JFK – MIA: What a long, strange trip it’s been. Part 2

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At this point two fairly senior staff members from a TMC, armed with global reach, are on a shuttle heading towards a cancelled flight.

This means we are really on a trip to nowhere. Ok, enough about us, let’s see what our clients experience.This is something I really enjoy as there’s nothing better than being able to relate to the actual when chatting with clients and prospective clients. Often the people procuring travel don’t travel, so real life insight is invaluable for our clients.

We arrive at JFK and straight to the American Airlines’ Flagship area customer service desk. A very charming lady tells us that we can’t get anything out that night but that there’s a flight tomorrow morning at 9:00am that she can rebook us on in coach class. The downgrade doesn’t appeal to us, nor does the night in the airport, but seeing as we’re both BA Gold / One World Emerald status, she will find us overnight accommodations which takes the pain away somewhat.

Having an iPad with SABRE, our reservation system, or GDS to the folks within the industry, makes verifying her advice rather easy.  We can see earlier flights with business class available on them, we can even book them, but when we do the agent claims to not be able to see the booking and therefore cannot re-issue our tickets to allow us to travel on them.  This is all very strange as once upon a time, American Airlines were the airline and development force behind SABRE and now they claim to not to have viewership of the system that they pretty much founded.  Suddenly there are alarm bells ringing in my head.  We excuse ourselves for a few minutes and revert to our laptops to see what our agents would see.

Customer service desk, round two. JFK AA terminal Wi-Fi is beyond awful so our rebooking took much longer than anticipated. The no flights out tonight translated to no American Airlines flights out tonight. At our return to the service desk, we booked on Delta in business class for a 9:00pm departure Again the AA agent (different agent this time) couldn’t see our business class booking but was able to have a supervisor book us on Delta, but in economy. This could only happen after we were instructed to cancel the business class seats we had held. In the interest of getting to Miami that night, we did so. We were issued boarding passes and changed terminals all set to fly coach down the coast.

Delta Terminal and no frequent fliers status, not what I’d call my idea of fun. But to be honest, the efficiency made me think of a Sky Team frequent flier card match and swapping allegiances. With the exception of Loganair (now there’s one to look up if you’re not Scottish), it was the easiest airport experience bar none.

Delta coach class check-in was amazing as a very friendly lady took our bags. My colleague and I explained we’d been rebooked from AA and that we were downgraded. She spoke to a colleague who explained they only ever downgrade, although there was business class seats available. He also explained that because our boarding passes now said coach/economy class, Delta couldn’t move us forward. But he did go the extra mile and we were moved to exit row seats and new boarding passes printed. What can I say about the Delta experience? EQ is always looking to hire talent and at one check-in desk there were two new EQ employees waiting to happen.

Security queue, not a joy, but in fairness I probably had my “princess” head on at that point. Off to the gate, no lounge access here, and at this point we’re just ready to go. A small delay… another small delay… then a big delay, and finally an 11:00pm boarding announcement.  Now, we are on the plane and pretty much wrecked at this point. Sleep will come easily, and with the noise of the engines as a lullaby, it does.

But some nightmares never end. To be continued.