Sunday 19 June 2011

Cambodian Travel Planning - Flights

For several months now The Bludger has been planning a trip to Cambodia. I booked flights several months ago and I and a group of friends have worked the holiday around those dates.
I booked through Webjet and managed a good deal from Brisbane to Phnom Penh via Singapore and return. My flight plans have been thrown out recently due to a planned relocation to Darwin prior to the holiday. Rearranging flights has not been so much a difficulty as an exercise in frustration.
As I believed that my flights were non refundable (the documentation was very clear on that point) I didn't pursue this aspect. My initial investigations showed that I could either fly from Darwin to Brisbane to pick up my original flights or fly to Singapore and pick up just the Singapore - Phnom Penh sectors. I would simply forgo the Brisbane - Singapore sectors. As the cost difference was negligible I would book new flights from Darwin to Singapore to coincide with the flights to Phnom Penh. So well and good, it cost a bit more but I took that risk on when I booked non refundable flights.
As a courtesy I informed Webjet that I was cancelling the Brisbane - Singapore sectors and wanted to retain the rest. This is where the frustration started. Webjet takes simply takes ages to respond to cancellations. It was 10 days before they responded. In the meantime I had given up on hearing from them and booked the flights from Darwin to Singapore and back as a nice deal was available.
Eventually Webjet sent a nice email saying that I could get a refund (which I hadn't expected) and I could cancel the flights and there would be a processing fee. This would take 6-8 weeks to process and they needed a confirmation. I responded yes please cancel and process the refund. As a double check I stressed that it was only some of the flights that I wanted to cancel.
After several days I got another response. No I had to cancel the lot and I would get a full refund minus a processing fee. Apparently I had misinterpreted the earlier email saying that I had to cancel the entire booking. I have looked at that e-mail a dozen times and I still cannot see how I misinterpreted it. No matter, I confirmed that I wanted to cancel the lot. I figured that I could pick up the same flights out of Singapore and with the refund I would end up paying about the same in total as the original booking.
Question. How is it I can book, pay and confirm flights on Webjet in a few minutes, but it takes weeks to cancel?
After several more days I had a response saying that all flights would be cancelled and money refunded to my Credit Card. I am fine with that except for one thing. That credit card has been stolen and cancelled. My new credit card has totally different numbers. I wonder where the money will go and if I will ever see it and if Webjet will acknowledge the change in Credit Card details?
Back to flying it is not so easy picking up new flights out of Singers. Well I can pick up the same flights but not at a cost that I want to pay. I can get alternate non direct flights, via Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Ho Chi Minh City, at reasonable cost, but not direct flights. So I have a choice, pay a lot extra for direct flights or put up with a longer indirect flight at a reasonable cost. About this stage I also worked out that if I was going via any of those cities I could probably leave Cambodia a week early and do a stopover and add another travel experience onto the holiday.
The Bludger has not booked yet and is wondering where to go, Thailand beaches? Malaysian beaches? Vietnam beaches or an extension of time in Singapore? Decisions decisions decisions.
I should also add that despite the lengthy communication delays with Webjet I continue to be a fan and will continue to use their online booking service.

No comments:

Post a Comment