I Missed My Flight… By A Day… F*CK!

Hope everyone’s having a Merry Christmas… I’m not!

I can’t say I was too excited about flying Bahrain to Abu Dhabi to Colombo to Abu Dhabi tonight without more than an hour connection inbetween. I’d leave Bahrain tonight at 6PM and get into Abu Dhabi tomorrow morning at 8AM, after a lot of regional flying. But it appears that isn’t even happening. Why? Because I missed my flight. By a day.

Let me explain.

I booked a ticket on the Etihad A380 inaugural

Etihad’s inaugural A380 flight is in a bit over 24 hours, and as you guys know I’ve been very excited about it.

Etihad-Apartment

I booked a paid first class ticket on it, routing from Colombo to Abu Dhabi to London. My itinerary was as follows:

12/26 EY267 Colombo to Abu Dhabi departing 4:35AM arriving 7:55AM
12/27 EY011 Abu Dhabi to London departing 2:35AM arriving 6:35AM

I had my ticket originate in Colombo because paid first class fares are generally less expensive when originating there, so I saved quite a bit of cash compared to booking an Abu Dhabi to London ticket directly.

I had to position to Colombo

Originally I was going to spend a few days in Colombo, though due to my schedule I ended up spending a couple of days in Bahrain instead. So a few days ago I redeemed American miles to position from Bahrain to Colombo on Etihad, as follows:

12/25 EY278 Bahrain to Abu Dhabi departing 10:15AM arriving 12:25PM
12/25 EY264 Abu Dhabi to Colombo departing 2:55PM arriving 8:55PM

Etihad-Itinerary-1

That left me a nearly eight hour connection in Colombo. It sounded painful, but it was a good “backup.” I was hoping for space to open up on the Etihad flight that would leave me an hour connection in Colombo, but that wasn’t initially available.

My preferred flight finally opened up!

Yesterday morning award space finally opened up on my preferred flights for the 25th, which would leave me a much shorter connection in Colombo. So I called American to rebook on the following (or so I thought):

12/25 EY376 Bahrain to Abu Dhabi departing 6:05PM arriving 8:15PM
12/25 EY264 Abu Dhabi to Colombo departing 9:35PM arriving 3:35AM (+1 day)

I was crystal clear in what I requested, and the agent was super efficient. I explained that a later flight had opened up that I wanted to switch to, and she took care of it in no time.

“You’re not booked for today”

So I show up at Bahrain Airport this evening at around 4:30PM and go to the check-in counter, where the agent says he can’t find my ticket. He asks for my ticket number, so I pull up the itinerary for the first time… only to find that the agent had issued the ticket for the 24th. $hit.

Etihad-Bahrain-Check-in

Like I said, I was 100% sure I told the agent I wanted to fly later in the day on the 25th. And now that I look back at the itinerary, they only reissued the ticket to the incorrect flight less than an hour before it was scheduled to depart, which is within the check-in deadline.

Etihad-Itinerary-2

Really, reissuing my ticket at 5:10PM for a 6:05PM departure? But I should have double checked my itinerary.

Go figure Bahrain Airport doesn’t have any wifi landside, and I don’t have an international data plan.

So I take a taxi to the Sheraton, which is less than 15 minutes away. At this point (about an hour before departure) the Bahrain to Abu Dhabi flight no longer has award availability, presumably because it’s too close to departure.

Now what?

I could have called American and yelled, but that wouldn’t have accomplished anything. What I did instead is call American to redeposit the award that was booked for the incorrect date, and I booked a new award just from Bahrain to Abu Dhabi.

I will get to Abu Dhabi tonight at midnight. At this point there’s absolutely no way I can get to Colombo in time to catch my return flight, regardless of the routing.

So the only way I can get on the Abu Dhabi to London inaugural A380 flight (which is at 2AM tomorrow morning, so 26 hours after I get to Abu Dhabi) is if I can find an agent willing to let me skip the Colombo to Abu Dhabi segment.

