Earlier this week, I flew to my favourite city - Dublin.
Book the tickets online as normal. Check-in at the Aer Lingus self-service kiosk to get my boarding pass as normal.
My credit card isn’t recognised. No problem. Just use my passport instead. My passport isn’t recognised. No problem. Just enter my name instead. My name isn’t recognised. No problem. Enter my booking reference number. This isn’t recognised either. As this is the first time I have flown on Aer Lingus, I give up and queue up at the desk.
There is no problem. I am quickly booked on the flight and the pretty lady checks my bag and hands me my boarding pass. As I turn away, she asks ‘Do you did book a ticket for a colleague ?’. ‘Err, no’ ‘Oh - you appear to have made two identical bookings’. She suggests that I clarify the situation at the ticket sales desk.
Sure enough. For some reason, I have two identical return flights booked so I cancel one. However, the tickets are non-refundable so I am told to contact the travel agent who made the original booking.
So I call the corporate travel agent. I waste 15 minutes explaining the problem. The customer agent doesn’t understand why I booked two tickets when I only wanted one. I explain it is an human/computer/administrative error. I explain that I received a single confirmation email. Then she doesn’t understand why I need a refund issued. Then she doesn’t understand why the airline can’t issue a refund.
I explain that is absolutely imperative the customer is not billed as a result of this error. It is even more imperative that I, personally, do not lose the sum of £221. Finally, we understand each other and she agrees to talk to Aer Lingus to see whether a refund can be issued. Panic over. I board the short flight to Ireland with only a slight feeling of unease and a mental note to investigate this more fully on my return.
The following evening, I am returning to London. My credit card isn’t recognised at the Aer Lingus kiosk. No problem. Type in my newly issued, confirmed, 100% correct booking reference. This isn’t recognised either. Sigh. People behind me in the queue aren’t moaning. They are smiling, chatting and laughing while they wait. Because they are Irish.
I queue up at the check-in desk. Lots of frantic typing. Puzzled expression. More frantic typing. The lady must be dying to look up and say ‘Computer says No’ but resists. ‘Sorry I can find your name and booking but I can’t allocate you a seat. Sorry but you’ll have to go over to ticket sales.’
I duly trudge over to the queue at ticket sales. Finally I reach the head of the queue. A helpful Irish gentleman hears my story. He types frantically and looks puzzled. He says ‘Would you excuse me a minute while I just ask the supervisor a question ?’
I wait patiently for the outcome but I don’t need to. I know exactly what he is going to say.
‘Sorry for the delay Sir. There seems to have been some mix-up. For some reason, your travel agent has cancelled your return flight.’