Friday, March 21, 2008

A Swedish American in Madrid

Made it to Madrid. It wasn’t easy. Arlanda was being a bastard. Actually Mikael at the SAS desk was. And I was not pleased. And we almost didn’t make it.

DCP and I have had a habit the last few times we’ve been flying of cutting it very close. Like 5 or 10 minutes close. Which is stressful. And exhausting. But we have yet to miss a flight. But this time we decided to be early. We left the apartment at 4:45. That’s am. Or fm. Or just damn early. And so we had plenty of time at the airport. We were flying into Warsaw on Polish Air, which doesn’t have a service desk at Arlanda. But since they are part of the lovely Star Alliance we used SAS.

So we got in line and were greeted by Mikael. And by greeted I mean he said hello and didn’t say a single thing for the next 10 minutes. It was awkward. And quiet. His next words? Jag klarar inte av detta. I can’t handle this. He then proceeded to tell me that I had to call United because Polish Air had rejected our tickets. Tickets that had been obtained using award miles over a month ago. Tickets that had seats confirmed and everything. He told me first that Polish Air didn’t accept e-tickets. He followed that by saying that Polish Air didn’t accept United Miles and only United Airlines would accept miles earned on United regardless of the Star Alliance. I asked him if he could possibly call United. No. Could he call Polish Air. No. Of course not. I had to do it. He then kicked me out of line. Couldn’t believe it. At some point I feel like I, as a consumer, relinquish some responsibility. The ticket has been purchased. I arrived on time. It seems like the representative airline should want to get me out. I was wrong. So I had to make the phone calls.

I called United and was greeted by Maria. Who was wonderful. Unfortunately for Maria, everything Mikael had told me was a bunch of nonsense. Not sure if he was just coming up with his own theories, lying to me, or just being an ass. But either way he was wrong on all accounts. So Maria worked her ass off calling everyone imaginable. And couldn’t find anything wrong.

Mikael in the meantime had allowed me into line with one of his colleagues. Of course, he was hanging over her shoulder telling her what he had already done. So when I asked if she could call he piped in and said no I had to do it. At this point he even raised his voice at me because I dared to ask him to call. I then followed by asking if we would even be able to get out of Stockholm. He said no. They couldn’t get us out. No apology. Nothing. Just a no. I asked if there was anyone that could override the cancellation. Well we could call Polish Air. Or try the SAS service desk 20 meters away.

So we were told that we had to go to the SAS service desk because he couldn’t even call them since he had already done it once. So we did. And frantically cut in front of everyone because at this point we had 32 minutes before take-off. And check in closes at 30 minutes Good times. Helena was able to get us to Warsaw. But couldn’t guarantee anything beyond that.

Fine. At least we were getting the hell out of Arlanda. And Polish Air was lovely. We arrived in Poland. And the lady in Warsaw said there was no problem. They accept e-tickets. They accept United’s Miles. The problem was in Stockholm. SAS and Stockholm won’t issue Polish Air e-tickets.

So we made it to Madrid. And I managed to sunburn myself already. And it is glorious. But I think I actually hate Mikael.

14 comments:

  1. You lucky bastard... The winter has decided to finally come down full throated now in spring. Lots and lots of snow outside...

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  2. What a nightmare! It seems like no matter where you go there is always a "Mikael" working at the airport when I fly too. I suppose it was very lucky that you and DCP were earlier this time. Sheesh! Better luck on the way home, eh? :)

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  3. hope you don't get stuck in warsaw coming home!!
    so glad you made it ok. Dummies at SAS!!!

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  4. hope you don't get stuck in warsaw coming home!!
    so glad you made it ok. Dummies at SAS!!!

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  5. I think you need to write a very long letter to SAS and tell them how rude Mikael was. They shouldn't have rude people working there. Especially since he had the info wrong anyway and they are partners and that United wouldn't have given you a ticket using miles if they didn't have an agreement with them.
    What a mess!!

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  6. yeah I hear the swedish weather is less than stellar.

    and seriously. it was a mess. but now we are in spain. and thats pretty cool.

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  7. Having worked for a full-cost airline (not SAS) I am quite confident that nobody will care about a complaint-letter. At my job tickets for other airlines was a mystery, especially when it involved miles.

    If people would only know how often bookings gets messed up, as in cancelled and not rebooked when already paid for thus allowing the flight to be fully booked in the meanwhile. How many of you recognise a stiff, slightly terrified smile from the desk person, which is then exchanged for a relieving sigh after a couple of minuted typing on the computer? Those are the moments you should feel lucky.

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  8. I think it is very important to send a complaint letter. The iarlines are in a service business and their attitude and ability to serve the customer is important. If we don't complain the service will get worse and worse.

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  9. You can work in such a position and possibly run into problems as above with overbookings etc. but you can do it without being rude. THey are a service business, especially those people at the desk and they need to be professional and polite, and try to be helpful, not rude and nasty!!

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  10. yeah we'll see... I might do it just to make myself feel better if nothing else. but I'm afraid the first anonymous is probably right...

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  11. Sorry Hairy--you don't fly enough to matter, maybe you should pretend that you are the Big Swede and then you will get some respect!!

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  12. maybe... he does seem to go through passport stamps a bit more quickly than I do. I think the problem is all of this flying inside the EU. it's like flying between states in the US. No stamps in your passport. I might just start flashing the US passport so I can get something stamped.

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  13. you know everyone pretends to hate us, but we do get respect....or at least feigned respect to get our dollars!!

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  14. thats the thing. everyone says they hate the US. but they wear american brands, watch american tv, watch american movies, listen to american music, eat american foods, use american sayings in their speech... it's almost like it is just popular to hate the US without even realizing what that entails. better than hating the US and trying to kill americans though I suppose.

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