For those of you not familiar with ticketing rules, typically when you skip a segment on an itinerary, all onward segments are voided. So in theory my ticket could be cancelled when I miss check-in at Colombo Airport.

I’m not even going to try calling, since there’s no way a phone agent will be able to do that. But I’m hoping an airport agent can.

If it doesn’t work out, this whole trip was a waste. The reason I wasn’t home for Christmas was so I could be on the Etihad A380 inaugural. If I miss that…

Eff… eff… eff

Ugh! I’m 100% sure I told the agent the correct flights/date to rebook me on. And the fact that the ticket was only reissued within the check-in deadline says a lot as well.

At the same time, I should have checked to make sure. I got the confirmation email less than 24 hours ago, and to be honest hadn’t even looked in the folder which usually has those confirmations. I didn’t make the original mistake, but I made a huge newbie mistake, which was not double checking my itinerary to make sure it was correct.

But now what? I guess my only shot is to try and find a supervisor upon landing in Abu Dhabi that’s willing to listen to the situation and maybe let me void out the first segment. Aside from that, I’m out of ideas.

Anyone have any other ideas?

I’ve literally been looking forward to reviewing this flight since I booked it months ago, and I can’t believe this is what the situation comes down to.

Hopefully everyone else has a better Christmas than I’m having…

I’m not a very emotional person, but I’m at the point where I’m about to cry… or scream… or both… (the chipper Christmas music in the Sheraton’s lobby just makes me feel even crappier about the situation). The fact that I basically haven’t slept for the past week (well, aside from oversleeping) doesn’t help…

So, how many miles will a hug cost me at this point?

Stay tuned for updates…

Comments

  1. Brutal! Looks like Sri Lankan has a red eye from BAH that lands in Colombo at 5.35 AM… Otherwise, did you check QR timings via DOH?

  2. O_O

    You sound… overwhelmed. This sort of stuff (oversleeping, missing flight details) isn’t very characteristic of you (though it happens occasionally to everyone).

    I think you need a few days where you don’t do much of anything but chill. Maybe with your parents? I’m sure they have hugs in stock.

    Also… might your flight become a lot more expensive once you miss the first segment, because now you’re starting in AUH not CMB? Do you really want to pay that much? Might be safer to refund the ticket. I guess it depends on how lucky you feel…

  3. Wrote a message to you in the Hennesy post about a direct flight from BAH to CMB tonight.

    Any chance you could change from EY267 to EY7153 at 1845 or EY 265 at 2155 tomorrow? Would mean spending more time in CMB, but surly that would be better than missing EY11

    Unless you have to be in AUH tomorrow for some ceremony offcorse?

  4. Only option for you to catch EY265 to Abu Dhabi (I presume) is as follows:

    Get a flight TONIGHT at 10:15pm direct BAH-CMB arriving 5:35am on Mihin Lanka Airlines (I don’t know it either) for $338 OW in Y and $468 OW in J.

  5. Similar to AB’s comment…

    Could you have just booked a ticket direct from Bahrain to Colombo to get you there in time?

  6. Oh no! While I can not offer much in way of a solution, I am sending good thoughts your way. I KNOW you will find a way to remedy this.
    Good luck

  7. Could be fat-fingered. But also many people try to move flights up, even within check-in window. And given the date, it’s possible they just thought you’re trying to get somewhere before Christmas. Unfortunate for you, and maybe their fault anyway if you said it well, but the time of departure doesn’t make it more/less AA’s fault.

    Pretty shocking you don’t have int’l data plan. So cheap nowadays. I use more data overseas than in the US and it’s faster often times.

  8. Well, hugs are free, despite award flights. \o/

    I suggest to keep your plan to find a supervisor in AUH. Stay positive, after all, christmas miracles are true. 🙂

  9. I won’t even joke about the Curse. Sorry this happened. But maybe some perspective will help? You’ve gotten to see the world, you’re living the dream and this is the worst that has happened. That’s a pretty good roll of the dice as far as I’m concerned. In the topsy turvy world of travel, these sort of pitfalls are pretty minimal. So I wouldn’t sweat it.

