Something else happened last week (weekend, really), which could have been really devastating, especially for me. It has nothing to do with myeloma or strokes, but with flights and airlines…
On Saturday Stefano left for Italy…or so we thought. As usual, at a certain point I began tracking his flight online. No problem, in the beginning. The airline’s website showed that the flight had left more or less on time.
I checked back about an hour later and discovered that his flight had been “diverted” and was on its way back to Boston.
I immediately called the airline (which I won’t name…pointless to do so, since I imagine that all airlines react in the same manner…) and was told absolutely NOTHING…something similar to this: “I’m sorry, m’am, all we know is that the flight has been diverted and is returning to Boston.” During that first phone call, I burst into tears and began shaking (I never shake, by the way…And, FTR, my common sense kicked in after about 20 minutes, so I stopped shaking…but boyohboy was I scared…).
In addition to tracking Stefano’s flight on the airline’s website, I also used a website called Flight Beware (= not its real name, in case you’re wondering)…A handy Flight Beware graph showed that Stefano’s flight had turned around more or less around Halifax, Nova Scotia.
But…why had it turned around? WHY??? What had happened?
For three hours I tracked Stefano’s flight on every tracking website I could get my fingers on.
For three hours, more or less every 15-20 minutes, I called the airline, hoping for some news. And every time I got the same, standard, almost robotic answer: “Sorry, m’am, we don’t know what happened. Thanks for calling THE AIRLINE.”
Thanks for calling THE AIRLINE??? You’ve got to be BLOODY KIDDING!!! I know it’s part of the airline reps’ training (and in fact I resisted the temptation to get angry and/or growl…after all, none of this was the fault of the poor rep!), but really, under special circumstances such as these, the airline should really prepare their reps to handle things in a more reassuring way…and GIVE US SOME NEWS, for crying out loud!!!
Now, according to the airline’s website, Stefano’s flight should have landed in Boston at 8:01 PM. And that is precisely when Flight Beware–which, until 8:01, had been tracking the flight closely–suddenly displayed “no result.” NO RESULT???
I admit that I panicked and began calling THE AIRLINE almost every five minutes. Worst case scenarios popped into my mind, even hijackings, since the airline reps were refusing to tell me ANYTHING…
At 9:30 PM,, a reasonable rep finally let me know that the flight had landed…an hour and a half earlier…uhm.
Then, just a few minutes later, Stefano called. He’d just gotten through customs and had been informed that he was to spend the night in Boston. RELIEF!!! Happy dance!!!
He told me what the airline reps hadn’t: about two hours into the flight, the pilot announced that a RED light had gone on, that it was therefore too dangerous to proceed and that he was turning back toward Boston (thank you, Mr. Pilot! If I could, I would hug and kiss you, every member of your family, and your next door neighbors…Grazie!!!). So it was some sort of mechanical problem…obviously not a big one.
And this leads me right into the main point I’d like to make: what possible security rule would have been violated if, shortly after 8 PM, an airline rep had told me that my husband’s diverted plane had landed safely back in Boston? Why did I have to wait another hour and a half to receive this information? I can understand that the airline reps would hesitate to inform me of a mechanical problem while the plane was still up in the air, but why couldn’t i have been told that it had landed?
Believe me, when it comes to airport and airplane security, I’m the first to approve. I take off my shoes before being told to do so, I don’t mind waiting in line for ages (lots of people get irritated when there are delays, but I don’t), I’m super careful about liquids in my hand luggage, etc.
Speaking of liquids…I follow the security rules, even when they don’t make much sense…like when, a few years ago, a customs official threw away my organic hand cream because it was in a tube that was more than 100 ml…And here let me bring up a pet peeve of mine, just quickly: if I’d put that very same hand cream inside a few 100 ml bottles, it would have been okay. Same cream, same quantity. Yet, as I recall, you can bring a couple of your golf clubs on the plane with you. So yes, I don’t understand some of the rules…But fine, whatever, no problem, lesson learned, won’t make that mistake again.
As you know (see previous post), last week wasn’t the easiest week for me and my family. And then, what happened on Saturday evening with Stefano’s flight…well, I don’t know how I managed to get through all those scary hours, not knowing what had happened to the love of my life…my best friend…my handsome brilliant soulmate…
Well, this experience highlights the need for airlines to revise their policies concerning customer “assistance.” In some cases, exceptions should be made…providing, of course, that no sensible security issues are in danger of being violated.
But this is just my opinion, as usual. And hey, the most important thing is that my Stefano is fine. He spent the night in an airport hotel in Boston and left for Italy the following day. He’s now safely back in Florence…with our cats.
Nothing else really matters…
It’s just a story…