Thursday, 19 March 2015

Thailand.. a return visit. The planning.

I can't remember when we first booked our flights to Thailand, it seems like a long,long time ago, anyway, we booked with Qatar Airways once again, basically for two reasons. Their flights direct from Manchester to Phuket via Doha were perfectly timed and we were also in possession of a £300 voucher as a result of previous missed connections and delays due to late arrivals. The flights were to cost £1300 less the voucher. £1000 for the two of us.
We set about booking some accommodation, the priority being we didn't want to go anywhere that is too commercialised. I found the perfect spot...Phrathong Nature Resort, a collection of beach huts on one of Thailand's last undeveloped islands, Ko Phra Thong. I promised Claire if she would try there I would find us a much more luxurious hotel to complete the holiday. Deal done !
Still with months to go we discovered, quite by chance that Qatar had changed their flight schedules and the once perfect flights now entailed a 7.5 hour stop over in Doha. No way was I going to endure that, that was the reason we had our voucher in the first place. A complaint to Qatar and the reply was we could cancel or change flights at no cost.
I did some investigation and discovered that if we flew Manchester-London Heathrow-Doha-Phuket we would have 2 hours in London and only 55 minutes in Doha. 55 minutes was cutting it fine but if we missed the connection it would be Qatar's fault and they would have to look after us. Not only that but the flights were only £1000 for the two of us. I rang up and and asked to change flights which was agreed to but on completion and when I enquired about the ticket cost I was told that the exchange was done at no charge.
"What about my £300 voucher?" I asked.
"You have used it in the transfer, had you cancelled the tickets you would be able to use it to purchase at the new ticket prices" was the answer.
"Cancel the tickets then!" I replied.
" No problem sir, however, you will have to wait for the voucher to be refunded and the ticket prices might have gone up by then!"
"Do it" was the decision, "and I'll go online and pay the price for the new booking at current prices"
It was a no-brainer really, it cost me £7 more but I got to retain my £300 voucher to use against another flight and I even got a 7 month extension on it's validity too.
Looks like we will be flying with Qatar again before too long!
Before flying out to Thailand we had missed 3 out of four of our previous Doha connections, a pretty dire performance even if we had been compensated for our inconvenience.
That 55 minute stopover on this planned flight looked so dodgy I decided that we would leave a few days earlier so if things went wrong, as I largely suspected they would, all would not be lost. Getting to Koh Phra Thong is no easy task as will later be revealed, we couldn't risk missing on the ground connections and pre-arranged taxis.
I was so unconfident I booked one night in a cheap hotel near Phuket airport so that if we didn't make it the loss was minimised.
Ironically, with this all done and booked, Qatar added an extra flight from Manchester which would have allowed the originally planned safe margin of 1.5 hours in Doha. I rang them up and offered to swap tickets but they told me it couldn't be done unless I paid. It was to be their loss.
We made the connection but our bags didn't !
Ah well, they caught up with us two days later. It cost them a standard payout of $100 for our replacement necessities plus the cost of a taxi to deliver the bags..another $75. They were lucky I had added a new 3 night stay before going over to Koh Phra Thong, that could have been very tricky indeed. Mind you we were lucky too, our stay at the Greenview Resort near Kuraburi turned out to be a good choice !

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