Tag Archives: Qatar Airways

Playing the air-ticket market – how to buy the cheapest tickets

The price differentials, travel date 25-Feb-16.

The price differentials, travel date 25-Feb-16.

Everyone claims to know how to buy the cheapest tickets – the truth is there is no tried and tested way to always guarantee, there are however certain tricks you can deploy to ensure you get the best possible ticket at the best possible price.

Step 1: HAVE A PLAN

you cannot score good tickets on a whim, you need to review the calendar, check when you want to go on vacations, and select a destination.

Step 2: SELECT A DESTINATION

some people have a passport that allows them to spin the globe and go wherever their finger lands, others need to apply for visas. In either case, start applying a good month or so before your date of flying. To base your trip on your budget, check www.kayak.com/explore (link) for ROUGH ticket prices during certain periods to destinations around you.

Step 3: SET UP AN ALARM

you can freely track changing ticket prices on Kayak, Dohop, Expedia, Skyscanner etc. whereby you set your dates, and watch for changes.

Now, at this point, it becomes tricky – PRICES FLUCTUATE! if you watch the fluctuations, you will understand why airlines do not allow you to transfer your ticket to someone else.

We had selected a destination and started watching it, the lowest price per person was KD 125 on Qatar Airways. QA announced a bonanza on tickets, so we waited. During that period, prices went up and down by about 1KD.

Suddenly, as the bonanza kicked in, instead of prices dropping, they suddenly sky-rocketed to DOUBLE WHAT THEY WERE!

Which leads me to believe that airline websites have cookies that enable them to hike up the prices based on increased traffic/ purchases on their website.

At this point I was kicking myself for waiting so long, and silently cursing my luck.

Once the bonanza finished, prices went down. All this time I as merely checking my email for daily/ weekly updates on ticket prices.

The problem was however, the “class of ticket” i wanted was no longer available. Or the time (flight) was not available.

Two factors influence ticket price – class and date – by class we mean econo-saver, econo-super-saver etc. and by date we mean different dates.

Lo and behold, the ticket I wanted was back online, and for the same price I had seen a few weeks earlier, I quickly nabbed it up and ended up paying KD 250 for two return tickets to Cyprus on QA at the PERFECT TIME (leaving 5AM) and leaving Cyprus in the evening.

I learnt to be patient, to always check online and to know when to jump in.

Prices have now since gone lower, however the attributes are not the same, the “To” journey is now 13hours as opposed to 7, which is a killer in itself.

By monitoring prices, you will know what the average price is, and once you reach that price again…

“Drunk shaming” by Qatar Airways

If you haven’t gotten the memo, we reside in Muslim countries, those that live in the G.C.C. These countries are subject to certain “restrictions” that are not available in the West, or Far East, or North, or South.

Public intoxication remains a crime anywhere around the globe.

In case you have not heard, Qatar Airways VP of Customer Service has shamed an employee who was pictured drunk outside her residence (Below):

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With the following letter:

934596-c561e6b8-cd08-11e4-9626-5d9793fb55e0

 

The employee in question has been with the company for 9 years, so is definitely aware of all the rules regarding residing in the Middle East.

So, was this move justified? Was it over the top? Will she be fired? Will she sue QA?

What surprises me is that someone had the gall to take such a picture in the first place, we have become a world of first-person shooters; everyone lives through the lens of their camera. You see a person drowning, your first thought is take picture, help later.

I was expecting a note plastered to her backside reading “I drank too much and now I’m passed out in front of my building unable to get up,, lol”, much like people do in all their shaming pictures.

Shaming has become a trend online, from pets to children, for all sorts of transgressions. Personally, public humiliation is not cool. It should not be used as a disciplinary procedure.

That is just my two cents.

Edit:

Thanks Mark (248am)

the photo was a capture from the security camera not cell phone.

The issue is not public intoxication but staying out past curfew, as drinking is legal in Qatar.

Winning At Customer Service- Praise to the CEO of @QatarAirways

A real man of the people, Akbar Al Baker has definitively cemented himself as a pioneer in how CEOs should act, inadvertently changing my opinion regarding Qatar Airways completely.

Akbar Al Baker - CEO Qatar Airways

Akbar Al Baker – CEO Qatar Airways

Those familiar with my story will know that I have been embroiled in a battle with QA for quite some time now.

