I like to write about things that make people want to travel, so I rarely ramble about problems and difficulties. But today, I’ll make an exception, because it’s so ridiculous, it’s funny. Only read if you want to share my pain.
Tuesday, 11:00. I get a text message in Quebec’s Eastern Townships saying my 19:11 Burlington-New York flight is cancelled due to air traffic control. No other option exists to fly me to Dublin that night. I call United, but they tell me that since I booked a Star Alliance reward flight through Air Canada, I have to talk to them. Air Canada says this is ridiculous; in case of same-day irregular operation, the carrier is responsible, but in any case, I have to call not the airline, but the reward program, Aeroplan. Aeroplan also says United should deal with it. When I call United back, the second person I talk to says that of course, it is their responsibility to re-route me. Each call involves 10-30 minutes on hold, including 20 minutes on hold with United, because the lady is on hold herself with US Airways! After 2 hours on the phone, and me saying I can drive to Montreal if options exist there, I get booked on a 19:15 Montreal-Washington-Dublin itinerary, arriving only 5 minutes later than planned. I drive to Montreal through thunderstorms.
Tuesday, 19:30. 15 minutes after the flight should have taken off, we are still in the terminal and they announce that the flight is cancelled, because they don’t have a pilot. No more flights that day. I’m the first at the connections counter, thinking I will likely get a flight tomorrow and a hotel voucher. Nevertheless, I suggest the Montreal-Paris on Air Canada, or anything else that will at least get me across the pond. I get in with no time to spare, as the manager calls the “supreme powers” and re-opens the closed flight for a minute so they can take my luggage. The nice manager offers to escort me through security. I decline, saying I am a member of the Nexus program (a US-Canada “trusted traveller” program). A minute later, I run after him, because for some reason, the Nexus line is closed! The worst part of the day happened on the flight, when I watched the remake of Robocop, but that was self-inflicted.
Wednesday, 09:30 (Paris time). As I am about to land in Paris (on time), I realize I have only 40 minutes to connect (really, 25 minutes to get to the gate), and I’m at the back of a Boeing 777. Tight, but possible. Finally out, I cover about a kilometre to the flight board, look for my gate, and realize it’s not in the same terminal! I have to go through security, take a shuttle bus, etc. I attempt it, just in case of boarding delays, but unsurprisingly, I miss the flight.
They try to book me on the next flight. Full. The next one. Full. The next one. Yes. So I will only have to wait 8 hours at the airport. Noticing I am in seat 6F, I look up the flight on Seatguru, thinking that if Air France operates this flight with say, an Airbus 320, 6F could be a business class seat. A small measure of comforting.
Seatguru informs me the Air France flight is in fact operated by CityJet on a tiny Avro RJ-85, and 6F is the only window seat on the plane without a window. A french giant sits next to me and I have uninterrupted shoulder contact with his shoulder and the non window for the entire flight.
Unlike my luggage, I eventually arrive in Dublin. Turns out that in their haste, the people in Montreal only sent my luggage to Paris, where it sat for 8 hours, waiting to be picked up, while I also waited in the same airport.
I got a convenience kit which included this ridiculously small tube of deodorant. Applying it took several minutes and felt like repainting a piece of furniture using liquid paper. Also a self-inflicted wound: as I get off the airport shuttle, the bus driver points to a street a block from my hotel and says: “You see that street? Don’t go there!”. I settled in my hotel room, quite possibly the worst I have ever had in Europe. The unventilated room has a window I can open, but it opens fully on an exterior staircase used to access this extension of the hotel, at the back of an interior courtyard. In other words, if the screen-less window is open, anyone can simply step into my room. In theory, this could mean my belongings are not safe but luckily, they are all in Paris.
Friday, 09:44. I visited the luggage people at the Dublin airport to inform them I was leaving for Norway. My luggage is now located, but is still in Paris. Hopefully it will eventually feel like joining me in Oslo.
All that complaining being done; I write this from the Copenhagen airport and I had a FANTASTIC day in Ireland yesterday, only sorry that the mishaps cut my already too short stopover in half. I will tell you all about it tomorrow. Well, all I remember anyway.