Saturday, 22 December 2007

ArkeFly TUI Holland International group of cowboys

Extending a root canal

I think it is now a given that my travelling is always an event and almost always irksome. As if I did not promise myself that I would not travel ArkeFly anymore because their Comfort Class was just as much comfort as being cooped up in Economy apart from the fact that one had to buy ones refreshments.

Well, it so happened that my holiday destination only had offerings from ArkeFly (NL) which is part of the TUI AG group that has Thomson Travel (UK) and Holland International as part of its stable of travel companies.

At first, I needed to extend my holiday; one would think it was just a open web site, type in reference number, get prompted with choices to cancel, modify, check-in etc, then if any other payments need to be made, that all gets updated.

Not really, the travel agents lamented the fact that the Holland International staff are usually very helpful but they are seriously let down by the rotten inflexible system they have to work with.

Suffice it to say that a holiday extension is best done by cancelling the existing booking and setting up a new one with the extension included, you can then pay the difference.

After a 10-minute wait and some 30 more minutes of stop-and-start conversation, it got done.

My ride to the airport arrived just in time at 3:30AM – I am still beside myself as to how I ended up booking a flight as early as 6:20AM – when I got to the airport I collected my updated ticket and went to check-in.

Arke-Flying Carpet

One look at the departures screen revealed I was going to have an exciting day – my flight was already delayed 1 hour 40 minutes, by the time I posted a letter in the postbox, another 40 minutes had been added to that delay.

As I checked in at the Comfort Class desk, I was trying to get an upgrade when I was told the flight we were to board was still in Las Palmas due to technical problems and ArkeFly was hiring another plane from a German company to take us there.

Trepidation! Foreign crew, strange pilots – just the mindset you need for a long holiday. I have been watching too much National Geographic television.

The greater humiliation was to come – there would be no classes on this plane but cattle class and then the seating was open. I had to run that past the check-in clerk again – “You mean we are going to get on that plane like we are getting on a bus?”

She nodded in the affirmative, this is definitely not how I intended to start my holiday and I am being placated with a Food & Beverage Voucher for Menzies Aviation to the mighty cost of EUR 4.95 for a continental breakfast, which seems to cost less than a snack.

There are some rights I think I am entitled to somewhere, unfortunately, people would not be too forceful about this because, we all want to go on holiday and the last thing we want is some rotten company which happens to be the one of the largest travel companies in the world messing up our holiday with cack-handed incompetence.

I’ll rather pay for a coffee than go around presenting a food stamp for a mendicant’s sop.

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