This is a column unlike any other I’ve done because it’s about a personal experience I went through the last two weeks. The journey began in Japan, in Utsunomiya in particular, roughly 145 kilometers north of Tokyo, where I was reunited with my 2019 FIBA World Cup co-broadcaster Josh Bett to do the English global commentary for the EASL Champions Week. After covering six games in three days, we shifted to Okinawa by plane for the last four games in two days. The competition was a jolt for PBA teams San Miguel Beer and TNT which found it difficult to adjust playing with and against two imports. Overall, it was a lesson learned in preparing for the first EASL home-and-away tournament starting in October.
The Champions Week ended on March 5, Sunday and I was on a bus to the airport the next morning. I was booked on a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong at 12 noon. I was psyched to stay in Hong Kong for 11 hours while waiting for a connection to Tel Aviv where I would join my wife Menchu and 21 others on a Holy Land tour. When I got to the Okinawa airport, I was told the CX 5821 flight operated by Hong Kong Express was cancelled. The departure board in the terminal showed the flight was cancelled (I took a photo) but I was never advised beforehand by email or SMS as is the usual airline courtesy. The information desk attendant, a certain Ms. Kuhagura, confirmed the cancellation on her phone with the messages “Hong Kong Express March 6th 12 noon flight CX 5821… it has been cancelled… I’m not flying today.” I took photos of the messages on her phone.
The airport WiFi was unstable and my pocket WiFi couldn’t get a consistently clear signal so I was desperate trying to contact EASL coordinators Peeya and Claudia to find another Hong Kong flight on the same day. Finally, I got through to Claudia who booked me on the Hong Kong Airlines flight 657 at 4 p.m. I found out later that attempts to swipe my credit card caused a double payment of $275.80. A message from Hong Kong Airlines said: “Your payment is complete but your booking has already been cancelled.” That meant making another payment for the same amount. I still don’t know if Hong Kong Airlines will refund the first payment.
Worse, Cathay Pacific said it wouldn’t refund me for the cancelled CX 5821 flight to Hong Kong which is clearly unconscionable. The whole episode was stressful and when I phoned Menchu who had already started the Holy Land tour, I told her I was so drained that maybe, I should just go home and cancel my trip to Tel Aviv. She reminded me the rest of the trip was non-refundable and besides, tracing our Lord’s footsteps during His lifetime throughout Israel and Egypt would be life-changing. So I decided to proceed. When I got to Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific struck out the Okinawa-Hong Kong leg out of its system to rebook my Hong Kong-Tel Aviv passage. That took about an hour to redo and EASL’s Carlo Singson, who lives in Hong Kong, accompanied me throughout the process in case something went wrong and I had to spend a night in Hong Kong. Carlo’s been a friend for decades so his concern was much appreciated. EASL CEO Matt Beyer was aware of this ordeal and said anything he could do to solve the problem, he would. In Tuesday’s column, I’ll relate what happened during the Holy Land tour and how it was a life-changing experience.2023-03-18T16:41:07Z dg43tfdfdgfd