Saturday, February 10, 2007

EuroStar Shines

This Months "Duh" goes to BMI and partly to our travel-agent.

For the second time in 2 months, my flight from Leeds-Bradford got cancelled due to weather. BMI will do NOTHING. Customers are told that a refund "will be made" and are sent home (or rather: sent away).
Staff could reluctantly book some people on the Sunday-Evening flight, 48 hrs later. Most of us were planning to come back to Leeds by then, rather then to fly out belatedly. "Or you could try finding an flight via the internet, sir..."

Some of my fellow victims were lucky, They had a travel-agent that was still listening to them at 20:00 UK time. Our agent closes after 1700 Euro-time, and the backup-numbers cant help you, as they close 1 hour later...
Some lucky bastards were able to snap up the last five seats on a plane from Manchester the next morning. I hope they didnt get stuck in snow on their way to MCS.

First, I needed a base to work from, a place to stay.

Full Respect to Katya, Shift-leader at the Leeds Marriott front-desk: As opposed to the call-centre-reservation-scripted-staff, Katya recognized my voice, and understood the situation immediately. Her hotel, my regular pad in Leeds, was fully booked. But it only took her 10 min to sort me out: She called around and secured me options on rooms in 3 different competing hotels under my name. The first positive point: for beds, at least, I was now Spoiled for choice. Thus I was able to help two other victims to secure a bed for the night. Katya has again earned every chocolate-box I ever brought over.
Katya, You are a Class Lady: Expect a large box on 13 Mar!

Taxis at the airport were rare, as the snow had reduced traffic. After a long queue-wait, I found a couragous driver. By the time I got to the hotel and on the internet, I was no longer able to secure a seat on any alternate flight anymore. The ppl who could litterally Phone-an-Agent had probably taken them all.

Normally, I would have taken a weekend-break in the UK, but I was scheduled to leave for the US on Monday-morning. I had to get home, somehow ...

Eurostar to the rescue.

Next morning: Up at 05:00, taxi at 05:30, and was on the 06:10 GNER to London. Very little delays on the main line, I guess it was the right kind of snow... A surprisingly busy Kx for a Saturday morning, what was happening ??
Underground schedule slightly upset due to "engineering works" but manageable. However, Waterloo station was Chaos: too many people, families with kids and skis, queuing for security. And the security-area, actually the whole terminal, is designed pre-9/11, pre-7/7, and in general pre-Extreme-Checks. A long queue tailed back up the stairs. That didnt look good. but the Premier-queue was very short. I decided to take a comfortable ticket. It worked, I whisked through with a ticket for the 10:42 and I hit the lounge with 20 min to spare (20 min free internet!). Finally had brunch on the train.

Oh cuddly comfort: The more posh coaches on Eurostar are Great! The service was Excellent, the food was ok for on-the-road, and there was lots of SPACE. The only thing missing was wifi. But I'll took that as a bliss: at least my thinking process was not distracted by compulsive surfing. I did make notes of a whole list
of items to verify-when-online.

A proper Eurostar ticket includes a free ride to "any station in Belgium", so the that was also sorted. A rapid connection at Bxll-Midi ensured I got on the earliest possible train East. For the next 36 hrs, I am Home - where the heart is.

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