The Straits Times
Published on Dec 18, 2012

Travel terms difficult for laymen to understand


I RECENTLY signed myself and my family up for a holiday to Hokkaido, Japan, with Apple Holidays.

To have minimal discomfort and maximum convenience for my parents, I preferred a direct flight to Hokkaido or, at most, one stopover in Tokyo.

The travel agency seemed to offer the best deal and its sales representative persuaded me to "split" my flight and fly to Hong Kong first, then transit to Hokkaido. I was also told that the agency would be in contact with me to give me the itinerary and accept the final payment.

As my departure date drew closer, I had to repeatedly contact the agency for information, such as whether the flight was confirmed. Finally, less than a week before my departure, I was told to collect my tickets and itinerary.

That was when I discovered that my family was expected to transfer flights twice, that is, from Singapore to Hong Kong, then to Tokyo, then to Hokkaido. This was not what was told to me previously.

The travel agency claimed otherwise and pointed to information in my receipt to back up its claim. I was also brusquely told that Cathay Pacific does not fly to Hokkaido.

As the information in the receipt was not written in layman terms, how could I be expected to know about these changes? Likewise, how could I be expected to know where Cathay Pacific flies to?

Instead of offering alternative options, I was offered a $50 discount per person.

Kelly Tan (Miss)