Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How not to do that Customer Service thang

Today's six hundred and odd words have very little to do with football, in fact nothing whatsoever, there is however, a very tenuous link to my blog title in that I, (the guiri), wrote it and the subject matter is, funnily enough, about travel. When I've finished it, I'm going to head off to the sofa and stick into the DVD my copy of "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" You'll soon see why!

What began as an ordinary journey to the UK for Christmas ended up anything but for the girlfriend Maria-Aurora and I. With a scheduled flight time of twenty to five we dutifully pitched up at Alicante about half two and were politely informed about "a delay of a couple of hours" during check-in, fair enough I thought, that'll soon pass. Armed with my recently started book and a copy of The Daily Telegraph, first stop, as always on my annual Christmas project to super-size myself on junk food, beer and chocolate was Burger King. Cholesterol levels topped up we sat at a nearby lounge and waited, and waited, and waited.

Every hour or so the nearby screen would update our flight information to read "now estimating"  adding a further thirty minutes to the departure time. Eventually, just as I was about to hack my own thumbs off with Aurora's toilet bag tweezers out of sheer boredom, the lounge abruptly emptied and the screen read EZY3172 Gate 26. I had carefully selected a lounge in the middle of the 1 to 26 range of departure gates to minimise the distance we had to hump our carry on luggage. Unfortunately this handy little tip is of absolutely no use at all when, three minutes after plonking our seriously irritable selves down on seats near gate 26 it was changed to 1B, a not inconsiderable walk back. Picture the distance between, say, Cleethorpes and Billericay and you get the idea.

Eventually, at about 2230, only a couple of hours after I'd arranged to be picked up at Stansted airport by my mate, she who must be obeyed and I finally boarded our flight.  Unbeknown to the pair of us and a couple of hundred other unfortunates, some of whom had been there since the morning, the easyJet piss taking was far from over. The evening, which had already turned to rat shit, and most of the following morning were about to become considerably worse. The assembled customers remained positive though, in just a couple of hours we'd all be in the UK for our Christmas hols and the inconvenience of a delayed departure would soon be forgotten. Wrong!

Seats three rows apart and nine month old twins on my left didn't bode well for the hundred and fifty minute flight, in the end though the twins were remarkably well behaved compared to a few adults and yelling "are you okay baby" over the heads of nine strangers wasn't so embarrassing after the second time. Apparently we overflew Cherbourg and had I looked to my left I could have seen the lights of Portsmouth, I really couldn't give a fuck, I just wanted to see the lights of Bishops Stortford. I never did. Five minutes out, our driver for the night, Captain Fuckwit, announced that due to fog at Stansted and poor visibility, (allegedly), down to zero we were diverting to Birmingham. In fairness to EasyJet it had been snowing and they did manage to fly us to the right country. I was just waiting for the nob in the cockpit, (excuse the pun), to declare cheerfully we had arrived ten minutes early like they always do, conveniently forgetting the six hours we'd all wasted earlier that afternoon.

Just as we began our marathon wait at the baggage carousel, I noticed three armed policemen riding shotgun on our flight crew as they walked past. No doubt they were off to their cosy and warm hotel room to get shit faced and shag each other senseless. A minute or so later all the stewardesses passed us too!! Two hours after we left the plane our luggage evidently still hadn't and the mind numbing tedium was only broken by the sound of an asthmatic belt spluttering into life. Good stuff thought everyone present, as we all grabbed our luggage and headed off to find the courtesy buses. By now it was almost two in the morning and the temperature outside was minus loads with a scary wind chill, ideal conditions then for a three hour wait for the promised coaches. This of course was an easyJet promise, (their staff were last seen hours ago heading off for a night off debauchery), and was only fulfilled by a fantastic French duty manager for Birmingham International Airport, I never got his name.

One by one the buses arrived and, typically it was every man or woman for his or herself, freezing cold children and elderly folk were barged aside in the undignified scramble for places in the warm. One shivering Irish lady of quite advanced years had on a new pair of gloves, so new unfortunately she hadn't figured out a way to cut the plastic joining them together and was taking it in turns to warm her hands. I bit them apart with my teeth and offered to let her borrow Aurora's furry hat, in which I looked ridiculous but didn't honestly care. By now Aurora was also feeling the cold, or more specifically her feet were, never one for complaining I could see she was in a bit of trouble. At long last the next coach arrived and I shepherded both the Irish pensioner and Aurora aboard and made sure both bags were securely in the hold. At five thirty am we headed off to Stansted where we arrived more than twelve hours after the flight was due to land.

The future may well be bright but for me it definitely won't be Orange!

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