I recently made a 4-night reservation at Atlantis, in Nassau the Bahamas, for my fiancé and I beginning 8/13/17 which due to the short term between the booking date and the date of arrival, had to be on a guaranteed basis. She is a South African national who is able to stay in the Bahamas for up to 6-months without a Visa. She was scheduled to depart on 8/12 on a British Airways flight from Johannesburg through Heathrow, and connecting into Nassau arriving on 8/13. I was flying down from New York to meet her on 8/13.
I am the one who made her flight reservations with BA, and specifically asked BA about Transit Visa requirements passing through London Heathrow, and BA redirected my inquiry to the IATA web site for such guidance, as they do not provide this information to customers. The IATA site gathers the information on nationality and citizenship and provides guidance as to documentation requirements. In this case, IATA noted that because she had an onward ticket that would depart Heathrow on the same day and she was not passing through UK Customs, she did not need a Transit Visa.
Upon attempting to board the flight on Saturday evening, BA refused her entry on the basis that she needed an Direct Airside Travel Visa, despite the information contained on the IATA site they had directed us to. Upon further investigation, it turns out that the UK changed these requirements in 2014, but the IATA site has not been updated to reflect these changes, which certainly the airline should know. Nonetheless, she is still in Johannesburg and now applying for an expedited DATV in order to resume her travel itinerary, but not in time to arrive in the Bahamas during our booked stay at Atlantis. We have already prepaid for a rental home on Spanish Wells for 3-weeks beginning 8/17 which is non-refundable, and so there is no means of adjusting for this mishap.
I phoned Atlantis on Saturday, 8/12 upon learning she was unable to board and would miss her flight, and be delayed for a significant period of time, requesting that the reservation be cancelled and the standard policy of non-refundability be waived based upon my loyalty to both the Marriott and Starwoods brands, of which I've been a Gold and Silver level traveler for 20+years, working for large multinational corporations. This request was denied. I was informed that the best they could do was cancel the booking and give me up to one year to use the nights at Atlantis.
As a loyal customer of the hotel for such an extended period of time, and the popularity of Atlantis in terms of making our room available for rebooking (the hotel was sold out for dates beyond our stay and there was limited availability on Expedia on our dates), you would expect that Marriott would bend a bit and extend the courtesy of a waiver and refund our costs for this booking, as the circumstances warrant it. This is not a frivious change in plans; it;s a very emotionally draining experience and well beyond our control.
How can I escalate this situation to Marriott senior leadership for further review, as it appears that as Atlantis sits within a separate luxury brand grouping, they have used that as an excuse as to why they cannot grant any waiver or other consideration?