Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Snow shmow

A small rant:

As mentioned on here earlier this week Gemma and I were due to fly to Barcelona on Monday. As you probably know, it snowed quite a lot. All morning I was checking and re-checking the travel news, weather forecasts and Ryanair website waiting for info. It was evident that the early flights were going nowhere but all reports suggested that our plane would take off as expected. At around 2pm we took the plunge and drove to the airport, arriving at the car park at 15:59.

At 16:00 they cancelled our flight.

However frustrating, thankfully we had the luxury of being able to turn around and drive home whilst thousands of others scratched their heads and wondered where on earth they will sleep for the night as the prospect of the Stansted floor looked less and less appealing with every cold, passing minute. All in all over 1000 flights were grounded in the London area on Monday.

Yesterday I had the most enjoyable job of seeking some form of financial retribution, which would at least go a small way towards dampening the disappointment of not reaching Barcelona. Here's a brief rundown of the amazing customer service I experienced:

Lloyds TSB travel insurance: Answered their phones quickly but the rude, stern woman seemed to take pleasure in telling me that my insurance doesn't cover adverse weather conditions. Responding to my question of "so is there anything at all I can do?" with a blunt "no" it was clear that empathy was an emotion which cannot be taught. I hung up.

Ryanair: The website claimed I could change my bookings. I wanted a refund so searched for contact details, only managing to uncover an Irish based office phone number and no email address at all. I called the number but after racking up £3 of charges and 30 minutes of frustration whilst sitting on hold, I gave up. Giving in to their blackmail and attempting to change my flights, it was pleasing to discover that would only allow me to amend the outgoing booking meaning it was impossible to get there before our scheduled return. The error message "your outgoing flight clashes with your return - please try again" was grating. No interest in sitting in another phone queue, no email address and a 'help' section which I can only assume was setup as a joke, the chances of resolving this quibble were slim to none. I re-checked the website one last time and finally a link had been posted allowing me to fill in my details and request a refund! In they go, 'confirm' is clicked, no email receipt received (obviously) and a note on screen telling me it'll be 14 working days until I hear anything. Even this felt like a comparative win.

Travelodge: Pretty much re-read all of the above, with similar charges racked up in phone systems but with the added glory of an email address... Which promises an answer within a week. Unlike all of my phone calls, my breath is not on hold.

The absolute cherry on the fucking cake, however, was when I read there's a chance of even more serious snow in the London area on Friday, and guess who's attempting to fly to Belfast that morning? That's right, muggins here. With a wake-up time of 4am that morning and a £20 bus ride to Gatwick, Mother Nature better plan her next step carefully. I watched Die Hard 2 recently and have some serious ideas up my sleeve...

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