Soooo. The in-laws were supposed to arrive last night at 5. They were scheduled on a Delta flight from Frankfurt to Detroit and another from Detroit to Denver. But yesterday morning they called us to tell us that their flight from Frankfurt to Detroit was canceled, and they were stuck in Frankfurt overnight. Of course it wasn't simple--they'd spent hours at the gate being told that they'd be boarding in 20 minutes before the flight was finally canceled--but they were eventually packed off to a hotel in Frankfurt and told to report to the airport at 9 a.m. today for a flight.
SO. There was no confirmation from the airline that they would definitely be flying out this morning, so last night I logged into their online itinerary using their confirmation code to see if they had been rebooked on another flight, and if so, what flight.
And OH, were they rebooked. For a flight TOMORROW, that went first to Paris (where they had a FOUR-HOUR layover), then to Atlanta, THEN to Denver.
Obviously, this was NOT acceptable. A two-day delay and then a three-flight trip? First I called bullshit, and then I called Delta. The first number I tried had me go through a million automated voice prompts before giving me a recording saying that due to unusually high call volume, they would be UNABLE TO TAKE MY CALL, and I should try again later. Then it HUNG UP ON ME.
After I got over the shock (I have NEVER called a 24/7 customer service line and not AT LEAST been given the option to wait on hold for several hours), I called another number, finally got through to a real person, who told me they couldn't help me and transferred me to another person, who ALSO told me they couldn't help me and transferred me to another person, and apparently the third time is the charm because this woman COULD help me, and DID.
It took an hour and a half while she searched airline after airline for a decent itinerary for a flight TODAY, NOT TOMORROW, and FINALLY she found a flight leaving Frankfurt at noon, going through Atlanta, and then arriving this evening in Denver. It had only one stop. It was on Lufthansa, which is widely considered one of the best airlines in the world, especially by Germans. The layover was a perfectly reasonable length, enough time for them to get through customs without stressing but not so much time that they will be sitting in the airport for hours on end.
Instead of a 22-hour trip airport-to-airport, they are now booked on a trip that will take them 14 hours total. By calling Delta, we saved them a day stuck in Frankfurt and eight hours of travel time, not to mention getting them a transatlantic flight on a better airline.
In short, it was perfect. The Delta rep booked it, sent me confirmation emails, and was generally so wonderful that I actually WAITED ON HOLD AGAIN just so I could tell her supervisor how wonderful she had been.
Over two hours later, I finally hung up the phone. And then there was just one small detail left--getting in touch with Torsten's parents to tell them about the change in plans. It was about 5 a.m. in Frankfurt but we knew they'd probably be awake, since they were thinking that they'd be flying out of Frankfurt at 9. We called their cell phone. No answer. We called their hotel room. No answer. We called the front desk of the hotel, who confirmed that they had not yet checked out and was even so kind as to go knock on the door of their room--but no answer.
Finally we figured out that they must be having breakfast in the hotel restaurant, and the front desk connected us to the restaurant hostess, who literally called out their name in the middle of the restaurant and finally got Torsten's dad on the line.
So Torsten explained to his dad: your original flight to Detroit yesterday was scheduled for 10:50. There was no 9 a.m. flight. They just told you to show up at the airport at 9 a.m. so that you could be told when you would actually be flying, and through where. We knew that, so we checked your itinerary online and saw that you had been booked on a terrible three-leg trip that wouldn't actually leave for another day. So we spent two hours on the phone with Delta and got you a great flight, for today, on your favorite airline, with just one layover. Here are the details and we'll see you tonight! Yay!
EXCEPT. His parents were PISSED. I am not even kidding when I say they flat-out DID NOT BELIEVE US. His father kept repeating that no, they weren't flying out tomorrow on a three-leg trip, they were flying out this morning at 9 to Detroit. And we said no, there IS no 9 a.m. flight to Detroit, even if you WERE flying through Detroit it would be at the same time as YESTERDAY'S scheduled flight, but there is no way they can fit two planes' worth of people onto one plane, so instead they booked you on this terrible flight TOMORROW, but we fixed it for you, and you're all set, here are the details.
And they just INSISTED that we were wrong. His father kept asking why on earth we would book them a flight for noon, through Atlanta, when they had been planning to leave at 9, through Detroit. And no matter how many times we explained that THE NINE A.M. FLIGHT DIDN'T EXIST, and if we hadn't called they would be SPENDING ANOTHER NIGHT IN FRANKFURT, they just insisted we were wrong. Throughout Torsten's 20-minute phone call with his dad, we could hear his mother in the background, complaining vigorously. Complaints centered around the fact that we were interfering, why couldn't we have left well enough alone, they had this great 9 a.m. flight and now they had to wait until noon, she wanted to fly through Detroit and not Atlanta, and so on.
I have never heard two people more upset to get good news. Or two people more unwilling to believe THEIR OWN CHILD when he told them that no, it is NOT just the website saying that you're on this crappy itinerary TOMORROW, the people on the phone CONFIRMED that this was your booking, and if we hadn't called you would have shown up at the airport ONLY TO BE SENT AWAY AGAIN.
They just WOULD NOT BELIEVE IT. And I know, I KNOW, that his mother will spend the ENTIRE NINE-HOUR FLIGHT today complaining about how we ruined their whole trip, and why are they on this stupid flight, and if they'd left at 9 they'd be there by now.
I am not even kidding, I WISH we had never called to change their flights. They say they wish we hadn't interfered? I wish the same thing. I wish I had those two hours of my life back, and that they had shown up at the airport this morning only to be told that no, they would not be flying out that day, and they would have the crappiest of all flight itineraries the NEXT day. At least then they'd be mad at Delta and not mad at us.
MAD AT US. For HELPING them and saving them TWO DAYS of misery.
The sad part is, Torsten and I were both LOOKING FORWARD to this visit. We were actually DISAPPOINTED about the original flight delay, and even more disappointed when we saw that it might be a two-day delay. And now? We are DREADING it.
Torsten swears he's sleeping at the neighbors' house tonight so he doesn't have to deal with them. And I have to say, I really don't blame him. Seriously, I am tempted to make them sleep on the floor without even a towel, next to the vicious dog.
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