Travel Horror Story

Beyond Cancellations, Delays, and Lost Luggage: My Worst Travel Experience

On social media, I keep reading about travel horror stories. They usually come in the form of delayed or cancelled flights, lost or late luggage, or general assholes in the airport or on the planes. After having so many positive travel experiences on route to my destinations that went off without a hitch, the odds of having something go wrong seems to be higher. I mean, something small HAS to eventually go wrong, right? This is my experience of having a true hellish trip.

I booked a flight for January 4 from a town outside Vancouver to my boyfriend’s hometown of Mexico City. It is a smaller airport so it would have to go from there, transfer in Calgary, fly to Houston, and switch airlines to get from Houston to Mexico City. It was a LONG day of travel, but I had did the opposite route before with no problems. It would be worth it to see the love of my life.

On the day, my mom dropped me off at the airport. I checked in my two pieces of checked luggage that I didn’t have to pay attention to until I hit the Mexico City airport. After security opened, it was a breeze. I know the drill, take off everything, take out electronics, and avoid being a smartass. I get on the first flight and it arrived to Calgary early. I got to wait in the Calgary airport a bit before boarding my flight to Houston. Once boarding, after majorly judging the guy drinking beside me and watching movies while his wife took care of the kids, I passed out.

Once I got to Houston, my troubles began. My booking airline’s partner took over the next leg of the journey. As mentioned by the booking airline, my luggage was going to be transferred so I didn’t have to go through customs/security again (YAY!). After waiting, the attendants called me and another couple up to the desk 10 or so minutes before boarding. We were told that we might not get on if they don’t find our luggage. I mentioned that it’s standard procedure to let people board and have their luggage transferred on the next flight so you can pick it up then. Travel isn’t supposed to be delayed. However, they denied me boarding, booked me for the next flight, and told me to talk to my booking airline at their ticket office if I wanted anything.

Figuring out what happened, I called my boyfriend in tears. D: “What do you mean they won’t let you on?” My response? “They refused to board because I didn’t have my checked luggage transferred by [name of airline].” He stayed on his phone so that I didn’t feel alone.

After I stopped crying briefly, I went to the airline’s ticket office. Guess what?! No one was there. I claimed a table at the airport, set up my laptop, and called my booking airline’s customer service line. A guy opened up a ticket for the incident. I called again and spoke to another agent who discussed what I should do. I explained to her the situation. She was shocked and said, “You were right. You should have boarded and got your luggage sent once they found it.” After asking what they could offer in terms of a meal or something because it wasn’t a natural delay, I got told “it was the affiliate’s responsibility and they are trying to avoid paying for anything.” I could spend money and could upload a receipt for compensation for a meal or anything I needed. It sounded reasonable. I was going to board the next flight at 6 AM so I could just have Starbucks, no problem.

Once the airport security was opened again, I waited at the flight gate for the 6 AM flight. The SAME thing happened to me. I was denied boarding for the same reason. I got rebooked for the 10 AM flight.

Guess what happened for the 10 AM flight? I was denied boarding by one of the bitchiest people I’ve ever talked to in my life. I was not rebooked for the next flight at 12 PM. I got told by the flight attendant who bluntly said, “No. We sent emails to [the airline] and they didn’t respond. Good luck.” I’m in tears saying I just spoke with a representative who said that I should not have this problem. Her, not giving a remote damn: “I didn’t hear anything. What you said that they said isn’t official.” Me: “can you call someone?” Her: “No, I can’t,” while closing the gates. I called my booking airline to let them know my problem.

Walking away, I muttered, “fucking b****.” I went to the exit, waited at my booking airline’s desk, hoping for someone to be there. After a while of waiting, there were their representatives. They were aware of my situation. They were able to get a hold of the manager of the affiliate airline’s Houston team. I explained that I was denied boarding because of this reason. I also said that I was told there was communication between the airlines. The representative looked at me with the biggest sympathy. “We didn’t receive any emails. Can you describe the one who told you this and denied you?” I described her and the representative was telling the other airline’s manager all the information that I said.

There were a couple of crew members searching for my luggage and found it where they were supposed to be collected by the other airline.  The awesome crew member brought it to me instead of trusting that the other airline would collect it. I had to RUN through the tunnels to get to the other airline’s ticketing desk to check in my luggage and get a new flight. The one who denied me boarding was there again and said, “Oh good, you finally have your luggage.” 

Not wanting to talk to her, I said, “Yeah, I do.” She gave me a new ticket—a first class seat—the last available on the 12 PM flight that was going to be boarding in 10 minutes. She took the luggage. I went through security immediately. I barely made it in time for the boarding. Once I got on the plane, I asked for a screwdriver. I needed a drink.

Ironically the worst time dealing with an airline, I had the best flight. An older gentleman helped me lift my carry-ons to the storage above. The flight attendant in charge of the first class gave everyone water and/or juice upon boarding. I asked for a screwdriver since I needed a drink (FREE DRINKS! YAY!). The seat was incredibly comfortable and had a lot of legroom. The food was fantastic. I couldn’t enjoy it completely because of the customer service experience and the lack of sleep.

When I got to the airport, went through immigration, and got greeted by my favourite human in the world. Unless he exaggerated the timing, I slept for 15 hours. It was a well-deserved sleep after my travel horror story of three delayed flights due to a nonexistent clause.

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