Passengers rushing to return tickets for fear of Covid-19


Due to the recent complicated outbreak of Covid-19 in Vietnam, many people in the South buying tickets in advance to Northern areas are now rushing to return them as they decide to skip the trip back home for Tet Holiday this year.

Passengers coming to Saigon Train Station on February 2 to return their tickets due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak. (Photo: SGGP)

Passengers coming to Saigon Train Station on February 2 to return their tickets due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak. (Photo: SGGP)

Yesterday morning inside Saigon Train Station, hundreds of people were waiting tiredly to return their railway tickets. Because of high demand, the station had to install 7 additional booths on the first floor for this task. After finishing all necessary steps, these ticket buyers need to wait for another 90 days before the refund is transferred into their bank account.

Truong Quang Huy, a railway ticket purchaser living in Binh Tan District of Ho Chi Minh City, voiced his annoyance that even though the station subtracted 30 percent of the ticket price as a service fee, he still had to wait for 3 months to receive the money, which is unacceptable and time-consuming.

Vietnam Railways said that any people buying tickets from February 2-28 will receive all support for their ticket return process. They can either postpone their departure time to the same destination for one year from the current one or change the route and time free of charge. They only need to pay the price gap between the two tickets if available.

Alternatively, if they decide not to take any trip in 2021, they will receive a refund from January 1, 2022. According to the current ticket return policy, the railways will deliver ticket refund after 90 days from they day of ticket return.

Passengers can register for ticket postponement or return at the station or online via the official website of Vietnam Railways at at least 24 hours before departure time.

Vietnam Railways reported a large quantity of people rushing to return their tickets in the last 3 days, completely opposite to the situation in Hanoi Train Station.

Regarding the 90-day waiting time, this is the sufficient time to prepare enough cash and complete related procedures for ticket return as regulated by the law.

According to Mr. Do Quang Van, Director of the Southern Branch of Vietnam Railways, the number of passengers witnesses a drop compared to previous years since people decide not to return home to prevent further spreading of the outbreak.

Being unprepared for the sudden situation, Saigon Train Station is quite passive and has to prioritize all of its human resources for this task.

Sharing a similar state, the Eastern Coach Station of HCMC in the past few days has seen a huge quantity of passengers coming to return tickets to the Northern provinces and the Central Highlands.

As regulated in the return policy, tickets of any routes over 300km will have a refund of 90 percent and 70 percent of the price if they are returned at least 4 hours and 2 hours before departure time respectively.

The return procedure for ticket purchased online is more complicated, so many buyers switch to reselling their ticket with a lower price by as much as 40 percent.

Significantly, Viet Tan Phat Coach Operator decided to return 100 percent of the ticket price to Nguyen Van Hoa, who bought a ticket to Gia Lai Province but had to return it as the outbreak in his hometown is getting more complicated.

Deputy Director of the Eastern Coach Station Ta Chuong Chin shared that the Station’s management board has encouraged van operators to aid passengers in this sensitive time as much as possible while the Station itself is also trying its best to provide financial help.

After SGGP Newspaper reported inadequacies in air ticket refund policy, which might lead to money loss for passengers who are in the infected areas, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam organized a meeting with Vietnam Airlines, Bamboo Airways, Vietjet Air, Pacific Airlines, and Viettravel Airlines to find the most feasible solutions.

The result is a formal direction from the Authority asking related airlines to approve ticket return requests of those who cannot fly due to Covid-19.

Right after receiving this document, Vietnam Airlines yesterday updated its ticket return policy to allow passengers isolated or quarantined or affected by Covid-19 to change their departure time regardless of conditions free of charge once from February 3. They need to provide necessary valid documents to register for this procedure.

The policy applies for domestic flights with departure time and tickets issued before or on the day to begin quarantine, isolation, or lockdown period ordered by the authorities.

As to the case of the passenger in Hai Duong being refused ticket refund, Vietnam Airlines admitted that its current ticket return policy does not take into account this unexpected situation. However, it does have a flexible policy for special cases, which has not been announced by the ticket agency to the concerned buyer and led to misunderstanding.

Reports from Binh Thuan Branch of Vietnam Railways reveal that each day, Bien Hoa Train Station welcomes a large number of people coming to return their tickets for the trip on Tet Holiday to Northern areas mostly. Due to such a huge crowd, ticket buyers have to wait for a long time while the station must use all possible staff to answer the demand.

Until now, one-third of the quantity of the sold tickets (14,000 tickets) have been returned so far in this station only.

By staff writers - Translated by Thanh Tam

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