This is a report based on another discussion in the forums pertaining to some hot-shot New York lawyer suing Delta for screwing up his holiday based on a missed connection.
I also had a story to tell, but figured it would be more appropriate to post as a Trip Report. I really should have posted this when it happened, but as I never got around to it, here it is, almost 2 years late.
I bought the ticket on CheapTickets.com (first mistake) and was routed FRA
back in July of 2006 to go home from a business trip/vacation. I was working in Göttingen and visited friends in Dreieich, Erlangen, as well as in Austria in Salzburg and Linz. I had a birthday party to attend the night before going home, so I purposefully scheduled a late departure home to accommodate any unplanned excitement.
Sunday, 23 July 2006:
3480, operated by LH
(forgot the flight number)
Drove from Dreieich to FRA
at 09:00 via the deserted A661 and A3
Autobahns, dropped off the car at Sixt, and checked in at LH
and received a boarding pass for the first leg of the trip only. I would have to pick up the onward leg’s pass at the Delta counter in Edinburgh. Not that bad though, since I was upgraded to Business Class on LH
! Departed FRA
on time and had a nice cold sandwich meal and Warsteiner beer in seat 1C. Arrived EDI
bang on time in typical LH
fashion and the 767 for DL97 was parked directly beside our A319 at the gate. I had approximately 75 minutes before departure of the onward flight home to Hot-Lanta, as it is known locally in the summertime.
Immediately after deplaning from the LH
flight, I found an agent to ask about my connection to DL97. I was told that I had to clear immigration and customs first, as EDI
was not equipped to handle such international connections from non-Schengen countries. Rushed to front of immigration line and then through customs since I had the claim stub to prove that my bags were checked through to ATL
and through they would not appear on the belt anyway. Went directly to Delta's service desk (handled by a contracted ground services company, not DL
) in the terminal and was told that I was about 20 minutes late for check in, as the counter closed 60 minutes prior to departure.
I explained to the agent that I had already been checked through to ATL
and just needed my boarding pass, but was given the same explanation of EDI
not handling international connections and that I was not checked in. Searched out the Delta check-in desk: same story, no boarding pass, no soup for you. Asked the Delta service desk agent as to how I was going to get home, and she basically said I'd have to stand by for the next Delta flight (once a day to ATL
) or re-book on BA
for approximately $10,000 on an EDI
routing or something equally as obscene.
Upon her telling me that it was either that or spend the night and stand by for the next day’s DL97, I asked immediately for compensation vouchers. All she gave me was a food voucher for 5 GPB before shutting her desk for the day, as the flight had already departed. Well, that got me a coffee and a scone to nibble on while I sat down and made some phone calls home to my boss and family. My dad said it was cool that I was stranded in a city I’ve never been to. I agreed, half-heartedly. My boss gave me the run-around and basically grilled me with questions in an attempt to prove that I was trying to pull a fast one and continue my vacation on the company dime. Kind of a jerk thing to do, IMHO.
Anyway, the rest of the day was spent booking a room at a cheap but comfortable B&B in town (Rosebery Hotel, 20 min from EDI
) through the VisitScotland tourism office at EDI
, dropping off my luggage there, and exploring Edinburgh before retiring to the White Hart Inn pub on the Grassmarket. Good beer and a guy playing folk tunes and some covers on a guitar. I caught his name and remembered it- Graeme Pearson. Check him out- pretty good performer. I ended up meeting a pair of girls there who were on a backpacking trip and staying in a hostel somewhere. We decided to begin our own pub crawl with shots of Scotch and ended up at a dance club that was packed for a Sunday night. Fun?!
I don’t know how I managed to find my way home, but I walked 30 minutes back to the B&B-- quite drunk-- at about 2 in the morning and had no problem sleeping off the day’s twists and turns. I had actually almost forgotten about my predicament.
