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Hello fellow travelers,

I recently had an incredibly unpleasant experience on Qatar Airways Flight QR579, and I'm reaching out to this community for advice and insights from those who may have faced a similar situation.

Context:

Yesterday, my wife and I embarked on a journey with high hopes for a smooth travel experience. However, our experience with Qatar Airways turned out to be quite the opposite.

Upon arriving at Delhi Airport to board QR579 (and connecting flight QR081), we had four check-in bags totaling 60 kilograms and three handbags weighing 14 kilograms in total (2 laptop bags of 3.2kg and 3.8kg respectively, and one small trolley bag of 7kg). To our dismay, we were met with rude and hostile behavior from the airline staff, even though we were within our luggage limits. The situation took a drastic turn when we reached the boarding gate.

The Problem:

At the gate, we were informed that we could only carry two pieces of hand luggage, not three, which was perplexing given our 10+ years of travel experience. We had consistently carried our laptops in separate bags from our hand luggage. However, we were told to check in a small trolley weighing 7 kg, and pay an exorbitant fee of 24,418 Indian Rupees.

Despite presenting evidence of other passengers with similar bags, the staff remained unyielding, acting in a derogatory and abusive manner. We were left with no option but to pay and board the flight under duress. We told them to dispose off the bag as the content of 7kg is not worth of 24,418 INR. We requested that we take out our apartment keys and 1-2 more minor items that are important to us and the remaining content can be trashed. But they forced and pressured us to pay for it and put that bag in check-in. They threatened us that if in the next 5 mins we do not pay, they will remove our checked-in bags from the flight and deny us boarding.

The Contradiction:

What added to our confusion was that on a previous Qatar Airways flight from Berlin to Delhi (QR082 and QR570), our experience was entirely different. The same set of hand items—two laptop bags and the small trolley bag—didn't raise any issues on our outbound journey.

This inconsistency leads us to believe that the staff on our return flight intentionally harassed us for financial gain.

Request for Advice:

We have raised the complaint with Qatar Airways support through their website immediately, and now have received a response which is not quite helpful, all they've said is:

We seek to train our employees to meet our high standards however, we are seriously concerned when customers feel they have been poorly treated. You can rest assured that we have shared your comments with the responsible departments for their information and any appropriate action that may be required. We apologize for any inconvenience which may have been caused on this occasion and look forward to welcome you onboard our flights again in the near future.

We are thinking of initiating a chargeback request with our credit card provider to recover the unjustly charged amount. No idea how much this will be helpful.

We'd appreciate any insights, advice, or guidance from those who have faced similar situations. What steps can we take to address this issue, and how can we ensure it doesn't happen to other travelers in the future?

Your experiences and advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

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    So the staff at check-in were rude and hostile, and then the staff at the boarding gate were derogatory and abusive? And you feel there was a plot to fleece you for money, but not other pasengers with similar luggage? Were the charges actually within the current rules? Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 16:06
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    You've complained to the airline. Now all you can do is wait a few days and see if the airline is taking your complaint seriously or not. Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 16:13
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    did you check what are the actual terms and conditions of the ticket you were flying on, before deciding that your luggage was within the limit?
    – njzk2
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 17:03
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    @AlokKelsey Prohibited items yes, of course. But trashing 7kg of those seems somewhat unlikely; equally if 7kg of items are ‘non-essential’ at the airport check-in, why pack them in the first place? To me, all this pretty much boils down to a traveller not having informed him/herself about their luggage allowance as stated in the ticket they bought
    – Traveller
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 19:47
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    I can't see how 7kg hand baggage per person can be attributed to 2 laptops together weighing 7 kg and one bag of 7 kg. One person does not have 2 laptops, and the baggage allowances aren't "collective" or "shared". They are per person. Clearly one person has about 10kg of hand baggage. And whether they will fit under the seats is irrelevant. Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 20:10

2 Answers 2

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If you were travelling in economy class and don’t have frequent flyer elite status, then the Qatar Airways website tells us:

  • Economy Class passengers can carry one piece of baggage, not to exceed 7kg (15lb).

(…)

  • Laptops and laptop bags should fit within your hand baggage allowance.

(Emphasis mine)

So you were over your allowance, and they were perfectly in their rights to ask you for the bag to be checked and for a fee to be paid.

The fact that you slipped through with more than your allowance on previous flights does not mean you are allowed to do so on later flights.

Enforcement of carry-on limits varies a lot. Some airlines will enforce them strictly most of the time (especially low-cost airlines for which this is a source of revenue), others may be more lax.

It also varies a lot from flight to flight: they are a lot more likely to enforce the rules strictly on flights which are very full, or during periods where people carry more stuff on board then usual (often around some holidays).

I certainly cannot say whether they were rude or not, but they were just doing their job, enforcing the rules, so that there is space on board for what is actually allowed, and departure is not delayed because of bags needing to be checked at the last minute.

Remember that they are faced with passengers arguing about their bags every single day, so it’s quite normal for them to be a bit dismissive of people trying to argue their way through.

Apparently you focused on the size or weight of your bag, when this was most likely not the issue, the number of pieces was.

Note that there is also a size limit which may have been an issue as well, but we have no information on that from your post.

In short: they followed the rules.

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    (+1) The OP comparing their situation with other passengers does little good, others may have paid an optional extra upfront for additional baggage, for example. ‘Laptops within the hand baggage allowance’ is pretty common these days
    – Traveller
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 17:10
  • They were literally abusive in their language. If I had done the same, the airline would have banned me from flying with them, but because their employees have abused the customer, you think it is fine and those are their rights?They can always tell this politely instead of being abusive. I cannot type their words, otherwise my comment will be flagged, but I hope you know what I mean. Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 19:28
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    @Alok what were your words? They might not have been rude, but somehow (I don't know why) from the post's very first paragraph I wondered if you somehow innocently managed to get their backs up when you first approached checkout, in your quite understandable desire to get processed. Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 20:22
  • @WeatherVane Then there is no point in explaining if you have already made the perception :) How do you approach at the check-in desk? Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 20:27
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    Then perhaps other passengers have complained about their rude behaviour too, and any action taken will be an internal matter. But if the baggage fees were 'by the book', there's nothing else to say about that. Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 21:14
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What steps can we take to address this issue?

  • Make sure that you know your rights, and also the limits of the service you purchase. Specifically, confirm on your tickets how many pieces of carry-on luggage you're allowed to take with you.

[A]nd how can we ensure it doesn't happen to other travelers in the future?

  • Same as above. If an employee argues with you how many pieces you can take with you, you need to know what's the right number, and you need to be able to refer to the terms and conditions of your ticket. And every other traveler can do the same (but you don't need to worry about them).

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