Have a travel related question? Post it here, and I’ll do my best to answer it as quickly as possible.
While anyone can comment on regular blog post, registration is required in order to post a question in this space. Creating your account is free, and you'll be able to see when your question is answered, as well as like comments from other users. And of course, you'll earn status points for offering helpful answers!
This space is intended to be more of a community as well, so please jump in and share tips!
My own epic fail?? or part Cathay’s?…
So I feel like i should have known better than to cut things as close as I did, but it was a legal ticket I bought. I had a lunch meeting in Beijing on Tuesday, so I took a late afternoon (16:30) CX flight back to HKG where I had a 1:40 connection to another CX flight to AKL.
A cascading series of mistakes, all CX’s (other than my choice to book a 1:40 connection, which in my experience is plenty of time to connect in HKG); some not unavoidable – like the plane getting a flat tire – have left me in SYD with no Australian visa and no luggage except my laptop and and a suit. And thankfully a change of underwear (learned to always pack that in the garment bag just in case).
When CX started adopting AA’s rolling delay tactics yesterday I tried to take things into my own hand – CX has codeshares and some interlining with both Air China and Air New Zealand on flights between China and New Zealand. CX’s ground staff in PEK said only staff in HKG could make the change, and I knew I was going to miss my connection. BTW, spent 3 hours on hold with the English-language CX desk in China – no one ever got to me, they only have one English speaker. The US line was closed and I couldn’t get through to the HK line.
Anyway, disembark in HKG and am met by staff telling me I was rebooked on CX 101 to Sydney, leaving in 40 minutes, and rebooked to WEL direct the next afternoon. I asked staff if I needed an Australian visa, and they said no, not to transit. Oh, and they short checked my bags to Sydney, saying that because of the interline, they couldn’t rebook my bags to WEL because my original ticket was to AKL (I was going to drive, originally, but delay meant I couldn’t). Not sure why they couldn’t but I went with it. Shouldn’t have.
Fast forward to immigration in SYD – “Mr. OCT, do you have a visa?” Uh, no, I just need to collect my bags and check in with NZ. “Sorry, you have to go straight to your connecting gate.” But my bags? “Once you pass here you are no longer transiting and are now in Australia.” How do I get my bags? “Check with the CX staff at the check-in counter.” But… “Ah, now I see your problem.”
Nice one, CX.
What I wouldn’t give for the EXPlat line right now.
Aiya!!!! Great story. It will resolve itself in the end and you’ll have a very good tale to tell. That’s how I evaluate these types of situations.
Do let us know how you solve this conundrum!
I’m not going to rub salt into your open wounds on whether this was self-inflicted after accepting the 1:40 connection time – I might have done the same thing if nothing else was available. The pain will soon ease and I offer my complete empathy and best wishes for an optimal outcome of what remains in this series of bad flight karma.
Hi All, it worked out in the long run. I’m in Wellington (WLG, not WEL – my bad) with my luggage. I must say I am disappointed in Cathay – not the flight crews – in fact, the crew on my PEK to HKG flight are the ones who proactively reached out while in the air to change my final leg from SYD – AKL to SYD – WLG. But Cathay’s online / phone support leaves a lot to be desired. And I still can’t believe that the transfer desk in HKG told me I didn’t need a visa.
But Cathay’s local manager in SYD apparently went above and beyond, getting my luggage himself and rebooking it on NZ.
And to make it an even better ending, the flight to WLG landed at 11:55 pm, right behind inbound flights from MEL and a QF also from SYD. About 400 people trying to clear immigration at once. To my surprise, and pleasure, New Zealand has a Global Entry line. [Update – it is a combined GE / APEC / Crew member line.] As the lone Yank, at least with GE, I literally cleared immigration in less than 5 minutes, while most natives were waiting much longer. Granted, it took 30 minutes for my luggage to arrive, as there was only one ground crew working the 3 planes. WLG has a midnight curfew, and the place was empty except for the inbound passengers and Immigration employees.
Anyway, will I risk a 90 minute connection again in HKG? Probably, if there is more than one flight a day to that destination. To AKL in the evening – no way. In fact, as booked, I have an 11 hour layover in HKG on my way back.
Let me also add that the QF F lounge staff were also great, getting Cathay’s local manager involved. They still wouldn’t let me in the lounge as OWE because I was departing on a *A flight. But there was an Amex lounge in which to spend the 8+ hours.
And SYD has some really nice shops – like HKG. Much better than TBIT, ORD, and yes, PHL. 😉