Sunday, 19 December 2010

Dear Etihad,

My email to Etihad, sent via their website contact form.


I had my flight (EY20 on 18 December, LHR to AUH) cancelled, resulting in a missed connection (EY472, 19 December, from AUH to CGK). Consequently, I was asked to find my own accommodation (and hence finance my own expenses over the last few days as a result of the delay/eventual cancellation) in London and ring up your offices to seek a new flight number. After 3 attempts, I finally got through to a member of staff at 11am on 19 December. She took down my e-ticket and phone number, and told me that I would be contacted when a new flight has been confirmed.

After visiting your website, I noticed that most other flights have gotten updates on their rescheduling status. Rather worrying for me was the fact that my flight (EY20, 18 December) was not shown, when flights that were meant to depart later, such as EY18, have been updated.

I got even more furious when I looked up my itinerary, both on Abacus and on your website, and saw that I have been put down for another flight, EY9020, for 29 December, without the AUH-CGK leg - this is by no means acceptable or reasonable, knowing that some flights are leaving tomorrow (20 December).

I have to say that this whole situation has been dealt with rather badly by your airline, considering the scale of Etihad - lack of updates/communication and lack of reimbursement/support for customers (not even those stipulated by Statute under EU Denied Boarding Regulation 261/2004).

I understand that this problem was partially out of your company's control, with the snow and BAA deciding to close Heathrow's runways. Nevertheless, I was hoping for slightly better treatment than what I have gotten thus far from an award-winning airline.

I demand a proper explanation of the status of EY20(18Dec), and a rebooking onto another flight within a reasonable timeframe, even if it means going through Manchester. I am not seeking financial compensation at the moment, just seeking some reasonableness, clarity and a chance to be home with my family in time for Christmas. If necessary, my e-Ticket Number is 607xxxxxx3062.

Hopefully, this will inform someone at Etihad that someone is really not satisfied with their service, even for a reasonable person.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Sound of 2010

As it's nearing the end of the year, I thought I'd do a round-up of the sounds that, in my opinion, defined the soundscape of the past year. Think of it as a periodic chart summary, put together at the end of the year.

Compiled on a train, using nothing but an iPhone with 3G signal, Spotify, Official Charts Company Website, Wikipedia, and Mail, I bring you...

Florence + The Machine

Vampire Weekend


Owl City
Ocean Eyes

Plastic Beach

Ellie Goulding

Two Door Cinema Club
Tourist History


B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray


Beachcomber's Windowsill


Bombay Bicycle Club

Tom Jones
Praise & Blame

Mike Ronson & The Business International
Record Collection

Katy Perry
Teenage Dream

Bruno Mars
Just The Way You Are

Swedish House Mafia

The Script
Science & Faith

Linkin Park
A Thousand Suns

Brandon Flowers

KT Tunstall
Tiger Suit

Tinie Tempah

Brian Eno
Small Craft on a Milk Sea

James Blunt
Some Kind of Trouble

Above The Noise


Take That

Kanye West
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy


Plain White T's
Wonders of the Younger

Christmas Lights

Ellie Goulding
Your Song

Friday, 10 December 2010

Where I stand...

Haven't posted anything to this part of the interwebs, so I thought I'd kick up a fuss and spill my opinions over some things that have been in the news.


So Parliament voted yesterday, and the motion was passed - the cap on English university tuition fees for Home students will rise to £9000. Obviously this does not affect me directy. However, I'm quite shocked that the politicians though higher tuition fees were acceptable. Students from poorer backgrounds might e deterred from Unicersities as they fear the debt that they'd incurr. Yes, a degree improves job prospectus and future salary. But the upfront debt and the interest, on top of the graduate's other debts (mortgage?) plus interest means students in the "squeezed middle" who cannot access scholarships and bursaries are trapped in debt for a large part of their adult life. I understand that they only start paying off the debt once they've earned £21,000. Nevertheless, it's not fair that students who enter university only a few years later have to pay 3X as much as those who entered in 2010. And what does this do to subjects where graduates tend to earn less? The business and medicine students would be paying tier debts faster than the Historian. What does this do to incentives?

Another thing which I learnt from Newsnight was that the government is planning to scrap "top-ups" for so-called "classroom-based" courses (mainly Arts and Humanities) from £2,000 per student to £0. I cannot believe that the government is passing on the burden of higher education funding for what some may call "softer" subjects 100% from the state to the students. Forgive the pun, but at this rate, History is history.

Understandably, these fee rises and top-up cuts are a result of the budget deficit, and the government is trying to close the gap in the budget. But doing so at the expense of social mobility and low-paying subjects is quite selfish and morally wrong. Universities are a place of learning, and regardless of the subject, funding should be done in a fair way. It would be great if the government had an interest in the future of the economy by gettin more students educated to a higher level. But sadly, this will no longer be the case from 2012 onwards.


You've probably heard about Cablegate - the leaks of the cables and other classified documents (some of which were not meant for eyes on foreign soil) that were sent from various US embassy staff to DC.

This has been a major setback for US Foreign Policy. It definitely doesn't look good for the Middle Eastern leaders who asked the US to attack Iran. Nor does it help Hillary Clinton with trying to "reset" relations with Russia, after what's wen said about Putin v Medvedev. And what's with the criticism of British forces in Afghanistan?

The US has been on the offence, after forcing companies that provide services to the whistle-blowing website to stop doing so - Amazon (S3), a webhost, Paypal, MasterCard, Visa. The Swedish have also issued an Interpol warrant on Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks. Furthermore, a Swiss bank has even closed down Assange's account over "misuse of the account". Maybe it's just a conspiracy, but how much of these are caused by American pressure?

The hackers have also been on the attack, after taking down a number of the sites mentioned above in DDOS attacks (Amazon was attacked, but their servers kept going somehow).

This is going to be a long battle between the authorities, trying to keep their secrets from the eyes of the web, and the supporters of Wikileaks, defending their right to keep the authorities in check. In America's defence, it is probably in the national interest that some of these documents don't get into the public domain. The leak of major sites of American interest probably rang alarm bells with the DoD, as terrorists can now log online to read this document and plan their next target, if they wanted to.

On the one hand, it is admirable that Julian Assange has braved authorities and went ahead with the leaks. Together with the hackers, they represent the online version of (to borrow David Cameron's term) "the Big Society" - the rebels who challenge the "big Government" and uncover their secrets.

On the other hand, did the actions of the Wikileaks team put people, American and non-Americans, at unnecessary risk? Did the leaks have an impact on international relations? Or was Clinton's downplay accurate - "some of our counterparts have told us,"if you thought he leaks were bad, you should see what we say about you."." Was this just an embarrassing gaffe?

I wouldn't go so far as to call Wikileaks a terrorist organisation, as some American politicians have coined them. Yes, they are in illicit and unauthorised possession of classified documents. But perhaps the US Government need to look at what it's done - why the secrets? Why the lack of trust in the international community? Why so hungry for data and secrets? And why are you trying to take down a site that's all about keeping the authorities in check?

Right, that's all I have to say for now.

Coming soon: a music chart!

Sent from my iPhone