This entry was more wry the first time I wrote it, but it appears to have vanished without a trace so I’m not feeling wry anymore. Probably not a bad summary of the whole trip, actually!!
That said, the trip started off ok, really – in as much as “starting” means “getting to the airport in time to check-in”. I had a taxi booked for 04.30 in order to get to Leeds /Bradford for 5am, in order to get the 7am flight to Amsterdam. Taxi duly arrived, very easy journey to the airport. “Good,” thought I. “Plenty of time to check-in and grab breakfast.”
Actually there had been one complication by this point. The youth group had set the date for their 24 hour sponsored stay-awake to be that night/day. I seriously toyed with the idea of just staying up until 4.30, but then decided that even 6 hours sleep was worth it, so I went along to the start of the evening, and was tucked up in bed by 10. I suppose I should have been more worried about the 1cm of snow that fell on Friday night – but I managed to drive ok along an ungritted road, so I figured the planes would be ok. There was a worrying slew of cancellations shown on the airport website, but my flight was listed as fine and dandy, so I thought all was well.
There was a huge queue at the airport to check-in. Lots of people going off skiing. Anyway I got to the check-in desk, gave over my passport and tickets, and got my bags all tagged up. Nice lady gave me my boarding pass, and I was about to walk away when she hands me a letter.
“I’m afraid the aeroplane diverted to Robin Hood airport last night with the snow. Please take your bag and just wait at the front of the terminal building for the coach to take you there. It will be about an hour and a half late into Amsterdam.”
“But I’ve got a connecting flight….”
“Sorry Sir, but we are a budget airline. NEXT”.
Straight on the phone to Delta for the “Houston, we have a problem” phonecall:
“Sorry sir, you have a very restricted ticket. It can’t be changed, and it has no refund value less than 24 hours before travel.”
“What are my options?”
“… Well, we don’t have any availability for returning on Friday, so it will have to be
Saturday and Sunday .. Ah yes, and I can get you on a KLM flight from Amsterdam to Boston this afternoon. That will be Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£4,000 please.”
I’m pondering whether or not to explain that I don’t think 4k is a realistic option for me, and indeed that coming back on Saturday/Sunday isn’t either (see Madeira), when the coach arrives to take me to Doncaster. Actually there was one minor flurry of excitement in the meantime, when I noticed a KLM flight going to Amsterdam a few minutes after my original flight was due to depart… but then it turned out that plane had diverted to Manchester, and everyone was getting on a coach there. Sigh.
Pleasant enough journey to Robin Hood airport (nowhere need Nottingham, incidentally), lots of hanging around there (although this did mean there was time to arrange a second mortgage in order to buy breakfast). I think by the time we took off it was about half an hour before the Delta flight was due to take off. Since it’s an hour’s flight to Amsterdam, this meant I could relax, really.
Sure enough, I get to Schipol – departure boards aren’t even listing my flight it’s that long gone. So I do the 10 minute hike to the baggage reclaim, wander out to my first ever time in Holland (been to the airport before, but only to transfer), and groove on up to the Delta desk.
Only everyone’s packed up and gone home from the Delta desk, so I’m left all alone in Schipol airport, with a ticket for a flight that’s halfway across the Atlantic, and a mobile phone that doesn’t work.
Did I mention my mobile didn’t have International roaming set up on it? (despite them telling me it was provisioned for roaming). It happened last time too – why don’t I learn? Still, 10 minutes on an airport payphone was enough to sort me out, and it’s back on the phone to good old Delta.
Actually in the meantime I’d set my boss on a mission to try and find an alternative flight from Amsterdam to Boston. There were one or two options (although one that was Amsterdam -> Dublin -> Paris -> Atlanta -> Boston or something, which I passed on)
“Ok – so I missed my connection because of the snow, but I have made it as far as Amsterdam. I know my outward ticket is worthless now, but if I make my own way to Boston can I still use the return leg on Friday?”
“You got held up getting to the airport in the UK by the snow?”
“No, when I got to the UK airport my plane had been diverted because of snow, so I had to get a coach to another airport, and by the time I arrived in Amsterdam I’d missed the flight”
“… You’re in Amsterdam at the moment?”
“Oh. Please hold the line.”
“… It’s your lucky day sir! We’ll let you change your outward travel date to tomorrow morning instead for Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£100.00, if you’d like?”
Well – it wasn’t the question I’d asked, but I thought I was probably unlikely to get a flight to Boston for that day or the next day for less than Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£100 + the cost of a hotel room, so I went for it.
Next job – find a hotel room, then settle down to an unexpected day in Amsterdam. Well, half-day really.