“Sir, Your Flight Does Not Leave Until Tomorrow Night…”
D espite the airplanes being full of passengers, the itinerary for my unintentional trip around the world has gone quite smoothly. In fact, too smoothly, I thought just yesterday.
Something told me when I woke up for my flight to Shanghai early this morning from Seoul that the airline on which I was about to fly would surprise me — and sure enough, it did…
“Where is your final destination today, Mr. Cohen?” asked the woman at the check-in counter at Incheon International Airport.
I thought that was an odd question to ask.
“Well, my final destination is Manila later tonight”, I replied. “But I am traveling to Shanghai for the day first as my connection.”
“Sir, your flight does not leave until tomorrow night. There is no flight to Manila tonight.”
I just stood there with my mouth open. I have been accessing my e-mail account. Why was I not notified?
“You mean there is no way I can get to Manila tonight?”
“No. I am sorry, sir. Do you still want to go to Shanghai?”
The first flight to Shanghai was indeed scheduled to depart on time — but what choice did I have? I had to go through Shanghai eventually anyway.
When I first booked my reservation with an Internet travel agency whose name begins with an O — and it is not Oxpedia or Otravelocity — that flight existed. My intention was to spend a day in Shanghai — no more than that. If I would have known this was going to happen, I would not have chosen such an early flight from Seoul; rather, I would have chosen an afternoon flight and stayed overnight.
“It is not your fault”, I said. “This just messes up my hotel plans. I have a reservation at a hotel in Manila; but I will not be able to get there in time because I am taking the flight tomorrow night instead of tonight.”
Bizarrely, the flight from Shanghai to Manila is an overnight flight. It is scheduled to depart at 11:45 in the evening and arrive in Manila at 3:40 in the morning. Thus, I must cancel my hotel reservation in Manila and book one in Shanghai for tonight — quickly.
“Is access to the Internet in this airport free of charge?” I asked.
She replied no; but that I can purchase access at an Internet café.
“Does Shanghai Pudong International Airport have free access to the Internet?”
“No. You are probably better off accessing the Internet from here.”
How in the world does an airport like Incheon International Airport — supposedly considered one of the best airports in the world — not have complimentary Internet access? Singapore Changi Airport had free access to the Internet plus a whole lot more when I was there a few years ago. Now that is an airport.
No time now: I must get through airport security — and the lines are excruciatingly long but moving.
Once I got through all of the roadblocks and took an airport train to get to the terminal where my flight was scheduled to depart, I arrived at the gate, whipped out my laptop computer and found that there indeed was free Internet access.
I immediately canceled my existing hotel reservation in Manila and scrambled to book a hotel reservation in Shanghai. I wound up choosing the Hyatt on the Bund. It will cost me $100.00 more than the Hyatt Regency Hotel & Casino Manila; but I chose the Hyatt for several reasons — not the least of which is that I could easily find it in Shanghai. I did not do much research on Shanghai because I was only supposed to be here for the day. Hotel rooms in Shanghai seemed rather high — probably because it was a last-minute reservation and that I booked a hotel right near the Bund — but I did not have the time I needed to do some research, as boarding for the flight to Shanghai was about to begin at any moment.
By the way, the urgent warnings about a significant change in my flight did not reach my e-mail account until only approximately seven hours before my flight — even though the airline employee told me that the change occurred in September and that all of the Internet travel agencies were notified of the change.
“I was not notified of the change”, I replied to her as I started to wonder why that unnamed Internet travel agency did not warn me about this significant change sooner.
I checked amongst the plethora of e-mail messages which that unnamed Internet travel agency had sent to me — most of which attempted to sell me on airfare sales and lodging discounts — and there was not one urgent notice amongst them; although there was one e-mail message from two days prior with a benign title containing no alert simply reminding me to prepare for my trip. The schedule change was buried in there.
…so although I plan on contacting that unnamed Internet travel agency which begins with the letter O about why they did not warn me about this major change to my trip sooner as I had carefully planned out the lodging aspect, I will ask you: as I believe that it is inexcusable to inform of such a major change in an itinerary only hours before a flight — where most of those hours were overnight while I was sleeping — do you believe that I should seek compensation; or should I just chalk it up to another unexpected adventure while traveling?