Its a Jungle out there.
Copy of a recent complaint sent to Virgin Atlantic by a disgruntled customer.
(Name and address supplied to website)




Dear Sirs,

   I am writing to claim compensation for the unacceptable way in which I was
   treated by Virgin Atlantic on a recent trip to Lagos, Nigeria.

   My reservation was made as follows:

   Sunday 8th December 2002 Manchester to Heathrow
   Sunday 8th December 2002 Heathrow to Lagos
   Sunday 15th December 2002 Lagos to Heathrow
   Sunday 15th December 2002 Heathrow to Manchester

   Here is an account of my experience:

   1.    Having boarded VS651 (8 Dec) the flight crew informed us that some form
   of ticket discrepancy prevented the flight from being able to fly that
   evening. All passengers were told to leave the aircraft and make their way
   to arrivals where transportation and accommodation arrangements would be
   clarified, in order to allow us to fly the following day at 2pm. I followed
   their instructions, to find a chaotic and disorganized situation around the
   2 Virgin representatives attempting to deal with 500 disgruntled
   passengers, some of whom informed me that a technical problem had prevented
   Virgin's London-Lagos flight from leaving 2 days previous. We were advised
   that we should board a bus that would take us to a hotel. The name of the
   hotel was not given to us. I waited at the bus stop for almost 2 hours, in
   the early hours of the morning, until I managed to get a seat. The bus
   driver had no idea about which passengers were supposed to check in at each
   hotel. I eventually was given a room at the Radisson Hotel. I finally got to
   bed at 4am, we were woken at 8am by reception under Virgin's instructions.

   2.    I waited from 8.30am until a bus finally arrived at 11.30am. I was taken
   to Heathrow terminal 3 and Virgin announced that VS1651 would be leaving
   from gate 31 at 2pm. Since the aircraft did not start boarding until around
   4pm, the scene at the doors to the gate lounge became dangerously volatile,
   and police officers were deployed to control the crowd. The crowd was
   frustrated due to the lack of information being provided by Virgin. I feared
   for my own safety and stepped back from the crowd, waiting until around 5.30
   to finally board the aircraft.

   3.    I eventually arrived in Lagos around midnight on Monday 9th December
   having missed a full days work. By the time my suitcase was available it
   was around 1.30am, by which time my arranged driver had gone. Consequently I
   made a very dangerous journey from the airport into Lagos in a taxi, along
   the way being stopped by 3 armed checkpoints, 2 of which demanded cash to
   allow me to pass on my way. My safety was put at serious risk during this
   journey to the hotel, and the cost of the taxi plus payments to the armed
   police amounted to around $100.

   4.    I attempted to call the Virgin desk at the Lagos Sheraton Hotel several
   times during the week to confirm my flight back to the UK. At no time did
   anyone answer the telephone.

   5.    When I arrived at Lagos airport on Sunday 15th December (7.30am) I joined
   a long queue for check-in. After standing for 1 hour in this queue a
   passenger kindly informed me that I was wasting my time since the flight had
   been cancelled. Virgin Atlantic appeared to make no effort whatsoever to
   inform the passengers queuing that this was the case. I asked at the
   check-in desk for clarification and it was confirmed that due to a technical
   problem the previous day I was expected to wait until Monday 16th December
   to fly back to the UK.

   6.    I went to the Virgin office at Lagos airport where a large crowd had
   gathered. I was told that I had no choice but to stay another night in Lagos
   and fly home the next day. When I asked whether I could have my ticket
   endorsed for the BA flight that evening I was told that the ticket was
   non-endorsable.

   7.    Virgin then assured me I would be given a room in a first class hotel in
   Lagos and put me in a local taxi with 5 other Nigerians, our suitcases in
   the boot and the lid of the boot hanging open from being overfilled. We
   drove out of the airport and within minutes we were stopped by armed police
   who made us get out of the car and empty our suitcases at the side of the
   road. An angry scene developed and I again feared for my own safety.
   Thankfully I managed to calm down the armed police by explaining the
   situation and we continued on to the hotel.

   8.    The driver took an hour to find the hotel since he had no idea where it
   was. When we reached the hotel it was situated in a very dangerous run-down
   district of Lagos, I again feared for my own safety. The hotel itself was
   old and very dirty, with windows that did not shut properly and disgusting
   bathroom facilities. My dog would not have slept in the bed I was offered. I
   left immediately for the airport in order to find an alternative solution to
   the situation.

   9.    I paid a local driver $10 to take me to the airport from where I called
   my family in the UK. They were able to reserve a seat on the BA flight that
   was leaving Lagos for London Sunday night. My family also called the Virgin
   office in Lagos (Virgin offices in the UK were shut which I find incredible
   for an international airline) and the Lagos personnel told them that they
   would endorse my ticket for transfer to the BA flight.

   10.    BA was most helpful and issued me with a ticket to London (BA74 15th
   December). I arrived back in London at 6am on Monday morning.

   11.    I then attempted to contact the Virgin desk to re-arrange my onward
   flight to Manchester. There was still nobody available at Virgin to speak to
   me. Not even at the Virgin desk in Terminal 3, which I called several times.
   Thankfully British Midland were most helpful in providing a seat on their
   flight to Manchester which left at 0855 Monday 16th December. I arrived back
   home at midday on Monday, too late to meet my work commitments for the day.

   This is not the first time that Virgin Atlantic has let me down, and I know
   from speaking to other passengers this week that this is now a regular event
   on the Lagos route. Some of your passengers may accept this level of
   service, I certainly do not. My own safety has been put at serious risk on
   several occasions during this trip to Nigeria, purely due to Virgin's
   incompetence and disregard for the safety and welfare of their passengers.

   I will never fly on Virgin again. I am so angry at the events of my recent
   trip that I am considering action beyond compensation to highlight this
   problem and prevent others from suffering a similar experience. I am
   genuinely concerned that the current operation being run by Virgin Atlantic
   between London and Lagos is risking the lives of passengers on a daily
   basis. The frequency of technical problems on the Air Atlanta aircraft on
   this route and the operational incompetence at both ends is a matter of
   great concern.

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