Patagonia travelogue 2009: day zero
Note: you may wish to skip the entire post if you have a weak stomach for travel-related melodrama and tragi-comedies.
Spring break Trip begins with what the Chinese call an auspicious start: my flight to Argentina has been cancelled. Mechanical reasons. Next flight next morning. My careful parade of connecting domestic flight and subsequent bus, straight to the end of the earth also known as Patagonia, is properly fucked at the outset.
Fight at gate counter with other stranded savages for as many vouchers as possible. Midnight, black car home. Scramble for a new ground plan. Call. Flights are full for next two days. Another airline? Exclusive ticketing office does not open til 4am. Stay up til 4. Ring. Surprise, no one picks up. Ring. Ring. 5am. “Hi, this is Aerolineas Airlines. Hm, tickets? No, I’m sorry, reservations don’t open until 9am. And that ticket you want costs a million dollars.” Ring up American Air, plead for help, restitution. Nada. 6am. Our new flight to Argentina leaves in a few hours, whether or not we have our connection. I gulp hard and look at our itinerary. I cut out a day of trekking, and excise our slack day. Call airline and take connection two days later. Email all hostels to say sorry. Black car arrives to pick us up. Back at airport. I have just pulled an all nighter for a vacation. Cash vouchers for shitty breakfast omelet. Herd onto plane.
Look, I am as grateful for the modern miracle of human flight as the next man, but there is something so artless in the manner in which American conducts its business, that I can’t help but gripe. Most airlines have a sense to pull out the stops for international flights: personal entertainment centers, free drinks, snacks galore, even sleep kits. American Air treats this as just another flight that happens to be 11 hours long. It is a hot bus full of searing blinding light. Babies cry — oh yes there were and oh yes they did– because they intuitively know a bad customer experience when they see one. Notice they never cry on the positive flights. Lets omit the emergence of my cough and congestion over these past few days; it strains the eye of credibility.
There is light at the end of the tunnel (that is, light thats not the sort daylight blasting through the porthole stubbornly left open by your neighbor because she wants to read sheet music SHEET MUSIC at 11am, of course who doesn’t want to read sheet music CLOSE YOUR SHADE you hag)).
We land at night and life instantly turns around. Reps emerge with an armful of vouchers. Here, sir, two nights in a hotel, airport transport, meals, and oh what’s that? You couldn’t book the next available connection because they said it was full? Pish posh, here clickety tippety tap you have two seats tommorrow. Enjoy your stay at the Intercontinental, buenos aires. More to come.