The very first thing you need to do before you make changes to a pre-bought flight ticket is ask yourself: Do you really, really need to do this?
In an age where buying a plane ticket can be done on a whim with a click of a mouse, it is tempting to just buy tickets during those travel fairs and online sales. But if you find out at the very last minute that you either can’t make the dates or that you made a mistake, you will find the process difficult and/or expensive.
Here are a few things that are good to know, especially if you’re a seat-of-the-pants late minute traveller:
Tip 1: Make your travel agent your best friend
Making a reservation via a travel agent is a slow, laborious process but the thing is – someone else is doing the heavy lifting for you. Travel agents get direct access to flight inventory and in terms of time and worrying spent, are actually a better deal than you think.
Have a good relationship with your travel agent and maybe someday you won’t have to worry about forgetting to book a vegetarian meal on your next flight.
Tip 2: Read the fine print. Really.
The caveat of cheap, on-sale tickets is that it will be expensive to change them after the tickets are bought. They are the equivalent of confirmed flight reservations – you have committed to the purchase and no take-backsies are allowed.
Firefly does have a nice out by letting you pay a just-in-case fee that will let you change your flight details later in case things change – like your coming down with chicken pox or airline strikes.
3. Get thee to the nearest airline office before you call, email and use social media
Like it or not, calling is the most convenient but not necessarily the best way to sort out your flight issues. Don’t like the wait times? There is no guarantee that your hold times will be less painful.
If calling doesn’t work and the nearest ticketing office is too far away, then try emailing or, believe it or not, social media. Use the latter as a last resort and only if conventional means are either fruitless or not responsive.
Airline hotlines (if you happen to be in Malaysia):
AirAsia: The full list of numbers of specific centres can be found here.
Firefly: Call 60378454543
MAS: Call 6037843 3000
Malindo: Call 60378415388
4. Know when to just let it go
If the tickets are dirt cheap and you just can’t pawn them off on someone or change the dates, then let them burn. Remember there will always be another ‘great sale’ so signup to airline newsletters or social media updates and never miss the next opportunity to fly cheap to Osaka.
5. Kindness and patience go a long way
Yes, it’s frustrating. But the customer service person on the line with you probably has bad days everyday. Fight the urge to lose your temper (except maybe if it is the airline’s fault for canceling on you instead of vice versa).
You don’t want to be placed on hold forever now, do you? Remember that being the customer from hell is no incentive to the rep to give you good service. The customer isn’t always right.
So to conclude, just remember that even the best of plans and intentions go awry. Buying a plane ticket is a commitment of sorts so understand why they can’t be so easily changed. Good luck on your next travel booking!
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