Sorry for the screaming caps, but I wanted to make this one stand out.
Regular readers may recall I mentioned that you can visit the Merpati office in Dili where they’ll book your flight for a $2 booking fee. No money changes hands, you simply take their printout to the airport in Kupang, hand over your cash, get your ticket and hop on the plane.
No. You don’t.
You turn up at the airport where they tell you that your booking is in status “XX” which means “cancelled”. It’s been cancelled because you didn’t pay for the ticket within three hours of making the booking. Or maybe it’s 4 days – the person I spoke to on the phone (after waiting 2 hours) seemed to change her mind partwat through the conversation.
I was told I would have to pay the short notice fare to get on the flight – twice the fee I booked at. I point blank refused and the guy at the counter kept saying “manager” and then failing to get said supervisor.
Eventually the little oik surfaced and proceeded to have a go at me for not following international air regulations (or some such utter crap) by not paying for the ticket within three hours. I pointed out that as I had booked the ticket in Dili and been told I had to pay in Kupang, this was physically impossible. This was Merpati’s fault, not mine, and I refused to pay for their mistake.
Only apparently it was my mistake – he kept repeating – for not following their rules. How, I enquired, could I follow their rules when the ones provided to me by their staff were incorrect? I asked for the rules, I was given some rules, and they were wrong. At what point was this my fault?
At this point he told me that he didn’t care about my problems and I think this is where I lost it and started yelling at him.
This seemed to work, especially as there were other customers around, and he hand wrote my ticket at the price I’d originally booked then tried to shake my hand. I just stared at him and walked off.
Thing is, I know at least one other person still in Dili who booked her ticket at the same time and who may have the same problem. I’m hoping my email to her gets there in time for her to check her booking.
Oh, and the plane was bloody awful as well. Broken seats, creaky overhead compartments, worn fittings, scratched paintwork… you name it. Most routes serviced by Merpati can also be reached by Garuda. If you have the choice, use the latter.
Just avoid Merpati.