Leakhena and the kids left the Philippines on Tuesday afternoon for Cambodia…….and they are still in my condo in Manila.
Well….on Tuesday night as I tuck into a curry and a cold beer having cleaned my condo and put everything back into its place, a calm descends and I must admit, it is nice not to have to step on Lego and over children to get to the bathroom only to find all my towels wet and lying on the floor in a puddle of water. I am enjoying having my condo back when I get an SMS from the wife asking me to call. The time is 8pm and I think this is odd as the plane was supposed to leave at 7; 45pm. Grace answers the phone when I call and I hear a little distressed voice saying “Daddy. We missed the plane!” Oh dear.
The next 5…..yes….5 hours is a flurry of phone calls back and forth as I try to gauge and assist with the situation. Philippines communications being what they are, only 40% of my calls are connecting and everyone grows increasingly agitated. I really feel for my wife as she is at what is a very gnarly airport with two very small, very tired children and I know she must be stressing out big time. She is directed to Cebu Pacific ( CP ) ticketing office where she is told there will be no rebooking and she can simply buy new tickets at full price. I am on the phone to her and ask to speak to the CP rep….they will not allow it. I can hear the wife pleading with them to speak to me. No go. So the wife buys new tickets and arrives back at my condo disheveled around midnight.
The next day I look at the new tickets and realize we have been charged 42,000php (USD $970) for the one way tickets. This makes me seethe and boil as the original CP return tickets were only 38,000php. I am on to Cebu Pacific immediately and half way through talking to the customer service rep (CSR), the phone drops out. I go through it all again a second time with a different CSR and the phone drops out again. The third time I ask the third CSR if she can take my number and call me back if the phone drops out and she says no that’s against the rules. I politely plead with her. She stands firm whilst feeding me repetitive customer service lip speak “ I am so sorry / I understand your concerns / I will try to assist you etc “ which is annoying in the extreme. So I take a breath and I explain our situation. Wife was 3 hours early for flight and was 14 mins late to check in so was told she could not fly. Wife was on her own with two young children and does not speak English as a first language. Can we please have some consideration to a reasonably priced rebooking? She starts the whole annoying empathetic customer service routine again with me whilst saying “sorry…cannot help” and I can only listen for so long before I stop her. I tell her I know what she is doing, to stop treating me like a fucking child and put me onto her supervisor immediately. She asks what the purpose of the escalation is. I tell her she is empathizing with my situation before she even considers it fairly and therefore I have no confidence on her ability to truly assist me.
Next up I get a very nice Supervisor. He tells me he is aware my situation is A,B and C and asks me if that is correct. I say yes. He tells me he will talk to the CP office at the airport where Leakhena bought the tickets and get back to me. As we wait……Leakhena gives me more information about what actually happened that night and with new, improved ammunition…I feel more confident of a resolution in our favor. The supervisor rings back and says “sorry ….cannot help” and I then pull out the trump cards given to me by the wife. I ask him if he knows which gate the plane was originally ticketed to leave from. ( he doesn’t). I then ask him if he knows what gate the plane actually left from? (he doesn’t). I tell him the original departure gate as per printing on my wife’s boarding pass was #103 which is exactly where she waited for an hour before realizing at 7pm that nothing was happening. She then approached a CP rep and was told the plane was now leaving from gate #104 and she made her way there….arriving at 7.14pm only to be told the boarding gates were shut at 700pm and she had effectively missed the plane. He then informed me it would have been announced. I reiterated my wife does not speak English as a first language and with two kids and a super busy airport, it is highly likely she missed the announcement. I then also asked him why CP did not approach my wife when they noticed she was sitting alone at a gate that had been changed? Shouldn’t they have had a rep stationed there for this very occurrence? I then continue and proceed to ask why we have been charged so much for a one way flight for two little kids with no luggage whatsoever and one adult with one check on bag. He agrees it sounds exorbitant and then also asks me if to clarify if I have the original boarding passes showing gate #103 as the gate. I tell him I do. I further reiterate that I am not looking for free tickets. I am simply asking for latitude in the decision to charge us full fare and not consider a reasonable re-book fee. I ask him to consider my wife was sitting at the originally allotted departure gate well before check in time and had two small kids with her etc. I tell him no-one WANTS to miss a flight on purpose. I also ask him to tell me if he thinks my request is unreasonable. He agrees he needs to look further into it and says he will call me the next day.
Part 2 to follow…………………..