Still In America

So… we’re still here.

We didn’t get on the Virgin flight.

Before that, I haven’t mentioned so far that yesterday was my birthday. The majority of which we spent scrubbing the apartment. Now, we did have a great evening once we finally got to the Valencia hotel – an hour in the pool/hot tub and dinner at Amber India (lush Indian food and margaritas, yum). And I had lots of lovely text messages and emails. And Steve’s mum even called and sang Happy Birthday :-) . But next year I’m booking an entire day at a spa, no matter what. This is absolutely the last time I clean a cooker and scrub a bath on my birthday. Let alone carry 15 bags of recycling to the recycling enclosure and stress about how I have to send yet another box home via surface mail because I just can’t fit everything in my suitcases.

This morning everything seemed to be going well. We got to the airport early so we could use our miles to upgrade and get checked in and relax. But once we got to the ticketing desk it all started to go horribly wrong. Our booking was buggered up and we weren’t properly on the system. Then we were told after about 20 minutes that we’d have to go on standby. With 29 other people. 8 days before Christmas. We were told we’d have to come back the next day if we didn’t get on today, and try standby again. And again. And again. Until we got seats. With no guarantee we’d go at the same time. Or in fact, any time this year.

So we asked if we could pay to change the flights to a different day. Which we could. So we paid the admin charge and then waited for 3 more hours while they sorted it out. We watched a man who had been on standby for 2 days and who seemed at his wits end, pay the upgrade fee of £800 ($1600) to first class after fighting with the ticket man to get on the plane today. We watched a woman throw a tantrum because her seat was miles away from the rest of her family, even though they were all seated together on the tickets they’d been sent. We watched as they requested volunteers not to fly (they were looking for 16 people to give up their seats), because the plane was so massively overbooked.

But worst of all we watched other people upgrading as usual, into seats that were blatantly reserved just for upgrades, but even though it was their fcuk up, they couldn’t put us anywhere on the plane. I went through a rainbow of emotions in 3 hours, from nonchalance, to anger, to frustration, to tears, to guilt at being mean to the woman who was rebooking us on tomorrow’s flight.

And after 3 hours I got a ticket that said I was flying from Las Vegas, not San Francisco.

It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if they had actually seemed like they gave a sh*t about it, but they didn’t. The chap who seemed to be in charge of ticketing even had the audacity to say “It’s business, that’s how we make our money”, when I asked him how they had managed to overbook by 29 people.

And I wonder how much of Virgin’s profits are made from people being told they have to go on standby and then paying to change flights so they have some idea of when they are actually going to get on a plane.

I went to the BA desk and apparently if Virgin can’t get you on a plane they can endorse the ticket and get BA (or someone else) to fly you home. When I went back to ask about this, the lady said they couldn’t do it because we had already “voluntarily” changed our flights to tomorrow. Ha ha ha. But had she mentioned this as an option before we did that? No she hadn’t. And neither had the “It’s business” idiot.

Jesus. What an utter nightmare. I got my Las Vegas ticket changed to SFO and then we went to get some food, as it was 4.30pm and we hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. So now we are holed up in a Marriott hotel (a rather nice one at that), after standing in the pouring rain (yes, it does actually rain sometimes in this desert of misery), and getting on the hotel shuttle bus with 4 ton weight cases, 2 rucksacks, 2 laptops and 2 cowboy hats.

And yet again today I found myself wondering how much time I have wasted at airports, on planes, and moving house because of the labour of love that is working for the COC. So I thought I’d tally them up:

Days moving:
2 days original relocation to south coast
4 days moving out and putting everything into storage before going to US
2 days moving out of US flat to return to UK
2 days finding, emptying storage and moving in, to new flat in UK (conservative estimate!)

Days flying:
10.5 days (17 trips of 10 hours each + 5 hours each time travel/customs/check-in etc)

Hours of jet lag:
8.5 days (17 instances of around 12 hours in total, feeling like a zombie, spread over three or four days after arriving)

Delays:
1 day (today)

Total:
30 days

30 days. And that doesn’t include all the weekends I’ve worked and the overtime I’ve done. Think of all the other stuff I could have done in 30 days!!!!! That’s a whole month of my life.

Man, I am NOT paid enough.

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