Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Flying Heck...

So we used a charter airline this trip. It wasn’t because it was cheap, it was because by the time we got around to booking the holiday it was all that was left. It was highway robbery prices too. The airline clearly had a policy of jacking up prices the closer to full a plane got.

Here’s the thing, I used a high class travel agent to do the booking. I’ve used them for years, generally they are very good, efficient and even get better than average prices. Often better than I can find on the internet (being a cheap sort of bloke I usually check). Their best skills failed this time, and the charter was all they could find.

I can only guess they weren’t used to dealing with charters. Before we left, the flight time changed three times. Something about charters never being absolutely sure when their take off windows are as they’re last in the queue and can often get bumped. My agent’s ability to confirm these changes was laughable. Right up to the day before flying they seemed incapable of getting me a piece of paper with the right times on it. Looking back it is *almost* funny. They call and leave a message, I call, get told a time and are assured something will be sent. Something is sent, but has a different time to the one I was told on it. I call, they call, more emails, the time changes again, more calls.

On top of all that I got told I couldn’t pre-book seats. A bit of a problem if you’re travelling with three kids under the age of seven. Thing was, I could have pre-booked seats if my agent had dealt with it back at the time of booking. Like I said, a farce.

Any road, we managed the flight out without too much difficulty. A bit of a delay, but nothing serious, plus it was a late afternoon flight, so easy on the kids. Everything at the other end worked fine, and we got to our villa without incident.

The flight back though was another farce. Again, the time I had on the bit of paper was apparently wrong. We got to the airport in time, but only just. The check in had almost closed and we were the last to check in. Even though my agent had promised on a stack of bibles to make sure we had pre-booked seats for the flight back, they weren’t. We ended up with seats all over the plane. The poor flustered greek check in clerk hadn’t a clue, and said we’d have to sort it on the plane.

Thankfully we did, but the plane was delayed. Didn’t take off until after 11. Not funny if you’re with small kids and it’s a four hour flight. Then, when we finally land, there’s something going on with the baggage handlers. We stood for an hour in the baggage hall just waiting. Didn’t get home until the wee hours in the morning.

The bit in the middle was fine, very fine, but lordy, the travelling bit at each end does its best to ruin it.


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