This time, we are travelling from Saudi Arabia back to Canada and have, unfortunately, purchased the ticket from an online travel site. I say “unfortunately” because it gave The Canadian Air Farce a pre-text to go into their default mode, which is a Freddie Prinze impersonation from “Chico and the Man:”
“It’s not my job,” only this time with an outrageous French-Canadian accent instead of a Hispanic one.
The first leg of our flight has us travelling from Khobar to Frankfurt, where a five-hour period between connecting flights awaits us. Wondering how I’m going to fill the time, just as in Part One, the point soon becomes moot. A hellacious thunderstorm in summery Germany diverts us to Berlin. Not just us, everyone going to Frankfurt. The entire airport is in fact closed. After an hour or so on the runway in Berlin the storm has passed and we fly into a very crowded and chaotic Frankfurt airport. The scene even made CNN that day as thousand of people try and re-book flights. Volunteers are walking around giving away free water and food to keep passengers in line from fainting.
Smugly looking at the hours-long lines for Lufthansa and other European airlines, I walk directly to the Air Canada check in counter, where there is not a single person in line. There, a little man in a big uniform with a strong French-Canadian accent snootily informs me he cannot give me a boarding pass since I did not purchase my ticket from Air Canada directly. He informs me to go to the Lufthansa counters, smiling wickedly and pointing to the lines. Several hours later, I am at the front and am politely told it’s an Air Canada ticket and they must give me the boarding pass. I explain I’ve been there already and they suggest I try the Saudi airline. I finally find them in the basement (closed, since there are no current flights). Seeing my distress the angelic lady at the Aer Lingus counter listens to my story and asks to see the E-ticket. Despite my having no connection to her airline, she flashes her ginger anger and gets to work on the phone. Several calls later, she is on with Air Canada and tears several strips off of them for leaving a passenger stranded. She gets the Air Canada rep’s name and counter number and tells me there is a boarding pass waiting for me there.
Sure enough, some four hours after I first arrived at little-man-in-a-big-uniform’s counter, I am back there again, receiving my boarding pass, which was always his responsibility and well within his ability to give. I do not gloat. I do not show anger. I do ask for an apology. I receive none. He is offended I ask for one. I ask him if they treat all their ELITE frequent flyers this way. Sniffing his Gallic nose, he dismisses me as just another unreasonable lout and doesn’t seem to care less that I inform him I will be flying other airlines, any airline, whenever I possibly have the option outside of the Canadian monopoly Scare Canada holds.
Preferably Aer Lingus!