It all started back in Feb 2014, when I innocently booked a ticket to go see my cousin in Qatar; I was denied boarding since my residency job title was not on the list, they had a position above, and one below, but not my own. QA did not even want to refund my ticket, instead offering a mere 10% which was the tax amount applicable on the route. Refusing to stand for this injustice, I kept emailing them and arguing till I received a credit note valid for one year for the full amount. 1st victory.

I changed jobs in 2014, with a new title, and again tried my luck with QA. No visa on arrival. I even went to visit the Qatar Embassy as my title was technically on the list (it says Presidents – all types, and my title read Vice President), still no. The clock was ticking as the credit note expires on 13th Feb 2015. I asked the QA office here if I can issue the in my mother’s name (as she gets visa on arrival with her title), they refused citing “System Limitations”.

Now initially, I was not supposed to receive a credit note. It was a one off case, awarded to me on account of my persistence. In my line of work, I ensure that all companies abide by their documented policies and procedures, however it is because that is my line of work that I am aware of the loopholes in said system, two magic words, the Bane of Internal Auditors: Management Override!

I knew that my request was not impossible, I just had to reach the appropriate level of management to approve it.

So like any warm blooded netizen, i took to Google, and searched for the highest level of management available: The CEO of QA. I searched page after page for a way to get in direct contact with him via email, and was successful in locating an email address. I sent him a detailed message (dated Jan 13),explaining my story and asking him to please allow me to transfer it to my mother. 

I did this in an effort to appear proactive, not thinking much in terms of a response and still trying on my front to locate someone locally that can assist me in the transfer. You can rightfully assume I was shocked and flabbergasted when I received an email  (Jan 19) from the CEOs office informing me that my request has been approved!

Not only that, they were Oh So Polite about it too!

Not only that, they were Oh So Polite about it too!

I Forwarded that to the same person that had initially refused to allow me to transfer it in my mother’s name (citing System Limitations), and shall pay them a visit to finalize the transfer, issue the ticket, give my mother a birthday present in February (her birthday is Valentines Day).

If this is not winning at Customer Service, and showing what a 5* Airline is all about, I do not know what is!

As of Jan 20, the ticket has been reissued and my mother will be traveling to Qatar in February – all it took was a payment of 10KD (amendment fees), which in the greater scheme of things, is a small price to pay rather than lose 85KD.

Know your rights as a consumer and a customer, so long as you are not asking for the impossible, someone has the authority to approve it.

Many thanks once again to Mr. Akbar Al Baker, wishing you continued success in your role as CEO, the champion of commoners, and overall good guy.

Why it pays to complain to Companies (even in #Kuwait!)

A lot of people will tell you, complaining gets you no where.

Companies have and continue to wrong customers since the beginning of time.

Most companies manage to get away with it because the customer fails in their civil duty to report such wrong doings and accepts the status quo as inevitable.

I am here to tell you that this is complete and utter poppy-cock.

David vs Goliath

For just as David slew Goliath, so to can you slay the demon that is corporate identity. For we have been empowered with a very awe-striking weapon – our gabs and the internet.

Picture if you will the following scenario 40 or so years ago; a customer buys a plane ticket and is unable to use it, the terms and conditions read non-refundable. In order to complain, said customer would have to give up their precious time to stand in line and file a formal complaint, wasting pain-staking hours in a queue that leads to no-where.

The never ending queue

The never ending queue

Not any more, and never again!

The internet has provided us with a very fast and direct way to target our complaints; emails!

The following are a few  ACTUAL scenarios that occurred to me (personally):

1) I was travelling back home to survive my then-fiance (now loving wife) for new years, at the luggage carousel I saw what appeared to be my luggage however it was horribly misshapen, with metallic wires protruding from where the frame should be. I called up customer service and after being given the loop around demanded the email of the regional manager (which the employee provided, albeit incorrectly at first). They informed me I should have spoken to someone at the airport itself, however since I didn’t, and still made a lot of noise about it, they agreed to pay me for the broken luggage (and commandeer it as well).

Case closed. Match, set & Point. 1:0

2) Same airline as above, through no fault of my own (ok maybe it was PARTIALLY my fault) I arrived at the airport counter 5 minutes after closing, literally 5 minutes and was denied boarding. Made noise, no response yet.