Monday, 24 July 2006:
Woke up late, a bit hung over, and generally got a later start to the day since DL97 departs at 13:45. Ate breakfast in the breakfast room and paid my 31 GBP to the family that runs the place before taking a the bus to EDI
to get listed on the Delta flight 3 hours prior to departure, but it was overbooked and was told to wait and that I had a 1% chance of getting on board. Well, that translated into a 3 hour wait at the gate, culminating in me watching planes come and go, watching the daily Continental 757-200 from EWR
arrive, and watch all pax board my desired flight and all standbys with higher status get the last seats. I think I had Non-Rev status- could that be? There was also one other guy who was obviously a backpacker trying to get home on the same flight. He had been stranded in EDI
for 3 days.
Back to the drawing board here, which meant trying to get compensation for the room and/or sustenance. The lady at Delta knew me from yesterday and said they can’t give compensation for more than one day. I think it’s a load of crap, so I left and went out into the streets to begin begging and panhandling from passers-by.
Actually, I just visited the good-looking blonde girl at the tourist office again and had her book me the same room at the same B&B from the night before.
Rest of the day: same routine. A bit of touristy walking around (castle, shops, etc), spot of dinner (pizza and beer: about 15 GPB, or $30), and retiring to the White Hart for pints of local beer. This time, it was just a bunch of locals sitting by the fireplace playing traditional Gaelic folk tunes. I stayed for a bit and ended up heading back earlier than the day before in order to be there at the counter before they opened.
Tuesday, 25 July 2006:
Same routine as yesterday: packed up, ate, and bussed to EDI
. I was first in line at check-in and was issued another STBY boarding pass as they checked my bag through to ATL
again. I really had my fingers crossed this time, even though they said I should be getting home today, as there were some empty seats that were not spoken for yet.
After passing security and heading to the gate, I ended up picking up some gin and Walker's biscuits from Duty Free. If I wasn’t going to make this flight, at least I’d be well-provisioned for yet another day and night in EDI
Boarding commenced at 12:30 and I sat in the lounge and watched everyone go ahead and board the flight. Lounge now empty, they called me up and gave me a boarding pass for 20A, which is an exit row. Unfortunately, Biz Elite was full of upgrades and Non-Revving Skymiles tourists, IIRC. Whatever, I happily accepted the offer and marched down the jetway.
Sat down in my exit row seat next to some drifter from Texas. Older guy, smelled like he hadn’t showered in days, and was quite jovial and chatty. Plus, being in the exit row, it was quite cold during the flight, so at least he didn’t sweat at all. We had a drink and I wanted to get some sleep, but the seat wouldn’t recline. So I sat upright and faked it with my eyes shut and blanket pulled over my head like a corpse. Anyway, it was a typical transatlantic Delta flight. The meal was forgettable, I got a free bottle of wine, and finished off with a vegetarian pizza before arrival. Routing took us over Greenland, landfall again over St. Johns or somewhere further north, followed by a due-south track over Detroit and Cincinnati, weaving through thunderstorms into ATL
for on-time arrival.
By this time, I was pretty tired of dealing with people telling me what to do, so I got the hell out of ATL
’s immigration and customs ASAP, which still took about an hour. International arrivals areas in ATL
at 18:00 are a zoo with people arriving from all over Europe. But I was home, finally. And that whole delay in EDI
cost me about $300 for two days’ layover caused by someone else.
1. Cheap Tickets sold the ticket with such a screwy routing from FRA
. The airport was not equipped to make that connection possible. How did this get through the cracks? If anyone was to be faulted for this, it is CheapTickets. Of course, they have no customer service to speak of, and was basically told to sod off when I explained my situation in detail to them.
2. Don’t expect Delta’s contracted ground staff in foreign airports to be pleasant to deal with. If you get screwed in any way, you’re really left with nothing except being screwed (plus 5 GPB for a coffee and pastry).
3. Book a direct flight whenever possible, especially if services are limited (like Delta’s 1x daily to EDI
being one of the 2 dailies to the USA).
4. If you are stranded, make the best use of your time if you’re in a cool city like Edinburgh. Recommend the White Hart Inn, which is actually the oldest pub in Edinburgh. The Rosebery Hotel was a basic, but cheap and comfortable guest house in a residential area. I didn’t pay for the castle tour, but saw plenty of it from the outside. Overall, I liked the city, and would like to visit it again (though by choice, not accident).
Maintain thine airspeed, lest the Earth rise up and smite thee.