankfurt Airport for 13 hours with a child ?? There is no lodging and food arrangement from GATE 1 either. We are on our own, we felt betrayed after trusting GATE1 with our travel arrangement. We had no choice but to rough it out and wait 13 hours.
During the layover period in Frankfurt Airport I went over the itinerary. There were three parts . The first part containing six pages was clear we were supposed to be on the morning flight (UA 9106) out of Frankfurt. The second part contained all the vouchers and other information consisted of 18 pages, on page 2 it showed that we were supposed to fly to Cairo on the night flight (UA 8910). There was the discrepancy. The third part, containing only one page, agreed with the first part. Someone at GATE1 switched us to the night flight without giving us advanced warning without thinking about its ramifications to the rest of the itinerary without providing accommodation in Frankfurt for food and lodging. Someone at GATE 1 was negligent, and because of his/her negligence we were suffering in Frankfurt.
I thought to myself , while consoling Leona who had not gotten over the shock yet , that this long layover means that we would miss the domestic flight from Cairo to Aswan to join the rest of the tour group for the 4 day Nile Cruise starting on March 17, 2009. While the rest of the group was in Cairo, and later in Aswan, we were stranded in Frankfurt Airport. No one in GATE 1 thought it through or made any arrangement that if they put us on the night flight how would the rest of the trip schedule be affected. No one in their right mind would do this to a trusting client. I am appalled by the way GATE 1 handled this reservation.
Around 5 pm local time, I used my cell phone to call GATE 1 in the U.S from Frankfurt. I wanted to know if there would be someone to meet us in Cairo Airport and how would we get to Aswan from Cairo after this 13 hour delay in the schedule. After talking to two clerks and not getting any response (they put me on long holds while trying to find an answer) the last clerk came through and said that she had called Cairo and someone will be there and they will put us on the morning flight to Aswan from Cairo. Good thing I called because no one knew we were behind the schedule until I called, no arrangements were made for us until I called. This is outrageous, irresponsible on the part of GATE 1 and borderline criminal behavior, it is also the right material for Mike Finney, Channel 7 News, or other similar networks.
Nightmare continuesFinally the 13 hour wait was over and we boarded our flight to Cairo. On March 18 , 2009 at around 4:00 am local time we arrived in Cairo. A GATE 1 representative greeted us at the gate, I tried to maintain my composure. He said to us that he had made arrangements to put us on the early flight (around 6:00 am) out of Cairo to Aswan. After retrieving our luggage we were handed over to a second GATE 1 representative and the first person disappeared. Representative no.2 put us in a van to take us to the domestic airport from the international airport. There, a third representative showed up to help representative no.2. They took us to a glass walled office in the domestic airport where the domestic reservations were being made. Representative no.2 seemed to have seniority over representative no.3. After a lengthy cell phone conversation with his boss no.2 told me that his boss is telling him that it is our fault that we missed our flight and we have to pay for our airfare to Aswan. I could not believe what I was hearing. I said in a calm voice, your boss thinks we missed our flight? I showed him our itinerary and pointed to the mix-up and the mess created by GATE 1, all on paper in black and white in front of him. I said to him calmly, your boss is wrong we did not miss our flight GATE1 booked us the night flight instead of the morning flight out of Frankfurt to Cairo. This mess is not ours it is yours it is GATE 1's .
It is now around 5:00 am in Cairo, some 30 hours since we left San Francisco, stranded in the Cairo domestic airport with two insensitive *** representing GATE 1, who are demanding money in order to book us a flight that we have already paid for. I said how much is it anyway he said for all three it is around 300 Egyptian pounds. I said what Airlines, he said Egypt Air. I was shocked again. I looked at my papers it showed that we paid an extra $789 for Not flying Egypt Air. I said we are not supposed to fly Egypt Air. He said there is no other Airline that flies to Aswan. So, what had we paid $789 extra for, I asked ? The two *** had no explanation for this.
