Some People are Just Dumb – they think they have a right to goof up and not apologise
My conference in Savannah (Georgia, U.S.) ended on Friday afternoon. So I was slated to take my return flight on Saturday (June 2).
But I advanced my return by a day, with a flight on June 1 evening itself since I just wanted to be home early.
This turned out to be an opportunity for me to gauge how dumb some people can be. My flight from Savannah was at 6.15pm reaching New York around 8.30pm – giving me just about time to catch my flight back to Singapore at 10.50pm.
So I requested Hyatt to give me time until 3pm for checkout. But they said they were running full and wanted me out by 1pm. This, as I later realized, was a blessing in disguise.
Flight Cancelled: I came down at 1pm and headed straight to the Savannah airport though it was clearly too early. But on reaching the airport, the Continental ground staff told me that my 6.15pm flight had been cancelled.
So, without even bothering to inform me, they had booked me on a 6pm Delta flight to New York with a stopover in Atlanta. Uncle Sam loves to talk about social etiquette and consumer rights, but such transgressions do happen in its own backyard.
In any case, the digression aside, one look at the schedule convinced me that if I took that route I will be stranded in New York for a day. This flight will have taken me to NY only at 10.30pm and there was no way on earth I could have made it to the Singapore Airlines flight at 10.50pm.
The Continental counter girl nonchalantly told me I still had time to catch the flight. I got so annoyed that I blasted her for not talking sense. She was still refusing to budge, saying this was the best she could offer as there was no other flight that will fit my requirement that day.
No Apology: For all the mess they created for me there was not even a murmur of apology. I generally don’t take nonsense from anybody – even when I am wrong I often insist that I have my way. But this time I was right and I was not going to let them take lightly.
I created a ruckus and made her take a close look at all the options. She then found there was a flight to La Guardia within an hour. It did come with some inconvenience – I will have to take a taxi from La Guardia to Newark to catch my SIA flight.
But that was the best option I had, so I grabbed it and I was on my way.
Incidentally, as now my flight was deemed a domestic one (not international) my baggage weight of 25kg was found too much and I had to fork out US$25. The weight was 7lbs more than what is allowed, she told me. She also said she did not understand what kilogram meant, she can talk only the pound language. Now you know how clever some Americans are!!
Indian Cheat: When I took a taxi at La Guardia, I was glad the driver was an Indian though he spoke rotten English despite having “lived there for 11 years”, as he claimed during the course of the nearly 90-minute ride.
While the airport support staff told me it would take US$67 for the ride (it was clearly documented in the pamphlet she gave me), the Indian crook said it would cost me US$120 and reeled out a litany of road tolls to justify his humbug.
Assuming I was a fool landing on American soil for the first time, he went on: “If you had taken a taxi run by an American he will have charged you US$150,” he said.
Immigrants Give Western Societies Diversity and Bring in Fraud, Deceit and Corruption: This is what happens if western societies try to make theirs a multicultural one to give them a touch of lovely diversity. But you give this kind of Indians some leeway they will make it a fraud-ridden society as well.
Anyway, I have noted down the taxi number and even taken a photo, with my digital camera, of his licence copy stuck inside. I seriously intend to send the NY traffic police a complaint about this Indian cheat.
Extra Security at Newark because my Flight was Changed: My adventure did not end there. At the Newark airport, I had to go through extra screening because I had changed my flight. Not just because a bomb threat at the JFK airport there had just been thwarted.
As I just had my laptop bag with me as carry-on luggage, and since I travel to the US once in two months with clear credentials, the screening took just a couple of minutes. The security guy politely told me that “when you change a flight that raises a red flag.”
So, be warned, if you are traveling to the U.S. try not to change flights and schedules.
Having reached Singapore, I now have another thing to do – to complain to Continental (for messing with my flight and putting me to needless hassle) and to American Express (Cisco business flights are booked through them) and demand compensation.
–G Joslin Vethakumar