Once upon a Time…

Everyday Life Experiences and Thoughts online and offline…

A Christmas Carol or how you do not wish to spend Christmas..

with 2 comments


On 3rd December 2009 I started my journey to Chicago, to meet up with my husband for about 2 1/2 weeks. The time was just gorgeous and I didn’t want to leave him at all.Unfortunately I had to due to the lack of a visa, and seeing my husband leave the airport shouldn’t be the worst I experienced the day I had to leave.

Chicago Skyline from outside Shed Aquarium Chicago Skyline from inside Shed Aquarium Restaurant
 

At first the flight from Chicago to London, which was supposed to be leaving at 10:25pm, was delayed 45 minutes. When the plane finally arrived about 1 hour late, it took another 1 hour until we were able to take off, since the flight was over booked. So they were desperately looking for people who would take a flight the next morning instead, offering a voucher and free accommodation. First they offered a $300 American Airline voucher plus free hotel accommodation and a flight with confirmed seats the next morning. Then they changed the offer to a $500 voucher plus all the other things and in the end they even offered a $800 voucher, dinning voucher, hotel accommodation in Chicago and a flight with confirmed seats the next morning.

I was thinking about it but concerned since I had to have a connecting flight to Glasgow as well. So when they first announced the $500 voucher, I walked up to the counter and asked the lady there if they would also offer a connecting flight. Unfortunately she said that there were no flights to Glasgow available, so I went back to my seat again an waited. Silly me, I didn’t ask for an accommodation from Sunday to Monday in London and a connecting flight to Glasgow on Monday morning. I wish I had done so / thought of it earlier, since the 2 hours late flight from Chicago shouldn’t be the only hassle I had to deal with.

When we finally took off I wasn’t concerned about my connecting flight too much, since it was taking off at 3pm and we were supposed to land at 2pm with all the delay we had.
At about 2pm we landed in London Heathrow and as soon as I managed to step out of the plane and into the gangway, I noticed a queue of slowly walking people, which would come to a stop just after i had walked a few meters and wouldn’t go forward any more. Someone had forgotten to open the gate at the end of the gangway, so we were stuck in it until they opened it up, which took them a few minutes.

Then one of the airport assistants walked by, telling everyone, that the people who had connecting flights had to wait in the queue on the right side, while the others should pass them on the left. I was confused since I still had about 45minutes till my flight was taking off, since the queue was enormous though I didn’t dare to leave it, being afraid that I might miss my flight if I step out of it and just head on.
After 15 minutes I was the next and the guy told me that I had to rebook my flight. I still had 30 minutes until my plane would take off, but he insisted I rebook the flight and advised me to go towards the flight connections where I could do so.

All frustrated I did as he told me to and spend another 15 minutes in a queue for the security check, which made me wonder if it might have been a good decision to rebook the flight, since there were only 15 minutes left till my original flight would have taken off. As I passed the security I thought I better ask one of them to make sure I am walking in the right direction, since on the information board on the wall it said British Airways – Terminal 3 (listing all sorts of countries, but no domestic destinations). So I stepped up to the counter behind the security where it said ‘Team Leader” and asked the lady.

I told her that I had to rebook my flight and she said ‘No, no, no, no you are wrong here, you need to go to terminal 5’. Even more frustrated I turned around and walked back and when I arrived at the gate to the connecting bus to terminal 5, I decided to make sure and ask again if I was at the right spot. Again there was a counter and a grumpy looking lady behind it. I asked her and she told me that I needed to rebook at American Airlines, which was at terminal 3, the terminal I had just come from. (I might need to add that I had booked the flights at American Airlines, but the flight from London to Glasgow was carried by British Airways.) With hurting feet I walked back to the security queue that would lead to terminal 3 and noticed a man standing at the end behind (guess what!!) another counter, giving advice to other passengers about where they had to go to, and from what I overheard, they had the same problem then me.

I asked him if I was finally right here and he confirmed it. He also was so kind to let me through the security immediately since I just had passed it and was sent back when being given false advise.
Finally I was at terminal 3 and right away a lady from American Airlines told me to queue up in a queue which end I couldn’t even see since I was right behind a corner. 30 minutes later I should see the end of the queue, which made me die inside, since it was 5x the way I just had made in the queue. So I was standing there, in my newly purchased shoes, which made my feet hurt like hell after a while since they got heels I am not used to walk on, and started wondering if I will ever manage to reach the end of the queue by the end of the day. 1 1/2 hours later I found myself in what was probably the middle of the queue. At that time my feet were hurting so badly that tears were creeping up my eyes from the pain and my blood pressure was sinking more and more.

After another 15 minutes I couldn’t take it anymore and took the chance when another American Airline employee passed me. I asked her for help and told her that I wasn’t feeling well. She recommended to leave the queue and sit down on the side until I feel better (the ratio of seats : passengers was about 10 : 100). But I didn’t want to lose my spot in the queue and told her, so she offered that she will keep my spot in the queue and when I feel better I can just go back to where I was. Gladly I took the offer and sat down in relieve. While sitting I heard an announcement for a flight to Glasgow by American Airlines, but oh wonder, none of the assistants were even asking people where they needed to go to. Only for flights to Boston and New York they were going around asking people if they needed to go there to.

