The title says it all, I guess. And here’s the proof:
All I wanted was closure, and Air Asia gave me that, plus a round trip ticket to Maldives.
I still can’t believe that it ended this way. What a helluva week I just had!
Last Sunday, Oct. 5, I made a long post about the bad customer service I received from Air Asia. A lot of happened since then, including an unexpected response from the airline. I figured that one good turn deserves another, so I’m here to tell you all about it.
Here’s a TL;DR version of my original post if you need a quick recap:
On the morning of Oct. 2, Air Asia had a glitch in their online system that displayed really low prices for their flights in Philippine pesos. At that time, I thought there was an introductory seat sale for Maldives (I’m used to zero-fare seats, by the way, so I didn’t suspect something fishy was going on). I booked three seats for 270.45 pesos (around 21 US dollars). The booking process was smooth and the payment went through. But when I received my itinerary, it said I paid a total of 6,714 ringgit (90,807 pesos). In a panic, I called up Air Asia to ask about what happened and was advised to submit an e-form. I did that, then called up HSBC to verify the amount posted on my credit card account. Only 270.45 pesos, and not 90,807 pesos, went through.
After I calmed down, I found out that many others had the same experience I had, and that practically all flights were cheap when viewed in Philippine pesos. So I called Air Asia the following day to ask about what they planned to do about the glitch, but they told me that although they were already aware of what happened, there was no resolution at that time because results of the investigation were pending. Yet, after I called, I received an email in response to the e-form I submitted the day before. The email stated that my payment was declined and that I would have to cancel my booking or pay the full price. There was no mention of the glitch.
I called up Air Asia again to ask if there was already a resolution, but they said that there still wasn’t. I called up HSBC next, and they told me that my payment to Air Asia was floating and not posted.
Needless to say, I was beyond pissed off. I didn’t really expect Air Asia to honor my booking, but I also didn’t want them to dismiss my case that easily with no apology or acknowledgment of their mistake when I knew something went wrong on their side. I submitted two more reports via e-form in the hopes of getting an answer, but Air Asia remained unresponsive, which led me to write about everything that happened in this post. I shamelessly tweeted a few news outlets to get their attention to the story, but with no one else speaking up about the matter but me, I already knew how much of a non-story I actually had to offer.
My post got lots of hits but it didn’t really gain any traction. It was just one of the many customer complaints that remained unheard in the vast cyberspace. In a final act of frustration, I tweeted the CEO of Air Asia X, Azran Osman Rani.
Then, an hour or so after, I was surprised to see that the confirmation email and the itinerary were both sent again to my inbox out of the blue. What just happened? I went to the “Manage My Bookings” part of my Air Asia account, and saw that my booking’s status was reverted to “Confirmed.”
The same goes for the payment:
My initial thought was that Air Asia decided to honor my flight. I got excited, but then I considered the possibility that the airline simply reverted my booking to bring it back to the original status quo, which was what I asked for. I reminded myself to be realistic to avoid disappointment. I wished I would get official word from Air Asia on what this all meant, but I did appreciate the first step they took.
A few hours after, I received a response from the Air Asia X CEO on Twitter:
This came after I saw that my booking changed to “Confirmed” once again, so I assumed he was referring to that. But I was more impressed with the fact that he tweeted back to me in the first place. I replied to him with this:
And that was that, or so I thought. I was ready to sit back, relax, and wait. I wasn’t going to push Air Asia to honor my booking. If they did, then great! If they didn’t, then I would be disappointed but I wouldn’t be angry (okay, so maybe I would be, but only for a few minutes, and only because they gave me a really good scare in the beginning). Knowing that what happened was a glitch, I decided to change how I viewed my booking. It wasn’t a ticket to Maldives I had in hand — it was a ticket for a chance to go to Maldives, and those two are very different things.
Thus, receiving the email from Air Asia about how they’ll honor my booking was completely unexpected. I almost fell out of my chair in shock. Let me post that again to reassure myself it’s real:
Words can’t fully express the immediate reaction I had to this news, but I’ll settle for disbelief, amazement, shock, and unadulterated joy. It took a while for the reality of it all to sink in. I didn’t notice right away that the Air Asia X CEO made another tweet to me:
Can I just say how awesome it is that the CEO is active and accessible on social media? I always had this notion that corporate leaders don’t realize how valuable social media is when it comes to touching base with their customers, but Azran Osman-Rani gets it.
Thank you, Air Asia. Our interaction didn’t start well, but I appreciate how you ended it well. It could have gone in so many other ways, and yet here we are. 🙂 You made this customer very happy indeed!