Migrant worker gets free flight after complaint

Updated: 2012-01-06 21:46


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WENZHOU - A Chinese migrant worker was given a free flight home on Thursday after he accused new train ticketing regulations of hampering the homecoming of migrant workers during the Spring Festival travel rush.

Huang Qinghong, a truck driver in the southeastern city of Wenzhou, slammed the Ministry of Railways in an open letter, complaining that migrant workers have been robbed of their "ticket rights" now that customers can book tickets online or by phone.

"With the majority of tickets sold to online buyers, there were few left for purchase from ticket booths. But we migrant workers have no idea about how to use the Internet and the phone reservation system is too complicated for us," Huang wrote in the letter.

The Wenzhou Metropolitan Daily not only published Huang's letter, but also offered him the free plane ticket, allowing him to fly back home to Chongqing Municipality on Sunday, without agonizing over how he could obtain a train ticket.

"We felt Huang's pain of being slowed down on his journey home, and we wanted to help him," Xue Yuan, the newspaper's editor-in-chief, said Friday.

Xue added that his colleagues decided to buy Huang a plane ticket because they knew it would be difficult to buy a train ticket.

"I am astonished that I have been given a plane ticket worth 1,610 yuan ($255). I am so grateful for the media's concern," Huang said, adding that this will be his first time to travel by plane.

Huang hopes that railway authorities can allow ticket booths to have the same pre-sale period as the online and phone booking systems, saying the current ticketing regulations offer online buyers greater chances to get train tickets.

Passengers in Wenzhou can only buy tickets at booths five days ahead of departure, while online buyers are allowed to reserve tickets 12 days ahead of the departure date, according to Huang.

"I can go home for the Spring Festival, but many colleagues still do not know whether they can make it," Huang said.

Migrant workers constitute the lion's share of the hundreds of millions train passengers during the Spring Festival travel rush, and many of them have complained that the online and phone ticketing systems are too complicated.

In response to the rash of complaints against the changes in the ticketing system, Fang Tao, a senior railway official in Wenzhou, admitted that the ticketing measures were not perfect as they have just gone into effect.

Fang also argued that some experts and Internet users believe online and phone booking should be the main ticketing vehicles, as they enable more passengers to buy train tickets.

"But I am confident that the authorities will value people's advice," Fang said.