I kept checking the queue and the spot where I had been, thinking of waiting until they were close to the end so I wouldn’t have to stand again, fearing I would end up in pain again soon after getting up. Since I couldn’t see the people anymore who were in front of me in the queue, I thought they must have gotten forward quiet a bit, also cause I saw a lot of movement at the end of the queue where I had been sitting. So I pulled myself together and got up, with less pain this time, and went to the lady who had assisted me earlier. To my surprise she didn’t let me back in the queue, but called me over to one of the counters and rebooked my flight right away. What a pleasant surprise after all! Out of a sudden I thought of my luggage and wondered if there would be any problem with it, so I asked her about it. Since my flight was going at 8:25pm she said there should be no problem with the bag, but I should asked the flight attendants at the gate, just to make sure.

So at about 4:30 pm I finally held my new boarding pass in hands and made my way to terminal 5 to find a seat in the waiting area. But with my still hurting feet the way there to just seemed endless. When I arrived at the security at terminal 5 where my flight was supposed to go from, the security guy at the end of the wiggly line of separators said ‘Go straight ahead the entrance is at the end’. Hobbling I started walking, replying something along the lines of ‘I hope I will make it’ and a second later I heard him calling me from behind. As I turned around I saw him opening up one of the separators, so I wouldn’t have to walk back and forth along the wiggly line, and instead go straight through to the security counter (which luckily was almost empty of passengers). I dropped of my bags, coat and shoes and stepped through the security gate and right away one of the security ladies was so kind to offer me to sit down and she would bring all my belongings to me so I wouldn’t have to go there to, since she saw how hard it was for me to walk. I gladly accepted and then went on to the waiting area where I finally was able to sit down and rest.




La Linea de la Conception,
Spanish Border to Gibraltar
View of the Rock of Gibraltar
from La Linea de la Conception
La Linea de la Conception
 

I started wishing I was back in Gibraltar and while being seated, waiting for the gate to be announced where my flight would take off from, I had the dubious honor to witness the announcement that this flight of mine was delayed as well. They didn’t announce when they expected it to arrive, so all I could do was sit and wait for them to announce the gate. When they finally did so, I went there to and about 30 minutes after I arrived the flight attendants were there, waiting for the plane, just like the rest of us. I walked up to them and asked if they could check up on my bag, and when the lady did so, she said it was at terminal 3 still, but that wouldn’t mean anything and I might be lucky and have my bag when I arrive in Glasgow, otherwise I would have to file a missing/delayed baggage claim. Not happy at all with this respond and already preparing for the worst I went back to my seat to sit down and at about10pm the plane finally arrived and half an hour later we took off, resulting in us arriving at 11:30pm at Glasgow International Airport.

Of course when I went to the baggage claim, my bag wasn’t there. So went to the lost baggage office and filed a lost/delayed baggage claim. The lady told me that my bag would be delivered the next morning at 10-11am and the dispatcher would contact me prior to that via phone. A bit at ease thanks to this statement I took a taxi home, not knowing what was to come.

The following day I did not receive a call and neither did my bag arrive at 10-11am, so I called up the dispatcher and they told me they didn’t even have my bag yet and I needed to call up British Airways.
Of course they only had an expensive service number I could call, but the lady on the other end was nice and told me that the plane with the bag was delayed and were to be expected to land at about 1pm in Glasgow and furthermore suggested I call up the dispatch after 1pm to arrange a delivery. I did as I was told and tried 5x to get a hold of someone at the dispatch, but no one would answer the frigging phone. So in the evening I called up American Airlines again, and of course I would wait in the queue forever, until the money on my phone was gone and I had to use the home phone of our apartment.

15 minutes after I dialed the number, finally one of the guys answered the phone (it was about 7pm at that time) and he told me the dispatch had the bag, so I have to call them up. I told him I was trying to get a hold of them but the phone just rings and no one picks up. So he checked the number with me, which was a local Glasgower number I had. Of course that number was wrong, he said, even though I explained to him that I had talked to them before using this number, but instead he gave me an expensive service number to call which I thankfully refused. Having no other choice, I called up the dispatch and finally someone answered the phone.

The lady on the other end (according to the voice the same lady I talked to the first time when I called them) told me that they got the bag, but it was way too late to deliver that far out to Greenock (it was about 8pm at that time and Greenock is a 30 minutes drive away from Glasgow), even though I had been told at the baggage claim that they are supposed to deliver until 10pm. So when I wanted it to be delivered the next day, Tuesday, and I told her I wanted it as soon as possible at 10am but she said ‘Oh sorry but we have too many bags to deliver and we can only deliver between 1 and 3pm’. Being fed up with all the crap that was going on the past days I just agreed to it.

