TESTIMONY.  “If I hadn't paid, I would still be there”: the struggle of a Lotois who spent 27 hours on the road at an airport

TESTIMONY. “If I hadn’t paid, I would still be there”: the struggle of a Lotois who spent 27 hours on the road at an airport

Laurent Lhirondelle has been traveling for thirty years. They regularly travel to Thailand with his wife. In February, after two months abroad, the return flight to France turned into a nightmare. It testifies.

“They let us board and blocked us during transport, it’s funny,” sighs Laurent Lhirondelle. The latter is well known in Cahors: together with his wife Laor they go to the markets to introduce the thousand and one flavors of Thailand. A country they especially love, especially because Loar comes from there. Like every year, the couple goes there to spend a holiday. But this time the return journey was not easy.

“On the way out we left Brussels airport, then passed through Istanbul before arriving in Bangkok. We stayed in Thailand for two months,” continues Laurent Lhirondelle. And for the return, the steps were similar. Arrival scheduled for February 29 at Brussels airport. But Ayotaya’s managers won’t arrive until March 1… and at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. The problem ? They remained stuck in transit in Turkiye. “My wife has a residence permit. We had to renew it, so we received a receipt of the application for a residence permit. She had this document plus her old residence permit. The prefecture assured us that we could travel like this. But on the way back to Istanbul they assured told us that Brussels would not accept it. They forced us to take other tickets. We were stuck during transport. But on the way there everything went by very well,” says Laurent, still under the influence of anger.

Almost 2,000 euros in additional costs

“I was able to get on board, but she couldn’t. I had no intention of leaving her alone,” says de Lotois. It is impossible to leave the airport. And above all, the couple must take care of themselves. “We were taken from office to office, they made us go around in circles. No one came to us to explain the situation. It’s unacceptable,” Laurent complains. He and his wife are stuck at the airport for 27 hours. He continues: “We had already had 18 hours of transport on our legs. We didn’t understand anything, we were tired. Luckily there was a hotel there, I would have fallen.”

Laurent ultimately decides to pay for other tickets to return to France. 1,654 euros for new tickets, 300 euros hotel, excluding food or additional transport costs. “You have to be able to pay the amount for the new tickets. Fortunately I have friends who helped me. But what do people do who have no money?” Laurent continues, still bitter. A setback that reminds him of the film ‘The Terminal’, based on the true story of an Iranian refugee, Mehran Karimi Nasseri. The latter, without papers and stripped of his nationality, was held at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulles airport from 1988 to 2006.

Arriving in Paris, Laurent turns to customs. “I asked the customs officer if there was a problem with my wife’s documents, but he told me that everything was fine and that he didn’t understand why we had to refund the tickets. It’s a scam! In 30 years of traveling, this is me has never happened before,” irritates the Lotois. The latter has taken steps to obtain a refund. He concludes: “At the moment, Turkish Airlines does not want to hear anything. They keep telling me that the voucher would not have been accepted in Brussels. That is incomprehensible since we had no problem along the way. I” helped by a friend, who is used to traveling to Thailand, to take the steps. I’m not going to give up, even though I know it will drag on.”

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