This post is exceptional. Not because I’m such a great writer, but mainly because it is written before completion of my journey.
ONLINE BOOKING CULTURE SHOCK
Too often does media remind us to book online in advance to get less price. But do they often remind us that it is not always as easy as it sounds? An online booking from Seoul Gimpo Airport to Jeju Island that should not take more than 10 minutes became days until a couple of weeks. This is my first time to ask God for a Korean boyfriend to help me.
I’ve learned my lesson. It requires a greater effort for a foreigner like me to book a Korean domestic flight online and why I met a lot of dead ends when I deal with it:
1. Jeju Air
FYI, certain Korean airline websites only work properly with Internet Explorer, including Jeju Air, especially you need to download ActiveX to authorize credit card payment security, which is not compatible with Mozilla and Google Chrome. Using Explorer, don’t forget to disable pop-up blocker and sign up for membership before transaction. Checking schedules is doable with Chrome and Mozilla, but not the payment process. But it wasn’t the worst part.
The system couldn’t approve my registration by showing a pop-up reminder, “Please confirm the address is correct”. Filling up correct address, postcode, state, city and country accordingly didn’t work out. Modifying one to another to fit the system didn’t do any better. In a nutshell, there’s no way to sign up.
No registration, no transaction. Next.
2. Jin Air
When Skyscanner redirected me to Jin Air, offering amazingly cheap $65 return ticket, it’s screwed. The site is only valid for international flights. It doesn’t fly to and from Seoul Gimpo, but from Seoul Incheon to other countries. The only destination departing from Jeju Island is Shanghai. So why on earth did Skyscanner mention Jin Air on my search if it actually doesn’t exist? Next.
3. T’way Air
The site is all in Korean. Google translate converted it into English, but the schedule didn’t show up after choosing my destination and the date. It remained the same after I retried. I give up. However, I accidentally found an article called How to Purchase Tickets from T’way Airlines to Jeju Island while I was writing this post. Suppose you are willing to book online and learn some Korean simultaneously, it’s your chance. Okay, not now. Next.
The good news is no registration required and the site is compatible for all search engines. Nonetheless, another problem occurred. After completing passenger’s info, the pop-up notification in Korean appeared. Not knowing what it means and being unable to cut and paste the message for translation, I don’t know what went wrong. Besides, I couldn’t fill up my mobile number properly since it only fits for 12 digits. Mine has 13 (including country code).
After several attempts that didn’t work? Next.
Claiming that Explorer is able to maximize the site’s appearance and Chrome users need to verify their credit cards issued overseas by clicking the notification “Click here for online verification” (that actually cannot be clicked), it’s nonsense for foreigners. It merely accepts credit cards issued in Korea and no option for those applied overseas. Next.
5. Korean Air
The airline is my last choice since the rate is approximately $100 more expensive than the others. Nevertheless, for an alternative and the sake of this post, it’s worth to try (without entering my credit card number). Just like Jeju Air, open with Explorer, install ActiveX, register and disable pop-up blocker before transaction. Pretty old-fashioned for the nation’s largest airline company. Be aware of several pop-up notifications in Korean. Click OK to response, and click cancel for some pop-ups with 2 options. The system is compatible for credit card payments issued in Korea and overseas. A great option if no other sites work in my computer. But at first, next.
6. Air Busan
I said to myself that Air Busan would be my last attempt, otherwise I’ll get back to Korean Air or get one from the airport. My effort eventually paid off. It works with all search engines and it approves payment with both local and foreign credit cards! Remember to register, fill all the columns no matter how unnecessary it seems, specifically in contact address section, and make sure that there’s no spacing between first and middle name. It’s also a bit strange that it doesn’t ask your travelling partner’s ID, but no need to sweat it (I hope).
I was extremely panic when my line was suddenly cut off in the middle of the payment process, yet still succeeded in the end. Next? Eureka!
THE SYSTEM OR THE COMPUTER?
One more strange thing. I experienced in one of the airlines (I forget) mentioned above that I failed to proceed my purchase because my name and my partner’s don’t sound like Jet Li or Park Ji-Sung. The system does not recognize western names like Kristen Steward or Robert Pattinson (may be K Stew or R-Patz work?).
I have no information whether Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese and many other foreign residents have problems with Korean flight bookings. In my case, is it about the system or my computer? Yet so far, I’ve never had any troubles with European online bookings.
How about you? Have you had similar problems, may be apart from Korean airlines? How do you cope with them?