Conversations To Make You Fly High

, , , , | Hopeless | October 20, 2017

I’m a single woman, and I decided I wanted to travel, and do so alone. I’d been saving up money and vacation hours for several years for an international vacation. I chose to go to London. I decided to buy a wheeled duffel bag, with a separate trolley, to use as my carry-on. That decision prompted this situation.

I flew from my small city into a major city for the flight to Heathrow. Since I was coming in on a puddle jumper, I had quite a ways to get to the international gate. On the first escalator, I picked up my brand new wheeled duffel, and the handle broke. I managed to get to my gate without it breaking more severely, but it was very difficult.

After I found my gate, I went into all the stores around me, asking if they had tape or glue or something to repair it. No one did, but one lady went to check their storage room and came back with a handful of rubber-bands that she gave to me. She also helped me determine that a screw had failed, and they happened to have little eyeglass screwdrivers, so I bought one, and some candy, in case she got commission. She’s the first awesome stranger in this story. If you’re reading this, thanks again.

I got back to my gate, and tried to MacGyver a repair. I remembered that I had packed a sandwich bag worth of craft supplies, including some teeny rolls of washi tape, which is decorative paper tape for crafting. Between that and the rubber bands, the handle was holding together, as long as you didn’t look at it too hard. And you wouldn’t want to look at it, because it was really ugly.

While I was fixing it, my bag was in front of me, but I was trying to keep out of the way of traffic. At one point, someone came by, and I said, “Excuse me, sorry,” and nudged the bag a little out of the way. Then he said, “How are you doing?” and since I’m honest and a bit strange I said, “Okay-ish.” I didn’t think much of it, and the man passed me.

I finished fixing the bag, and was sitting there upset at that stupid bag. I even wrote a review for the bag. I was in a rotten mood.

After five or ten minutes, a man came by and asked, “Why did you say, ‘okay-ish’?”

I realized he was the man who passed me, so I explained about the brand new handle breaking, and my efforts to repair it. He commiserated with me and said I needed my money back. He then asked about my plans, and I said I was going to London for a vacation. I told him that it was my first time, but I had always wanted to visit the UK, specifically England. He was from London, but lived in the States, and was on his way home for a little while and then going on to Europe.  

Then, and this is why he stuck in my memory, he asked, “Do you have paper and a pen?” I brought out my travel planner, and he proceeded to give me notes of all the must-dos from a Londoner point of view, including an open-air market because, “You’d like it; it’s quirky like you.” And the must-eats, including good restaurants. I took loads of notes, and I still have them. We must have spoken more than 15 minutes. He was awesome. When he went back to his seat, I was in a much better mood.

Stranger in the airport, if you read this: you’ll never know how much that simple conversation helped me.

Sliding Around That One

, , | Working | October 17, 2017

(I work for an airline and we have just landed into a major UK airport at a very busy time. We are currently waiting on a member of ground staff to attach the air-bridge so our passengers can disembark. We have been waiting on the ground for approximately five minutes.)

Passenger: *a man who was perfectly civil and seemed relatively smart during the flight* “Can you not just use the emergency slide?”

Purser: *after realising that they are not joking* “No, sir.”

Passenger: “Why an earth not?”

Purser: “One: it’s not an emergency. Two: it’s unbelievably dangerous to anyone around on the ground. Three: it costs around £60,000. Four: it renders the aircraft unserviceable and means the next flight must be cancelled. And five: it wouldn’t get you anywhere except underneath the plane instead of on it.”

(The air-bridge was attached about two minutes later and we heard no more about the slide from anyone!)

“Should” Have Been An Easy Question

, , , , | Working | October 5, 2017

(I am meeting someone at LAX who’s coming in on an international flight, and we are going to meet and fly to Austin together that night. He informs me in the morning that his plane is going to be a few hours late because they had a late start, but he tells me when he should land. I wait and watch at the terminal as a bunch of people from his flight walk out and meet their loved ones, but I can’t find him. This is before I realize people with connecting flights go through a different set of doors. I don’t have his phone number yet, only social media platforms, but I’m getting bad reception. The following exchange is with the international customer service person.)

Me: “Hey, are the people who were on [flight number] done going through customs? Are all of them out yet?”

Customer Service: “That flight landed five hours ago. So, I believe they are done.”

Me: “No, it didn’t; it landed forty-five minutes ago. There was a delay that lasted a few hours.”

Customer Service: “But my paper says it landed in the morning.”

Me: “No, my friend told me that they would land at three, and they did. I saw a bunch of Aussies walking out with their airline pins and everything.”

Customer Service: “No, my paper says that plane landed at ten.”

Me: *getting frustrated* “Yes, it was supposed to land at ten, but it was late and landed at three. I just want to know how long going through customs takes.”

Customer Service: “You can talk to [Airline] about it. But my paper says ten.”

(We go in circles for a while, before I talk to the commercial airline on the second floor. They send me back down with an airline representative to help me explain my problem better.)

