Saturday, 24 November 2007

Air Asia Exposed - Part Two.

Press Release. More a case of
when pressed ... whisper!

Shhhhhh! AirAsia will refund
airport tax on unused tickets

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia passengers who did not board their flights will be refunded on airport tax but not on fuel surcharge. “AirAsia is a low-cost airline and the bulk of its ticket sales are purchased online, some for even 11 months ahead of the traveling date. Due to the high volume of passengers, it is not easy for us to track the number of no-show passengers,” said its executive vice-president (commercial) Kathleen Tan in a reply via e-mail. The airline advises passengers who want to claim any refund to contact its guest support team at 603 8660 4388 (from 9am to 6pm daily) or by e-mailing to “But our policy on no-refund on the fuel surcharge remains unchanged,'' Tan added. On the reduced airport tax, she said AirAsia's online booking would reflect the new rates from June 1. “We are happy with the reduced airport tax. However, we believe that it could be lower. As we do not want to burden our passengers, we hope that cost will be exempted totally,” she added.

Kathleen Tan and her assertion that due to the high volume of passengers, 'it is not easy' for Air Asia to track the no-show passengers ... to return their money. So, do nothing!

"Air Asia's customers get a ticket via this Internet machine ... and they then get sent ... you call it email?? Fantastic! Gee whiz that's a sci-fi development, Wilbur. What if they are due a refund? I see, so they haven't cracked the technology for that yet. Cyberjaya for lunch?"

If any language can make something sound beautiful, even sexy, it's Francais. Let's run Air Asia's Executive Vice President through the BS Detector: “AirAsia est une ligne aérienne peu coûteuse et la majeure partie de ses ventes de billet sont achetées en ligne, certains pendant de même 11 mois en avant de la date de déplacement. “ ;En raison du volume élevé de passagers, il n'est pas facile pour nous de dépister le nombre de passagers discrets,” Non! Sorry - No. Our French fans inform us it sounds the same in French. What was the exact word they used, "Merde"? I'll need to check the BS Detector for that one!!

I'd like to offer Kathleen some advice, even though I'm not an IT guy. In my experience when a person arrives at your check-in counter, a staff member enters those passenger details into your computer system, right? And when that passenger booked his/her ticket, you sent them an email itinerary, yes? [Not in my case!] Subtract the number of cattle that didn’t go up the chute, by those that did! Voila! There you have it - you might then inform absentees via that email that you have their money - direct debit!

No? Why?

This refund-revelation - was Air Asia's response to, rather than offered - comes courtesy of The Star. Try to find the article without clicking the link below. Try to find any announcement! I checked Air Asia's terms & conditions - the fine print and the even finer print. I've missed a few flights with AA - and nobody ever called me and offered to return my money. They must be 'babysitting' a lot of cash. All in it amounts to about US$50 per passenger per missed flight. 99% of my fellow pushovers never thought to claim. Factor in the menagerie of extortionate penalty charges - anything from ludicrous amounts on excess luggage [well, 'excess' on AA] to charging disabled passengers $US5 to use a wheelchair [I thought they'd stopped that nowadays* see below!] and a dozen punishable offenses. Shameful.

This isn't misrepresentation. What is it? I mean, what would you classify it as? Let's say a bank - Your Trusted Bank - concocts the excuse that its infrastructure is incapable of performing a simple task of keeping a record of its accounts. Sure, it's a baseless claim in an age where computers can land an aircraft. Instead of rectifying the situation, when pressed you make an inane statement to the media that 'it is not easy' returning the customers' dosh. So, what do you do? It's quicker to pocket the money - for safekeeping mind. There is a word for this ...

The onus to discover that their property is unaccounted for is on Trusted Bank's customer. As luck would have it, one in a thousand notice their money is missing. Naturally they are entitled to have it back. But first they'll get the runaround. Has he got ID? Does he have the statement? Keep him waiting on the phone, then disconnect the call. When he calls back, he gets another 'customer support' member- start the story again.

Now, let's try the same with Trusted Air Asia. I cannot see Air Asia's Kathleen furnishing us with the figures of how many suckers don't claim, but we'll fire her off a note. Instead of discovering the Trusted Bank skimming off the top, where you'd immediately close your account and maybe even have a chat to the constabulary, Air Asia's official line is they can't find you easily. I guess they just keep your money, until it comes to you in a dream.

But somehow Air Asia's crap service has led to this one limp excuse I keep reading over and over on many travel-related forums where legions are people are dissatisfied, when Diane Dimwit or Dwayne Pimplepot pipe up, "Orrr, yeah, but you get what you pay for." That is a US$50 sack of horse manure. That attitude must have leased another five jets.

The new Causeway Co-Operative team are taking over the Fly Air Asia? Not Me reigns [as today's it for this old boy due to non-insane non-raving non-committal-commitments ]. Why Causeway Co-Op? It's an easy one, roughly half the disgruntled are in KL and the other half in Singapore. The blogging thing is second nature to them - as is law, finance, marketing and other forms of prostitution - and they make my teeth look blunt.

In so many instances of people being completely dissatisfied - I have a dossier three inches thick - people just say they get nowhere with "Guest Support" and they give up. Then there are the few that sharpen the aforementioned fangs. Any 'service' oriented business expects certain levels of attrition, 99.9% of complainants will give up anyway. The problem with that theory? They see the remainder, the vocal minority, as being as effective a Peter Finch screaming 'I've had enough and I'm not going to take it anymore!!' out of his window, not blogging.

The case-file or case-disc is a living, breathing thing. Let's hear from anyone who missed a flight and didn't miss their money until they read this today - and particularly anybody who has had difficulty getting what is rightfully yours from those to which it does not belong.

I have a great friend from Singapore who must miss more flights that he makes. I'm seriously talking in the hundreds. You're not going to have a boarding pass, of course. You've got a diary, emails that are easily searched and grouped, and your credit card receipts. Let's say it amounts to $50, $100 or $1000+. More people that spread the word the better.

While the airline industry over in Europe is getting its house in order, Air Asia might like to occupy the vacancy that is on the next step up the ladder ... and the step above that ... climbing huffing and harking until it gets its act together.

Malaysia's Pride makes Aeroflot look
sexier than Singapore Airlines.
- Air Asia press release, screen-cap from website Nov 25th ‘07
- BBC article

Air Investigators.
Hidden Cost Prize Giveaway.
Find the words 'Hidden Cost' on this
website and you'll go into the Grand Prize
draw for a flight [2pax] to any Air Asia
destination. Frankly, you've got a better
chance here. Email us the location,
and you're in the draw.
Good luck!

Please type 'Hidden Cost' on the email header to

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