How and Why My Flight Itinerary Disappeared During a Flight
W ell, the mystery is over in terms of how and why my flight itinerary disappeared during a flight operated by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines from Nairobi to Amsterdam — and I hope that my unusual experience will somehow help you in the future should you encounter a similar situation.
It all started while I was at the airport in Narobi, where I was catching a flight to Amsterdam — the first of several flights on the return portion of my itinerary — and wow, is security tight at this airport, as I had to go through three airport security checkpoints before being able to board the airplane.
I walked up to the ticket counter; and in fewer than ten minutes, I had all of my boarding passes to complete my itinerary. Cool. Time to head on over to the Simba Lounge and spend some time in there, as I arrived at the airport sooner than expected due to a lighter volume of traffic than usual to get from the Hilton Nairobi hotel property to the airport…
…but when I walked into the Simba Lounge, I was told that I was not eligible to enter.
The reason was actually quite clear: the wrong elite level status was printed on all of the boarding passes — even though I had the proper elite level status printed on all of the boarding passes for my outbound flights; and I still had those boarding passes as proof.
I was advised to go to the transfer desk to get this straightened out; but I was already permitted to stay in the Simba Lounge. The problem, however, was for the remainder of my itinerary, as I did not want to experience any problems in Amsterdam and New York — so I went to the transfer desk.
Antony was puzzled at the inexplicable downgrade in elite level status; and I had not received my latest card in the mail yet — so the only proof I had were my boarding passes. He tried accessing my reservation; but with no luck. He conferred with his supervisor; but with no luck. He even tried calling Delta Air Lines in Nairobi; but with no luck, as it was a Sunday evening and the office was closed.
He apologized as he handed me my boarding passes, unable to accomplish anything. “It is not your fault,” I replied. “Thank you for trying.”
I relaxed, worked and ate in the Simba Lounge until it was time to board my flight to Amsterdam; and this part of the airport in Nairobi is similar to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam where each gate has its own security screening area. I really do not like this setup — but I digress.
After an uneventful flight, the airplane landed at Schiphol Airport — I intend to give further details of the flight in a future trip report — and I went to the Crown Lounge near the F gates. I approached the front desk, fully expecting to fight for entry into the lounge.
Fortunately, the woman behind the counter immediately saw that I did qualify for entrance into the lounge; and she further wanted to help by printing me new boarding passes with the proper elite level status printed on them.
“I appreciate it; but you do not have to do that,” I said. “Once I am back in the United States, I should have no problems.”
“That is the problem,” she replied. “Your itinerary is not in the system.”
“I cannot find your itinerary. It seems to have disappeared.”
“How can that be?!? You have my printed boarding passes…”
“I know — but I am not sure what the problem is. Please see an agent inside and behind me who will be able to assist you.”
Because the time was before 6:00 in the morning, no one was available yet; but I was advised to take a number.
After waiting for about 15 minutes or so, the agent was ready to see me. I sat down and explained the problem to her — which initially left her confused as well, as she had never seen anything like this either.
She investigated, furiously clicking on the keyboards of two computers to the point where I thought that smoke was going to rise from them. “We have different systems in five different languages,” she explained.
“I think I know what happened. Your ticket was canceled and a new ticket was issued.”
That did not make any sense to me.
“Your flight to New York has been delayed by at least three hours; so you are now booked on a flight to Minneapolis.”
It suddenly dawned on me: “Weather?”
“Yes. The United States has been having some really bad weather in the past week. We have had more than 6,000 flights canceled, with some airports shut down completely for a while.”
I later looked up the weather; and sure enough, New York is expecting to be significantly impacted by inclement weather — ice more than snow.
It is at this point that I want to apologize to you. I try to keep you updated on weather situations so that travel disruptions for you are kept to a minimum as possible; but my access to the Internet has been limited at best for the past several days. In fact, I had no access to the Internet because I was camping while on safari in Kenya…
…and now my travel was significantly disrupted.
She printed out my new itinerary and boarding passes and showed them to me. “I gave you a window seat to Minneapolis. Will this work for you?” she asked.
The flight to Minneapolis was scheduled to leave almost five hours later than the flight to New York on which I was originally supposed to be a passenger. I then continue on to arrive in Washington, D.C. seven hours later than expected; but still hours ahead of my first outbound flight towards Muscat.
“I am very flexible,” I responded. “I will be back here in a couple of days anyway. There are all sorts of options with which we can play around. Anything is fine with me.”
“I guess you will just have to stay here in the lounge while you wait for your flight. We have a sleeping area and showers if you like; and there is plenty to eat.”
I suppose I will just have to suffer, I thought as I smiled.
The staff at the Crown Lounge could not have been more helpful and accommodating. They were terrific; and it was especially nice that the agent — who assisted me and cleared things up — and I joked about this issue and laughed throughout the process…
…and after staking out a comfortable spot in the Crown Lounge, I whipped out my laptop computer and found out that Delta Air Lines had issued a weather advisory for the northeastern United States between February 8, 2015 and February 10, 2015; and fees have been waived for changes or refunds as long as they are requested on or before Thursday, February 12, 2015.
I also found out that not only was the flight to New York on which I was originally scheduled to be a passenger delayed by at least three hours; but I received an e-mail message that the flight from New York to Washington, D.C. on which I was scheduled to be passenger was canceled — hence, the itinerary change.
However, I do have a flight scheduled the next day early in the morning from Washington, D.C. to New York and then on to Amsterdam. I am debating about calling Delta Air Lines once I briefly return to the United States to see whether or not I should change that part of my separate itinerary.
This one is for you, Michael. Thank you…
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.