    And ditto what eponymous coward said. Whether you make the a380 inaugural or not, I think your body and mind need a solid vacation for a few days. It will make a world of difference.

    Thanks for the amazing work and happy travels.

  10. @ Mark — Just to clarify, if they reissue a ticket within the ticketing deadline, there would be no way to check-in anymore, unless I’m missing something.

  11. Ben, Merry Christmas, not all is lost. Just buy any ticket to AUH, remain in transit area, u have no checked bags anyway. Then check in for your A380 inaugural flight at the transit desk or in the lounge. With all the hoopla taking place @ AUH due to the A380 inaugural, chances are that staff won’t realize you were a no show on the Colombo-AUH sector. Also check in on line for both, your Colombo-AUH flight as well as your AUH-LHR. Like this you are already in possession of your inaugural boarding pass when you land in AUH. With a bit of faith, you have nothing to loose. Good Luck, may th force be with you.

  12. I would hug you every day for a month for 72,500 aadvantage miles. I’m sorry you’re going through all this. This sucks. Wishing you the best and I hope the situation gets resolved soon.

  13. Best of Luck Ben. I suggest two options for you:

    1) Change the CMB departure to AUH from the 4:30am flight to the 9:55pm flight on EY. Leaving you 1 1/2 hours in AUH to connect to LHR. To get to CMB, take Sri Lankan flight departing at 10:15pm tonight (in 2 hours) arriving at 5:35am.

    2) Change your ticket from CMB-AUH-LHR to BAH-AUH-LHR. $1500 price difference though.

  14. I recently missed a flight for the same reason… only it was by a month! It was booked within 24 hours of departure so I never got the checkin email either.. gah! At least there was still availability for the flight I wanted though so that kind of saved the day.

  15. Just change your plane ticket, pay the change fee and price differential, and chalk it up to a lesson learned.

    You’ve come this far and missed out on Xmas, can’t let a little hiccup cause you to miss the inaugural.

  16. After how much your blog posts have helped me (and every reader) I really wish I could help you out on this one. However, unfortunately I am limited to wishing you good luck, Lucky!

    I hope it all works out so you can be on the inaugural flight!

  17. Sending positive thoughts your way. Hope things work out. Please take a few days off after this to rest and reenergize. Don’t worry if there are no blog posts during that time. You won’t lose any readers. All the best.

  18. Hi Ben,

    I’m just hoping that everything works out the way you would like. You’ve given so many great suggestions in regards to all things travel to your readers, that something wonderful comes back to you to.

    All the best to you and yours this holiday season.

  19. Nice to see that Lucky is just as a human as we all are. Of course i feel really sorry for Lucky. Ive been there a few times and the worst thing there is when neither the kiosk nor agent can find the ticket. You know you messed up something. Dont know what you messed up at that point (wrong airport? Wrong date?) but you know you messed up.

  20. That’s terrible. Your excursion sounds worse than some non-rev experiences. Would adding DXB into the equation give you more options?

  21. @ismael has great ideas. I think you need to suck it up and pay to fix this. It sucks but you have been looking forward to this. If etihad does let you skip the first flight whatever staff did it is going to get in big trouble. You make enough and it’s worth it. It’ll be the costly Christmas miracle.

  22. Merry Christmas Ben!!! Breathe…although this sucks, it could be a Christmas gift in disguise. Maybe today you are meant to meet someone who plays an important role in your life.,.., or maybe you avoided a potentially fatal car accident on your way to the airport. Hoping your day surprises you! Bless you. Ho ho ho!!

  23. Lucky,
    I’d suggest calling Etihad’s headquarters. Ask for somwone with some weight because I dont think even an airport manager can help you or tell the phone operator and ask them to put you in touch with someone who can help you. Then explain to them who you are, what your problem is and what you need them to do. I don’t know a ton about travel, but in business in general sometimes you have to manually climb the ladder instead of hoping someone pushes you up. Best of luck.

