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
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.
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
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
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
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).
Enjoyed “beat the heat”
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
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
I enjoyed your paper,
58 Marine Parade