A Co Clare teenage international triathlete who was due to represent Ireland in a Super League competition was unable to do so as Aer Lingus failed to deliver his custom-fitted bicycle.
It was later found that the bike had been sent to airport’s in England and Scotland while the airline intended sending it via Malaga in Spain. The bicycle should however have been in Jersey in the Channel Islands.
The family, who spent almost €2,000 travelling to the event, has been trying to reach a satisfactory resolution with the airline and has already turned down a €400 ‘goodwill’ voucher after being originally offered just €100.
17-year-old Sabian Kulczynski had qualified for the international Super League triathlon in St Helier, Jersey on September 28th last.
His parents, Nicola and Leroy, booked their flights online on August 8th but were were advised to book Sabian’s bike box over the phone. The flights, luggage and bike box were all booked and confirmed by the agent.
Nicola said: “We went to check in the night before our flight and discovered the bike was not booked. We spent the next 4 hours trying to book the bike on to the flight and each time we rang, our card details were taken and a double transaction was taken with €100 showing and €200 pending on my credit card and €200 pending on my husband’s laser card.”
“We were speaking to three people and a supervisor when we should have been packing for our trip. When should have been chilling out before travelling but instead we were trying to book something we had already done on the 8th august,” Nicola said.
The family travelled to Dublin earlier than planned so they could check Sabian’s bag and bike box in. They flew to Jersey however, on arrival there was no sign of the bicycle.
“The bike didn’t arrive but his bag did. We spent the next 90 minutes in the airport filling out forms and trying and get the bike located,” Nicola said.
Sabian was due race in the ‘Super League 19’ event on the Saturday morning and needed his bike to carry out a trial run on the course on Friday. When contacted, Aer Lingus told the family that the bike would be delivered to Malaga Airport in Spain, 1,400 kilometres further away.
Aer Lingus told the Kulczynskis that they would deliver the bike to Jersey by 5.00pm on the Friday. The family then got a call from Glasgow to say the bike would not be with them and that it would be delivered it back to Ireland.
Nicola said: “Our son had no bike for his recci on Friday or for racing Saturday and there were no rentals available for him to race. We managed to source a bike but it wasn’t the correct size for him; it wasn’t set up for him and he was not familiar with it. As a result, he crashed during the race. At one point he wasn’t going to race because he always likes to give 100% for his country and on a strange bike he knew he wouldn’t be able to that.”
When it was clear that the bike would not be delivered to Jersey, the family opted to have it left in Dublin so they could collect it on their way home. When the bicycle was eventually returned to the family, it was discovered that the bike box and straps were snapped: the box was badly damaged and had labels showing that it travelled to London and Glasgow.
“This was an event we worked hard to save up for and all of it affected Sabian’s chance of doing well in the Superleague. The damage to the bike box is apparently being sorted but as for everything else, nothing, they (Aer Lingus) don’t want to know about it,” Nicola said.
The family paid €965.92 for their flights and £464.00 Sterling (€540) for accommodation while incurring other expenses also.
After being initially offered a €100 ‘goodwill’ voucher, this was increased to €400 and had to be used in a certain timeframe which the Kulczynskis couldn’t do as their children are all in exam years.
An Aer Lingus spokesperson said: ”Regrettably there was delay in the guest receiving their bike and subsequently the bike box was damaged during travel. Our Guest Relations Team have advised the guest that all reasonable expenses incurred will be reimbursed and have also offered them a voucher as a gesture of good will. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.”