Finally, at 4:30pm today, May 2nd, I boarded flight F1680 from Seattle to Reykjavik, Iceland where l will connect with my next flight to Paris. Thank God! I am on the plane right now feeling extremely thankful to be sitting here in seat 10F and finally on my way. You see, yesterday at the same time I was supposed to be on this flight, however Icelandair rejected my ticket at the boarding gate.
On my way. Those words remind me of the rocks in my suitcase painted with yellow arrows. The mantra playing through my mind while I painted them was, “May you always find your way.” Maybe some good karma is rubbing off on me now? After all I am on my way, even if delayed by a day.
Solving the ticket issue is far from over though. It isn’t just about reimbursement for the added expenses of hotel, meals and my missed first night’s accommodation in Paris anymore. It’s now mostly about principle; about owning up to mistakes and living up to company slogans and mission statements on the part of both the airline and the travel agent. It’s about customer service and not letting the customer suffer or pay the price for something that isn’t their fault.
Here’s the story…
While standing at the Icelandair check-in desk at gate 12 in Seattle, an all too familiar feeling of “being gypped” tore through my chest sending a flurry of butterflies flapping madly against my heart. Anxiety…ten-fold.
The attendant told me there was something wrong with my ticket. She said it wasn’t valid, that it had been voided. Not a good feeling. My anxiety was so high that my head began pounding, probably from high blood pressure. It isn’t gone yet a day later.
After much effort to solve the problem, the attendants wouldn’t let me board and I had to wave goodbye to the plane as it took off down the runway en route to Iceland while I stood at the tall windows with my backpack and boots slung over my shoulders.
With no answers last night, other than to find out that buymytrip.com had issued me three tickets to Paris, canceled two and then didn’t attach the valid ticket to the reservation, I decided that I, the customer, should not have to suffer for a mistake that was not mine. There was no way I was going to sleep on the airport floor all night, so I gathered my lonesome suitcase from the luggage carousel, picked up a discount hotel voucher, specifically for distressed passengers, from the customer service desk and I phoned the toll free number from a pay phone.
Thank God there are still pay phones! I had tried calling buymytrip.com via Skype while sitting on the airport floor with my iPhone plugged into the wall. There was such a sound delay that it made communicating very difficult. I was mad and very loud. Yes, occasionally a lot of noise can come out of this innocent looking face. Someone must have called security because a police officer began hovering around me. He gave me an “Are you okay?” look and a hesitant double thumbs up. I rolled my eyes and pointed to my phone. He got the picture.
The Quality Inn picked me up at the airport in a complimentary shuttle and I spent the night in a comfortable room. This morning I had a satisfying breakfast of eggs, sausages, a danish, yogurt and coffee.
While I packed up in my hotel room, I couldn’t help, but smile and have a little fun with one of Madonna’s early songs called Borderline. Some of the lyrics like, “Borderline…feels like I’m going to lose my mind. You just keep pushing (me) my love over the borderline,” and “Something in your eyes is making such a fool of me,” and “You cause me so much pain, I think I’m going insane. What does it take to make you see?” got me thinking about my irritating travel companion, karma. I wasn’t singing to any guy like Madonna was, but more so this unwanted bad luck that seems to follow me around on my journeys. The words fit. I do feel like I’m going insane with all this.
This afternoon, I sprint-walked, like a mad-woman, back and forth between the Icelandair ticket counter and the pay phone where I spoke with both buymytrip.com and Icelandair headquarters in Iceland. Buymytrip.com and Icelandair headquarters both said there was a valid ticket and that it showed me as being checked in.
Why wasn’t I allowed on the plane then? I still have no answer other than the repetitive statement from the ticket counter, “Your ticket was voided”, which contradicts what the others say. The woman at the ticket counter even told me the ticket had been cancelled on Christmas Day. Nice! Merry Christmas? Thanks buymytrip.com. I’m not even sure who’s story to believe to be honest. Both keep pointing fingers at each other.
The crappy thing is that nobody wants to communicate with each other except for me. I’m like the parent trying to get siblings to talk. The check-in desk supervisor won’t talk to the buymytrip.com agent or even the Icelandair headquarters and when I asked, “Why not?” she said it was against her contract to do so. That doesn’t seem right to me. Where’s the customer service in all of this?
Furthermore, When I asked the buymytrip.com supervisor to contact Icelandair headquarters he wouldn’t unless we had a three-way conference call. That wasn’t possible for me using a pay phone. There was nothing, but excuses such as the airline will just tell me a different story than they will tell him. Blah, blah, blah. Come on.
Finally, I managed to get Inga at Icelandair headquarters to contact the ticket desk in Seattle, but she emailed me back the response, “Your ticket wasn’t valid.” So now the ticket she originally said was valid, the one that even showed me as being checked in, is now not valid. I don’t get it. I wonder how I managed to get to Seattle on the void ticket.
I even got email reminders about my upcoming flight from Victoria to Paris from the ticket agent. This is so strange. None of this makes sense to me.
Buymytrip.com insists Icelandair is giving me the run-around and doesn’t want to own up to their error. He’s pointing the finger at them and they are pointing the finger at him. Then there’s me, the customer, in limbo. Great! These are professionals working for corporations. I am the “liitle guy”, a solo one, who isn’t going to lay down I might add.
Eventually, buymytrip.com agreed to call Inga in Iceland without me and then e-mail me a response back. I don’t know the outcome yet.
Icelandair did put me on this flight although they said that I am lucky to be getting it for free. I don’t agree with that since I paid for a ticket to Paris back in December. They also put me up in the first class lounge stocked with food and drink and upgraded me to comfort seating for the flight to Iceland. Thanks for that Icelandair although it doesn’t make up for the added expenses I had to incur and my missed first night’s accommodation in Paris because of this mess, also the anxiety it caused me and the lost time in Paris before my next scheduled flight to Biarritz.
Buymytrip.com, what are you going to do? Are you going to look after your customer and own up to your mistake of placing a voided ticket, instead of my valid one, on my reservation? Are you going to live up to your mission statement, whatever that is? Is there one? I couldn’t find it online. I saved my hotel and meal receipts. Let’s start there.
Update: It is May 8th and I still don’t have an email response from buymytrip.com.