Passengers stuck in Thailand angered by scant information forthcoming from Finnair
“We’re doing our best”, airline says
There was a sense of frustration on Sunday at an emergency service desk set up by Finnair in the Montien Hotel in Bangkok, where airline personnel struggled to deal with the problems experienced by about 1,000 passengers stuck in Thailand by the closure of Bangkok Airport because of political unrest.
Many said that they had spent hours trying to to get help from the service numbers of Finnair, but to no avail
“I tried for six hours. At the Bangkok number a Thai girl answered in English, and the matter was not cleared up. At the Helsinki number there was an answering machine saying that we should look on the Internet”, says Jari Ristilöä from Tampere.
Many said that they had travelled to Bangkok from Hua Hin, which is a three hour drive away, because they did not get any clarification by telephone or over the Internet on where and when it might be possible to fly to Finland.
“Naturally Finnair cannot help the situation in any way, but the flow of information should work”, said Vesa Kettunen who is in Thailand with his wife and two-year-old son, and did not know how they would move on from Bangkok.
The closure of Bangkok’s two airports - the international and the domestic airport - by the protesters has affected the travel plans of at least 100,000 passengers this week.
Many Finnair employees in Thailand have been sleeping only a couple of hours a night in recent days, while trying to make the necessary arrangements. The company has also flown employees from Finland to Phuket in the south of the country to help with the situation.
“We will try to be in contact with passengers as well as we can, but the situation is very challenging”, said Finnair spokesperson Manti Väätäinen-Pereira.
Finnair has promised to pay for one night’s accommodation at the Montien Hotel. The passengers themselves have to pay for possible additional nights, and can try to recoup the money from their travel insurance.
Thai officials have said that Bangkok International Airport would stay closed at least until Monday, but on Sunday it appeared that it would take several more days than that.
Normally Finnair has two daily flights to Bangkok, except for Tuesdays, when there is only one. Now the airline is chartering buses from Bangkok to Phuket, which is 10-12-hours away, where the airport still operates, and where extra Finnair flights have been arranged.
About half of the stranded Finnair passengers are Finnish citizens.
Martine Wouters, from the Netherlands, was to have flown from Bangkok via Helsinki to Amsterdam last Thursday.
“Now they say that next Wednesday is the first possibility. However, I am supposed to be at work already on Monday”, Wouters said at the hotel.
Finnair is currently flying an extra daily flight from Phuket to Helsinki. Raisio resident Juuso Kantonen was stranded in Bangkok for a couple of days after backpacking for three months, but on Sunday he got on a bus to Phuket organised by Finnair.
“Now I feel relieved to know that I’m going home”, he said on the bus to Phuket.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Hundreds of Finns remain stuck in Bangkok (28.11.2008)
Finnair passengers still stranded in Bangkok (27.11.2008)
Finnair Bangkok flight returns to Helsinki as nearly 400 Finns remain stuck in Thailand (26.11.2008)
Finnair information about situation at Bangkok Airport - in English, Finnish and Swedish