Your Call Is Important To Us -Seasons Greetings from Delta and Expedia

21 12 2009

Adjusting the volume on the phone earpiece, I asked for the Expedia agent to repeat what she had just said.

Mr Bolton, I can advise you that in order to change the flight to London from Monday 21st December, arriving Heathrow on 22nd December to 7.45 PM leaving Boston on 22nd December and arriving on 23rd December, the additional fee will be $6,890 per person.”

That’s what I thought she said.

Picking my jaw from the floor, and holding my breath for 10 seconds, I calmly asked her how this rather unreasonable fee had been calculated.

She then went into a company-endorsed spiel that factored in the time of the year, the airline requirements for penalty fees in the event of the traveller being required to change his or her flight plans and the procedure that she had followed which calculated the penalty change for my obviously difficult request.

Just under $7,000 to move a flight by one day.

Nearly the same amount of cash that would buy 10 days in Disneyland. For one.

The same amount of money that a pancake waitress can expect to earn from a kiss and tell story about an encounter with a C-List celebrity.

And the reason why I had made this unreasonable request?

Extreme weather on the East Coast of the USA, and a cancelled Delta flight from Bermuda on the Saturday had ensured that we were not able to fly back to Boston before Tuesday at the earliest.

Which meant that we would not make a flight on Monday back to London.

We were not alone in being mucked around by the weather.

TV screens in the departure lounge of Bermuda’s L.F. Wade International Airport had shown similar scenes of misery as the snow ensured that flights across the East Coast were cancelled or subject to huge delays.

Roving reporters from CNN bravely updated us about the snow falls in various small communities, images of smiling children playing in the snow adding to the general feeling of irritation that began to creep over me.

This feeling was then increased by the lack of information provided by Delta and the discovery that the incoming flight from Boston had made it as far as the first approach for landing before deciding that the wind speed (less than the 35 mph that constitutes a danger) was too much to handle and the pilot decided to abort and return to Boston.

Which was also set to be closed due to extreme weather.

Not since the gunner on board the Star Destroyer in Star Wars, who decided not to shoot the escape capsule containing the plans of the Death Star, had a decision been made with ramifications beyond self-preservation.

Not so much a Butterfly Effect as a tsunami of frustration.

Dealt with by the Delta representatives at the airport by the brilliant strategy of closing the office door and ignoring the passengers.

But someone did stick their head out of the door to inform my wife that we would not get on a plane until Tuesday (at the earliest).

So that meant some extra time in Bermuda. Not exactly a hardship, the chance to indulge in Dark N’ Stormys (Goslings Black Seal Rum and Barretts Ginger Beer – anything else is not worthy of the name), hang out with friends and family.

Unless you are trying to get hold of Expedia to change a flight that two days later that you would miss through no fault of your own.

My call was very important to them (apparently), but all of their service representatives were dealing with other customers. Please would I stay on the line, and my call would be answered shortly.

It took 2 attempts, nearly three hours of muzak and conversation in broken English before we were offered the figure quoted above.

And we were told that there were no other options.

Which is why (after searching frantically for 5 minutes online) I was able to find a flight on Virgin Atlantic on 22nd December from Boston to London for $1,700…..for two people.

The only concern we have now is getting to Boston.

Merry Christmas.

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