Sat, 29 Mar 2003

Sharp practice at RI airlines?

Although the ticket price war involving national airlines generally benefits passengers, this may not be so if an airliner adopts a very smart (or sly?) business tactic.

On March 7 I suddenly had to fly to Yogyakarta. I contacted the Indonesian Airlines (IA) office and was told the Jakarta- Yogyakarta ticket was Rp 270,000. I was advised to buy the ticket at their counter at the airport.

At the airport I was surprised to learn that tickets priced at Rp 270,000 were sold out and there were only four seats left at Rp 335,000. (In fact, there were 10 left.) As I urgently had to fly to Yogyakarta, I bought one of these tickets anyway. Some other passengers did likewise.

On board I found, to my dismay, that there were no special seats for holders of tickets priced at Rp 335,000. One of the passengers joked bitterly that a holder of a Rp 335,000 ticket might get a sweeter cup of coffee!

Later, I learned that some passengers had bought tickets at either Rp 210,000 or Rp 270,000 from other outlets in Jakarta.

Suspecting we were unhappy about the differently priced tickets, one of the stewardesses told us the airline sold only 20 seats to 25 seats at Rp 270,000 each, with the remainder at Rp 335,000 each. Another stewardess even suggested that we put our complaint in writing, but none of us took up that opportunity.

Later, when I contacted the IA counter at the airport, I was told the airline sold 40 seats at Rp 270,000 each. An officer at the IA head office told me if there were a lot of passengers, they would sell more seats at Rp 335,000. At Lebak Bulus bus station, interprovince buses do not usually raise their fares, even if there are a lot of passengers for the routes they ply.