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2010 March 23 [Tuesday]

flightnetwork.com

Last week, I had to urgently fly back to North America on a personal emergency and given the urgency of the situation, at around 08:10 hrs IST on Mar17, I logged onto flightnetwork.com to book two tickets, one departing from Chennai in the wee early hours of Mar18 and planned to do the BLR-MAA route by car. 

IME, the e-tickets are usually emailed within an hour but when both credit cards were debited multiple times, with no sign of the e-ticket until noon, I tweeted and dented and also filled out a customer service form with dimming hope on the Flightnetwork website.

The easier option was to call the airline before leaving Bangalore, so I called up JetAirways to confirm that I _was_ booked and confirmed to fly out within 12 hours. I didnt want to reach Chennai and learn that I didnt have a confirmed ticket.  But, as I suspected, Jet said that flightnetwork.com had not sent them the booking details --This despite my credit card being debited in Dollars by flightnetwork.com, within one hour after booking via their search engine/travel portal for both tickets actually.

The Jet Airways staff understood the emergency and were kind enough to issue me a PNR despite the flightnetwork.com not sending them the booking details on time. I explained that I could not call the portal office as it was outside of their office hours and left BLR for MAA hoping that it was just a software glitch and the email would arrive en-route.

Nothing of that sort happened.

We reached Chennai at 7:30pm, my flight a mere four hours away from departure and the portal had still not sent me the e-ticket. Jetair kept insisting that even though they had issued me a PNR, the portal had to send them the details.  In desperation, I called the Flightnetwork.com help desk from Chennai only to be connected to Ms.AM after 3-4 multiple attempts. I gave her the reservation code and when asked why my bookings were not confirmed after 12 hours had passed, she yells back "do you want to argue or let me book it now?".  Err...what was she and flightnetwork.com doing for 12+ hours then?

Ms.AM was rude, belligerent and argumentative, despite the emergency situation being explained to her, after much prodding gave me the wrong e-ticket booking number, blamed the delay on "quality checks", etc ... and disconnected the line when I asked to speak to the manager.

Pft$@^$... puhleze, a quality check when my flight was leaving in around 4 hours and I didnt have a ticket? Kidding me? Strangely, the flightnetwork.com software system was prompt enough to issue instructions to debited both credit cards as soon as the tickets were booked (more than 12 hours earlier) but failed to issue tickets--especially since their TOS clearly states 'no refunds' for missed flights. What a scam!

To cut a long story short, I managed to travel that day because the Jet Airways staff were polite, understood what customer service was about in an emergency, were prompt enough to issue my tickets (against just a PNR) after taking the portal name and booking reservation numbers.

Flightnetwork.com's CTO had seen my tweets, emailed me and apologised, I had replied, and that was that. I thought it sums up my stressful 12-hour experience with flightnetwork.com and I travelled on. Wrong....there was more ...read on.

However, later that day, an employee from the sales team sends me this email:

Thank you for sending us your email. In regards to your concern that you had not received your electronic tickets, kindly note our office hours are between 9:00am EST to 10:00pm EST, so we were unable to send you your electronic ticket until we were open. When emails are sent to sales there is also a message generated to advise we will answer within 24 to 48 business hours as they do take time to distribute.

Please note we have sent your ticket this morning however I have just resent it to you in case you did not receive it. The ticket was issued last night, which means if you were to cancel there would be a cancellation fee of $200.00 CAD and then you would receive a refund to your credit card.

If you would still like to cancel please call us at 1-800-671-5032 as our agents would be happy to assist you. We are open until 9:30pm EST tonight.

24 to 48 business hours? WTF? seriously, what if I am in an emergency and my flight leaves within 12 hours of booking? What is the traveller supposed to do? ... wait for your operational 24 to 48 business hours to travel? 

Its the "I dont care a damn about you" attitude reflecting in his email and scant regard for the paying traveller that prompted me to blog about my lousy experience doing business with flightnetwork.com.

I'd rather stick to cheaptickets.com or my local travel agent --the latter, besides getting me the same route for 100 dollars less, would never use weasel words like 'quality checks', non-office hours and TOS. He just delivers sans the marketing jargon and crappy excuses. Period.

2007 December 3 [Monday]

lost in a maze

I spent the best part of an hour or more peering through the bangalore city map at google-maps plotting my route to get to IISc for foss.in tomorrow. From experience, i have a niggling doubt that i wont get there without getting lost in the maze of Bangalore's one-way roads and this is despite asking for directions a million times... I kid you not.... Mainly its the one-way roads here which literally drive me nuts. Coming from a city which has almost no one-way roads and definitely does not have a zillion roads leading to the same destination. TBH, many roads here are really wide (compared to Bombay) so what is the need to make them a one-way, except to perhaps drive up petrol/fuel consumption and thence contribute to global warming.

Another peeve of mine is : Trains - They are fast, economical and literally the lifeline and the best way to travel in Mumbai, but planners of this city do not think so. It does not have a rail network connecting different parts of the city. That really sucks. The MetroRail is under construction but wont see the light of day for another half decade atleast to become operational. Why didnt they do it earlier?

Traversing the one-ways is a challenge and the more directions i ask for, the more confusing the roads seem. I have lost my way umpteen times here which is ofcourse the best thing to happen to an auto driver ... the lucky sod! He could'nt have asked for an easier way to rake in the moolah. Despite giving him the exact landmark on MG Road, he insisted on testing my road knowledge and patience. At each fork i would be asked "straight, left or right turn... do you want to go via street1, street2 or that way... Arghh, gimme a break, I dont know and dont care except for reaching my destination in the shortest way possible.

Now what's with all the main, cross and what have you naming system... Every layout is properly named with a 1st Main street, 2nd Cross road and ... but hey i am not used to systematic, well-ordered layouts. I like directions like this : "Aage road pe seedha jake signal pe left marneka, saamne ek bada building ayega, udhar vapis left turn maro aur doosra galli mein teesra building". Simple na !