Dubai: The lure of cheap tickets left over 60 Filipino expatriates to rue their luck after they learned that a countrywoman who had sold them the deal had taken flight from the country.
The duped residents have all confirmed that the woman, identified as C.R.H, had offered them tickets for December flights to the Philippines for Dh2,800. They said C.R.H. fled the country last month without issuing any valid tickets, pocketing Dh190,400.
Speaking to Gulf News, Raynan, 35, one of the duped residents said he wouldn’t have taken the bait had it not been for a family medical emergency back home. “We weren’t planning on going home this Christmas but due to a family emergency, we had to. I bought the tickets for myself, my wife, and six-month-old child for Dh6,000.”
Raynan handed the money to C.R.H, who introduced herself as a teacher, at Reef Mall.
Raynan said he trusted C.R.H. since she was recommended by his wife’s colleagues. Raynan said C.R.H. told him she was just trying to help her friends working at a prominent airline sell off their unused staff tickets.
C.R.H. promised to give Raynan and his family their tickets by the first week of December. But when Raynan called to check last week, C.R.H. could no longer be reached.
“We later found out that she had fled the country. She emailed us saying she’s in Canada but will come back to settle her debt with us. But that’s of no use to us now, we have to fly this month,” Raynan said.
Raynan has since bought another set of tickets, costing him an additional Dh7,000. “We could have used the previous Dh6,000 for our family in the Philippines, but no, it’s money down the drain now.”
During peak season, air tickets to the Philippines cost Dh4,000-6,000 as compared to Dh2,000-3,000 at other times.
For Nancy, 39, a housewife who bought the ticket for her sister, C.R.H.’s offer was too hard to resist. “It was a direct flight for a lesser price. So naturally the offer was very tempting. Through her offer, we could save Dh500,” Nancy told Gulf News.
Nancy’s friend, Rose, also bought a ticket from C.R.H. taking advantage of the direct flight offer. “I was planning to surprise my mum who’s celebrating her 80th birthday this month,” Rose said, adding she had to buy another ticket costing Dh3,400 afterwards.
“I just can’t help but think how C.R.H. can sleep at night after doing this to us,” Nancy said. “The problem with us Filipinos is that it’s so easy for us to trust others. This is a lesson for us to be aware and cautious,” she said.
Many of the victims reported the matter to Dubai Police, but since the woman is no longer in the country they have been told there is little hope of further action.
Gulf News spoke to Airlink business travel consultant Geoffrey Salatan who helped the duped residents secure valid tickets. “They told me what had happened and I told them the offer was very dubious as no airline will offer such rates in peak months like March, June, July, and December,” Salatan told Gulf News.
Salatan advised the public to always be vigilant and verify with the airline company directly about any promotions. He urged people to ensure they made all travel bookings at proper ticketing agencies.