They say when bad things happen, they all happen all in one go.
I went to see another doctor yesterday to get a second opinion of my relentless fever. He stuck an ice-cream stick in my mouth, followed by a thermometer and pressed his statoscope around my chest and on my back.
Then he came to a conclusion that my fever was still on and if it doesn't get better by Monday I will have to go for a blood test to check for Dengue. This is when I started to panic a little bit because I was supposed to go to Phuket the next day (ie today) for a short break with Princess. A much needed break just to get away from the world a little bit.
So I asked
"Hey uhmmm Doc, I'm supposed to go to Phuket tomorrow.... can ah?"
He laughed it off
"Haha you probably won't even make it past the airport".
I imagined myself and Princess walking through Phuket airport with our bags and all after just arriving until we come to the thermal scanner that checks to see if anyone has a fever (which happens to be one of the symptoms of Swine Flu).
They're going to detect my fever and suddenly you're going to hear the health officials shouting something in Thai and pointing at me. Before I know it they would all pounce on me and quarantine me for 7 days for fear that I might have Swine Flu.
Princess will be screaming and shouting for help but they'll just give her some candy and she'll forget I even went missing until a week later.
That thought was enough for me to decide that I had to cancel my trip. Problem was though... hotels can be changed.. no problem. But my flights were booked with Air Asia which just like any other budget airline did not allow cancellations. So if I don't show up for my flight it just means I lose the whole fare which was something like RM500 per ticket so it was over RM1,000 bucks.
I called my Dad up to ask for advice and being someone who refuses to fly budget airlines all his life he took the opportunity to lecture me
"SEE?? This is what happens when you kiam siap and try to pay peanuts. If you were flying MAS you could postpone the flight without having to lose your whole ticket".
I was going to say
"But but... because I only have to pay peanuts, now everyone can fly......"
Then I remembered the recent promotions that MAS had been having recently (Like the Stimulus Package) that really significantly made their tickets very very much more affordable. So in the end I chose to put my head down, shut up and take the scolding from my Dad.
I ended up sending Air Asia a letter from my doctor stating that I wasn't fit to travel. I don't know yet if Air Asia will end up allowing me to postpone my flights without me having to pay for another full price ticket but I don't think they're obligated too anyway. I mean the reason why you get your flights so much cheaper is you give up that flexibility to change them too.
I guess this episode really made me realize something.
When people compare budget airlines (like Air Asia) to full service airlines (like MAS), they compare the difference in having to pay for the food, in the service, in the slightly further away airport... but seldom do we look at the flexibility in changing your flights last minute if you were to fall sick or should any other form of emergency happen. Why? Because it doesn't really happen that often but when it does, you end up losing quite a lot of money.
It's not that either one is bad or good. Just like anything in life. If you pay more for something you get more, if you pay less then you get less.
I fly both airlines regularly but it just so happens that I fell sick before an Air Asia flight instead of an MAS one. So I guess that's just bad luck.
Update: Thanks to the enlightenment of Eve and Michelle who just left their comments here, it appears that you can postpone your Air Asia flight after all. Just pay a RM110 fee and the difference for the price of the new flight (if any). Not yet 100% sure about this yet since I was told by others that I won't be allowed to change my flights but if it's true then that's a bit of good news. I guess things are beginning to get better already.