Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Posts Tagged ‘British Air

Love Travel, Hate Traveling

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The thought that we’re heading home in four weeks – we’ve been gone a little more than five weeks – not only underscores how rapidly time disappears down the black hole of time, it includes thoroughly uncomfortable images of the physical act of “getting there” and “getting home:” maneuvering the rental car through Bologna traffic back to its stall, manhandling luggage through four airports – Bologna, Gatwick, Las Vegas and San Diego (we also have to change planes in Phoenix but at least our bags get checked thru) — dressing and undressing for security checks, and scrunching in crammed tubes for several hours.

Why isn’t our luggage checked all the way through? We made our own travel arrangements online and, as a result, each leg is a separate transaction. By shopping and buying our own tickets, we saved more than one-third the total ticket cost.

As it stands, Brit Air already has cancelled and re-sked our Bologna-Gatwick leg. We’d planned leaving Bologna in the morning and spending a pleasant day re-visiting Crawley, the British village we’ve hung around about a dozen times on our European jaunts. BA canceled the morning flight and we leave Bologna at 4 p.m., get into our Crawley hotel about 6 p.m. and have time only for a quiet dinnerand fair night’s sleep before heading back to Gatwick the next morning.

It just occurred to us that we’ve never had a satisfying experience with British Air. They’re courteous and polite, but they’re also bureaucratic and unpredictable. We’ve flown them more than a half dozen times and, in each case, they’ve re-scheduled at least one leg of our flight.

When they had a direct San Diego – Gatwick, flight, they re-scheduled our flight back home to a day later. We fortunately had arranged a couple of layover days in Crawley and checked Brit Air before we left the airport for our hotel. Their only response when we complained was, “We called your travel agent to notify you.” When we told them there was no travel agent, we made our own arrangements, there was only silence. As it turned out, our plane was lightly loaded so we each had a row of three seats to ourselves. In a follow-up letter to Brit Air, I told them I understood why they have so many empty seats.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

December 18, 2009 at 8:46 am

Posted in Europe, Travel

Tagged with , , , ,

Made It

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It took a good night’s sleep in “our own bed” in Panicale to drain away a good portion of the travel thickness that weighed upon our minds and muscles. We got out of Las Vegas with some of its money – not me, but Bev‘s  purse was about $80 fatter and Ross cashed several hundred dollars worth of tickets before he drove us to the airport on is way back to San Diego. I dropped $19.65. Our Mandalay Bay room was only $35 (a special Bev got thru her many jaunts into Las Vegas via airlines and online). Our Virgin Atlantic premium economy seats were just fine for the 9hr 6 min flight. We were among the 44 passengers sitting in the 747 bubble right behind the cockpit. And we had two flight attendants.

Landed in Gatwick with plenty of time to catch a 1 p.m. BritAir flight to Bologna. There was space on it but our tickets weren’t changeable, even with a change fee, and we were told, “We’re very sorry but you’d have to buy a new ticket for 199 pounds — each.” I asked if that was both ways and she just winced. This is typical unwavering British Air bureaucracy. Polite but thoroughly customer unfriendly. So we opted to stick with our original plan and spend 9 hours in the airport. (When we booked the flights, we asked Virgin res agent  if we would make that 1 p.m. flight since our Virgin sked called for landing in Gatwick at 10:30, a 2 ½ hour gap. He said, “It’s possible but not likely” since any delay – Las Vegas weather or problems, Atlantic storm, problems at Gatwick with landings, customs, anything  — would throw us way off schedule. So we booked the 19:30 flight and, as it turned out, landed in Gatwick shortly after 10, about 30 minutes early..

On an earlier Virgin flight from Vegas, we had a 2 ½ hour window for a connecting flight to Pisa but we ran late ‘cuz of a delayed takeoff and some weather and flight attendants had to let us dash out first so we could make our flight. That would not have worked this time because we booked all legs of the flights online ourselves and would have had to await our bags before heading to the connector.

Could have bought some time – 3 hours for 30 pounds each – in the Avianca public lounge, which included some fruit and snacks and a well-stocked self-serve bar. Because it was so slow, the attendant said we could stay as long as we want. Problem was, I didn’t seek it out until about four hours before our departure and it wasn’t worth spending all that dough that late in the day. Did pick up a bottle of duty-free scotch and we had a quiet meal before taking off. More to come…

Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 17, 2009 at 6:19 am

Airlines Check in

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E-mail notes from Virgin Atlantic and British Air remind us of our flights next week: Virgin from Phoenix to Gatwick, BA from Gatwick to Bologna. All is A-OK, altho we cannot select BA seats until 24 hours before boarding in other words, when we can book on-line. No seat selection when you buy your ticket. We’re set to leap on line from our Vegas hotel to book both Virgin and BA. Will have to do BA from Bologna on our two-hour return flight and again from Crawley (Gatwick) for Virgin and USAir (from Phoenix to San Diego). We’ll see how it works.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 5, 2009 at 12:59 pm