This is part 11 of my Dubai Marathon Trip – and one part that I hadn’t originally planned on writing. However, due to bad weather in London, I thought I would just write a short part about being prepared and knowing options when things go wrong.
British Airways and weather
As I mentioned in the last part, I had found out on the way to Paris about the cancellation of my flight from Paris to London. Apparently, there was weather coming into London and they were trying to get ahead of it by canceling the flight. Unfortunately, it was the last flight of the day and my flight from London to JFK the next day was the first flight of the day. That meant that I would miss that flight. The problem with that was that I had two separate reservations – 1) Colombo-Doha-Dubai-Paris/London-JFK-Miami 2)Paris-London. My Paris to London flight and the London to JFK were both on British Airways so I was hoping they would help me even though they were separate reservations.
I talked to one of my flight attendants on my Emirates flight – she used to fly out of CDG in Paris so she was able to help me with the location of our gate and where I needed to go. I found an earlier flight to London that I would have just enough time to make but I would have to really move. This meant switching my flight while I was on the plane headed to Paris.
With most major airlines, if you have a trip delay or cancellation, the website will normally either rebook you or allow you to change the flight online, as long as the change is within the rules. The problem is that you need to have space in the same cabin as your ticket. The flight from Paris to London only had business seats left and my ticket was in economy. A customer service rep can help you with that, but I was not about to call them (even though I did have a phone at my seat, but it was about $5 a minute and I would probably be on hold). So, I tweeted British Air to have them help me. The airlines’ twitter reps are really helpful in a pinch, but you need to be able to have them get back to you first. I am still waiting for United to get back to me on two of my “in-a-pinch” requests – from 10 months ago. 🙂 So, it’s not a perfect system. With British Airways, I did not get a response until the next day, so this was a fail on their part as well.
When I landed in Paris, I raced off to talk to a British Airways rep. I got the counter and they tried to help me but it was already full. They were tremendously helpful, however, and placed me in a hotel for the night and put me on the first flight out the next day and changed my reservation from London to JFK to the next flight. I had asked them to keep my reservation on the first one (since I would arrive before the original flight left but it would be tight) and protect me on the later flight. They insisted that I would not have time to make it so they just moved me to the later flight. At least they were able to do that for me! This is one good thing about situations like this in Europe – the consumer has way more rights when flying in Europe than in the US. The weather cancellation would not have given people a free hotel in the US (unless you have high elite status) but here they gave hotels to everyone on the flight. Thank you, British Airways!
Skip Ahead to the Next Day
I will have a hotel review following shortly, but wanted to jump over that to continue the story to the next day on my arrival in London. My flight got in early and my original flight from London was running late. Even though Heathrow can be a serious pain to get through, I raced to get to the gate as soon as possible. I did make it just as they were starting boarding. I went up to the counter and asked if there was anyway I could get back on this flight. I explained the whole situation and asked to be put back on. I had checked on the availability before I asked and there were still 2 seats left in first class. Keep in mind, I was not an upgrade or an award ticket on this flight – I was flying paid first class so I thought that would help me with getting back on (not that I was putting off any type of air of self-importance). The lead rep at the gate had a serious attitude and refused. I asked why not and she said she didn’t want to waste time opening the flight up and she had more important things to do than get one more passenger on the plane. Oh well! I ended up feeling ok, though, because they left only 20 minutes before my new flight left! 🙂
I found most of British Airways representatives very helpful and apologetic for the circumstances. I was only slightly disappointed with my contact with the gate agent but couldn’t fault her for not wanting to create more work. I was very thankful for British Airways changing my flights for me and putting me up in the hotel for the night. Thank you!