HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Troubles with new air service

What globalization really means - to some

Enjoyed “beat the heat”

The reason for lower attendance at flower festival

Troubles with new air service

I first travelled on Thai-Orient ‘One-Two-Go’ about a month ago and was most impressed with the service. It was on time and although the seating was a little cramped, it was no major problem for a 55-minute flight. One even got a seat allocation with free drinks and peanuts!

Was this too good to last, as the flight was considerably cheaper than Thai Airways? I made a further reservation on 2nd Feb for a flight on 10th Feb. Here the problems started:

On the 8th Feb. I was called, saying that ALL the flights for that day were being cancelled (incidentally, the first day of a new timetable - after 2 months operation?!) but they could offer a seat on the 12th Feb. - not much use if one needs to be in Bangkok on the 10th!

When asking for a refund, I was told to report to the airport, when I could reschedule the flight within a 3-month time span.

Explaining that I would not be in Thailand in 3 months, I was informed that a refund could be granted and would be paid into a Thai bank account within 2./3 months. This is not a problem for me, but what if I had been a tourist, not expecting to return?

On arrival at the airport, I was then told that I needed my passport to get a refund - strange - they didn’t ask for my passport when I paid cash for the ticket! I suppose that was ‘silly me’, as soon a farang will need his passport to eat in a restaurant or take a tuk-tuk.

The 10-15 girls in the small Thai-Orient office were all extremely charming, although apparently not doing anything constructive, and when I asked the reason for the cancellation, I was told that ‘they needed to check the aircraft for 2 days’.

I politely commented that I needed a reliable airline and although I did not blame them personally, I would not be using Thai-Orient again.

In this world of competition, one has to get one’s act together and if Thai-Orient operates in this way (just as Asia Air had problems on their inaugural flight), they really are not going to make an impact on air travel and I doubt if Chiang Mai will ever become a significant regional hub.

Yours sincerely,
Disgruntled flyer

Orient Thai president Udom Tantiprasongchai replies:
Many thanks for your concern and the related complaint. I would say I surely apologize for such and in fact I would not mind if you have to let the public know how bad we are. Obviously, we need a lot of improvement, especially the communication between our staff to general public which seems to be so inadequate and unprofessional. But I would blame to those staff since they have been a bit concerned about flight cancellation. I would like to tell you what was happening:
- Since we successfully carried more than 39,000 people in first month (Dec03) of operation and received very good response from our passengers, Thai Airways did not get any effect of such as their passenger loading was not decreased, in contrary it “increased”, but they introduced limited seating to undercut our normal fare of 1399, or 1 baht cheaper than us. The immediate impact laid on us was our booking became less than 50% as soon as Thai launched the special “conditional fare”. However, I decided to sustain the frequencies without cancellation but already plan for the cancellation if necessary, as it was obvious that Thai will try to drain all my resources and I should not follow such trap.
- Two weeks later, after Thai introduced the special “conditional fare” our booking improved slightly, since most passengers realized that there are too many restrictions and most of time they were unable to get a seat.
- As soon as Air Asia introduced the 99 baht fare our booking went down again to the lowest level, mainly because passengers and the general public started to confuse what will be next shocking fare although the fare of Air Asia is merely not existing.
I came to the conclusion two weeks after Air Asia started their service that if I would keep One Two Go alive, I must fight the battle by intelligence not by temper or emotion, by continuing to dogfight on price war which is endless and that’s what the two competitors wanted me to follow, since they both have strong backing. We started to look into the minimum flight cancellation, the first process would be:
a) Contact passengers whether they can change their itinerary, if so book them in the next flight or if not transfer them to TG or PG on our expenses
b) if the passenger was unable to change the itinerary and requests a refund, we shall make immediate refund instantly and unconditionally.
Since we decided to cancel the series of flights and sat back to re-schedule the future flights and frequencies, we have transferred over 450 passengers to TG and PG. Therefore you never heard a complaint so much.
As for this particular case, he (she) must have met with the agent that was not very experienced in dealing with passengers and I am investigating it. Meanwhile, if you could relay the message I should be grateful if you can ask he (she) to contact our office to get the refund instantly.
I have already released special instructions to all staff as follows:
1. If passengers request a refund due to flight delay or cancellation, all One Two Go staff will immediately provide refunds to passengers without delay and without any penalty fee.
2. If passengers voluntary want to refund the ticket, all One Two Go staff will make immediate refund to passenger without delay but with standard refund penalty of 200 baht.
I hope this statement is useful for you and your reader about the future of One Two Go. We shall continue to fly under One Two Go Service and stay in service as long as we can, but need a bit of understanding and support as I am only a small guy fighting against two giants.

