Archive for Travel

Fun With American Airlines and British Airways

Unlike my last post about airlines, this one’s about luggage.

I was going back from the US to Amsterdam, transferring at Heathrow. Customs & security in England took so long that by the time I got anywhere near the A-gates they’d already started boarding, so I hurried to the gate and got on board of the plane as one of the last people. Only later did I discover that Heathrow is the absolute craziest airport in the world that should take a very, very good look at how they do things in a proper airport like O’Hare or Schiphol. They don’t even seem to know anything about their gates until 30 minutes or so before it’s scheduled to leave! Anyway, pretty much as soon as I was in the plane the pilot said something like “it looks like everyone’s on board already, so we’re taking off 30 minutes early, woo!” I remember thinking something like “good thing my luggage didn’t have to go through 1 hour of customs & security.”

We landed in Amsterdam, I got off the plane and I waited at the luggage belt, but my baggage never showed up. As I was looking around to figure out where to go to fix this problem, this guy working there came up to me in his cart and was like “can I help you?” So I said, “I just got here with British Airways flight BA217 [or something along those lines anyway]” and he said “that’s the one from London?” and I said “yeah, does it make a difference?” He said “no, actually it doesn’t. Anyway, you have to go to that office right there” while pointing at this place with a huge line in front of it.

I went to that office and waited for 30 freaking minutes until it was finally my turn. Then it turned out that this was the KLM & partners lost luggage claim thing, and the BA lost luggage office was on the other side! I wasn’t the only one misled by the bloke driving around on his cart and like 5 people who had been waiting behind me followed me to the other office where of course all the time no one had been to at all. Turned out my suitcase was still in London and it was scheduled to come toward Amsterdam in about 30 minutes on the next flight. Gee, thanks.

I scheduled a delivery for the next day between 9 and 12. That was all very decent, except for the fact that they actually came at 14. When I called them at 12:30 they said “oh, it’s normal that they might run a little late.” Sigh.

Comments (3)

Fun With American Customs & Airlines: Special Thanks to KLM.com

A few years ago I booked a flight to America and I got a confirmation e-mail listing the details of the flight. Because it was my first time with an e-ticket, I assumed that was all that I needed. I don’t mean the type of e-ticket you print yourself but the airlines call it e-tickets anyway. Turns out I was supposed to have received another e-mail and that the reservation number I got wasn’t an actual e-ticket number. It was apparently a problem with KLM’s system. Even though I paid with iDeal, it hadn’t properly registered it. The woman working for KLM at the check-in desk quickly made a few calls, found out the problem was known, and within 5 minutes she’d gotten me a boarding pass to Detroit. She told me that they were working on getting my connecting flight in order.

At the other side of the ocean, about 8 to 10 hours later, things were less nice. Customs was making a fuss about my lack of a connecting flight ticket. Gee, if you want people to have all their tickets fixed up at customs, how about you stick those airline desks before you have to pass through customs, or otherwise shut your stupid pie-hole about it. I was in luck: I could see the airline desks from customs, so I could point at the NWA desk and be like “well, if you want all ticket issues to be resolved you should put those desks before this checkpoint. I need to go to the NWA one over there.” He grudgingly admitted that my logic was flawless, added a stamp to my passport and stapled this green immigration paper in a way that made it stick out annoyingly. That crooked stapling became a recurring theme during all of my subsequent visits to the US except one.

So then I went to the NWA desk. I told the woman that KLM had messed something up with my reservation and that they should’ve fixed it by now. KLM told me they’d probably fix it in about 1-2 hours, so that presumably would’ve been before the plane even left Amsterdam. She then asked if she could see the boarding pass I’d gotten in Amsterdam and said “you were late, weren’t you?” I said something like “um no, I just told you, KLM messed something up with my reservation because something went wrong with this payment system where my money was transferred but the system didn’t register this correctly.” She replied, “so you were late.” I tried one or two times to explain the situation again, but I met a blank stare and a repetition of the notion that I must’ve been late. I ended up saying something like “sure… could you get me my ticket for the connecting flight please?”

