Claplist 5 – Blue Air
Back when I was regularly flying to Romania several years ago, I eventually concluded it would be financially smarter to fly as cheaply as possible, given the intense frequency of my trips.
No sooner had I made that decision, had I then been introduced to what would rapidly turn out to be one of the worst companies I have ever come across in the aspect of customer service.
In preparation for a flight back home from Bucharest to London, I arrived at Bucharest airport for an afternoon flight and checked in at the counter. When asked whether I had any luggage, I showed my hand luggage, which was a solid “flight case”, that had been previously permitted many times both in and out of the country with other airlines, without question. No problems at the desk and I was checked in as normal. I then made my way to the departure gate…
Roughly 30 minutes passed and more or less all of the passengers were now at the gate and ready to board. Suddenly, a loud dragging noise induced an eerie silence amongst the passengers, as we watched a young authoritarian sadist called Valentina Dinca, fetching one of those heavy-duty “does it fit in the frame” devices.
This thing was dragged a distance of roughly 20 meters from an entirely different gate, all the way to the doors of our own departure gate. The noise of this dragging alone was enough to make you seriously uncomfortable. You could tell almost immediately that this lady was there to make your life difficult. She had one of those faces… somewhere between Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot, and most definitely the personality to go with both.
Glaring over various passengers, she smiled and announced that the bus to the plane would be ready to board soon.
As people started lining up, you could sense that shit was about to go down.
Various individuals seemingly passed through without issue, despite their bags being significantly larger than the frame. I maintain to this day and to the best of my knowledge, that every single one of those individuals in front of me (who did not have their bags checked), was Romanian. This theory is based on the fact that everyone who was pulled out of the queue was speaking in English.
For clarity, my bag was never EVER a problem and it was specifically designed by the manufacturer to be a carry-on case, in fact it even had “CABIN CASE” in the name.
It was not made clear to me at any time (neither at the check-in desk, nor via any booking email), that the restrictions for carry-on luggage with Blue Air had recently been reduced, and that there would be a penalty fee of €65, should one’s bag not comply to the newer specifications. Now, I don’t really care about the €65, but I do care about the principal, and the principal here is that if it made it into the country so many times before, at the same airport, AND it made it past the check-in counter where a member of the Blue Air team SAW the bag and approved it as hand luggage, then it shouldn’t really be a problem.
Okay… so, I made my way over to the boarding counter, presented my ticket and… “Hello, wait a second, put your bag in here.”
Of course, it did not fit. It was a hard case which was roughly 3cm wider than the frame. I almost completely lost my shit.
Thankfully, I kept it together and devised a new strategy. I told Ms Valentina Dinca to give me a moment so that I could try to reduce/compress it (obviously impossible), but instead, I simply joined the back of the queue again and subsequently got through to board the bus whilst she practiced her BDSM skills on some other unfortunate individual.
Moments passed as the final passengers boarded the bus and as luck would have it, the doors shut and the bus started moving.
Out of fucking NOWHERE, the bus then suddenly STOPPED, jolting everyone forward, after having moved at least 10m from the gate, only to then be boarded by a completely livid psychopath (Valentina Dinca), who was screaming and shouting in Romanian in an effort to find me.
Stepping forward, I said “you’ve completely lost your mind, this absolutely unacceptable, you’re delaying the flight and I have never had an issue with this bag. There are at least half a dozen other people with larger bags who you let past, and I will not pay unless they do.” I said this pointing at one specifically large bag which was visibly larger than mine and was also a hard shell.
Amidst the drama of angry Romanians and subsequent additional security, I was forced to get off the bus and headed back to the terminal where I was given the ultimatum to either pay the fee or miss the flight.
Under duress, I paid the fee, with the warning that there would be significant consequences for Ms Dinca. Of course, we’re talking about Romania here, where most people drive in excess of 70 mph through busy streets. I did not anticipate achieving much by complaining but I was rightfully pissed off.
To make matters worse, when I got to the plane (security-guided in a luggage buggy, no less), my bag was carried onto the plane in front of me and left in the FUCKING COCKPIT whilst I was guided to my seat.
NEVER, have I EVER dealt with this level of fucking idiocy. Blue Air should have topped my Claplist with this bullshit, but I think on reflection that I was more pissed off back then than I am today. Suffice it to say that I’ve never flown with Blue Air again, and thankfully I am no longer taking regular trips to Bucharest either.
Valentina Dinca of Blue Air, if you ever read this, you are amongst the most sadistic and twisted idiots that I’ve ever had the misfortune of dealing with. For this, you and all of your colleagues at Blue Air who made my 4 hour flight back to London an infuriating medley of revenge fantasies, I sarcastically applaud you to the point of numbness in my hands.
In the end, Blue Air did little to help the situation, stating clearly in their (2 months later) response, that Ms Dinca acted within reason and in line with company policy. Ignoring that I had already had the bag approved during check in and ignoring that their own staff had not taken that opportunity at that time to let me have the bag put in the hold, as opposed to being subjected to humiliation and extortion at the gate after the bus was already on its fucking way to the plane.
All this fuss was over 3 cm, and to prove it, here is Blue Air’s baggage policy – see point 8.4.1: 55 x 40 x 20 cm (still the same as it was years ago, although the penalty is now cheaper), and here is my bag from the time, which (including all wheels and handles), was 52 x 36 x 23 cm.