Here follows a true story and my biggest ‘wow’ of the last trip.
Needless to say, we left home a bit late [Marcel usually oversleeps], but did have enough time to do some last-minute shopping, exchange some money, fuel the car, and go. We even had time to check out some gear in Bucharest and to have lunch. And then we parked the car where we usually do and we were at the airport.
- Marcel, our flight isn’t displayed.
- [thinking and looking at the panel and thinking] You’re right, it isn’t there.
I was used to seeing ‘flight no. X going from Y to Z ___ Cancelled’. Well, it was surely not our case. We went to the information desk.
- Your flight has been cancelled. You should get to Wizz Air’s counter.
We did. There were quite a few people there trying to get help and solutions. I had however decided not to budge until I got one. A solution, I mean. Marcel was already starting to whine about having lost one precious day of holiday leave.
- It isn’t over, baby. Not yet.
As I’d started to hear all sorts of rumours and stories [about an air strike in Southern Italy... how come they were still flying to Naples, then? or was Naples in the North? :D] from the people ahead of us in line, it felt somewhat strange to fly to Rome and make our way down to Bari. We’d lose a lot of time. Naples was surely an option, but seats were taken before we even got to the counter and had our say. I was however firm when I looked the Wizz Air attendant in the eye and told him:
- Well, first of all, I WILL sue you. Secondly, you’ve ruined our trip. So, let’s see how you can fix it. Give us a plane ticket to somewhere we’ve never been before.
- Do you still wish to travel to Italy?
- Heck, no! We’re open to all possibilities, just make sure that we have a return ticket on Sunday evening.
- In that case, we’ve got London...
- Been there.
- Been there.
- We’ll take that! [and I said it without even batting an eye]
- Wait, let’s think about it. [Marcel’s always overthinking things.]
- Hush, baby. We’ll go to Andorra. [=a long-awaited destination, to soon be Country no. 46]
He agreed. I guess I did say the magic word.
We had to call the Wizz Air hotline and ask them to get us off the return flight from Bari and then got registered onto the Barcelona one.
It was a pretty great shock and you can’t realise it until you’ve gone through it. I mean, I was dreaming about sun and sea, Arabic influences, Punic wars, pizza and pasta and gelato. I’d get some of these, but somewhere else, a place I had wished to explore for a long time, but I’d constantly postpone it because I feared it to be too commercial for me.
There were cancellations to be made (the prepaid car and the accommodations), all of them charging the full amount as penalty.
Well, the risks of travelling...
Onto some new ones! Consequently, we booked the accommodation for that evening in Barcelona [ha ha... you weren’t able to do that only a few hours ahead in 2010, let’s say] and realised with joy that I did have two Unanchor Barcelona guides on my Kindle. We started reading them and tried to set our minds to sun [hopefully], mountains, and sea, art and architecture, winter sports, and – of course! – sangria.
Upon my return, I tried to amiably settle things with Wizz Air, explaining that it was their fault, that they didn’t inform me – believe it or not, not even an e-mail or a text message was sent by them to let us know. Why? Because we were practically trapped – at the airport – into choosing something they’d offer and act upon their negotiation terms, and not ours. Of course, don’t think that they offered us snacks or water or credit to call and settle our things [which we were entitled to, according to the law]. Their Customer Service operators lied by telling us that they did send an e-mail and a text message to let us know on the cancellation of our flight, a day before. And they specified that the case was closed to them. Could be, but it isn’t for me. And, as a first step, I filed a complaint with ANPC [The National Authority for Consumers’ Protection]. I won’t fly them ever again! And I do hope that those of you reading this will think twice before purchasing tickets from this company that shows no respect for those keeping them operating – their clients.
The biggest thing that I have to be thankful for is that I am safe back home and able to see my loved ones, while continuing to enrich my world through exploration and by forcing my limits. The thought of the plane that crashed in France after departing from the same airport we did two days earlier is still haunting me. Innocent lives were sadly lost.