On May 1, several airlines will resume their operations, but with “new rules” under the “new normal” shaped by the COVID-19 outbreak.
For example, no food on board, passengers must wear masks at all times and seats arranged according to social distancing rules.
One more thing that may also change, consumer behavior in how we book flights.
The Facebook Page กลุ่ม..ผู้จองตั๋วผ่านเอเจนซี่ วิกฤตโควิด 2020 (Group… those who book tickets through agencies, COVID crisis 2020) has over 2,000 members and counting.
On this Saturday, several members of the group will bring evidence to the police and file complaints against travel agencies that, according to the Group, are withholding their refunds.
From the Facebook Page, one consumer said that she booked a package through Expedia prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. When her flight was cancelled, she tried three times to get a hotel refund through the travel agency. On the third time, she said the agency told her to contact its headquarters.
But instead, she sent an email to the hotel, which according to her, said it was happy to make the refund, however she claimed the hotel said it never received any request from Expedia.
Another consumer gave a timeline of his dealing with Traveloka.
On February 28, he asked to cancel his flight, three days before the flight date. On March 5, he submitted a request for flight refund. After several attempts to follow up on the refund, on April 27 he was told that the request has already been filed with the airline. On April 28, he contacted the airline directly. The airline said it has not received any request for a refund.
Another consumer said, after a long wait, she contacted the airline directly for a refund. The airline told her that the refund had already been made to Traveloka on March 18. As of April 27, she still has not received the refund from Traveloka.
On April 21, the Foundation for Consumers submitted a request to The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) to provide measures that will allow all consumers to receive automatic refunds for their canceled flights.
The Foundation plans to follow up on the request May 19.
Here’s a quick consumer survey on Facebook.
Out of 312 respondents, 272 people or 87.18% said they will no longer use a travel agency. Instead, they will book flights directly with the airline. Meanwhile, 33 people or 10.58% said they will only book through “responsible” travel agencies. The remaining seven people or 2.24% said they will only use a travel agency on occasions.
Here are some comments from respondents in regards to various travel agencies. .
“I will stop using it for sure. I have to call them all the time. There’s no progress if I don’t call. This is very bad.”Nu Rach
“I will stop for sure. As soon as I get my refund, I will delete the app. I don’t understand, it’s my money, why is it so hard to get it back.”Khanitta Pararat
“I will stop for sure. It’s horrible.”Kansanee Pornchai
“I will stop for sure. The airlince cancels the flight and I still haven’t receive my refund. I keep calling until I’m exhausted.”Kanyawee Nojai
“If it’s easy to book and easy to get a refund, then I might use the service again. I’ve got an email that gave me a refund as travel vouchers. I replied back that I want my money. They replied it will take 90 days. If I don’t get the money back, I will stop using the travel agency.”Marisa Marisa
“I will stop for sure, including the airlines that have problems, such as with the call center. Can’t contact. No one picks up. Talking to “bot.” There’s no respect for customers. They do whatever they like.”Sarawut Setthasomboon
“I will stop using all of them. They all just evade issues.”Theisme Seeyouagain
“They can book a million people at a time. When it’s time for a refund, there’s always excuses. It’s a waste of time, waste of money and waste of emotion.”Suwannee Nampad
“They have lost all consumer trust for the future.”Wansiri Eids
“I will stop for sure. No more. Will only book through the counter. It’s a waste of time and waste of emotion.”Raerai Shintawan
“I will stop permanently.”Nirada Saengdanooch
“I will stop permanently.”Nunoi Srichanan
Traveloka could not be reached for comment about the current status of customer refunds.