This is the first rant article of my blog. Why such title? This is the full story. Last August 2009, I purchased a plane ticket from Asia’s First Airline thru the internet. I was chosen as one of the three delegates from our cooperative to attend a convention at Olongapo City last September 23-25, 2009. Given a tight budget, I canvassed for the lowest plane fare that I could find. I called up ticket agencies and surfed the internet. If you compare ticket prices between ticket agencies and the internet, the latter’s price is lower. Of course, you have to purchase it using your credit card. That’s what I did. I booked three tickets for me and my companions using my own credit card.
The plane e-ticket that I purchased was a promo fare ticket with lots of restrictions. That was okay with me because it was within my budget. Little did I know that the FINE PRINT written on the e-ticket would make my life miserable. The night before I was to leave for Manila, my eldest son had high fever, headache and was vomiting. I was really worried about his condition. My anxiety was heightened when I thought of the convention that I had to attend. I called the regional coordinator from CDA, explained my situation and asked her advice. She suggested that I look for a replacement so that my registration fee of P7,000 will not be forfeited. Next, I called my boss, who was one of my companions on the trip, and told her about my situation. She told me to stay and take care of my son. Being a mother herself, she told me that family should go first. Encouraged by her advice, I called another friend and asked her if she could go. She declined since their house was flooded due to heavy rains a few days before.
Finally, I was firm in my decision not to leave for Manila. I was also not able to find a replacement in such a short notice. Mind you, I did not sleep well that night partly because I was monitoring my son’s condition, and the other part was thinking of how to seek a refund of my registration fee and plane ticket. The next day I sent a text message to one of the organizers of the convention and again explained to him my situation. Thanks to his good heart, I was able to refund part of the registration fee.
On September 25, 2009, I went to the airline’s ticketing office at the Zamboanga City Airport and referred the matter to the ticketing officer. When he read my ticket, he told me point blank that it is a non-refundable ticket and that is it equivalent to a “throw-away” ticket. Wow, that’s a new term. They should have added that to the many fine print that this particular ticket has. I was in the verge of tears. How can I “throw away” P4,400 just because I was not able to leave for Manila and use my plane ticket? I let him read my letter to the manager explaining what happened. He further said, “Ma’am, kahit ano pa po ang mangyari, hind nyo pa rin pwedeng i-refund ang ticket nyo. Ang iba nga, hindi nakasakay dahil namatayan nang kamag-anak pero hindi pa rin na-refund ang ticket nila.” Ganun? Oh, stupid me. It is a “throw-away” ticket so why argue. I asked him if I could see the manager and he gave me directions to his office.
I went to the manager and submitted my letter request along with my plane ticket and the medical certificate of my son. By the way, he had Intestinal Influenza, which explained his vomiting and fever. It is an illness common during the rainy season. Back to the manager, he searched his computer for the policies regarding my ticket. He told me that my ticket is indeed non-refundable. I told him that it is okay with me if I cannot refund it as long as I can still use it. He said that he would refer the matter to his superiors but cannot promise me if I could still refund or use my ticket.
After two weeks, I called him up regarding my request. In a diplomatic tone, he explained to me that it is indeed a non-refundable ticket and there is no way that I can refund my P4,400 or use it for another trip. As he was explaining, I fought back the tears in my eyes. He stopped in mid sentence and asked me if I was still on the phone. Yes, I told him but, my mind was screaming. “Yes, d***it, I’m still here and I still could not figure out how P4,400 could just disappear in thin air.” Oh I remember, even if the ticket holder died before he could board the plane, his relatives could still not refund the plane ticket because it is a “Throw Away” ticket and the fine print expressly states that “Fare and surcharges are non-refundable, forfeited if ticket is unused, non-rebookable, non-endorsable and non-upgradable.” Silly me for hoping that the management of the Asia’s First Airline would understand my situation and grant my request.
This serves as a warning to everyone who plans to buy a promo fare ticket. Don’t buy it unless you are 100% sure that you will use it. Also, read the fine print. Sometimes, we tend to disregard the fine print but in the end, it is the same fine print that would prevail in any given situation. I should know. It cost me a princely sum of money just to get the message across my head. So, to all of you out there, good luck on your plane ticket purchase, read the fine print and do buy the one that says it is refundable, rebookable, upgradable and endorsable.