Woman wins free Cathay Pacific tickets to Hong Kong, but joy ‘short-lived’ due to $200 surcharges
To save Hong Kong’s battered tourism industry, Cathay Pacific recently announced that it would be giving away 12,500 round-trip tickets to travellers from Singapore, as part of its World of Winners campaign.
Hoping to be one of the lucky ones, Bernice Tan joined the contest and eventually won.
Unfortunately, this moment of victory was short-lived and she went through a rollercoaster of emotions.
In a TikTok video on Tuesday (March 21), Tan revealed that she had not known about the competition until her boyfriend told her five minutes before it closed.
She managed to sign up for it in the nick of time and even clutched a good queue number.
When the winners were announced on March 20, Tan was initially downcast as she had not received an email from the airline and “assumed” she had lost.
“I looked through the winner’s list because I couldn’t believe I lost when my queue number was so low. I was [among] the first few thousand [in the queue],” recounted Tan.
But as she was looking through the list, she noticed her name and email, and so went back to her inbox to double check.
It turned out that all along, she had been searching in the wrong folder, and the email that confirmed her as a winner was actually in the Promotions tab.
“I was quite happy and excited because I love travelling,” she recounted to AsiaOne.
But the feeling of euphoria didn’t last forever.
“My joy was short-lived after finding out I still have to pay close to $200 in taxes because they only cover the fare,” she captioned sadly.
It also didn’t help that she was low in funds.
“I peeked at my [bank] balance and now I’m in tears because I’m broke,” she said, adding that she has had to “hustle” and get enough money to pay for the surcharges as the redemption ends on April 19.
Tan’s mother rained on her parade as well, saying: “Hong Kong accommodation is so expensive [that] the free tickets aren’t worth it.”
It may be more worthwhile to fly with another airline
Speaking to AsiaOne, Tan said when she applied for the campaign, she already anticipated needing to fork out money for additional taxes.
But she hadn’t expected it to be so costly for her.
“I recently flew to Korea and Europe with Singapore Airlines, and the taxes were only $50. With Cathay Pacific, not only do I have to pay for taxes which amount to $107.90, [there are] carrier surcharges of another $87.40.
“So, in total, I have to pay $200 for a free ticket when I can just fly with any other airline for the same price,” she rationalised.
Despite this, Tan will still be redeeming the tickets and plans on using money from her savings if she cannot procure enough cash in time.
“I limit myself to [a] certain amount of spending per month, so this month, I didn’t expect myself to have to pay for a holiday (accommodation and tickets). So, I’m pushing the limits of my spending account,” she revealed.
According to a report by Marketing-Interactive, Cathay Pacific clarified that winners of its recent ticket giveaway campaign will be responsible for any taxes and surcharges of the ticket.
This came after winners pointed out that they have had to pay nearly $200 for the “free” ticket.
“It is stated in the Hong Kong International Airport’s campaign page that: ‘Tickets sponsored by Airport Authority are economy class, and all related surcharges, fees and taxes would be borne by the winners of the tickets’,” said Cathay Pacific in an interview with Marketing-Interactive.