  24. You could also just ‘pretend’ that you were on the CMB-AUH flight, and when you have trouble getting on, say you have no idea what happened, but “how else did you get there”?? Risky, but I’ve seen it work before.

  25. Aren’t phone calls recorded? You know, “This call will be recorded for staff training, quality control,… blah blah…”
    If so, you could have ’em check your original call.

    Anyway, big hugs

  26. I think this is one of those occasions where you play the blogger card and call EY’s media office. Your blog has good reach and EY has got and will continue to get unbiased and unvarnished but excellent publicity from your efforts.

    I know it slightly compromises the ethos of the blog but as long as you don’t make a habit of it I’m sure none of us would think any the less of you.

  27. Sending virtual hugs, no mile redemption required. +1 to Ismael’s suggestion. But if that doesn’t work and you complete your posted plan to get to Abu Dhabi, I hope you can find an agent upon arriving, who can sort it out before your original Colombo flight departs, so the onward doesn’t automatically get cancelled.

    It would clearly be ideal not to have to go to Colombo since you don’t have plans there. But if that can’t happen, the key would be to could change your original CMB-AUH to a later flight, and add a flight out to CMB.

    AUH-CMB:
    EY0264 12/26 14:55-20:55, however sold-out online so you might have to try standby

    CMB-AUH:
    EY7153 12/26 18:45-22:00, currently with 4 seats left, but too early given the outbound. This is an alternative if you take a direct flight to CMB from BAH per Ismael.
    EY0265 12/26 21:55-01:00 (+1)

    Regardless, if you can push back your CMB-AUH, that buys you some time to see if space opens up on AUH-CMB or to take other flights from BAH-CMB, or to convince an agent to let you skip your CMB-AUH.

    Good luck, good vibes, and warm Christmas hugs! And in case you can’t get on the inaugural, hopefully you can get on the next day at least.

  28. I don’t get it.. .why didn’t you call the EXP desk, trying to get the error fixed? Why don’t you call EY reservations to ask if they can help (maybe a supervisor there)? I mean, even if they are long shots, I would’ve tried everything in a situation like this. Why give up before trying?

  29. Dear Lucky,
    Completely agree with ColeM’s comment, you should start up top (as high as possible). I think you have some contacts at EY, based on all the blogging and the customer service interactions due to the lack of food in F?!
    Explain what happened, be honest about the situation and if they have a few neurons, it would be obvious to them that you’re not intentionally skipping the first leg and that they have a lot to benefit as well by your presence on the inaugural in terms of exposure. Good luck!
    On a side note, I was on the GBP 1000 business promotion fare ex-LHR to SFO the other day on LX, had to position myself to LHR and one of the flights got cancelled, so I know the feeling! It all worked out in the end, I even got an op-up to F on the ZRH-SFO on LX!

  30. Benny,With your money just charter a private jet.

    Happy New Year,See ya in SAN,I’ll leave the shirt at home.

  31. Um, you’re booked in First Class and you’re a well-known blogger. You shouldn’t be having these problems. Call them and explain the situation. If you fail, do what nathan suggested! It’s genius.

  32. I think Nathan’s plan is great, except that they might be paying attention to loads on the inaugural flight very closely. They don’t want to send that plane with an Apartment empty and I’m sure there is some waitlist of VIP’s/EY execs for a premium cabin seat on the inaugural flight just to make sure that its full. If Ben no show’s at CMB, they are probably going to kick him off the AUH-LHR flight immediately to ensure that the next person can take his seat and the flight goes out 100% full. His best bet is to pull his travel blogger card and get in touch with the highest up person at EY or just someone high up in media relations/PR. If there ever was a time to do so this would be it.

  33. Hi Ben,

    Truly sorry to hear about this. It just sucks 🙁

    Only thing I can think of is to try to talk to someone at Etihad asap and explain the situation to them. This is a business trip for you and considering your line of work I would think it would be on their best interest — and a good PR move — to have you review their first A380 flight.

    Worst case scenario, I guess you could still cancel/rebook your flight for another date?

