Monday, 20 November 2000
Last week I got a ticket for my coming holiday. It was a quest, just like two years ago. For a start it's next to impossible to shop pleasantly in this Calvinist country. On week days the travel agents are only open when I'm at work. Saturday is super crowded everywhere, and Gouda sleeps on Sundays.

Fortunately, in The Hague the travel Agency of V&D happens to be open on Sundays, a sheer blessing for somebody like me. Unfortunately, on Sundays the V&D travel agency is staffed with only one lady.


  • From AMS to KUL 10dec or later,
  • KUL MEL arr 17 jan or before,
  • PER SIN, preferably with QF77/29jan
  • and finally KUL AMS arr 10 feb or before

Demand: Safety

All flights must be with a safe, reliable airline. Sorry, but I'll stay away from a company
Qantas logo

Qantas never crashed

Yes I admit, it's an unconventional bundle of wishes, but not anything that a travel agency can't handle. The lady listens to the first part of my request and starts typing when I'm just half way. It's always a fascination experience for me to see real users doing real life jobs. With horror I watch the total unusability of the computer systems. The lady uses two, totalle incompatible systems.
  1. The first one lists all arlines flying AMS KUL, cheapest one first.
  2. The second one lists the availabilities.
She types and types, continuously switching from one system to the other. Yet, I get the impression that she is not really interesed in my wishes. Her attention is devoted to the phone. A number of times I am forced to hear that she is a student on week days, that this is just a part time job for her. Nice to know for her calling boy-friends and relatives, but as a customer I could do without those stories.

It seems like all flights AMS KUL are full. China Airlines flying AMS - TPE - KUL is the best option, with an uncomfortable night at Taipeh airport. Well, not the best possible start of a holiday, but acceptable, given there are no other options.

The queue behind me grows with impatient other customers. And AMS KUL is only the start of my journey. The more difficult parts KUL MEL, PER SIN and KUL AMS are yet to come. The lady still struggles with the reservation computer. She is unable to create a return booking AMS KUL via TPE. The computer refuses and persists in an incomprehensible error message. The support department is closed on Sundays. So, it's now impossible to make a reservation. Grr. The lady assembles all notes and gives up. Disappointed I go back home.

A few days later one of her colleagues calls back. It's an experienced lady this time, who concentrates on work in stead of boyfriends. The computer problems are vanished. And suddenly there is space available on a direct flight AMS KUL. The only setback is the Qantas 77 from PER to SIN. It's fully bookked. And it would be much cheaper to stick to just one airline for all flights.

As an alternative she proposes Malaysian Airlines (malaysia-airlines.com), for the whole route. Hmm not bad at all. I have some sweet memories about Malaysian, never had any trouble, comfortable planes, and always felt safe on board. In my mind I can already hear the Selamat datang tuan-tuan dan puan-puan and taste the Nasi Koenin.

The ticket smiles at me. Three weeks to go, scribbling java in this dark grey country, and the Nut is off to the sun. Tralala!

Till next week!