Airline Representative: “This young lady is asking if the people who were on [flight number] are all done with customs. The plane landed at three; it was late getting out of Sydney yesterday.”

Customer Service: “As I have said, my paper only says that it landed at ten.”

(Again, we went in circles, showing the customer service person the representative’s itinerary and repeating my story of seeing the airline hostess walking out. Finally, I decided, with the airline representatives help, to just go on my flight to Austin and find him there. I did, but to this day, my friend and I both laugh about the customer service’s insistence attitude about what time his plane SHOULD have landed.)

I Have A Hel-sinking Feeling About This

, , , , , | Working | October 4, 2017

I’m going to Finland to spend a year, and am a bit nervous about travelling by plane as I have had bad experiences with airports in the last few years. My flights are supposed to be Montreal to Frankfurt to Helsinki, booked with [Carrier #1]. Upon arriving at the airport, I am informed that the second flight is cancelled, as [Carrier #2] operating that leg is on strike.

I queue for customer service with [Carrier #1] with everyone else to get rerouted. For some reason, the man who redirects me chooses a flight from Montreal to Toronto, then to London, then to Helsinki, while he just told his colleague that there are still seats available on a more direct flight through London. As I’m already tired, I don’t argue. The last flight is operated by [Carrier #3]. I make sure that the $50 fee for the second suitcase I’m checking in is paid for.

It’s the middle of February, in Canada, so the plane leaves two hours late to have the wings de-iced, making me miss the connection in Toronto towards London. Customer service there, still [Carrier #1], puts me on a flight the next day, past 6:00 pm, rearranges the flight after, and gives me vouchers for a hotel room and meals. I go to the baggage claim, where the man tells me not to worry about my luggage, which they will keep, and gives me a free bag of toiletries to use at the hotel.

The next day, I return to the baggage claim, where I’m given a paper and assured that it’ll allow my luggage to be forwarded along my new flights. The check-in clerk is dubious, but ends up confirming it. The plane is again late to de-ice the wings, and there is a minor medical emergency a few seats ahead of mine, which has all the lights on for the whole overnight flight.

I end up missing the flight leaving from London, but there is another a bit later in the day with [Carrier #3], so there is no worry. I go through security, then go to [Carrier #3] customer service to arrange the next flight.

The man there is a bit confused, and tells me after a few verifications that [Carrier #3] does not have an agreement with [Carrier #1] to emit tickets for their flights, which somehow neither the customer service in Montreal nor in Toronto caught. Having not slept much, I’m appalled, and am redirected to [Carrier #1].

They arrange for me to get on a flight with [Carrier #4] with whom they do have an agreement, and I go to check in. The gruff man there processes things without a word, until he asks me for a 50£ fee for my second suitcase. I argue that I already paid for that back in Montreal, but he says that they don’t have the money. Angry and exhausted, I pay.

While waiting for my flight, I locate an Internet terminal and go on to check my emails. There, time-stamped approximately at the moment I was midway over the Atlantic, sits an email from my dad, informing me that he just got a call from the Toronto airport, asking what they should be doing with my luggage. In his hesitant, second-language English, he managed to make them understand that they should be forwarding it to Helsinki, and not return them to Montreal.

I am lucky to only arrive a day late at my destination. The £50 charge never appears on my credit card statement, and the luggage makes it all the way to my destination, intact, two days later. And all the other flights since have been smooth, thankfully!

Unfiltered Story #94360

, | Unfiltered | September 19, 2017

(When I was little we flew out to Disneyland on vacation. It was my first trip to Disney and I had had a great time. Anyway we’re going through security at the airport on the way home and they ask my parents and I to step to the side bringing our carry on bag over as well.)

Security: Is there anything in this case we should be aware of?
Dad: No. There’s nothing in there as far as I’m aware that’s against the rules.
Security: The X-ray showed something in this bag with wires and electrics do you know anything about that?
(My parents and I are really confused now and a little concerned.)
Dad: No, I can’t think of anything in that bag that would fit that description.
(3 Security Officers open the bag and begin carefully looking through it and removing things. Finally they pull out a handheld toy I got at Disneyland. It’s a replica of the Disney castle with Tinkerbell on top. There’s a button you press and it lights up and spins. My parents hadn’t even thought about the toy being in the bag, but instantly realize that must be what security was seeing through the X-ray.)
Dad: We bought that for our daughter at Disney. Is that a problem?
Security: What is it?
Dad: It’s just a toy. There are no batteries in it right now, but if there were it would light up and spin around.
(The 3 TSA agents were still really confused, but eventually they put it and the other stuff back in the bag and let us go on our way.)
Security: Never seen anything like that come through before, sorry about the trouble, have a nice flight.

(They were really nice about the whole thing, but we were baffled that being right near Disneyland they had never seen such a toy come through before. They’d been selling them all over the park. I still wonder at it.)

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