A certain 'budget' airline has some answering to do. Its latest promotion was for a '50 per cent off' seat sale for 'low, low fares' to Manila, Cebu and Clark. The deal sounded attractive, I thought. And against my better judgment, I rang the airline's number.
Against my better judgment because I've rung this airline's seat-sale hotline before. You pick up the phone, dial the number and one thing happens: it rings. And it rings. And it rings.
Many people might switch to another carrier, but I invested my heart in the Philippines long ago. I'm used to phones ringing and ringing and ringing. And getting a ticket numbered 407 at banks where staff have just called for the holder of ticket No 23. And waiting for an Aloha burger at Jollibee after Sunday Mass in Central. You soon learn Manila wasn't built in a day.
And I have a soft spot for this particular carrier. Its pilots can land planes smoothly in all weathers and the young cabin crew reward inflight games winners with beautiful smiles and some of the most worthless giveaway presents the world has ever seen. Yet, its Hong Kong sales office seems disconnected from its customers.
I dialled again. So did my colleagues. And guess what we found: the seat-sale line just rings and rings and rings.
Maybe the airline's Hong Kong staff have popped out for lunch. Or maybe they are having a siesta. Or maybe the sales office is no longer in Tsim Sha Tsui, but a landline in a friend's spare room in Pui O.
Whatever the case, that phone just rings and rings and rings.