Bitten by a air ticket reservation bug

I like to travel (Read my travel blogs at www.ghumakkar.com) and mostly I am not alone, infact never. I travel to near-by places which means driving and a little far-away places as well which makes me to buy tickets and to encounter air-ticket reservation systems.

Last week, I got bitten very badly by a bug which was sitting in Air Deccan’s Ticket Reservation System. Before I start the story and give you details (including the PNR nos) I would like to first thank Captain for making air travel possible for common man. Frankly, all my leisure trips have been on budget airlines whether its Air Deccan or Spicejet or someone else. Had Captain not started it, we would still be travelling by train or not travelling at all.

It all started way back in March 2007 when I was trying to book a ticket for few of my family members (6 + kid) for a possible vacation in Gangtok or Darjeeling. It was from New Delhi to Baghdogra on DN 619. My first attempt was semi successful as I was able to enter the right details for the credit card payment but did not get the ticket no. Blaming it on poor MTNL connection, I attempted again and as expected I was not able to get the same deal, so I chose a ticket with a higher price and got a ticket no. It was a little more complex then that since this time I tried booking for three people first (hoping that i will get a good deal for a smaller no of passengers) and four later. So far so good. I was happy and I confirmed everyone (few times) that our tickets are done and now we need to find a hotel, either in Darjeeling or in Gangtok.

The trouble started from next day. Both the attempts were successful and now I had two (or rather three) tickets. Money was gone from the credit-card and somehow

I still thought that this was to do with that stupid internet connection. (I WAS Wrong, i believe)

I called up customer care and asked them about these three tickets and they suggested to cancel the ones which are expensive so i canceled the later ones and lost a couple of thousand rupees but all for a good cause since I still have that confirmed low price ticket for 7 of us to Baghdogra.

It took them a while to credit the money back so I had to pay around 25K more which came as surplus in my credit card account and for the same reason, I didn’t have to pay any bills for April and May since it already had lot of money.

Finally the day arrives, my family along with my bro and sis-in-law were in a different car as we were travelling from Noida whereas my father-in-law was coming from Paschim Vihar. They reached first and I got a call from my FIL that actually our ticket is cancelled.

WOW !!

I was fairly certain that there is some disconnect so I assured him that we will sort this out, we have a confirmed ticket. But he called me again after 5-10 minutes that I should speak to customer care and find out more. We were still 30 minutes away from the airport and about an hour and a half away from the flight departure time.

I called up customer care and after choosing all the right nos, I reached to a customer care rep. After usual grettings and formalities, I asked them about this specific PNR no and what a pleasant surprise, she told me that its canceled. After lauding their consistency and truthfulness, I tried to enquire more and told them the whole story. I was really impressed to know that they can quickly search my travel details and infact they knew that I have booked a ticket to Guwahati a few months from now. But after speaking to her for few minutes and getting the same answer that this ticket is canceled, I was at my wits end. They were reading from the computer and how the hell it can be wrong. It was as clear as ‘go and jump’, your ticket is canceled.

We were now about 15 minutes away from airport and I was badly scratching my head to get that golden idea which will get me to board the plane and I got it. I was really playing stupid all the while so I firmed up a little and asked them the date and time of cancellation. I was told that it was on June 5. Good good. and who did it, well we do not have that data. By now I was at least one-up. So I again asked the question on who did it and challenged them that it was a problem with the system since on June 7 or June 8, my bro-in-law has received a call from the call center confirming him the ticket. I got the call details and got adamant and asked them (broken record) more details on cancellation.

After a lot of silence (we were now at port) and haggling at the other end, the customer care rep admitted that it was a system failure and my ticket got auto canceled. Wow. Amazing. Captain- I hope you read this, I will write to you in any case. Now what do i do, well simple, buy a new ticket and then lets see what can be done.

Price of new ticket for 7 of us – Rupees 80,000

Holy Shit. I told her that this is not going to fly so after some more silence and some more negotiations, she agreed to give me a refund but I would need to incur this money now.

Some questions
1. What would have happened if I didn’t have this much money ?
2. Any average (common man) person would have bowed out, blaming it as a bad fortune, and would not have persisted this much ?
3. Does this happen all the time with few people and they never bother to do anything.

I booked the ticket, paid 80 K, again spoke to Customer care for 30 minutes to get a case generated and have asked for refund. They told me that it will take 40 working days. When I finished the call, the plane was about to take-off.

I would have to clear my credit card dues so when they make a refund after couple of months, my credit card will again get heavy. Possibly I will call it a debit card then.

Any ideas on how to use this money for ?? 🙂 Leave a comment and all this and more because someone didn’t test the software enough.

Next time, your manager cuts a testing resource, tell them this story and tell them that it can happen to them. If you are one of those inclined ones, leave a comment and I can give you actual PNR nos.

Good luck and we better test out software well enough. The exciting world of software testing.

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