Last weekend I ran two stories by Head for Points readers (here and here) who had booked British Airways long-haul flights starting elsewhere in Europe. This saved them huge amounts of money, but for one reader it had not been entirely trouble free.
Some readers commented that the ‘trip which went wrong’ did not go badly wrong. It was, after all, only the last leg back to Dublin which was a problem.
Reader Anto sent me his own story of a British Airways ex-Europe trip which went wrong. This was potentially a far more messy situation, albeit that the problem was one of his own making!
As Anto explained:
“A few weeks ago, I was travelling to Phoenix, AZ to visit my sister for her graduation. When booking the tickets, I found to no surprise that it was significantly cheaper to fly ex-EU than ex-UK. As I was going to be playing gigs in Chester and Manchester either end of the trip, it made sense to fly out of Dublin and back into Manchester via Heathrow each way.
The (economy) flights were ticketed through American Airlines. However, all of the flights were on British Airways planes except for one leg on US Airways (Phoenix to Newark) on the return journey. As I was only travelling with carry-on luggage, I booked myself a little £25 Ryanair flight from Manchester to Dublin to connect to the British Airways flight from Dublin I had booked.
Unfortunately, things got a little ‘messy’ after the gig in Chester, and I missed the flight to Dublin. Oops.
In the back of a cab racing me to Manchester airport three hours after I should have been there, I frantically searched for last minute flights to Dublin so I could make the connection. There were none. On arrival at Manchester, I ran to the American Airlines ticket desk and explained my predicament.
The AA staff were very sympathetic, and spent about forty minutes trying on their systems to somehow reticket me on a flight I could actually catch. This included phoning their call centre in the USA, who explained that because the ticket was originally booked in euros (being ex-EU), it simply wasn’t possible to reticket in sterling. All this time, I was watching the clock, aware that as soon as the gate for my flight from Dublin to London closed, the rest of my ticket would die. Not good.
After the American Airlines ticket desk admitted defeat, they suggested that I try the British Airways ticket desk a few feet away. The staff there were quite busy but, after I explained the situation to them, set about industriously poking at keyboards and picking up telephones. I detected a definite professional rivalry on the part of the BA staff (“Well, if it’s an American ticket, why can’t they just… *rolls eyes* anyway, let’s see what we can do…”), which I’m pretty sure worked to my advantage.
After twenty minutes or so of button bashing, the member of staff helping me managed to find a way to put me on the next Manchester to Heathrow flight, in time for my onward journey to Phoenix, albeit at a further cost of £200 (economy). At this point, as you may imagine, I was quite happy to pay.
I’m not sure of exactly what mechanism they used to swap out the Dublin to Heathrow sector of my ticket for this new one. She assured me that it was quite unusual and that I should check at every airport I visited, on departure *and arrival* that I would be able to check in for the next leg of the journey. This did not help my nerves much at all.
As it transpired, the ticket was just fine, and the rest of the trip went very smoothly; I even managed to grab a shower in the Galleries lounge in Terminal 5 thank to my airberlin Gold card, gained via a status match from Aegean!
The moral of the story is: don’t miss the first flight of your multi-leg ex-EU trip. I definitely got lucky – this story could have had a much, much sadder ending.”
Thanks Anto. I think you were very lucky to get away with this one, to be honest!