    On the plus side, it’s XMass day and even today a lot of people have taken the time to check your blog and wish you good luck: that really shows what an amazing job you do 🙂

  34. Having a boarding pass for AUH-LHR won’t help when the entire booking gets deleted when the close the CMB-AUH flight.

    AA won’t be able to help because these are in separate PNRs.

    Only hopes for this flight are (a) using an executive contact and having them modify the paid PNR deleting the first leg or (b) buying a new ticket, at the higher fare, if seats are even available. If not the first flight, maybe there is room tomorrow?

    Maybe you could pay with your Amex Gold Rewards card?

  35. On e it was clear the booking was messed up, I would have paid the walkup Y fare to get to Colombo and redeposited the award. It is a business expense for you anyway. Why you didn’t do that is beyond me.

    While I have never done it in the same exact circumstance as you, I have employed this basic strategy dozens of times in IRROPs. Sometimes it is the cost of doing business to buy a walkup fare to get to somewhere (whether it is CMB to get on the inaigural or home to see family).

  36. I’ve been a long-time reader, and I’ve appreciated your work thus far. I’m about your age, and believe me, I envy all the travel that you do. I usually don’t write, but, for what it’s worth, remember that you have way too much to be thankful for to be this stressed out. Hearing this will probably make you feel worse, but think about how much you have going for you at this point. As someone once said to me, “You’re too blessed to be stressed.” (And I’m not even religious!) Safe travels!

  37. @ Stan — Very true, and ultimately I’m grateful-beyond-words for what I have. That being said, we can all have down days once in a while, right? 🙂

  38. Ben,
    I concur with Nathan. If you have both boarding passes printed and proceed to your AUH-LHR flight, EY will assume your coupon was not “redeemed” on the CMB-AUH sector (and they would be hard pressed to think otherwise, given that you are already at AUH). This actually happens more often then you might think. Airlines sometimes forget to “lift/redeem” coupons. You are a paid full-fare first class passenger on an inaugural flight; I doubt they would go out of their way to inconvenience you and deny boarding. The only risk would be that if you do NOT take the CMB-AUH sector, your seat may be given away (assuming there might be a waiting list for F space on the inaugural flight).

  39. Can’t wait to hear about the happy ending! It’s going to work out for you, Ben. It always does. Sending you some Christmas luck from San Diego.

  40. Ben,

    Sorry to hear about your ordeal that you did not cause yourself, and happening on Christmas Day, being by yourself, in not so familiar territory. Hope it’ll work out. At any rate, take it easy,

    a hug from Jeff

  41. Happy holidays, Ben. I hope everything works out for you. In the meantime, you should try to get some sleep. Let’s face it, you are no good to us if you sleep through the entire flight

  42. The above comment closed with a smiley face but it’s not showing up for some reason, so here it is: 🙂

  43. My loneliest Xmas was when I was 23, having just spend 10 days hiking solo in the Grand Canyon, which was awesome. I came out on Xmas day, headed over to Flagstaff, the only place open was Denny’s. Xmas at Denny’s, alone.

    In any case, it became one of life’s interesting memories, they can’t all be sweet. But enjoy what you can. If you can pay $1500 to avoid a stressful (not to mention possibility of misconnect, delays, etc). flight to Sri Lanka and back, then it’s a great $1500. Not cheap, but something one can get beyond once you are back in the lap of luxury on the Etihad flight.

    Happy Holidays!

  44. Hugs, Ben! That’s the only thing I can offer now – and I’m a pretty good hugger.

    Happy holidays! Hope everything works out for you here.

  45. This seems like something EY could easily work out. I’ve had situations where I’m flying A-B-C and for whatever reason because of IRROPS it makes more sense to fly just B-C. (I’ve taken a train to B, rented a car, etc.) Obviously under normal circumstances missing A-B will cancel the onward itinerary but here you have a way to get to AUH and you should be able to call EY so they don’t cancel the rest of the ticket. I’ve had front line CSRs be able to do this for me, though fwiw it’s been on US-based airlines. Not sure if that helps or hurts, frankly.

