The email from our airline on Sunday announced the “good news.” We had been rebooked from our original Monday afternoon flight to one on Tuesday. It had begun snowing, and the forecast called for a lot more of the white stuff. Not a word about any flight cancellation; just the corporate happy talk for an inconvenient situation. But this was just the beginning.
Deciding that it wasn’t such good news after all, we called the airline, only to be hung up on several times by a recorded voice. Eventually, we were able to leave a message, and about two hours later, we did get our call returned.
The agent on the line seemed like an ace: rather than merely keep to the new booking, he managed to get us on a direct flight on another airline to our final destination in South America. We would be receiving a ticket from the new airline in a couple of hours, he promised.
So we waited. And waited, but no email arrived, that night, or the following morning. Not to worry, said my wife. All we need it the record locator.
Next day, we arrived at the airport. It was still snowing, but flights were coming in and going out. We got to the second airline’s ticket counter, handed over our passports and record locator, and watched the agent as she kept searching the screen. Despite that sanctified record locator, no tickets in our names had been issued, she finally told us.
We’d need to go to the original airline, get it to give us the ticket numbers, and then come back to airline two for our new, direct flight.
We hurried off to airline one’s booth, where an agent took our info, looked into her screen, got on the phone to one of her colleagues before finally declaring: no-can-do.
Apparently, our ace agent on Sunday night had promised us something he couldn’t deliver, she said. We’d have to wait until the next day for a flight.
Much back and forth followed. Finally, the agent at the other end of the phone line magically found us two seats on the flight that we had been told the day before was already fully booked. But the complication was that we’d have to catch a connecting flight in Miami, a tight time window.
What could we say but, ok! We crawled through the customs line, dashed down to the departure gate and plopped in our seats. And waited. And waited.
At one point during our ensuing two-hour departure delay, the crew said we were waiting for the food to defrost (what food? this was a domestic flight!). Then there was a delay in de-icing the plane (no nagging there).
Finally, we lifted off. As we approached Miami, the crew said there would be agents waiting to direct us to our connecting flights. Then we got off the plane. No agents, but instead a direction to go to the “rebooking center,” as all the connecting flights had already departed and the airport was shutting down for the night!
We joined many, many irate travelers. Eventually, our turn came, and we were handed new tickets for our final destination. The next night. And the airline wouldn’t pick up the hotel tab because all this was somehow “caused by the weather,” it was announced.
At about 1:30 a.m. we finally arrived at the airport hotel. A room, a bed and, finally something comforting, a few warm chocolate cookies.