Monday, June 18, 2012

The journey started badly

Because Cate was going to Cyprus for business  (for a week long meeting in fact) – and the trip is a long one – she gets to travel business class.

I travel economy when we are paying but on this occasion we were travelling on the same flight and Cate did not wished to be embarrassed by having me back in drudge class while she supped on Lark’s Tongues and Swan’s Kidneys in business class. So she suggested I upgrade online – which I did three days before the flight.

All was well at check in  but when we came to board my boarding pass was rejected so we had to see brusque boarding man (BBM). He farnarkled for 10 minutes and then said that there had been a mistake and that I was in fact in economy class.

Protests of upgrading elicited no sympathy and then BBM turned into Rude Boarding Man (RBM). He said that he was closing the flight and I could either travel economy class or not at all.

I accepted my fate but when I got on board I thought ‘how will they know?’ so stayed in business class with Cate.

Hah! RBM had outguessed me. He contacted the plane and told them to watch out for the interloper.

So I was then asked by the flight attendant to leave business class and go back to where I belonged – in the bilges.

Normally I would have done this – but I remembered I actually had an email confirmation from Austrian Airlines of my upgrade. I produced my laptop – opened the email – showed it to the flight attendant and stayed put!

Reinforcements were called for. A phalanx of Austrian Airlines personnel arrived. This included RBM, his supervisor and a security guard. He was the one who was going to escort me off the plane into a police cell.

Cate saw that I was floundering so she took over and moved into ‘death stare’ mode and dealt with the officious supervisor (OS).

OS was initially flummoxed by the email and much discussion ensued. Finally she said – ‘but you don’t have a confirmation’ at which stage Cate asked OS if she had read the email - and in particular the wording ‘confirmation of upgrade’.

This stopped OS in  her tracks – and a look of horror crept over the visage of RBM – perhaps he was not going to win after all!

Phone calls were made. To whom we wonder? The President of Austrian Airlines? Angela Merkel?

Eventually OS grudgingly conceded defeat. Muttering about seeing if they had enough meals on board she swept off with her entourage – and the shattered RBM – whose entire day had been ruined by the victory of a client over the airline – a very rare event indeed.

At this stage the plane was 25 minutes late. The pilot apologized for this – but fortunately did not name me as the culprit.

But they got some revenge when I came home. I had a seat without a window so that I could not look at the clouds.

And Cyprus? I will tell you about that later.

PS: ESB I replied to your email but it was returned unopened. 


  1. oh dear! glad you didn't get escorted off the plane!

  2. Wow! You sure had quite an episode. I am glad you won!

    In regards to the e-mail, I found out early this morning that my wife had not paid the bill, so it got cut off temporarily, hopefuLLy she gets it turned on tomorrow. Just having a mid-summer cash crunch, but hopefuLLy business picks up soon.

  3. you put a very clever spin on this story. more humor than irritation, which if i'd been writing the incident i'm sure the rude ppl would have gotten a very big dressing down. possibly asking if they were capable of READING the word CONFIRMATION... LOL i cannot stand rude customer service ppl. WOW. i join esbboston in saying i'm glad you won!

  4. Fun post, but I bet it wasn't funny at the time :)

  5. angiv: It was a near thing. Lucky I had the confirmation.

    esb: It doesn't happen very often. I will send the email again tomorrow.

    CarrieMarie: Unfortunately it is the nature of airlines.

    Roly Clu: Not funny - but very frustrating.

  6. clearly mate, if we had a socialist system there would be no difference between the classes.. everyone would travel cattle class as it should be! lol! however, because of our queen you have a choice! ;o)

  7. You are a very brave man. My understanding is that in Ausralia, when you get stroppy, they can declare you persona non grata and refuse all service, so these days I try to stop short of anger and voice raising however provocative and unhelpful the barstards are. (Clearly you manage these things better than me...)

  8. Hmmm, my e-mail is stiLL messed up ... I wiLL send you a message when it is back working, the telephone system at our business crashed hardware wise, so AT&t is zero for two at the moment. At least we figured out how to get the business line forwarded to my wife's ceLL phone late last night, but there is something wrong with the building connections. Strange though, the DSL stiLL works, but I think they run on a different set of wires, not sure.

  9. sadly, poor customer service seems to be the nature of ... well, many customer service oriented industries! i try to give 200% at work just to make up for the baddies. LOL

  10. Simon: Everyone would travel cattle class - except those who ran the system!

    Merricks: It was unlike me - I am usually Mr Meek.

    esb: Bon Courage mon brave!

    CarrieMarie: Well mostly Austrian is terrific. RBM was just having a bad day.