So here I am, getting an extra day or two off from work thanks to Eyjafjallajokull. I wouldn’t mind so much if things weren’t quite as confusing as they are. Here’s the chain of information events:
Saturday, 17th April, 6:05am; my airline’s website: two flights going to Europe on Sunday are cancelled, mine isn’t one of them.
Saturday, 17th April, approx. 3:20pm; my airline’s website: all but two flights to Europe on Sunday are cancelled, mine is one of them.
Saturday, 17th April, approx. 3:25pm; a call to my parents: yup, Frankfurt airport’s still closed and will remain so until at least Sunday night.
Saturday, 17th April, approx. 3:40pm; my airline’s helpline: after listening to an awfully long menu of options prompting me to press all sorts of keys, I can finally leave my frequent flier and callback number. Cost of call by then: almost $14.
Saturday, 17th April, approx. 3:50pm; a call to my parents: “Need we send you care packages?” “Mama, I’m in New York. I’m sure I can find something to eat.”
Saturday, 17th April, approx. 4:20pm; a German news website: Frankfurt airport will remain closed until 8pm on Sunday. My arrival is scheduled for 11am on Monday, so on
Saturday, 17th April, approx. 4:30pm; my airlines website: I find out that all connections but two to Europe remain cancelled. Passengers are asked not to proceed to the airport.
Saturday, 17th April, approx. 5:00pm; my place of accommodation: I’m contemplating pizza, but then decide against it.
Saturday, 17th April, approx. 8:20pm, my travel agent’s website: I get asked whether the two-day-old piece of information on possible delays and cancelled flights was helpful to me. I click “no”.
Saturday, 17th April, approx. 11:50pm, call with a friend in the USAF: Me, “Send me a plane.” Him, “Sure, I’ll ask Obama.” We’re considering feasible options: flying people out via Asia, flying people out via the Canary Islands or Northern Africa and then taking them to their destinations on low-altitude flights, using cruise ships or navy vessels to ship people out.
Sunday, 18th April, approx. 0:10am, websites of JFK International and Frankfurt airport: not helpful in the slightest.
Sunday, 18th April, approx. 0:20am, my airline’s website: I figure out how to register my mobile phone number for text message updates.
Sunday, 18th April, approx. 6:50am, my airline’s website: flight tracker tells me the flight will be on schedule. No text message update received.
Sunday, 18th April, approx. 7:10am, call to my parents: nope, Frankfurt airport will remain closed until the evening the latest. A change of weather conditions that could affect the ashes hovering over Europe is not in sight.
Sunday, 18th April, approx. 7:30am: my airline’s Manhattan office is closed until Monday morning. I call their number at the airport, tell them about the conflicting information on the website. “You’re going to Frankfurt? No, no flight is going out to Europe today.” I inquire about the modalities of re-booking, whether I need to sign up anywhere for updates and how I’d learn about when flights become available. Alas, staff at the airport is as clueless as I am, but verify that no flight to Europe is going out today, ask me to check back on their website and with their Manhattan office tomorrow and to please not proceed to the airport.
Sunday, 18th April, approx. 08:10am: my brother’s called my travel agent on my behalf. They claim I need to take care of re-booking my ticket myself. I would, but… see above.
Sunday, 18th April, approx. 08:20am; website of Frankfurt airport: is down.
Sunday, 18th April, approx. 08:25am; website of JFK International airport: current information on my flight only gets available six hours prior to departure. Scheduled departure remains the same.
I don’t mean to be picky, but… with all those unemployed IT people and IT freelancers, wouldn’t it be possible to actually keep track of the news and relate it to travellers as it becomes available instead of uploading pre-made routine schedules that will only get more passengers to travel to the airport in vain?
I suppose I’ll have pizza today.