  46. Agree with Nathan. Printing your first class boarding passes is the key. Also you need to look for Gino Bertuccio at the gate area or first class lounge and have him go to bat for you if necessary. He is a celebrity (video from a recent post) with Etihad and paid a big price to be on the inaugural A380 flight Residence Suite. Additionally you are a first class paying passenger and Etihad should go the extra mile to take care of you. I would definitely go to their first class lounge and work with the staff there. If you don’t get the results you want ask for a supervisor. I predict Etihad will accommodate you and we will be hearing all about the first flight in this weekend’s post.

  47. Merry Christmas Ben!

    I do not have any suggestions but I am sending good thoughts your way. It would be totally not fun to miss Christmas at home for this flight only for it to be missed. But I am sure you can work something out.

    When I am overwhelmed, take. A deep breath and try to put things in perspective. Sure, it is annoying and upsetting for things to not go the way you wanted, but it could have been worse. Things could only look up now. Sleep/health is also something I rank above all else so maybe you need a staycation for a change. 🙂 Take care.

    Hugs are for free: (I don’t use that forum but love the pic)

    http://forum.smartcanucks.ca/attachments/general-discussion-tea-room/122230d1339592969-who-needs-virtual-hug-today-come-get-one-bear-hug.jpg

  48. Sorry for all the readers that don’t actually read the story, but pretend to offer over simplified one liner suggestions. It’s frustrating for us readers, as I’m sure it is to you.

    Any more updates?

  49. It is damn downer thing to happen on Christmas day but I really wish all the positive pieces fall in the right places.

    Best of luck Ben!

  50. I hope it all worked out. I just read this blog entry, Lucky. Gino may be key if all else fails. I recall you stating he is travelling alone in the Residences right? But he can have a +1 on it, no? If all else fails, ask Gino.

  51. Ben, sorry to hear about your troubles – especially on Xmas day. Sounds like something I would do! And I agree with previous posters. This is one time where you are going to need to wave your arms and pull the “Do You Know Who I Am?” routine. But with finesse and grace 🙂

    I would have thought it you no show for the first flight, the system will auto cancel the rest of the itinerary, so it wont matter if you have boarding passes or not.

    And while I am not going to send you a hug, I will be on standby to drink heavily on your behalf 🙂

  52. @ Bjørn — There’s nothing Etihad could do over the phone. The only person that could approve anything like this is an airport supervisor. As far as American goes, what was there for them to fix? They can’t open award space, and the flight was shortly departing.

  53. Ben, just heard fm a friend of mine who is also on the inaugural that DOH-AUH-LHR is abt half the price of an AUH-LHR ticket. So no need to shlep to Colombo. Not too late for you to hop over to DOH & reissue ur ticket and/or buy a new tick originating in DOH. Plenty of flights that will get you back to AUH on time for you 2:30 am departure.
    Good Luck !

  54. Ben – just FYI, Bahrain Airport has a lovely, dedicated first/business class check in hall, just further down from economy check in. Obviously not on par with EK/QR/SQ, but still comfy – with sofas and all.

  55. OMFG what a dilemna! I’ve had actual nightmares about such a scenario before.

    Nathan seems to know his onions – hope his ideas pan out – fingers crossed for you!

  56. Eager to hear how this turned out. Knowing that you’ve likely sorted it all out by now, I feel like I can offer a suggestion that might prevent this problem in the future. Forward all your booking confirmation emails to plans@tripit.com (full disclosure, I’m a co-founder of TripIt, but no longer with the company).

    A few times I’ve done that and when you see your flights show up on the TripIt site in a day-by-day display, you realize that something is showing up on the wrong day. TripIt also tells you how much connecting time you have between flights, and if that number looks off, that’s another clue something is wrong.

    You can also have TripIt automatically feed all your itinerary items to your calendar on your phone, on the web, etc. So when you view you plans on your calendar and something is showing up on the wrong day, that’s yet another clue that something is off.

    Hope that helps and good luck!

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