By Nawara Fattahova

KUWAIT: An unpleasant surprise awaited tens of passengers at Beirut airport who were returning to Kuwait, as they were told their seats were canceled, although their flight was still flying to Kuwait. They were not the only ones who faced such a problem. Passengers on various airlines complained of unfair behavior by airlines, which canceled their seats that they had booked and paid for, although the flight itself was not canceled.

Kuwait Times spoke to three different people flying on two different airlines whose seats were canceled. One was only refunded half the price he had paid and was told his flight was canceled, while in fact it wasn’t. The other two got full refunds and were offered two seats on the same flight but for a higher price.

Khaled from Al-Sayed travel agency explained the reason behind this problem. “This is due to the limited seats on flights to Kuwait on some airlines, which does not include Kuwait Airways. This quota of only 35 seats was set by the Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGCA),” he told Kuwait Times.

These airlines submitted a request to DGCA to increase this quota or cancel it completely. “Based on this request, these airlines booked the entire flight. When they received the response from DGCA that their request is rejected, they canceled the tickets of a majority of passengers who exceeded the 35 seats on each flight,” added Khaled.

“The passenger should always be offered either a different date without paying any additional charges or a complete refund. But refunding only half the fare or offering rebooking for a higher price cannot be acceptable. We haven’t faced such a situation at our agency,” he concluded.

According to Mohamed from Ritz travel agency, their agency also hasn’t faced such a problem. But he said they experienced some cases of cancelation of flights. “We had some clients complaining that after arriving at the airport, they were told that their flight was cancelled, which caused inconvenience, especially since they were not informed in advance.

They blame us for not informing them, but it’s the airlines’ fault, who didn’t inform us in the first place. These passengers will either reschedule their flights or be fully refunded,” he told Kuwait Times. DGCA Director General Yousef Al-Fouzan told Kuwait Times that no meeting regarding increasing the quota for the airlines has been held yet. He also noted that it’s not clear when this quota will be lifted.