Monday, November 11, 2019

87. Stormy weather; futile difficulties complaining to Norwegian

Ever since missing a flight years ago when I was an underpaid budding designer working in London who had to take inexpensive charter flights (if you miss it, you're in trouble), I've been beyond OCD about making flights. I make sure to arrive hours in advance—beyond the recommended three hours for an international flight.

Recently, that M. O. didn't have a chance.

The last leg of our trip last month on lovely and affordable Norwegian Air became a lot less affordable because what Pat and I thought was a connecting flight from Catania to Gatwick to NYC was, in fact, a separate ticket and therefore an additional separate flight. So, instead of simply checking our bags and changing airplanes at Gatwick for our flight back to New York, we learned—upon checking in at the airport in Catania—that at Gatwick we had to retrieve our bags, recheck them, and go through Security again.

Boy, did it go wrong.

The flight from Catania was lovely, leaving from a sunny airport. Arrival at Gatwick was wet and rainy, but that's London. Things got stormy for us when we asked a Norwegian representative if he could alert the check-in desk that we were on our way. He told us we had plenty of time. Then, we couldn't find our bags on the belt at the baggage claim. An airport employee found our bags elsewhere. By the time we rushed to check in, the flight was closed and we ended up paying twice as much for our return trip home—the next day—as we'd paid for the first flight. I'm still mystified about why the Norwegian guy said we had plenty of time.

* * *
While in the hotel at Gatwick, making sure we didn't miss the next day's flight, I started a complaint—which I don't love doing—in the room we had no choice but to book. Nearly a month later, Norwegian replied, pointing out that the Terms and Conditions are very clear and passengers must be responsible for knowing the rules.*
Fair enough. I had read the Terms and Conditions, but certainly didn't think of reading about separate tickets. The joke was on me (or us, although I'm the one who tends to deal with the details). So, I got practice complaining (nicely) and practice in humility—and learning to not only read the Terms and Conditions and cross all the "t"s and dot all the "i"s but also to look for other things that may be "t"s or "i"s.

(I wish my doing things outside my comfort zone involved skydiving, or starting a new career instead of learning to speak up for myself . . . to no avail).

*Norwegian sent two replies: one reply terse and cold; the second was clear and slightly apologetic that the airline had to adhere to its own rules.

(Originally slated for October 6, 2019; posted November 11)

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