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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hurricane Irene misses her date with West Palm Beach..and homeward bound

Well inspite of occasional smatterings of rain and dark cumulus nimbus clouds..Irene dropped her date with us on West Palm and moved up the east coast...I wont dwell on her antics there..

For myself I boarded the long long long flight home..Over the previous days I fiddled with a variety of combinations with my luggage which had followed the biblical missive " thou shalt go forth and multiply"!

I had bought an amazing computer bag from Mountain Coop in Vancouver..besides the quality..its unique feature was that it doubled up as a mountain back pack! I was therefore able to put my old and new computers into one computer bag and put this in the new pack...and therefore I could carry the air bag as carry addition to the personal item (the laptops). But my dark secret unbenkown to the airlines was that there were 2 laptops..and the airbag was a couple of inches too high or long or wide (I forget which dimension) and was way way way too heavy..felt like 20 kilos to my straining arms)

Before this I was prepared to pay the extra 200 dollars and check the bag in as a third item of checked in baggage.

At the last minute I said to myself "let me try my luck".

The lady at the airline was swift and fast..and I showed her my two carry which she did not object in anyway.and mercifully there was no strict weigh in of my suitcases. My wife had done the smart thing by buying very light suitcases which unlike others, hardly weighed anuthing.and so I went to the departure lounge. There I struggled because there were no trolleys at the West Palm inside lounges, and I came up to my gate after being weighed down on the long walk, to see the forbidding gadget -the frame for measuring and holding all carry on bags..and I knew they would not pass muster.

Not being one who likes being ticked off, I again asked the desk lady about my bag..she gave them the once over and said "you should'nt have a problem sir".

But I knew I would be able to lift the wretched bag up onto the overhead rack!

Then came the call..."since the flight is full and the aircraft small , all passengers who would like to check in any of their carry on bags to their final destination may do so now at no extra cost"!. I jumped at the offer.
I then saw the departure attendant, a tall six foot bloke struggle with the weight and thought, now Im going to be slapped $200 bucks.. but..the bag was tagged straight to New Delhi and waited for me with my two suitcases..which had also been a few pounds overweight.

In Vancouver I had had a problem with Delta while trying to upgrade my seat. I was willing to pay the extra $ 120 for the economy comfort seat. However the long waits on the phone and other confusion meant that I lost the conversations mid way. I had to make two more calls . In the process my card got debited 3 times by Delta!..and I did not get the seat! because the conversation was not conclusive on account of que delays!
When I tried to call the final time, my card had not enough balance and the seat did not show as available!
When I called my card company they said the card has been debited 3 times and you will have to wait for them to refund the money.

Delta then said it would take 3-5 days to refund the money..but no seat could be allocated until I gave a fresh card. With the month end being on, and my newly transferred credits to my card requiring another couple of days to be reflected, I was neither here nor there!

I finally told the very professional reservation agent that I was not happy and wished to speak to someone else. She said I will transfer you but they will tell you the same thing (you have to wait or submit a fresh card)
But my peristence paid off. The customer agent in Cincinnati to whom I explained that Delta not being able to provide me the desired seat was no fault of mine, said I will hold the seat for you, said" Sir, I will hold the seat for you and you can pay before boarding on the 29th".

Well on the 29th when I was on the Atlanta to Amsterdam section, I was pleasantly surprised to see I had already been issued a boarding pass from West Palm for guess what? Seat 11 C! without being asked to pay for it!

After the five hour wait at Schipol in Amsterdam..I again boarded and was again pleasantly surprised when the flight supervisor came up quietly to me and said "Mr Singh, as a member of Flying Blue, we would like to allocate a seat upfront", and so seat 9 F became mine for the long flight to New Delhi.

The KLM flight which partners with Delta was very good indeed and the staff most pleasant.
But the flight from West Palm Beach to Atlanta, to Amsterdam, to New Delhi was long and I was happy to be back on terra firma with no bags lost or misplaced.

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