Ah, the prejudice of airlines

As I’m wrapping up the various pieces needed to get my trip to Accra in order, for the Maker Faire Africa, I was confronted with some wonderfully prejudicial treatment when buying the ticket on KLM. You see, if buying a ticket to anywhere in the US or Europe, it’s not really a big deal. You go on their site, pick the dates, and then pay for it. It turns out that when flying to Ghana things are a bit more tricky. The screen below is what I was presented with when trying to pay for the reservation. It may be a little hard to make out in that size, but essentially, my three choices were Bank Transfer, Direct Debit, or paying at KLM office. In other words, “Oh, you’re flying to Africa? Cash only please.”
Refusing to bow to this, I called up their reservation number to book the ticket. As it turns out from the representative, they do this due to credit card fraud issues in Ghana. Really? In this day and age of being able to scan my IP address and do all kinds of other wonderful things, they’re going to tell me that I can’t book a ticket to Ghana on the web unless I pay cash because of fraud? Oh please…
Of course, you can use a credit card to book it over the phone so I don’t get what the big deal was. Turns out that it was actually cheaper for me to book it with a live person and if anyone else goes this route, absolutely refuse to pay the $20 USD fee they charge for calling on the phone. I managed to get that waived and so should you. The only problem in all of this is that once confirming the flight with a live, person-to-person voice conversation, they didn’t immediately charge my ticket. Where, once again, tickets to the US and Europe are charged immediately and a ticket number assigned just as fast, they seem to want to wait a few days before doing any of this for a ticket to Ghana. Unfortunately for me, I needed to get my ticket number for my flight immediately because I needed to send off for my visa today. The excuse this time around was, “well, the flight is so far off in the future that we typically don’t assign numbers so soon” Huh? Three week is not “far off in the future” and you are advised to apply for a visa a month before you depart.
Basically, it all boils down to the rather standard belief by companies in the US and Europe that Africa is a seething den of thieves among other things. I fail to understand how that kind of thinking can be justified given that American, Bernie Madoff made off with $170 billion (170 thousand million) before getting caught and he is just one of countless others.
This is just an excuse for the airlines to avoid having to get charged credit card transaction fees on their exorbitantly high airfares to Africa. In the end, I guess the only vindication is that they screw everyone equally: African and non-African alike. It doesn’t make it any better, but at least it’s not racist, just prejudiced. Or maybe it is both. Who knows. Until more tourists start going to Africa, these things aren’t going to change because there is little competition and thus, little incentive to give a damn other than to collect the money from those who have to fly there.
Now it’s just time to hope and pray that my passport arrives back to me on time, with the visa, and not looking like this.
Ah, the prejudice of airlines