I must share my recent experience of Aircoach whereby I was not allowed onto the coach because the driver had sold my (paid) seat to another passenger, which led to further problems which almost led to me missing my international flights connecting to Japan, and which resulted in several hours of unexpected distress/panic, and additional train and taxi expenses.
I have requested a refund of my unused ticket but have not received any response.
Saturday 23 July 2022
0757 - I rushed to the Aircoach stop in Cork, for the 0800 departure to Dublin airport. My first of 3 flights was due at 1500; I had checked-in online, so I needed to just drop off my bags by 1330 (i.e. 90 minutes prior to departure). By getting the 0800 coach, I would arrive at Dublin airport, 2 hours before the bag drop limit. I had booked and paid for my seat on the 0800 Aircoach over a month earlier, while planning my Ireland trip at home in Japan; I envisaged a smooth journey where I could relax/sleep on the coach journey to Dublin airport.
THE DRIVER TOLD ME MY SEAT HAD BEEN GIVEN TO SOMEONE ELSE; I SHOULD NOT PUT MY LUGGAGE IN THE TRUNK, AND I WAS NOT PERMITTED TO RIDE THIS COACH.
I explained that I had paid for my seat on the coach; he told me it is stated in the ticket conditions that passengers should arrive 10 minutes before; latecomers' seats would be given to other walk-up passengers. In my mind, I wasn't late - the departure was at 0800, I had arrived a few minutes early, so I expected to be able to take my seat.
* I admit that I had NOT read the conditions on the ticket; I had assumed that like in all other transport - trains, buses etc. - as long as you arrive before departure time, no matter how last-minute you arrive, you are allowed to ride, especially so if you have bought an advance ticket. So in that respect, strictly speaking, it is all my fault. Throughout the following hours, during train and taxi journeys, everyone I spoke to were of the opinion that Aircoach's policy is at the very least unusual, and it could be argued that it is really quite unfair to paying passengers*
I would like to share with you how my day unfolded after I was refused boarding of the 0800 coach.
The driver told me the next Aircoach is at 0900 and I could ride it instead.
0845 - the 0900 Aircoach arrived. I thought I would wait for all 0900 departure passengers to board, then I would ask if there was a spare seat for me. I hadn't realized that several people with no booking were speaking to the driver and he was making a mental list of who was waiting. I thought that because I had been waiting the longest (1 hour), I would be automatically first in line. The result - several people who had spoken to the driver got the spare seats; I did not. I was confused about the system, the driver told me that I must make my presence known to the driver to be in his waiting list.
0945 - the 1000 Aircoach arrived; I had stood outside the shelter in the slight rain with my bags, so I could make a desperate attempt to get this coach; any later than this, I would miss my flight. I "grabbed" the driver immediately and told him I wanted to wait for a free seat. I was first in line. Everyone turned up - I could not get on the coach. The driver suggested waiting for the 1100 service (this would arrive at 1430; my flight was at 1500, and the bag drop limit 1330)
1000 - sheer panic set in. Would I need to pay 100s of Euros for a taxi from Cork to Dublin Airport? A waiting person told me the train station was nearby; I should take the train.
1010 - arrived (running) at Cork (Kent) station; paid around 47 Euros for a train to Dublin Heuston.
1310 - train arrived (12 minutes late) at Dublin Heuston. I had carried all the bags through the crowded train so I could be at the front, to get off ahead of the crowds, to run for a taxi.
1320 - get a taxi to airport (25 Euros)
1350 - arrive at Dublin Heuston airport. Run with all my bags to Qatar Airways counter. Bag drop limit was 1330; I knew I was late, thought perhaps I might not be able to board the flight - stay in Dublin more nights, pay for flight on another day?!
1400 - arrive at Qatar Airways counter. Some passengers were having a problem.
1415 - staff allows me to drop off my bag and gives me free FastTrack for security, so I don't miss my flight.
1445 - after security, immigration and more running, I arrive at the departure gate, and catch my flight.
In my mind, I had arrived (just) in-time for the 0800 Aircoach; I had paid for my seat.
Instead, I had an extremely traumatic day, paid an additional 72 Euros for alternative transport, and didn't have the chance to use the Aircoach ticket I had bought.
I suppose you could say that everything that happened was my own fault.
But I would urge Aircoach to rethink the boarding policy so that other future _paying_ passengers do not have to experience the distress I did, or even worse, even miss their flight.
Of course I would be particularly happy if Aircoach would as a goodwill gesture offer some compensation in regards of my additional 72 Euros expense.
But at the very least, I would expect that Aircoach would refund the 19 Euros for my unused ticket.