What globalization really means - to some

To the Editor:
I would like to offer some responses to Doris Kraushaar’s Mailbag letter of last week about globalization. I can tell from her thoughts that she, like all of us, is wrestling with the pros and cons of a hotly debated topic and, as both an artist and a human being, hopes that “globalization [will] be the springboard for a brighter future” for everyone.

The context of her remarks was the opening of the current exhibit at the CMU Art Museum, “Identities versus Globalization?” I believe I would be safe in stating that all of us who have some knowledge of current political/economic/cultural trends share Doris’ hope that the seemingly inexorable movement of a globalized world will result in betterment for all peoples.

I think, first, that we need to understand that globalization has become a fashionable buzzword for an immensely complicated set of phenomena. Globalization is, in the first instance, driven and promoted by worldwide business interests for economic reasons. However, as the current art exhibit is concerned to demonstrate, these economic interests have tremendous cultural and environmental impact that multinational corporations are concerned little about.

Doris stated that, to her, “globalization means a blend of cultures, ideas and concepts.” This is a noble and heartfelt opinion but, unfortunately, the story of globalized trends to date does not bear out this utopian wish. Far from blending cultures and identities in a celebration of diversity (which, if I may project, is what I think Doris means), current globalized trends are promoting just the opposite - as many of the artworks at the exhibit demonstrate very profoundly.

Let me offer a definition of globalization from a scholar who is an astute student of the relationship between mass media and democracy. Robert McChesney defines it this way: “Globalization is the result of powerful governments, especially that of the USA, pushing trade deals and other accords down the throats of the world’s people to make it easier for corporations and the wealthy to dominate the economies of nations around the world without having obligations to the peoples of those nations.”

So what does this have to do with cultural identity and the context of our lives, our civic environment? When business interests increasingly control media for solely economic ends, this results in public space (communication access) being co-opted by private interests - advertisers. When public space is filled with images and messages of the way business interests believe we should live, think and, most importantly, buy, the result is a homogeneity of personal and cultural identity - the “international style.”

Cultural diversity is severely compromised, if not totally eradicated, in many cases.

Or, to put it another way, mass media promotes the manufacture of a “lifestyle” instead of a meaningful life.

Several of the exhibits spoke to this issue. I will quote one elegant statement here from Minh Phuong, Vietnam, “It is difficult for the young individual to recognize - with a supreme sense of self-assurance-his own unmistakable face in the maze that is modern information society.”

Books could be written on the definition and impact of this word “globalization” - and have. Let me offer a few of the most informative, well-researched and documented that I’ve read: Money Politics, Globalization, and Crisis: The Case of Thailand by John Laird; Profit Over People by Noam Chomsky; No Logo by Naomi Klein, and Globalization and Its Discontents by Joseph Stiglitz (at AUA library).
Jacquelyn Suter

Enjoyed “beat the heat”

Dear Editor,
Just wanted to let you know that my wife and I thought “Beat The Heat” (Feb 14th edition) was the most useful and well written article we’ve read in your paper since moving to CM 7 months ago. We would like to see more of Don Lee’s perspective on health and other articles of this type in the Chiangmai Mail.
Thank you,
Carl Samuels

The reason for lower attendance at flower festival

I can easily explain why the attendance was lower than before at the Flower Festival this year - I searched the internet to make a reservation for the weekend, and for the second year in a row the dates were wrong!

On google I was directed to a number of sites, ALL stating that the festival was 13-15 February 2004.

As I say, this is the 2nd year in a row I’ve been disappointed by Chiang Mai and the lack of clear information (on arriving in Chiang Mai I read a local free magazine that also had the 13-15 dates!).

Will I bring my business to Chiang Mai again? (I am a tourist, but also a professional photographer whose work involves promoting developing world tourism) - the answer is surely NO!

Your local paper seems aimed at local business owners - perhaps they should know of this sad and hopeless lack of clear information?!

I enjoyed your paper,
John Dakers
58 Marine Parade
Brighton, UK