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New and traditional ways of exploring the globe, and your own backyard.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My first missed flight

I'm imagining after my last post you're wondering why I missed my connecting flight from London to Dublin.

Well, let me back up a bit.

I'm cheap. If you didn't know. If I can get a service cheaply, I will even if the quality might not be the same.

It worked out brilliantly (yeah, I'm already picking up the slang here) with Iceland Express. I was worried but my flight from Boston to Reykjavik, Iceland was on time and an uneventful flight, as was the connecting flight from Reykjavik to London Gatwick - in fact, I think both flights were early.

I then spent five hours basically just twiddling my thumbs at Gatwick waiting for my next flight, since they didn't have free wifi or even any outlets to charge my electronics.

After a small delay, Ryanair finally posts the Gate to go to for my second connecting flight. With a rather large group of people, I found the gate and waited in line. Once I got to the front of the line, I was told I could not go on.

Apparently, I did not read the fine print on my boarding pass (Ryanair has a mandatory checkin online and I printed that out before I left) and I had to get my boarding pass stamped by the people at the Ryanair check in, even though I had already had a visa stamp and I didn't have any luggage to check in.

Their policy is that if you're a non-EU citizen you have to get the boarding pass stamped and if you don't, you are not allowed on the plane.

Well, at that point, the woman told me straight up that I would probably miss my flight. Still, I followed her directions, sprinted back to airport information where I had to wait for someone to escort me back out into the checking in area (you need an escort because the airport is it's own entity or country and you can't just walk back on you're own, or so the airport information dude explained). Well, I waited. Then, I thought maybe I could still go on since I already had my visa stamped on my passport. So ran back (didn't sprint this time, I'm out of shape) to the gate and was told the same thing.

They were closing up and I had definitely missed my flight.

What really, really made it hard for me was that the directions to get it stamped really was, in smaller print, on the boarding pass at the top and I did vaguely remember a reminder when I checked in online to do so. And I had five hours to do so.

In a matter of minutes, I went through all of the stages of the grieving process and eventually accepted that I would need a new flight and I would need to pay for it. A woman finally came to escort me out to the checking in area, along with two other men - one who missed his flight and another man who had the same issue as me with Ryanair but with another flight. Kinda made me think Ryanair should have the service within the waiting area of the terminal so people could easily have access to it.

I went to a booking area where a very kind woman walked me through the process of booking another flight. Ryanair charged 110 Euro (it used to be 100 Euro until a week ago) to let you change your booking, if needed. Since the alternative meant paying about $450 with Aerlingus, I went with the cheaper option, again.

This time there were no hitches, aside from the plane being delayed a bit.

I'm not an "everything happens for a reason" kind of person. I'm more of a "look on the bright side" girl. And, in this case, during the chaos I met some really nice people who I would not have met otherwise, learned a valuable lesson that I can now share with other Americans who may use Ryanair, and learned that Gatwick has a free shower in one of their bathrooms.

I wouldn't say the shower was worth all of that...but, it felt very nice and at least now I'm no longer a sweaty, smelly traveler.


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