Representative no.2 said to me, talk to my boss. He handed over a sweaty and dirty cell phone. His boss said the same things, that we missed our flight, it is our fault and we must pay our air fare to Aswan. I lashed out at the boss over the phone and handed over the sweaty phone to representative no.2. After talking to his boss he turns to me and says if you do not pay you will stay in Cairo Airport. Now he is resorting to threats. We did not give in and got up to leave. They finally caved in and said ok we will pay. Finally, he came to his senses. After almost an hour of haggling, back and forth with his boss on the cell phone, making our blood boil, he decided to do the right thing. This is the trip to *** I said to myself.
After paying the 300 Egyptian pounds he gave us a computer print out from an old dot matrix printer stating that we are on stand-by for the morning flight. We waited another hour or so to see if there is room in the morning flight. To our dismay the flight was full, no room for standbys. At this point Leona was crying, she wanted to go home. We were tired, exhausted and could not believe this is happening to us. We were still waiting in the airport. The two GATE1 clowns who were supposed to help us kept disappearing in the dense crowd. As soon as we thought we were being abandoned they reappeared and disappeared again all this time their cell phone was glued to their ear. As if they were playing the game of how- frustrated- can- I- make- you-before ""you snap.
Finally they approached us and said that they booked us for the night flight out of Cairo to Aswan (exhibit 4). Meanwhile they are going to put us up in a nearby hotel. We had no other choice, we complied. I gathered my family and asked Leona to be strong and not to cry everything hopefully will be alright with these two clowns. As we were leaving the airport representative no.2 disappeared and representative no.3 remained with us. He turned to me and said that his boss had told him that we are responsible for the hotel expenses. Here we go again, he hands over the dirty sweaty cell phone to me again, I lash out at his boss again and this time using my cell phone called GATE 1 in the US and left a message complaining about the way we were being treated. It is now around 7:30 am on April 18 more than 36 hours since we left home. We were tired, frustrated, exhausted , disgusted, appalled.
Representative no.3 after keeping us in the cold outside air for 30 minutes waiting for the hotel shuttle that never showed up, took my advise and called a cab to drive us to the nearby hotel. Once there we had to wait another 45 minutes in the lobby while clown no.3 was making arrangements with his boss on how to pay for our stay. Finally they give us a room. As soon as we entered the room we all crashed into the beds from exhaustion, lack of sleep, jet lag and dealing with GATE1 *** Making a long story short , we checked out of our hotel at around 8:30 pm. We ended up paying for our meal . Only breakfast was included with the room not lunch or dinner. A new GATE 1 representative took us to the airport.
Flight to AswanOur flight to Aswan was around 11:00 pm. We flew Egypt Air to In Aswan Airport we were picked up by yet another representative. He drove us to the cruise ship. We checked into our cabin. It is now around 2:00 am on Thursday April 19. We were supposed to be in the cruise ship Tuesday evening April 17, 2009.
What we missed:We missed two days of the 10 days tour. Specifically we missed day 2 Cairo tour and day 3 the Aswan high dam unfinished obelisk and other sight seeing.
Emotional distress: The two days that we missed we were stranded in airports and hotels waiting for our flights that should have been coordinated right from the beginning to avoid this ordeal. But it was not. GATE 1 is clearly negligent in that regard. As a result, we were emotionally distressed at a time that we should have had a good time, it was our vacation time . We had booked this vacation way in advance and we were anticipating on having a good time but instead we were thrown into the turbulence of anguish, uncertainty, long waits and harassment by GATE 1 representatives in Frankfurt and Cairo . Leona was hurt, she was crying and wanted to go home. Alexis was disgusted and hurt. I was furious and felt betrayed.
Overcharge:A person in GATE 1 talks my wife into paying extra for Not flying Egypt Air domestically We paid the $789 but all the inter-Egypt flights were with Egypt Air.
Product or Service Mentioned: Gate1travel Cruise Booking.
Monetary Loss: $5000.