Friday, October 21, 2005

Grounded

I have this knack for finding my way into situations that even the most average of people would have the sense to avoid. I don't quite get it.

I waited at the gate periodically from 3:15 until 6:00. Not a single agent showed up. Then, fifteen minutes before scheduled departure, it was announced there was a gate change. I joined the herd rushing to the opposite end of the airport.

Finally, agents gathered to direct boarding. It looked like a jet had actually arrived. Departure was pushed back 35 minutes. When boarding began, it was in small groups. I think they were being bussed out to the plane. When I reached the gate, the agent said I couldn't board. "You don't have a boarding pass."

"What's this?" I asked as I handed her everything I was given.

"Not a boarding pass. Mañana."

"What? You're telling me I can't get on??? I've been waiting here four hours!"

She told me to go back to the ticket counter to get a boarding pass, "para Mañana."

I was about to lose it. I told her that was not an option. I had to be in Colombia to take my motorcycle out of customs in the morning.

Returning to the ticket counter involved going through immigration and customs, and explaining to each that there was this little ticket problem...and my blood pressure was elevating with each step.

I found a sympathetic "Avianca" agent in the Baggage Claim area and he got on the radio with the gate agent. He told me to go back to the gate; he would try to talk with her in the mean time. At the gate though, the agent pulled me aside as I tried to explain what happened. Boarding continued.

I learned that, I was supposed to have returned at 3:15 today to the ticket counter, not the gate, to check in. Of course, I thought I had checked in at noon! I've never encountered this before, I told her, where you have to return a second time to the ticket counter.

"That's how we do it here."

Meanwhile, there was continued chatter on the radio about my case. She kept referring to mañana. I felt it was a losing battle.

Then she said "I'm sorry. I have three people explaining to me about it. If I had known the correct story, I could have got you on. I'm sorry."

"You can't get me on? Is it full?"

"It's gone."

"Well this sucks! I have to be at Colombian customs in the morning!"

I was livid. She offered to walk me back towards the "Avianca" office, leaving me at the entrance to immigration and customs. (I sensed she truly was sorry for the confusion.)

She suggested I go to "Avianca" and get a refund, then try to get on "Copa" airlines' early morning flight. My only option on "Avianca" is a 12:30 p.m. flight tomorrow.

At the "Avianca" office, everyone was now aware of my "situation". One of the women who works air cargo decided to check with "Girag" on the status of my bike. They wondered, if it hasn't shipped, would I want to pick it up?

I told them I didn't want to interfere in that process. Leave it alone.

But, she found out, that not only had it not shipped, the flight was canceled and it won't arrive in Colombia until Sunday morning. So, I won't be able to retrieve it until Monday!

And my payment was processed with the evening closing, making a refund impossible, or at least difficult. So, I told them to book me on tomorrow's 12:30 flight. I was told (with a smile) to "return to the counter at 9:30 a.m. for my boarding pass. This time I understood.

So, I was now without a boarding pass, which means I have no access to the waiting lounges. I'm stuck between the terminal entrance and ticketed passenger areas, no man's land, until 9:30 a.m.

Of course a more reasonable, and less stubborn person would make the most of it and simply take a taxi to a hotel. But the hotels are a long way, and I don't want to pay, so I'll just "suffer" through.

There is this imaginary line between Central and South America that I'm having the damnedest time trying to cross!

2 comments:

Drew Kampion said...

Hey Bro, sorry for your discomfort and angst, but ... soon you will be with your beloved Deutsch bike in Bogota and the adventure will continue ... and maybe it will be dry-dry-dry for a while!

timtraveler said...

It is what it is. (Or as we used to say, "the play is written".)