Whine Wednesdays: Antiquated Airline Systems

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Sometimes dealing with airlines makes you wonder what is really going on and I was shaking my head when dealing with Malaysia Airlines.

Whine Wednesdays Antiquated Airline Systems

Changing a return date on a ticket should be an easy task and the booking system should be able to automatically calculate and collect any possible fees and/or fare changes.

Last week, I was in Hong Kong and was supposed to fly back to Bangkok on Saturday. The Chinese visa took longer to process than on previous occasions (they seem to love changing the requirements and processing time every once in a while not to make it too easy) and I had to reschedule the return.

Well. Quite often, if you fly on discounted economy tickets, the change fee/penalties are higher than simply buying a new one-way or changing the return is not possible at all.

I had bought a discounted business class fare from Bangkok that came with 2,000 THB ($61) fee for changes. Because you cannot do any changes online and I had bought this ticket via Orbitz, I decided to ring Malaysia’s office in Hong Kong.

Before calling the office, I had already checked the flights that had the required fare class available and the flight times were not optimal requiring an overnight in Kuala Lumpur.

This should have been a simple revalidation of the ticket requiring 2000 THB and collect converted to HKD.

Here’s how it went:

1. Let me check if you can change the ticket

– Well. I have read the fare rules and I can.

2. The fare doesn’t allow a stop-over in Kuala Lumpur

– My transit in Kuala Lumpur is less than 24 hours and thus doesn’t constitute a stop-over.

3. Sorry, we cannot accept credit cards over the phone. You can pay at the airport or at the city ticket office.

– What? At this day and age, Malaysia Airlines is incapable of accepting credit cards over the phone for change fees?

At the airport

Getting the credit card charged at the airport was quite an ordeal too. They had to manually write a miscellaneous charge order (also known as MCO) and then have an old style credit card slip for the actual charge.

Conclusion

You would think that all these manual processes would cost the airline more than getting their in-house IT in order for such a basic thing as getting a credit card processed over the phone for change fees rather than wasting 15 to 20 minutes agents’ (yes there were two agents involved) time at the airport.

Malaysia Airlines appointed a new CEO this week that comes from Aer Lingus and starts sometime in the first quarter of next year. Let’s hope that he can turn the airline around.

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