The Real Dud

Philippine Airlines announced last week its REAL DEAL promo, with roundtrip air fares from Manila to several destinations at its lowest ever, enough to get my excitement to log on and book myself and family for a visit to Hongkong.



It was a dud.  My theory is that PAL created this promo only to increase internet traffic to their website; whatever gain it will give them i don’t have the slightest idea.

My cousin and I were up and about at 12:01 in the morning of 27 April, the first of the 2-day promo.  We waited for more than an hour to start our transaction but couldn’t get through the website.  So we called it quits and vowed to try again in the morning.

Monday morning came and both of us were busy logging on to PAL website, from two separate locations.  The promo is only good for on-line purchases.  Unfortunately, not one of us had a success in getting those precious promo tickets.

Tuesday came and is about to end but tickets are nowhere to be found.  Have I been duped? 

If it is of any consolation, I found out that Inquirer columnist John Nery  also tried and failed in this overly frustating commercial misadventure:

I borrow the term “unexpected error” from an unlikely source, the Philippine Airlines website. I must have been one of thousands enticed by the airline’s radically reduced prices to actually try to make an online booking yesterday, the first day of a two-day promo; I failed to do so, however, despite spending at least five full hours trying to engage the website. I logged on at midnight, and for the first hour could not go much beyond the first page. I set the alarm and went online at 3 a.m., spending two hours figuring out the best itinerary. When it was finally time to make a purchase, however, I got an error message. I was back online from 8 to 10 a.m., again with the same results. I failed to complete any transaction. Throughout it all, I kept getting error messages, the most persistent being a pop-up that read: “The application had an unexpected error in processing your request. Please try again later.”

I relate all this, not as prelude to a rant, but as constructive criticism. I noticed that the website had a patchwork feel to it; for instance, at one point a message cautioned me, thus: that if the page did not redirect in 10 seconds, I must refresh the page. In doing so, I would encounter a page with the words UNALLOWABLE ITINERARY OPERATION; would I be so kind as to click Yes to proceed?

It felt like an IT guy had suggested a temporary fix. In other words, the “unexpected error” that kept popping up seemed to me, after the second hour online, to be neither unexpected nor an error. It seemed like a feature of the system. Perhaps PAL can replace its online booking system altogether.

I still maintain though that the errors don’t have anything to do with their web system.  My guess is that is has been pre-calculated.  PAL don’t really want to sell those seats on sale.  They have other reasons for doing the Real Deal Promo.