Cathay Pacific Online Booking Disaster

It’s every flyer’s worst nightmare… okay, maybe not worst, but it’s up there.

Yesterday I visited Cathay Pacific’s Canadian web portal to pay for a pair of Premium Economy tickets to Hong Kong that I’d had on hold since the day before. Here’s a grab of the payment screen:

CX Fare Details

Everything was going to plan, even when I arrived at the completely unnecessary “Verified by VISA” pop-up—where again, for some reason I had to prove my identity, despite already being logged into my frequent flyer account and, while we’re at it, being one of the named travellers on the itinerary.

Anyway, after that came another splash screen, listing a number you could cite in case of technical difficulties. I was just thinking that I should probably copy that number down somewhere when I was summarily dumped onto some random Sabre error page.


I didn’t grab a screen of that, as I was too busy panicking. I went straight back to Cathay’s “Manage My Bookings” page, where my flights were still on hold. Then I logged in to see the recent transactions on my credit card. Here I found the worst possible news:

VISA Authorized Transactions

In case you were wondering, Abruzzo has great panzerotti. Best in the city, if you ask me. But I digress…

Rage Face - Gasp

Yeah, that’s more like it. Suddenly $5,000 CAD poorer and with nothing to show for it.

My verdict on The Marco Polo Club‘s customer service is… pending. I don’t really care where in the world your call centre happens to be, so long as you can effectively deal with disasters like this. After speaking with the first agent I was convinced that she was just going to reissue a new pair of tickets and charge my credit card a second time. Some hours later, however, the second agent I spoke with was at least able to connect to the ticketing office in Hong Kong, and assured me that my tickets would, in fact, be issued. I went to bed thinking that everything was going to be okay.

One day later, everything has yet to be okay.

I’ve been reassured again by Cathay that my reservation is still on hold. I think what’s happening here is that my payment has been authorized but not yet posted—in other words, when Cathay can confirm monies received then they’ll issue the tickets and all will be well.

In the meantime I’ll just be sitting here, checking my email every few seconds…

UPDATE (March 18th): Cathay made good on their promise and issued my tickets overnight. Not only that, but they also booked us in priority seats that wouldn’t have otherwise been available. Nice touch.


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