Drama doesn’t have to be bad!

Hello from Chicago! I’ve been here all day and just had lunch with a few FlyerTalkers downtown. It was nice, until we were finishing up and my brother called. “I’m on a ground hold with the engines off at EWR.” We were supposed to meet up at ORD, and with a three hour connection I figured he’d still be safe, although I started getting angry at myself for not having booked him with a longer layover. Generally when there are issues on a multi-airline award ticket you’re screwed, since no airline wants to take responsibility for anything. In this case we’re dealing with Air Canada (the airline that issued the ticket), United (the airline that was supposed to fly him from Newark to Chicago), and Swiss, the airline that was supposed to fly him from Chicago onwards.

At first I figured we’d be ok. Then they returned to their gate to “regroup.” At this point I knew we were screwed, to put it lightly. I was on the phone nonstop trying to figure out an alternative. I figured United wouldn’t rebook him on another airline to Europe since it wasn’t “their” ticket. Calling Aeroplan would have been a longshot too. But I was wrong. My brother spoke to a United agent in the Red Carpet Club, and in a matter of minutes he was rebooked in first class from JFK to Frankfurt to London, getting in the same time as me. Now that’s what I call an alliance!

At first I was bummed at the prospect of traveling alone in international first class. I know, I know, poor me. Then I went to check-in with Swiss, and the agent said “you’ll be our only passenger today.” All of a sudden I felt a bit better. Now, I’m not sure whether it’ll stay that way or not, but consider me a happy camper either way. When I got into the lounge I was welcomed by an overly friendly agent that explained I should stay in the lounge and would be escorted to the gate when boarding starts. She also asked, without looking down at any sheet, whether there was someone else witt the same last name traveling with me. I explained it was my brother and said he had misconnected in New York, and she immediately rattled out our years of birth and asked which one I was. Holy cow, how did she know our years of birth? When she realized I was the younger one, she started to chuckle. I also received a letter from the station manager thanking me for flying Swiss, telling me the flight time, and also telling me the captain and purser’s name. Now that’s a small touch that’s impressive!

So I’ll meet my brother tomorrow at Heathrow in the afternoon, and we’ll continue onwards on Turkish Airways. Now let’s just hope that everything goes smoothly for both our flights. I can’t wait!

Filed Under: Awards, Travel
  1. Great news for your brother (even if he doesn’t get to sample the new Swiss first until the return trip!)!

  2. Great to hear that sometimes *A carriers do work together. Enjoy your trip, can’t wait to read the TR’s 🙂

  3. My wife just flew (or was scheduled to fly rather) LHR-CLE (CO), CLE-DTW (NW), DTW-CLT (NW) on an award ticket in BusinessFirst. I bit of a convoluted path, but its what was available for BusinessFirst for the points I had sitting around in CO since I don’t fly CO very much anymore.

    The LHR-CLE flight ended up diverted to PIT and by the time they made it to CLE there were no more flights that evening. We were very worried (especially since I was still in LHR and tend to be a bit more … forceful in voicing my opinions on whether or not the airline is taking care of us as they should) since it was exactly what you were looking at, a multi-carrier award ticket with a misconnect.

    CO ended up putting her on a direct flight CLE-CLT on US (plus vouchers and some other items). I was amazed that CO handled it without even having their arm-twisted and even more to the point they put her on a direct flight even though it was outside the alliance. Still working on getting them to cover the luggage fee US charged since the luggage should have been covered originally as part of an international itinerary but US couldn’t tell that and thus charged her for it, but hoping that goes smoothly as well.

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