Her NWA computer didn’t have me in it with my KLM e-ticket number (that the KLM woman gave me), so she had to phone a colleague who did have access to KLM’s booking system. Consequently she could type in some code on the NWA computer which finally resulted in my ticket. I still don’t know why she couldn’t have just typed my name, but oh well.

Perhaps to compensate for all of the trouble, the connecting flight to Chicago was executed in the most comfortable plane I’ve ever been in. The seats were wide, there was plenty of leg space. I can tell you that I would’ve preferred the preceding 8 hour flight in that plane.

Comments (3)

Brussels

Last Thursday, I set off on a trip which would eventually take me to Brussels. I spotted a rare fish in the sea.

  1. A submarine in the North Sea.
    I had never seen a submarine in the wild before. Only in harbors.

Much later, in a bus, only a few away minutes from my place, I got a phonecall. Instead of the expected four people joining dinner, I would have to cook for eight. My phone was scared to death after hearing that, but luckily giving it an electricity boost when I arrived made its heart beat again.

Our olive oil was all gone, so I did what I’d always do: use butter. However, my dear visitor happened to be a vegan. Mel only managed to stop me from throwing the rest of the vegan stuff in butter just in time, and the neighbors gently lent us some olive oil. Loes (my housemate) just told me that she discovered we also had some vegetable cooking butter. That night we watched Artificial Intelligence, which is not a movie I can recommend. Especially the ending was bad.

  1. Mel giving the finger.
    The next day we had to leave early. Too early. Three and a half hours later, when we arrived at Julien’s place (our host for the night), someone didn’t react very friendly to me taking a picture as you can see.
  2. Grinning evil moon thing.
    An interesting table-decoration at Julien’s place was this evil moon thing.
  3. Some guys playing with tools.
    We arrived at the venue a little while later. The Claws were just arriving around the same time. In the garden of the Botanique there were these guys preparing some kind of tent, probably for an event the next day or week. I found them amusing for some reason.
  4. An abandoned smoked cigarette.
    This cigarette represents one of my main impressions of Brussels. A damn lot of smokers.
  5. Some weird guys with weird hats.
    When we were walking back from the park we ran across a few weird guys looking for Manneken Pis. We didn’t actually encounter the little guy, but we did manage to take a few pictures of the weird guys checking out interesting accessoires.
  6. Bård wearing a funny hat.
    A front view should make clear that the weird guys were part of this band which goes by the name of Clawfinger. 😉 One minute later I made a movie of him saying tandenborstel, Dutch for toothbrush. Later on he also got us on the guestlist. Thumbs up.
  7. A non-smoking sign.
    Later that night, after the first band finished playing (featuring the man where we’d spend the night), I decided to take a picture of this sign. It’s funny because it says there’s some kind of non-smoking law since ‘91, but like 90% of the people were smoking inside (remember my earlier impression).
  8. A picture of a cellphone screen showing the provider BASE.
    I also took this picture to prove that I had “BASE” as a mobile phone provider in Belgium, which I thought sounded much more awesome than the Proteus (or something like that)Proximus which Mel had.
  9. Zak singing something.
    And then some sound reached our ears.
  10. Jocke in the background behind Zak playing a bit of guitar.
    Check the crazy guy in the background of the picture. 😛
  11. Someone taking a picture of Zak and Bård.
    My camera kicks the ass of yours mate. 😛
  12. André headbanging.
    André doing his thing.
  13. Zak showing his stomach.
    “I’ve got a personal trainer” (from Nothing Going On). Mel made a video of this, although it’s actually of the event right before it, Bård doing the duck walk.
  14. Bård playing guitar.
    And some more guitar action.
  15. Jocke doing the things he does.
    I thought I’d take a shot of the guys in the background, but the ones I made of Henka managed to fail.
  16. Now just for some pictures.
  17. Bård singing and playing guitar.
  18. Zak engaging the public while performing.
  19. André in one of his less headbanging moments.

And that’s it for today.

Comments (3)