Now some of you may know that I fly to Salalah quite a bit, and I've written about my personal experience with Oman Air quite recently. Today, I am hoping someone can explain to me why I can't actually book my own flights with Oman Air. Admittedly, I am a bit stupid, but one thing that an expat knows how to do, and typically does do quite often, is book flights.
The reason for my muppetry is that for the last 4 or so months, I've not been able to use my HSBC Oman credit (or debit) cards to purchase flights on the only website I'm aware of that can book flights for me with Oman Air (essentially the only way to fly between Muscat and Salalah).
Every time I go to book a flight (which with this busy Khareef season is a mission on its own), I get all the way to the payment gateway, and then you see this message:
Which very clearly says:
For Oman, at this time only Bank Muscat & Bank Dohfar allows use of their debit cards on Oman Air Web site.
Now, for most people, a debit card is a card linked to their current account (or whatever) that debits that account. A credit card is a card that is in your name and charges your line of credit with a supplier, and you pay the supplier separately. The notification on the Oman Air website even states, credit, debit cards - clearly acknowledging there are two types of card.
Perhaps the misspelling of Dhofar (Dohfar) is a give away? I don't know - but it's great to see one of the nations largest areas misspelled by its own national carrier - classy. All I do know is that unless I have a Bank Muscat or a Bank Dhofar credit (or debit perhaps) card, I can't book flights with Oman Air. Which is pretty annoying. It's actually really annoying.
Now, the Oman Air press releases section of their site makes no mention of this rather major problem for residents of the country for which they are the national carrier of. In fact their press release section in typical fashion for this part of the world, neglects to mention any bad news at all.
If this card payment issue is due to some spat between Oman Air and some local banks, surely this should have been resolved by now? I note that you can call up Oman Air and book flights over the phone with them, and use a HSBC card. But here's the rub: You have to pay a RO 15 booking fee when doing this over the phone. You can drive to the airport, park, go in to the airport and purchase a ticket with an HSBC card directly at the Oman Air ticket office there without a problem.
So, why exactly can't we use our credit cards (unless we're banking with Bank Muscat or Bank Dhofar) on the Oman Air website? If I was a cynic, I'd say that someone at Oman Air is pals with the large travel agents here and they've got a little side-line going on.
I doubt that's true, but what is, is the apparent zero interest in Oman Air to fix this really annoying problem with ticketing. Does anyone know why this has been happening, and when we can expect this issue to be fixed? Should the PACP be investigating this?