By HILARY KIMUYU, @hilarykimuyu
The fortunes of troubled airline Kenya Airways keep dwindling by the day with fresh accusations emerging that it left 12 Kenyan passengers stranded at the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
Worse still, the airline told the passengers to find their own accommodation in the Dutch capital which was not their destination.
A passenger who identified herself as Joyce Murigi narrated at length via a Facebook post how they were frustrated and eventually abandoned by the airline after their flight to Paris was diverted to Amsterdam due to poor visibility.
The drama started on Friday at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) where the passengers were told that the flight had delayed and they were to come back the following day.
The flight eventually took off on Saturday at 6.30am. Hours later, as they approached Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, the pilot was diverted to another airport within France due to poor visibility. But the second airport was also experiencing bad weather and they could not land.
Eventually, the flight was diverted to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol where it landed safely.
FROM BAD TO WORSE
But things took a turn to the worse. First, the passengers were locked in the airplane for more than an hour after Dutch authorities refused to grant them permission to disembark.
Eventually the passengers were allowed to access the airport, but on condition they must each obtain a day’s visa. At the security desk at the airport, they were told to contact Kenya Airways for assistance in getting the visas.
According to Ms Murigi, the airline’s Station Manager in Hall 2 at the airport only organised the transportation of non-Kenyan passengers to Paris by bus.
Kenyan passengers, 12 of them, were left unattended to and stranded, and were eventually locked up in the Passport Control Hall, she claims.
They have so far endured two days of the European winter at the airport. They cannot leave without the day’s visas because they were not supposed to land in Amsterdam in the first place.
The only support they have got from Kenya Airways, she claims, is an unsigned letter telling them to find their own accommodation and seek refunds later.
“Unfortunately you are confronted with an unexpected overnight stay in Amsterdam. We advise you to arrange your own hotel as hotel capacity is extremely limited,” the letter reads.
“Afterwards you may claim the hotel costs via KQ customer Care with a maximum of 120.00 Euro per night / per room.”
“We sincerely hope that, despite the inconvenience, the rest of your journey will be a pleasant one and we thank you for choosing KQ,” it added.
The letter was dropped at the hall and no KQ official talked to the stranded passengers.
The rescheduled flight is set to leave for Paris on Tuesday.
The airline sent a statement to Nairobi News that stated: ” We did have a few guests in the situation when the flight was diverted and could not gain entry. Unfortunately airlines have no jurisdiction at passport control or immigration. We are in contact with the guests in the said case and are working to reduce the inconvenience for them. We apologize to our guests who are caught up in the delays/diversions caused by the weather situation in Europe. Please let me know if I can assist further.”