The next day I had a job interview in Glasgow at 1:30pm, so before I left i tried calling them up to arrange a later delivery that day, but again no one would answer the phone, so i just thought to myself ‘Whatever..’ and went to the interview. I left home so I would be 30 minutes early for the interview, since I hadn’t been at that area in Glasgow before (even though it was right around the corner at the main station). The train was there in time and first the journey went on normally and I enjoyed all the white outside. Then suddenly we stopped in between the stations and would stand there for about 10 minutes. Not thinking anything bad yet I just kept daydreaming of Pete and of seeing him again next May, but then after we rolled again and arrived in Paisley Gilmor Street we stopped anew.

At that point I was starting to worry that I would be too late for the interview even tho I had planed to be 30 minutes early. The train was supposed to arrive in Glasgow Central at 1pm and it was already 1pm when we were in Paisley. Then the train moved forward again, very slowly though, just to stop again right in between the stations. The conductor was going around telling the passengers that they were having problems with traffic that was ahead, but that wasn’t really any sort of relieve. At 1:45pm we finally arrived in Glasgow, 45 minutes late.

The interview went well and they weren’t mad at me for being late. In fact they were expecting me to be stuck in the train. Obviously they had had the same problem before.
After the interview I went back to the station and found that the train to Greenock was delayed, not naming any time though.
So I stood there and waited, and waited and waited and waited.
After 1 hours they finally announced that the train was canceled, and with it all other trains from Glasgow, without telling us any time frame in which the trains would be going again.

So I sat at freezing cold Glasgow Central for 3 1/2 hours, since the Scot Rail assistants were not able to tell me whether or not there is a bus connection to Greenock, only telling me to ask the bus drivers.
(Which is really great since there are no counters for the buses to buy tickets from, where I could have asked and the bus stop in front of the Station was packed with people. So even if a bus would have stopped it would have taken ages till I would have been able to ask the driver. The possible answer I knew already anyways: I don’t know. Since no driver knows nothing but the one route they are going back and forth every day..)

Every now and then I walked around, trying to find someone who could give me some more information about when trains are expected to be going again. Finally about 1 hour before I managed to get on a train, I found someone who told me that there was a defective train in between Paisley and Glasgow, which were causing all the trains to be canceled and of course the lot of snow that was coming down suddenly that day. He also said that there was a bus connection, but going from Buchannan bus stop, which is quiet a bit to walk. And considering that I didn’t know when the bus was going and how frequently, plus the walk there to would have taken me about 20 minutes in heavy snow with slippery streets up and down hill, I decided to just wait for a train.



A Rainbow in always
rainy Greenock
Greenock, UK
 

So I arrived in Greenock at about 7-8pm and when I just was at the bus station, waiting for my bus home, I received a call from the dispatch. ‘Hello, I am at your place but no one’s opening the door.’ Surprised that they suddenly do deliver this late this far out here in Greenock, I told him to just drop off the bag at the door, since I was going to arrive at home in 10 minutes anyway.

I arrived at home, found my bag in one piece, carried it upstairs into my room and guess what!? : the lock on my bag was gone and the zipper was opened a little bit. When I checked everything, nothing was gone luckily. I was worried that they had taken the snow globe music box, Pete gave to me as present, which has a personal message engraved.
But everything was there so I was relieved (at least I hope everything is here.. I haven’t checked all my underwear yet… you never know…)

First I was thinking of filing a complaint (and I probably should do so) but then again, I am just tired with all this and how badly things went, that I can’t be bothered.
I just wanna forget about it and hope that my next flights won’t be as bad.
One thing is for sure though. The next time they offer a voucher, free hotel accommodation and a flight the next day, I will be the first to take that offer!!!

So what’s left to say is:Merry Christmas American Airlines, British Airways and London Heathrow logistics!

 

© 2010, Sanshiru. http://san.icopyright.com

 

© 2010, Sanshiru. http://san.icopyright.com

Advertisements

Written by Samantha A. P. Ocean

December 24, 2009 at 7:53 pm

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. This is an off-topic comment that you can read and delete, if you so choose. I’m am a visually challenged artist and luckily I am not color blind.

    I find it extremely difficult to read large blocks of text that lack a blank line between paragraphs. All visually challenged people online experience this same difficulty. Due to this difficulty I have changed how I write for the web on my blog.

    I break up blocks of text by inserting paragraphs followed by blank lines in blocks of text that would normally remain in a single block in a book. I also use images and text wrapping to give the eyes a rest when reading. http://en.support.wordpress.com/images/image-alignment/

    My blogs are as “accessible” as I can make them for all visually challenged people. Aside from making your site accessible to visually challenged readers, including those who are colorblind, did you know that:

    1. An accessible website is more likely to be ranked well with the search engines than an inaccessible website;
    2. By designing a colorblind accessible website, you are also targeting PDAs, 3G phones, and similar technological devices that are used for web access.

    Reference post: http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2009/04/09/blog-design-which-colors-do-you-use-and-why/

    timethief

    December 26, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    • That is a very good point you’re making there. I tend to stick to the book writing style of formatting text, even though I as well find it difficult at times to read large blocks of texts. I think I will re-formate and see what i can do. Thanks for making me aware :)

      San

      December 26, 2009 at 11:50 pm


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: