When e-Tickets don’t seem to be
I had a choice when purchasing plane tickets for my upcoming holiday. I could either:
a) Use a western website like Expedia or Zuji to buy tickets with my western credit card. Not only would the price be higher, I would also get hit by the bank wire fees to send the money back home. -OR-
b) Use a Korean travel website, which includes localised Korean versions of western travel websites like Travelocity and Zuji. These advertise much lower prices, so this is what I chose.
The Korean website even advertised e-Tickets. At a certain point in the booking process, I could go no further. I was able to put in the information they asked for successfully, but they did not ask for my payment. I got a message saying that I would be sent an email and SMS message when the booking was confirmed and I could pay.
In the morning, during the travel agent’s business hours, I got the said email. Since I did not have class, I logged into the website again and tried to pay. The payment wouldn’t work. The payment form wanted my residency number, which I have. For foreigners, the number does not start with a 1. All Koreans have a number that start with a 1. Upon calling up the company, it turns out that this number does not matter. They just said I could put in any number, as long as it began with 1.
After I did that, payment went through immediately. That in itself was strange – it did not ask me for the certificate needed for Internet transactions over 300,000 won! I wonder what special deal they have with the credit card company and government to allow for that. Perhaps there is an exception when you call them and humans handle the payment. But I did not have to sign anything or give them the pin for transactions under 300,000 won.
Then they called me back at two different times. One was to verify my nationality, and the other was to tell me I need to reconfirm my return ticket at the destination.
15 hours after I first booked the ticket online, I had the eTicket sent to me. I printed it out to a PDF file, and it is now longer available on the travel agent’s website. At least the information allows me to see my booking on my own airline’s website. It also shows they booked the vegetarian meal I requested.
Before now, I thought e-Tickets meant you get the ticket immediately. I thought they meant you could look at the tickets and print them out as many times as you felt like. Especially when the western versions of these websites do that. Apparently not. I have my ticket, at about half the cost of of the English version of the website. Where they get money to pay people to do something easily automated on a properly programmed website, not to mention another language version of their very own website, I do not know.