On this trip I experienced something I had never experienced before. Our flight from Cardiff to Dublin was cancelled.
Not late, not delayed. This flight no longer existed.
I’d had flights delayed before, but never outright cancelled – and I’ve flown to Newfoundland in December, which is a crappy time to fly to an island where you have to shovel 4 feet of snow before going to work (because snow days don’t really exist there).
I almost couldn’t believe it. I was in another country, dammit! Didn’t the airlines understand that I was on vacation? Why would a flight be cancelled in this day and age? Turns out it was because the winds in Dublin were too strong and it wasn’t safe to fly.
Kristen and I had checked out of our hotel in Cardiff, taken the train to the Airport station, then taken a bus to the airport itself. We didn’t have wifi connections, but it probably wouldn’t have mattered. We had nowhere else to go.
Luckily we had time to cope with the situation since there were 2 groups ahead of us at the customer service desk. Those people were not dealing with the cancellation well, and I began to feel bad for the poor airport workers, who were doing their best. I immediately vowed not to be like those people. Yes, our flight was cancelled, but we didn’t have to let it ruin our trip.
[Stiff upper lip and whatnot, old chap? Pip pip!]
When it was finally our turn at the window I walked up to the woman working there and said (politely) “Our flight was cancelled, we don’t know what to do.” It probably helped that I had a North American accent and she could tell I wasn’t from around here. Her and her colleague were great. They (through the airline) booked us at the airport hotel for the night, called us a cab to get us there, and booked us on the next available flight to Dublin (tomorrow at 11am).
Travel Tip: Always try to be reasonable, even if the situation sucks. I work in customer service and I know damn well that if you’re nice people will want to help you.
At the hotel we asked about food (it was about 7pm and I was hungry). Was the airline going to provide us with anything for supper? The hotel said they were waiting on a fax, so we should go to our rooms and they’d let us know when they knew.
As we were watching our 2nd episode of Grand Designs on the TV, I realized that I was really getting hungry. It was getting late, so I went out to ask what the deal was with food. Turns out that the airline was comping us £15 for supper. It must have skipped their minds with all the non-existent customers at the counter. Or perhaps they were waiting for supper to end (which it would have in 45 minutes), so that they wouldn’t have to feed us.
Travel Tip 2: always follow-up. Wait a reasonable amount of time (don’t annoy them every 2 seconds) and follow-up.
After supper we went back to the room, watched QI, then slept. The next morning we had breakfast (which was included), then caught the shuttle back to the airport for Round 2.
We received our tickets, got through security, and then there was more “wonderful” news. Our flight was delayed.
This was officially the worst flight I’d ever taken.
[Actually, there were no crying babies or kids kicking the back of my chair… If Cardiff Airport had been more entertaining or had more shops, it might not have been so bad.]
The flight was delayed until about 1:30pm, which meant Kristen and I got to take turns wandering around the small Cardiff Airport, visiting the shops 2 or 3 times. Lots of reading, lots of looking at newspapers, trying to find free stuff to do.
The delay was mechanical this time, not because of the wind (although the wind in Dublin was pretty crazy when we finally arrived), and the airline comped us a light lunch snack voucher (£3) for the 2 hour delay. At least we were getting compensated.
Thank goodness the third time was the charm. No more delays, no more waiting – we were on our way to Dublin.
The moral of the story is: Stuff happens. It’s how you deal with it that makes the trip. If you kick and scream and yell and complain about how this is ruining your trip, it’s definitely going to ruin your trip. But if you take it as something you can’t change, something that will pass, and (perhaps) as something you can talk/blog about later, then it won’t ruin your trip and you’ll feel better when it’s all behind you. Yes, it was disappointing, but we couldn’t change it so we might as well laugh about it.
The bonuses were that we ended up getting into Dubin in the late afternoon instead of the evening, which made it easier for us to find our hotel room; and we got a good night’s sleep since there was nothing to do in the airport hotel other than watch TV.
Besides, I would’ve had one less blog post if it had all gone smoothly.