Monday, August 15, 2005

samedi, le 30 juillet 2005

2:40 A.M.

So like I said, yesterday the day got worse as it progressed. After a long wait for the bus to bring us the hour to Beauvais airport, it became apparent that our flight to Dublin was delayed. Then they made an announcement that the flight was cancelled. Now get this: RyanAir said we'd probably not be able to get another flight for FIVE DAYS. We're supposed to be back in Chicago in less than five days, and before that, we have to take a RyanAir flight from Dublin to London in order to catch our flight back to the U.S. RyanAir does not rebook you on the next available flight on any possible airline, as carriers in the U.S. do. They do not even make an effort to rebook you on a RyanAir flight. They do not give you money for food or lodging. They do not pay for transportation between your hotel and the airport, which is in Bhufu. Our only options were:

1) reimbursement for the Paris-to-Dublin flight, or
2) wait-listing for a flight in two days.

The former option has definite drawbacks. RyanAir would, in that case, not provide us with a flight to London or refund our tickets from the RyanAir flight we'd miss from Dublin to London. (Don't ask me how this is legal.) We'd also have to rebook on another airline (astronomical prices at such late notice) or take the train to Calais and then a ferry to England. Don't know how much either of those would cost.

For now, we've taken option #2. Here are the downsides: We're stuck in Beauvais, because we couldn't afford another bus trip out here from Paris in two days (you've got it--RyanAir won't pay). We're staying at a factory-esque hotel that we have to pay for. We'll have to pay for a taxi back to the airport from wherever it is we are. We aren't even guaranteed a flight on Sunday; we're wait-listed. Oh, by the way, we couldn't stay in the airport, because they closed it at 1:00 A.M. Again, I have no idea how (or if) this is legal. It's outrageous. I never thought I'd say this, but here goes: This would never happen in the U.S. You'd better believe the airline would be paying for ASAP rebookings, hotel rooms, and food.

I'm so disappointed that we're going to miss most (or all) of our scheduled time in Ireland; that's the place both of us were looking forward to most. I'm praying we'll have no more travel snafus, or else we very well may miss our flight back to Chicago.

I never imagined, when booking our flights, that we were playing the lottery. I didn't think airplane travel was supposed to be a big gamble; I figured that paying the airline for a ticket meant that they would ensure you would reach your destination somehow. I mean, if you want repeat customers, you need to provide good service--and care in the case of unexpected circumstances. Even though RyanAir is very inexpensive, I will never fly with them again. Making sure I get somewhere is too important.

One good thing has come of this: We've gotten to spend a lot of time with Irish people, and I can now say they may be my favorite people on earth. All night, there has been such a feeling of community and caring. They still joke and try to stay upbeat. Even though their situations may be even worse than yours (like the husband and wife who were supposed to pick up their daughter at summer camp in rural Ireland tomorrow), they still have sympathy for you. It's inspiring.

At one point, Monaca broke out her football (soccer ball) and we kicked it around in a circle with a group of Irish children--such a great memory.

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