When I told this story to my friends, the common response was “What, I never thought this could happen to you!”. Usually followed or preceded by full-hearted laughter out of Schadenfreude. But I have to agree, it’s actually really funny and I never thought this could happen to me. But let’s start from the beginning.
On 5 September the Osaka area was hit by a typhoon Jebi, the strongest typhoon within the last 25 years, which destroyed parts of the Kansai airport built on an artificial island in the bay of Osaka. As one terminal and one runway was completely unusable flight operations were completely canceled. Around the 10th the first airlines, like ANA, started operating a few flights a day. I had a flight booked from Daegu (TAE) to Osaka (KIX) with Air Busan for the 16th fo meet up with Björn and Janina. The days after the typhoon I monitored the situation. Every day some new information, some more flights going in or out, but operations were far from normal. Around 12 September I had to make a call, so that Björn and Janina can adjust their plans if necessary, that we could end up in the same place on the 16th. Of course due to the upcoming holidays in Korea and Japan flights were already expensive. For about a day and a half we checked various destinations across Japan and different departure airports in Korea. We agreed that most likely the best solution would be to still meet up in Osaka but fly in to Fukuoka and then take the Shinkansen to Osaka.
I tried to call Air Busan to have my existing ticket rebooked to the new destination, but their service center was completely overrun and even after hours of trying I never got through. The best option was then to just book a new flight and hope that the other flight will get canceled and I could get a refund. I selected the one-way trip from TAE to FUK for the 16th, entered my personal information and credit card info and bam: your credit card does not support 3D verification, proceeding without verification. But it only showed a white screen. I tried again. No luck. Next try was booking through my mobile phone. Usually it’s the mobile website that does not work properly and I use the desktop as fallback, why not once the other way round? Again selecting departure airport, destination, one-way flight and date, entering personal information and credit card and guess what, this time it worked. I confirmed the payment with the N26 app and the flight was booked.
Now everything was clear and I went to my trip to Daegu. On the 16th I got up in the morning, had a relaxing breakfast and made my way to the airport around 11 to be there on time for my flight at 14:00. I arrived shortly before 12 and looked for the check-in counter. On the information counter I was told that for the flight to Fukuoka at 14:00 Air Busan would open the counter any minute. So I waited for a few minutes and lined up for check in.
“Konichiwa, I have a reservation for the flight to Fukuoka.” I greeted the woman behind the check-in counter and handed her my passport. She started to check the system and then handed me my passport. “How do you spell your name? I cannot find it.” Only partly confused – having an umlaut and a dash in the name regularly leads to issues – I showed her the international spelling and she checked again. “Sorry, nothing. Do you have the booking confirmation?” Alright, I looked up the confirmation mail and handed her my phone. She started scrolling around and then pointed at the phone. “Sorry, your flight is from Busan. This is Daegu. You’re at the wrong airport.” I looked at the ticket and realized “Fuck, I’m at the wrong airport.” Busan, the home airport of Air Busan, it about 2 hours away in the very south of Korea. No chance I would make it there in time for the check-in. “Oh fuck, are there any seats left on this flight? I need to get to Fukuoka.” “Yes, there are free seats. Please wait, I check if I can rebook you.” Now a 20 min journey began of phone calls the woman made, while I was checking the website to see how much a new ticket would cost me. As there were only regular tickets left a new ticket would cost around 154.000 Won, at that time ca. 115 EUR. A lot, but still affordable.
In total the woman made maybe 7-8 phone calls, apologizing in-between for letting me wait, and in the end offering me to rebook my flight for 150.000 Won. Virtually the same price as a new ticket. Somewhat disappointing, but still better than to have Janina and Björn wait for me a day in Osaka. So I paid for the new ticket and went for the security area. However, I was still very lucky to get a ticket in the first place. As I boarded the plane as one of the last passengers, I saw that all seats except for very few seats here and there, were taken. And a couple of people were still behind me.
I was still confused. How could this happen to me? I’m an experienced traveler, booked all kinds of things through phone, texts, or website in all kinds of languages without any problems. So I looked at the mobile site and tried to figure out how this could have happened. And then I found it. As I said above, I entered departure and destination airport, selected one-way, and then the flight date. The mobile Air Busan website, however, changes the airports to their default selection Busan – Fukuoka when you switch from return ticket to one-way ticket. I guess that’s where it slipped through my attention.