Off to a Bad Start, 2013
Updated: Jan 4
Rebooting Our Travel Engine
“Sorry, but your tickets aren’t in the system.”
We stared at the Jordanian Airline agent in disbelief.
“What do you mean they’re not in the system? You’ve got boarding passes for us and you’ve got the reservation document,” I point out.
“Yes, but your e-ticket numbers aren’t on it. We need your e-ticket numbers before we can let you get on the plane. We can’t ascertain you paid for tickets unless we have those numbers.”
Six months of planning, organizing, waiting and packing. Six months of figuring out how to put our business on sabbatical, finding the right person to look after our house, where to store our car, who was going to shovel snow for us, who would pick up our mail, and who was going to drive us to the airport.
The big day had finally arrived.
We crossed the border from Windsor to Detroit without a hassle and had pulled up to the airport more than three hours before our flight.
How could we not have tickets? This couldn’t be happening, could it??
Trying not to lose my cool, I methodically explained how I followed the procedure on the British Airways and Royal Jordan websites regarding check-in procedure and last night had received an email with instructions to print it out for presentation at check in. As far as I was concerned I had done everything right.
The agent was sympathetic but after inspecting all documents in my file, could not find the magic e-ticket numbers. As far as she was concerned, we weren’t getting on that plane. She explained there had been a scam of late where someone had nearly gotten through without their e-ticket numbers so the airline was on high alert.
Our hearts sank as we wrestled with the unthinkable: turn around and return home.
Royal Jordanian Manager Josie swung into action, worked two cell phones on each ear and eventually determined BA the reservation, but had not issued an e-ticket. Explaining she wasn’t supposed to call the airline she proceeded to determine the problem.
Then, a glimmer of hope! We waited for what seemed an eternity as Josie was put on hold. Fortunately, the departure was delayed by 25 minutes and almost everyone was checked in so we weren’t in a race against the clock.
Meanwhile, Elaine suggested getting out my laptop out to determine if I had indeed been issued an e-ticket but had not printed it. While I couldn’t come up with an e-ticket receipt I did find my record of confirmation as well as the record of points used for this leg of the trip – Detroit to Aman, Jordan – the start of our 4-month travel adventure proving that the ticket had indeed been paid for.
With her iphone tucked between her chin and her shoulder and the other phone in her left hand texting, Josie carried on assisting other passengers while Elaine and I hoped for a miracle.
Finally, finally she was put through to a BA agent and learned we were meant to submit our passport info but this had not been requested. As no passenger can leave the US without providing passport info we had therefore not been issued an e-ticket. The BA agent was able to provide numbers to Josie who excitedly punched them in, gave us our boarding passes and told us we could proceed to security. I received an e-mail confirming this fact soon after.
We could have kissed her.
What should have taken only minutes check-in had taken over an hour but we were fairly confident our trip wasn’t over before it even started. Arriving at our gate just before boarding we were surprised when the allotted time came and went without any activity or announcement of a further delay. Elaine approached the desk to find out what was happening and was told that the plane was being cleaned.
As it was due to take off in ten minutes, it looked like we weren’t boarding for another half hour at least. The good news: this gave Elaine enough time to negotiate upgraded seats from our new friend Josie who was now in charge of the departure desk.
When I saw Josie walking back with Elaine to where I was sitting, my first thought was she was going to tell me we had been upgraded to business class. Instead Josie proceeded to give me bad news: there had been a mistake.
Only Elaine could get on the plane.
WTF? I almost fell for it but then noticed the smile on her face, which turned into laughter.
While we didn’t get a business upgrade, the bulk head seats Josie re-assigned us allowed for plenty of leg room. As this was an overnight flight we hoped this would help us get some sleep during the ten-hours flight to Amman.
Later, Josie returned with Mohammed, Jordanian Airline Chief purser; she had instructed him to provide special treatment since we had experienced so much stress checking-in.
Mohammed was very charming and assured us we would be well taken care of. And indeed, he brought over a complimentary bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne to accompany our dinner.
The flight seemed endless, and of course there was a baby who cried non-stop on board, plus about an hour of heavy turbulence over the Atlantic, freaking Elaine out, but somehow we managed to get some shut eye.
Shortly before we mercifully touched down in Jordan, Mohammed re-appeared to explain he hadn’t been able to take care of us during the flight because we had been sleeping, so could he give us two bottles of wine to take with us?
It definitely pays to be nice to people.