January 10, 2008

Virgin On The Ridiculous

I think I may have used that post title for something before, but frankly I am beyond caring.

Today I turned up at Heathrow to check in for my 2:40pm flight to Boston, only to discover (not without some horror and, admittedly, a rather-too-loud utterance of the word "fuck") that Continental flight 8231 from Heathrow to Boston does not, in fact, exist.

Or, rather, it did exist once (presumably, since they charged me a grand to book a seat on it), but had been rescheduled for tomorrow and nobody had told me. (When, in a panic, I tried to check the flight status on the Continental website, it sternly asked me to acknowledge my change in itinerary.)

Because Continental doesn't actually have any staff at Heathrow (their flights are codeshared with Virgin Atlantic), I called their customer service number and explained the situation to the woman at the other end of the line. (She, at least, knew what a state was.)
ME: Hello. I was supposed to be on a flight from Heathrow to Boston today, but I've just got to the airport and apparently there is no flight from Heathrow to Boston today.
HER: Oh no! That's terrible!
ME: [Bitter chuckle]
She was actually very helpful, and rebooked me on to a flight to Newark, with a connection to Boston that arrives at 10:15pm — only about five hours later than I was expecting to arrive, which is actually pretty impressive considering I had a ticket for an imaginary plane.

The real bonus, though, was that my ticket was refundable and the flight via Newark cheaper, so I saved a whopping $27.93! (The woman at Continental seemed pretty excited about this. I perhaps would have been if not for the pink haze creeping into my field of vision.)

The funny thing is, when I took the train down to London last Saturday, exactly the same thing happened: I arrived at the train station only to discover that the 11:30am train I'd booked a ticket for (five days earlier!) was nothing but a figment of an overly creative web reservations system. In the end I had to take a train to Newcastle, a bus to Darlington, and then a train to London. Which was surreal, if nothing else, as Darlington seems to consist entirely of hair salons.

So, anyway, long story short, I am never booking travel in advance again. It just seems like a bit of a waste of time, really — I'd be better off drawing a picture of an airplane and turning up to check in with that.

Sigh.

1 comment:

zosja said...

and you hadn't come up with anything 'punny' about the town with the name Darlington that consists entirely of hair salons?!!

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