11 January 2010

It Finally Happened to Me

I'VE TRAVELED QUITE a bit in recent years, mostly for work, and I have never experienced the Nightmare Scenario -- the one where you're stuck in a city for several days because of the weather. I've been very lucky: I've never lost a piece of luggage, never been stuck in bad weather for more than a few hours, only had flights canceled one or two times, never had rental car problems, never really had many problems at all (unless you count the time I was on a five hour flight and the only two movies showing both starred Christian Slater).

Well that all changed this weekend. Here's the rundown -- which includes some bad moments and some surprisingly good moments. To make it easy I'm going to just use bullet points:
  • Fri, 8:30pm -- Kerri and the kids drop me off at the airport for my flight to Geneva. As soon as I get into the terminal I see the flight is canceled (lots of snow in Geneva).
  • Fri, 9:30pm -- after waiting in line for an hour I am re-booked for the next morning AND have a voucher for a free night at a hotel across the street. Now, I live about 20 minutes from the airport, but I stayed in the hotel anyway for two reasons: 1) Kerri wouldn't have to bring me back at an un-godly hour the next morning, and 2) the kids wanted me out of the house so they could sleep in my bed.
  • Sat, 9:00am -- flight leaves...a hour late.
  • Sat, 6:00pm -- after a full day in Geneva I return to the Geneva airport to catch my flight back to Nice. The departures board says 'Delayed. More information at 7:15'
  • Sat, 7:15pm -- board now says more information at 7:45
  • Sat, 7:45pm -- board now says more information at 8:15
  • Sat, 8:15pm -- board now says...OK, you get the idea.
  • Sat, 9:45pm -- boarding begins for the flight and we get on the bus that will take us to our plane.
  • Sat, 9:50pm -- we arrive at the plane...and wait for 10-15 minutes on the bus...right in front of our plane.
  • Sat. 10:03pm -- we are told that our flight has been canceled.
  • Sat. 10:05pm -- we get back to the gate and are told to go upstairs to the Easy Jet gate to get new flights. The line looks long.
  • Sat. 11:15pm -- the line is long. Still in it.
  • Sun, 12:20pm -- re-book for 1:00pm the next day. We're told to go back downstairs to get our hotel vouchers for the night. When we get downstairs, the line looks very long.
  • Sun. 1:15am -- the line is very long. Still in it. But I'm getting in some good French practice with my fellow passengers.
  • Sun. 2:10am -- a group of 11 of us from the flight to Nice are all told we'll be staying at the Holiday Inn in Thoiry, France, about 20 minutes from the airport.
  • Sun. 2:11am -- we're told the hotel has been called and they are sending a bus. It will be here in 20 minutes.
  • Sun. 2:52am -- I get into my room. To be fair, it was a very nice room. The towels were so thick I could barely get them into my suitcase. (That's an old one!)
  • Sun. 10:00am -- catch bus back to airport for flight to Nice after a great breakfast buffet.
  • Sun. 10:30am -- find out that all Easy Jet flights to/from Geneva are canceled for the entire day.
  • Sun. 11:00am -- try to catch a train. Booked.
  • Sun. 12:00pm -- get my hotel voucher for the night (Ramada this time). Luckily, the line was much shorter...until I got to the hotel. Once in the lobby of the hotel it took 1:15 to get to the front desk.
  • Sun. 3:20pm -- get into my room.
  • Sun. 3:21pm -- have mastered the television remote control.
  • Rest of the day -- bussed into Geneva for some kebabs, Starbucks coffee, some walking around, and a few solid hours of studying! Nothing like a little International Law on a Sunday evening.
  • 8:45pm and 8:45am -- dinner and breakfast at hotel, respectively. Easy Jet's treat.
  • Monday, 2:10pm -- on a flight to Nice.
  • Monday, 3:10pm -- back in Nice, 41 hours late.
To be fair, the experience was far worse for others than for me -- particularly those with small children or large ski bags. I kept thinking how much more difficult it would have been had Kerri and the kids been with me. So I'm not complaining too much.

The weather caused some real problems, but not so much in Geneva where they know how to handle snow and cold weather. The real problem was that Britain was covered in snow. And since so many Easy Jet flights have origins in Britain, it messed up schedules even for those of us traveling to the South of France. And I will give Easy Jet credit for putting us up in hotels and giving us meal vouchers. I know that isn't always the policy unless the airline is at fault. Of course, one could then conclude that it wasn't really the 'weather' that was the problem, but an issue with the airline. After all, a lot of other airplanes were flying in and out of Geneva all weekend.


Charlotte K said...

How long is the train trip from Geneva to Nice?

Manue said...

wooo Poor Jo. I had troubles with eurostar. but i'm back in sheffield now. safe and sound! hope you're well! x

Justin said...

WOW! With a story like that, it is going to be a long time before I even think about complaining about my travels! Glad you finally made it back, but that is crazy.

Anonymous said...

"...I could barely get them into my suitcase."? Great line. I know you stole it, but funny anyway.