Friday, January 12, 2007

Buy Travel Insurance

Well, I'm here. After 44 hours of either being on planes, buses or in airports, I'm HERE! Also, you suck, Air Canada!

I knew it wouldn't be a simple trip with my journey starting in Seattle and all, but it seems I'm forever destined for crappy voyages to Europe.

I got up at 5am to drive down (or get driven down, thanks Mom!) to Sea-Tac for my noon flight to Vancouver. The short-distance passenger airplane was awesome. I'm talkin' the baby kind with black, oversized external propellors and a doorway hatch that falls open onto the ground to act as stairs. Like for movie stars.

When we landed in Vancouver, I still felt upbeat, despite the international connections customs official incredulously looking at my place of residence: "Wait, you live in Port Moody?" I explained that my 8 hour return trip to Seattle saved me $200. Plus I got a cool light aircraft plane ride in the wind. I think it's neat.

I had a few hours to kill till my flight at 5:45, and luckily I ran into Sarah-from-SFSS who was on her way to London too. We happily exchanged solo-travel stories and Arab market bargaining techniques till boarding. She's cool! I'm just ashamed that when she waved at me, I had to stare at her for 10 seconds before realizing who she was. It was the haircut, I swear!

The wind was blowing hard that day, so I felt relieved when they asked us to board the plane. Good, no weather delay, I thought to myself.

The Air Canada plane to London was freaking awesome. I'd never seen anything like it - as I walked through First Class I felt like I was on a space ship. Everything was white and shiny, and each person had their own diagonally positioned "flight pod" with cubicle separators and rounded cradle-like seats. As I got to my coach seat, I sat down and gaped at the personal LCD screen in the headrest above the tray table and power outlet for my laptop. SWEET. I could do 9 hours in this, I thought as I nestled into my extra-wide seat.

And then they told us to get off the plane.

I guess it's better that they found the mechanical failure before take-off, I told myself as I waved bittersweet bye-bye to SuperPlane. But as our crappier-though-functional replacement plane left 5 hours later, I realized that my 5.5 hour leeway I'd left between the scheduled landing in London and my departure to Nice wouldn't be enough. I was going to miss my flight to Nice.

But Air Canada would reimburse me for the missed connection they caused, right? Actually, no.

Hours of waiting for the transfer desk manager in London ended up as a tense phone conversation where he vehemently denied all responsibility for my missed connection. "All he could offer", he insisted, was to help me book a discounted $110 hotel room to spend the night till another flight leaves.

Well, do they pay for that, at least? "No, but we can help you book it," he said wretchedly in his still-somewhat-comforting British accent. No thanks.

In case you're wondering, the fine print is this: "We'll find and book another flight for you, as long as the 2nd flight's on the same plane ticket."

I looked with teary disappointment upon my Air Canada e-ticket in one hand, and EasyJet printout in the other.

Air Canada made me miss my flight, but I have to pay the twice-as-pricey last minute replacement ticket. FINE.

Long story short, I bussed to Luton airport as planned, spent a sleepless night with 2 Slovaks and an Australian watching episodes of Heroes, and bought a 70 pound Easyjet flight to Nice leaving at 7am.

Last night I slept for 11 hours.

Moral of the story: Being your own travel agent may be cheaper, but you may get owned. Buy Travel Insurance.

EDIT: Incidentally, I found out that the travel insurance that I bought for medical purposes actually covers Missed Connections up to $1,500! I'm getting reimbursed! And I totally could've got that $110 overnight room! Dang!


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Simon said...

Glad that you made it safely - that's what matters in the end, right? I have faith that some Higher Power up there will compensate you for your misfortune sometime later - keep your head up for it :D

Omar said...

Wow, i don't know what else to say other than that suck, and AirCanada can die a f**king horrible death involving all their planes falling to pieces on the runway. I guess the icing on the cake is that you had a spammer taking the coveted first response.

Now that you are there, i hope all the setbacks are done with and that you enjoy yourself!

Acky said... much for "customer service" huh? 0 points for that! I'm glad you've arrived safely though. One more adventure story you can tuck into your're a travel expert now! So now that you've gone through one big scucuffley, everything from now can only get better right? Anyhoo, take care and have a fun, hassle-free adventure!

Bishnu said...

That's like the third "fuck Air Canada" story I've heard this holiday season. Man, that's just embarrassingly bad.

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