Air Asia booking system time zone bug for US customers

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Old Dec 6, 18, 11:04 pm
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Air Asia booking system time zone bug for US customers

tl;dr if you are US-based (possibly other time zones) and for some reason need to book with Air Asia, you may find yourself booking the wrong date accidentally, and may want to change your computer's time zone before booking.

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I needed to book a side trip SIN-PEN-SIN next year, which for reasons of who's traveling with us and familial harmony etc. it was socially if not otherwise desirable to book on Air Asia.

I Googled the FT threads etc. and knew what we were in for but I figured it's a short flight, how bad could it be, I'm in it for the humor value. I had no idea how quickly it would become hilarious.

I decided to book this as two one-ways. Booked SIN-PEN for March 2nd, paid the fee to select exit row, etc. Everything looked fine, so I paid and checked out. Confirmation email arrives and shows a booking for March *3rd*. WTH?! I did make this booking late at night and could have been tired and careless, but I am usually pretty detail-oriented and didn't think I'd screwed up. Quickly looked for phone numbers -- they list a US number but only for Air Asia X bookings but hey, supposedly Twitter/Facebook 24/7. So I sent a DM on Twitter explaining I'd somehow booked the wrong date and any chance of correcting it? No reply.

Meanwhile I shopped the return PEN-SIN but didn't buy pending how this turns out. Went to bed. This morning, still no reply. Sent another message saying if I don't hear back from them I'm disputing the charge with my CC (I'd already called the CC last night to put a note on the transaction)

Finally get a response today (19 hours later) saying "sorry for the delay, flooded with customer responses, do you have screenshots showing the error?" of course I don't have any screenshots, I didn't have any indication anything was wrong until the confirmation email.

But I tested the booking flow again (and took photos this time to show them):
- search for PEN-SIN on 5 March
- click submit
- the search result comes up with *4* March selected by default (even though the URL contains 2019-03-05)

now I see how this happened! I must've searched for March 2nd, it came up showing March 1st, I assumed I'd fat-fingered the search and "corrected" it to *appear* like it was booking for March 2nd, but in the background it was really advancing my flights to March 3rd.

This is clearly horrible coding where they are using the full date and time, instead of just the date, in the result header. So when I put in March 2nd, their system sets it to March 2nd in their local time which causes it to appear as March 1st in the US. The smoking gun is that, as a final test, I changed my laptop's time zone to be Singapore and did another search, and the weird off-by-one date glitch goes away.

I was slightly bluffing with them before, but now I think this gives me a reasonable case with my CC for a chargeback, since I just tested the flow again and it does not appear that they ever show you the flight date again in between the flight selection page and the final payment confirmation page.

Worst case I paid ~US$100 for a funny/sad story I guess.
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Old Dec 7, 18, 12:22 am
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This piqued my curiosity enough to nudge me to test it out. Your narrative checks out. I can't imagine how many people in similar circumstances would have chalked it up to their own error and paid up! All the best with the chargeback.
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Old Dec 7, 18, 5:01 pm
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Originally Posted by cowie View Post
This piqued my curiosity enough to nudge me to test it out. Your narrative checks out. I can't imagine how many people in similar circumstances would have chalked it up to their own error and paid up! All the best with the chargeback.
I appreciate the confirmation!

My call with Chase was rather disappointing. They said basically, even though I may have strong circumstantial evidence that a bug exists, ultimately I cannot prove that I *didn't* intend to book March 3rd, therefore they would not be able to refute it if the airline claimed that, and therefore the agent said he could not initiate any dispute or claim process.

I asked for a supervisor in case that would make a difference, and she said the most she could do for me was issue a $100 customer service credit and that this was the maximum amount she was authorized. This *almost* covers the cost of the ticket, so at least financially this seems like an adequate response.

I'm still somewhat troubled that, by this logic, consumers have zero protections when ordering something that they cannot see or confirm in hand before the payment is processed. If you order product X, and throughout the process the web site shows you product X, and then you receive an email confirmating saying "congratulations on your purchase of product Y" then you have absolutely no recourse apparently

So the question now is, do I set my laptop to Singapore and book the correct dates on Air Asia anyway

(I noticed also that they don't even have a way to cancel a ticket on their web site, only to change/modify a flight)
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