Case ongoing. Probable lost cause. 1:1

3) New airline; purchased ticket to go to neighboring GCC country on their 5-star airline. At check-in, I am informed that my job title as per my residency does not permit me visa-on-arrival (my title happened to be in the middle of two accepted titles, one above and one below- they accepted sales manager and sales associate, I was designated as sales executive at the time even though I had nothing to do with sales but that is another tale for another time), so I was asked to leave. I sent an email to them, and their initial response was “read terms and conditions”, “non-refundable”, “sorry” and quote-unqoute tough luck. They would only refund me the tax amount which was less than 10% of the ticket price. Of course I kept at it, refusing to give up, email after email after email until finally, they relented! And I was given a credit of the EXACT amount I paid to use during a years time to fly.

Case closed. Match, set and point! 2:1

Qatar Airways

4) I purchased ANOTHER TICKET (this has DEFINITELY not been my favorite year for flying!) and mistakenly mixed up the arrival and departure airports through a famous booking agent in Dubai. I booked the ticket during Ramadan at 10PM and subsequently sent an email requesting to cancel it at 9AM (i.e. 11 hours later). Their response, we will deduct two fees; our cancellation fee (which was equivalent to 25% of the ticket price) as well as the airline cancellation fee (20% of ticket price) leaving me with a measly 55% of the ticket price. Again they cited terms and conditions, but I hit them with best practices as the world famous online booking agent (EXPEDIA!) allow for free cancellation within 24 hours of booking. The emails dragged along, and I spoke to one “manager” on the phone who refused to entertain my request (George something-or-other from some EU country, if you are reading this, IN YOUR FACE!) however, finally, as a “gesture of goodwill” and most likely to shut me up, I was allowed to waive their cancellation fee and receive a good chunk of my money back.

Tripsta

 

Case closed. Match, set and point! 3:1!!

So yes, online complaints DO receive proper attention (with a proven success record of 75%).

What have you got to lose? Exercise your right to speak and rise up against the corporate Machine!

A quick Google search will pinpoint which emails to correspond to, and from there just keep hitting back.

Every policy has an exception.

Learn that.

Of course if all else fails make a blog post and slam the non-responders (within the proper confines of the law and not being derogatory in any way!)

The travel curse

For some 2014 spells a new year for new experiences, great experiences, exciting experiences. For me, it has already started off on the worst foot possible – a cursed foot.

image

For the first time ever in over 27 years of travel, I have been struck by the trifecta of travel related calamities.

It started out innocently enough with a trip back home where my luggage appears on the carousel at arrival with a huge piece of metal sticking out of its frame. I remember it vividly as at first I wanted to deny it was my luggage, even going as far as opening it to check inside (despite my name being written on the tag on the handle), a lady walked up to me and said I think you have my bag, how I wished she was correct. In a foul mood I snapped at her, pointing at the tags and saying is your name Ayman Nassar?!

The second calamity happened shortly after the first, where, again, for the first time ever, I missed my flight and had to shelf out an amount greater than what I paid for a return ticket for a one way.

And the travel gods are not done with me yet! This past weekend I was denied boarding on a flight to Qatar as my new designation apparently is not privy to visa-on-arrival. And worse, no refund!

Is this a sign? Should I cancel the honeymoon plans (tickets already booked) in light of these ominous signs from the nether?

What do you think?

image

Flight curse

@QatarAirways: how I despise you @QatarAirNews @BoycottQatAir

There is no worse feeling in the world than packing your bags, imaging a vacation with loved ones, only to be unceremoniously refused boarding.

Now, the problem is Qatar Airways alone are not to blame, however, their employees thickheadedness, coupled with several other factors, led to this catastrophe.

It all happened when Qatar (the state) released a list of 201 or so designations for GCC residents that would be given visa on arrival. This list includes Sales Manager Sales Representative.

Unfortunately, my title of Sales Supervisor falls in between both. One would think that would be easily understandable. However, no.

So now I miss out on the chance to visit family, lose out on the price of a ticket, and find myself extremely irritated at both Qatar’s Government as well as Qatar Airways.

The designation on your work permit has NOTHING to do with what you actually do; because most times some companies have issues with the sho’oun and use different titles for employees. For example, despite my residency saying Sales Supervisor, I am the farthest from sales that you can imagine – I work as an Internal Auditor (which coincidentally happens to be one of the designations given visa on arrival).

Rest assured, The embassy of Qatar, upon receiving my call, assured me I would be given visa on arrival.

So now we wait, and see, what transpires in terms of refunds and whatnots.

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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