So I’m trying to book a flight to South Africa. Logistically, it hasn’t been easy because my husband is paying for the ticket with his credit card, which is not a US based card, and we don’t have a lot of money to work with. This is a huge obstacle - most places that I can book a cheap ticket will not accept a foreign card. Fine, I can accept this, but I have been scouring the web trying to find a good deal, and a way to get it paid for.
Finally, I land at Iberia Air. Scour the site, the terms and conditions, everything. Nothing that says it has to be a US based card. Great. Start filling out the booking form, and it comes up with a great deal based on my dates of travel. Beautiful - by far the cheapest I’ve found anywhere (probably because of the monstrous layover in Madrid, but I didn’t care.)
“Just so you know,” the website tells me, “If you plan to use E-tickets, the holder of the card will need to present at the time of travel.” It makes no such disclaimer for the use of paper tickets, so that’s the route I choose. Fill out the billing information, and sure enough, the option to pick a country other than the US exists. Beauty!
So I complete the form, get a confirmation that all is well, and smile.
Well, I smiled a little. Then I called Iberia to make sure everything was indeed hunky dorey.
So Jose answers the phone, and I have the following conversation with him:
“Hi, I just booked a flight on Iberia.com and I wanted to ask a few questions to make sure everything is okay.”
“Sure,” Jose says, in a reassuringly helpful voice.
“OK, one - the card I used to book my flight is my husband’s card. He lives in Egypt, and will not be able to be there with me at the airport. Is this going to be a problem?”
Jose is quiet. “Hmmm… well yes, he must be present with you when they do the e-ticket.”
“Ah!” I say, “It’s not an e-ticket, it’s a paper ticket.”
“Oh, yes, then that is not a problem, he will not need to be present at the time you fly.”
I smile a little bit more.
“Next, the card that I used to book the flight is not a US based card. Is this going to be a problem?”
Luis is cheerful. “No, this will not be a problem, ma’am.”
“Are you sure?” I prompt, “Because if it is, I will need to make other arrangements today if I want to get a decent fare.”
“Oh, no,” he assures me, “this will not be a problem.”
So, I smile even more, and ask a few other mundane questions about baggage allowances, etc. and hang up the phone.
Cut to today: I get a phone call from Iberia.
(Guy whose name I’ve forgotten): Yes, I am calling about the booking you have with Iberia Air for next Monday. There is a problem with the credit card.
Me: (Thinking, did it get declined? Was there not enough funds?) What sort of problem?
Guy: Yes, it seems that the card is actually a foreign card. We can only accept US based cards for payment.
Me: … I spoke to someone named Luis yesterday who assured me it wouldn’t be a problem.
Guy: Oh, no, it is most definitely a problem. There is no way we can bill this card. Do you have another credit card you can use? Or a Visa or American Express? We can accept foreign Visas and American Expresses."
Me: No… What other options do I have?
Guy: Nothing. You can’t even pay cash at the airport because this is a web-only deal. You must come up with a US-based card, or a Visa or American Express.
Well fuck me. I was caught off guard, so I stammer something about trying to see what I can come up with, and to please hold the reservation until I can figure something out. I hang up.
And then I start to think. How fucking ridiculous is this? Fine if they don’t take US Based cards, but you’d think they’d TELL me somewhere. And, you’d think they wouldn’t have given me the option to select the country that the card’s billing address was in. Nor that they would send me an email saying everything has been confirmed, thank you for shopping with Iberia Air. I go back to the website, looking for anything that says that it has to be a US based card. I come up with nothing.
So I check the rates online to see what my other flight options are, and see what other route I can take. But now, because my travel dates are less than a week away, all the prices are astronomical. We’re talking hundreds of dollars more expensive. So I start seething, and I call Iberia back.
Guy: Blah blah blah.
Me: Yes, we spoke earlier. I am trying to figure out what my options are. I can understand if your system is unable to accept foreign Mastercards. Fine. But the fact of the matter is, I called Iberia specifically to make sure this WOULDN’T be an issue. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that this would not be a problem for me. Nowhere on your webiste does it say it has to be a US bas-
Guy: Yes it does.
Me: Oh? Where?
Guy: It says it.
Me: Fine, tell me where it says it, because honestly, I’ve scoured the site. I have looked everywhere for some indication that I just missed a statement. I can’t find it. Not to mention, Jose specifically told me that it was not going to be a problem.
Guy: Yes, well sometimes there are workarounds, and maybe he trie-
Me: No, he did not say that “sometimes” it isn’t a problem. he said “It will not be a problem”. I said, “Are you sure” and he said “Yes.”
Guy: It’s on the website.
Me: WHERE? Tell me where on the website it says it, so that I can read it.
Guy: No, I don’t need to tell you, I’m telling you it is there.
Guy: It says it.
And we argue back and forth for a while like this, and then I ask to speak to his supervisor. And nothing. Zilch. Zero help. “Even though the fact that Jose told me something that was apparently completely wrong is costing me a few hundred dollars?” Zip. “Even though there isn’t anything on your web-” “It’s on the site. It isn’t my job to tell you where.”
And that’s when I hung up.
FUCK. So now I don’t have a ticket. And I don’t have enough to pay the huge amount extra to get a regular ticket. And, I don’t have a way to actually GET that payment to anyone anyway. My husband could Western Union me the money, but not until Sunday, and I’m supposed to be flying Monday.
Good fucking grief.
Sorry just had to vent. And no, the guy’s name isn’t really Jose.