A newlywed couple have missed their £5,000 honeymoon due to alleged mistakes at the airport – with the bride’s wedding dress even missing with her luggage.
Soumaya Elliott, 30, and her husband Justin, 33, from Newbury, embarked on a four-week trip to Asia to follow their wedding last month.
But their dream honeymoon quickly turned into a nightmare, marred by flight delays, lost luggage and expensive reservations.
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Frustrated by the ordeal, the couple ultimately decided to abandon the trip.
And Soumaya, a lecturer in television and film production, said the experience was so overwhelming she found herself in bed for days.
She said: “It was really really awful. It was awful. It was the worst experience of my life, I think.”
Soumaya and Justin, who married on July 10, had paid £5,000 for a trip to Bangkok, Phuket, Tokyo and Seoul, which they had booked through Kiwi.com.
But after flying from London Heathrow to Vienna without any problems, they were caught up in three-and-a-half-hour delays at passport control, check-in and security.
This caused them to miss their Saudi Arabia Airlines flight to Bangkok by two minutes, they say.
Soumaya said: “They didn’t call our door – we were just sitting there waiting.
“Then we looked at the time and we were about two minutes late so we ran to the airport staff but they said we were too late and basically told us to leave. We were stuck . We didn’t know what to do.”
After contacting Kiwi.com, the couple say they were told they weren’t eligible for a refund or new flights.
They then used the money from the wedding gift to book a £1,300 flight for the next day – and claim the agency assured them they would not need additional visas.
“At this point we were freaking out, so we just took their advice and went to book flights,” Soumaya said.
But that meant they had to sleep on the airport floor while they waited, they say, with Justin using only a flip-flop to support his recently broken back.
He said: “I had several back spasms where I had to sit on the floor for about 20 minutes to hold myself up.
“I wasn’t allowed to smuggle diazepam across many borders because you can only bring a limited amount, so I just didn’t bring any.
“I didn’t think I was going to experience this kind of stress.”
And, to their horror, the couple were then denied check-in for their flight the following morning because they did not have a visa, they claim.
Soumaya said: “I ended up having a panic attack on the ground and I was sick.”
They claim that Kiwi.com are still being denied any help or refunds, so they had no choice but to return home to the UK, which cost them an additional £800.
And, to make matters worse, their luggage got lost on one of the legs on their way home – on a trip from Vienna to Frankfurt – which contains Soumaya’s wedding dress.
The couple have been reimbursed £1,235 for extra flights they had to buy to get to Bangkok.
They also received around £1,000 in Kiwi.com vouchers. But Soumaya demands full compensation.
She said: “It’s just terrifying that they’re happy to take two or three grand off you and not actually help or provide a service.
“I had to argue with them so much. It was two days after our wedding, which should be a happy time.
“We don’t want vouchers – we don’t want to use them anymore. They have to give us our money back.”
A spokesperson for Kiwi.com said: “We cannot imagine the distress Mr and Mrs Elliott have been through.
Since the couple missed the flight in Vienna, they contacted our customer service and were informed of the Transfer Protection terms.
“Given the nature of the situation, our customer service agent has also advised of the possibility of purchasing flight tickets directly at the airport – this option however requires a final agreement with our team before purchase.
“Customers decided to select and purchase a flight without consultation and unfortunately missed the visa requirements information alerting them to specific requirements at their transit airport.
“Given the unpleasant hassle that Mr and Mrs Elliott must have gone through, we took it a step further and processed a full refund for this booking, along with the refreshments the couple had to purchase (total £1319.83).
“As a sign of goodwill, Mr. and Mrs. Elliott were also offered an additional EUR1,000 and EUR300 in Kiwi.com credits, helping towards future honeymoon plans.”