home of the madduck/ blog/
Bloody airline companies

Due to short-term booking, I had a complex arrangement for my travel back from Dublin last Tuesday: Air France was to fly me to London City, then CrossAir to Zurich. Air France and CrossAir have no cooperation agreement, so those were two separate tickets, meaning I could not check through all the way to Zurich in Dublin already.

My stopover in London was going to be 35 minutes, though, which is plenty of time to check in for the next flight (I had nothing but hand luggage on me). Unfortunately, the Air France plane had a blown tyre and an expected 45 minutes delay. Upon hearing this, I immediately tried to make sure that the CrossAir flight would wait for me, even though I had not checked in and was thus not a registered passenger for this flight. The Air France ground staff assured me that there would not be a problem. For my peace of mind, I also told the cabin staff, who said they'd text the airport to alert CrossAir of the delay.

I reached the CrossAir (Swiss) check-in counter 4 minutes after scheduled departure of the CrossAir flight... which had taken off on time. I am left to conclude that the Air France personell lied to me and CrossAir was never informed, or that CrossAir just didn't give a shit (wouldn't surprise me, Swiss tends not to care about economy class passengers at all) -- I mean, when was the last time you were on a flight that completed boarding in time? Usually it's 5-10 minutes late, which is not a problem because of the buffer times the airlines add on to the regular flight time, meaning you still arrive on or before scheduled time of landing.

So there I was, in London, at 2100 hours, and stuck. The airport was closing down, which did not help me in figuring out what to do, and no flights left any of the London airports for Switzerland that night. Air France was being a bitch about the situation, holding on to the statement that they cannot be held liable because the CrossAir flight was on a separate ticket -- had it been the same ticket (e.g. Dublin-Zurich with a stop in London), then the story would have been a different one. They hence refused to help me make any arrangements to get to Zurich, or to pay for the hotel I'd need to spend the night.

Swiss, on the other hand, stayed true to their reputation of being assholes and claimed that I would have to buy a new ticket for tomorrow's flight, because the ticket I had was a special fare and not changeable, and there weren't any seats left in my fare class anyway, even though the morning flight was only half filled. Fortunately I did not let go, requested to speak to the manager, and finally got on the waiting list for a 65 € rebooking fee.

I spent the night in the Ramada at the airport, which was bloody expensive. The Etap Inn (at half the price) had no vacancies, it was already 2230 hours, too late to seek an Internet connection, link up with #debian-uk, and beg for someone to put me up, and I was being kicked out of the airport, so sleeping there was no option either.

I ate some dinner, drank a couple of pints, watched The Ring because it stared Naomi Watts (and otherwise sucks), and got up early to enjoy an okay breakfast buffet before heading back to the airport.

The first two flights to Zurich were overbooked, so it was 0900 hours before I managed to leave the city, and noon before I finally got back to my flat. Thank you, airline companies, for making flying a royal pain in the ass for those of us not willing or able to afford business class. I'll definitely avoid Swiss and Air France in the future.