Thwarted at every turn

If you’ve been following my exploits you’ll know that my journey from Charlottetown to Berlin for PlazeCamp has been, err, interesting. Here’s a brief rundown of the story so far:

4:30 p.m. — Air Canada website says flight from Charlottetown to Montreal will be late, potentially cutting my connection time for the British Airways flight to London down to 30 minutes.

4:35 p.m. — I phone Maritime Travel, where I booked my ticket. They tell me that I am “protected” because my whole journey is on British Airways, so if I miss my connection in Montreal BA will rebook me and “take care of me.”

5:00 p.m. — Johnny arrives to drive me to the airport.

5:15 p.m. — Arrive at the airport and check my bags. Agent tells me that my connection will be tight, but echoes the “you’re protected” sentiments of Maritime Travel.

5:21 p.m. — Through security. Pay Aliant’s exorbitant $7.50/hour for wifi to check and find that flight is now showing arrival in Montreal at 7:23 p.m. — leaving me 20 minutes to connect.

6:50 p.m. — Flight boards, 60 minutes late. Then spends another 10 minutes on the tarmac “waiting for an incoming flight to land.”

7:45 p.m. — Arrive in Montreal at the exact time my BA flight is set to leave. Walk very quickly the 17 miles from the arrival gate to the departure gate, aided in part by a holf cart ride on the last leg.

7:50 p.m. — I can see the plane! But BA staff look at me as though I have commited a crime, and suggest that I was insane to ever think I could make the connection even before the delay. Am instructed to go to talk to Air Canada to get rebooked.

7:55 p.m. — Am told by security guard that I am, in essence, in “international waters” and cannot leave without clearing customs in the company of a BA agent. Find a BA agent just as she is leaving (incredibly nice and helpful) and we find an open gate and simulate an international arrival. I fill out a customs declaration and delight in not checking off the “have you been on a farm since you left the country” question. Turns out that I didn’t need to fill out the form, and I’m handed a special green “get into Canada free” card to show on the way out.

8:00 p.m. — Back out into the general prison population, my friendly BA agent accompanies me to the Air Canada ticket line, and then wishes me good luck. Five parties in front of me in the line.

9:00 p.m. — After an hour in the line I am starting to lose my will to live. Am finally ushered up to the counter and the agent tries to rebook me. She says that the BA flight for the next day is showing “no availability” and that she could rebook me on Air Canada through Frankfurt. Cool, I say. No, says her supervisor, “BA won’t pay us to do that.” I am told that I have to get on the phone with BA to rebook, but assured that my bag will be waiting for me downstairs.

9:05 p.m. — I go hunting for BA staff behind a door marked “Servisair” as my friendly woman earlier suggested I might do. Turns out “Rinalto,” the head man, has just left, but he is summoned by cell phone. He looks exasperated when I tell him my tale, and takes my boarding passes and says he’ll work it all out in the morning. He seems like a good guy, but at this point I don’t trust anyone.

9:10 p.m. — Head down to pick up my back. What a naive fool I am. There are hundreds of bags all over the place, none of them mine. And a party from my original flight who also missed connections, who have been waiting since they arrived for their bags.

9:30 p.m. — The other bags finally arrive, but not mine. Get in line at the baggage office.

10:00 p.m. — After 30 minutes in line I get to talk to a baggage agent. He checks on the radio to see if my bag is in the BA area and finds it isn’t. Says my bag will probably make its own way to Berlin, and there’s nothing he can do. Says I might check through the hundreds of bags on the floor to see if any are mine.

10:30 p.m. — After a thorough search, no bag is in evidence. Give up, and head out to catch a cab to my brother Steve’s (lucky he lives here, as neither airline would give me a hotel anyway).

11:15 p.m. — Arrive at Steve’s. Call British Airways baggage and they say “there’s no way we have your bag — talk to Air Canada.” Call British Airways reservations to see if I can rebook and am told “that’s Air Canada’s responsibility as the delay was their fault and there’s nothing I can do.”

11:20 p.m. — Amazingly, the agent from BA calls back, says he was mistaken, and offers to rebook me. Takes 5 minutes and I appear to be set.

11:50 p.m. — Sleep.

9:00 a.m. — Back at it. Call the Air Canada baggage office, and spend 15 minutes on hold to be told, again, that I need to simply look for my bag in Berlin.

9:20 a.m. — Call BA baggage office and am told that my back won’t be in Berlin.

9:50 a.m. — Go to BA’s website to try to check in. System tells me that I cannot check in. Call BA reservations, and they tell me it’s a website problem and transfer me to technical support, who tell me it’s a reservations problem and transfer me back. I end up making three calls to each department before the problem — “your eticket dates aren’t aligned with your itinerary dates” — is resolved and I can check in.

11:19 a.m. — I check in, and actually have a seat assignment on BA94 for tonight!

12:00 p.m. — Email Maritime Travel to ask them to double-check that me reservations are good, and the email back a confirmation.

As I type it’s 4:30 p.m. in Montreal and I’m about to head out to the airport. No idea where my bag is. The BA website shows the flight will leave 30 minutes late tonight, so who knows what will happen with my tight connection in London tomorrow.

Thank goodness for Brother Steve and his sunny personality, excellent bagels, and spare toothbrush — there are worse fates than being consigned to Montreal for an extra 24 hours!

Off I go again…


Pat Garrity's picture
Pat Garrity on January 10, 2008 - 08:55 Permalink

That closely resembles the debacle I have just finished going through with Air Canada and Air New Zealand. My bags didn’t make any of the same flights as me, Air Canada blames Air NZ and vice versa, I’m stuck in Christchurch NZ for four days with nothing but the clothes on my back. Today my bags finally showed up (though the look as they’ve been through a war zone). Steven emailed me yesterday to inform me that of all the people who knew flying this week (me, you and Nick Burka), none made it to their destination avec baggage.

A lot of work for Carbon buffe's picture
A lot of work f... on January 14, 2008 - 19:16 Permalink

Imagine having attended your conference, a.k.a. ‘computer play time’ virtually?

No carbon buffet, no baggage run around, no stress, no unnecessary energy expended.

You could have lived another day sipping cappacino from the comforts of the home office while linking virtually with technology. Safe and reliable with no caron residue… now that’s civilized!