A jolt of anxiety was what we got when we tried to check in online for our 15 hour flight from Sydney to San Francisco followed by a connecting flight to Phoenix. Our flight to San Francisco had been cancelled. After much angst and many now-what-are-we-going-to-do’s the airline sent an email to say we were rebooked on a flight to LA and onwards. We didn’t care for the seats we’d been allocated so tried to change them. That’s when the trouble started.
Darlene greeted us with a wan smile when we arrived the next day at the check-in desk before she began processing our reservations and passports.
“I guess the flight is full,” Jimmy said conversationally.
“It’s overbooked,” she said bluntly.
Out the window went our plans of asking her to reassign us some better seats.
“Have you checked in online?” she asked.
“We’ve no idea.”
She looked up from her busyness.
“We tried to change our seats before checking in and couldn’t so checked in then phoned the airline at the airport. She unchecked us but couldn’t change our seats either. We checked in again but had so many conflicting emails, we don’t know what we’ve done.” Darlene frowned and tapped her computer keys.
My suitcase had disappeared and passport and boarding card had been returned to me. Darlene studied Jimmy’s green card and continued to frown and tap.
“I’m just phoning the service desk. I’m sorry to keep you,” she said.
Jimmy looked worried. “I’m not on the flight,” he muttered. I began wondering where I’d packed my phone so we could call his daughter to come back to the airport and pick him up. We’d already been told by someone in the queue that the last seat on the flight had gone and no more seats were available until two days hence. How big is LAX? Would I find my connecting flight? And where was that taxi rank in Phoenix? Keys! Must get J’s keys. I left mine in the apartment. I was going to have to switch out of blond mode to get myself home.
But what I said out loud was, “She’s looking at your passport and checking your green card. We know there’s no problem with it. I’m sure everything will be fine.”
After another 10 minutes of deliberate non eye contact from Darlene, she finally shared, “You have a seat on the flight,” she said looking at me. “I don’t have a seat booked for you,” she said to Jimmy.
Darlene put her head down again and kept tapping. Jimmy started sweating. Other passengers checked in and came and went, came and went. We stood our ground. No one said a word. Another 5 minutes went by.
“37 E and F. Are they the seats you were booked on?”
“You’re both on the flight.”
“Don’t do that to me!” Jimmy cried.
Darlene’s facial muscles relaxed into a smile. “Can I offer you a piece of advice? Don’t phone the help desk. They’re helpless. They mess up people’s reservations and when the flight is full we can’t fix it.”
Good to know.
We’ll fly with Qantas next time.
Yes, yes, I know. I’ve just contradicted the title. I have to fly. I don’t have to love it. Do you love air travel?