And then things went to hell. That's the best way to title the day in which we were traveling from London to Slovenia. This blog entry only describes the trip to the airport...
Our flight out of Standsted Airport was at 1 pm which isn't a big airport so we weren't that worried about getting to our gate but we were flying with Ryanair and they have a zero tolerance policy if you're late. I got burned by them one other time when we were 3 minutes late and they refused to let us get in line. I think I swore to never fly with them again but I'm not sure. We'll settle that a bit later in this post.
To make sure we don't have any problems with Ryanair we decide to include 2 hours of padding in our trip so we left our apartment at 8:30 am. The bus ride to Liverpool station would be less than an hour leaving us the full 2 hours just in case.
We arrived in Liverpool station on time and decided to pick up some pasties to eat so we don't have to eat at the airport. As soon as we finished off the pasties we headed to our train platform just in time to realize we had 1 minute left and they were only boarding the cars are the far end of the train. Not looking forward to running with a wheelchair and a 75 year old lady we elected to take the next train and returned to the concourse to watch the sign for the next train.
The next train was canceled but there's another one in 10 minutes so we waited.
About 4 minutes before the train was scheduled to arrive it was canceled. We waited for the next one coming in 15 minutes.
About 4 minutes before it's to supposed to arrive it's canceled. What's the odds that three trains in a row are canceled?
We'd now blown 40 minutes of our padding and the odds that three trains were canceled is very very low. The chances are there's something wrong with the track but there hasn't been any announcements. I followed my gut instinct and approached the information booth to ask. “Oh, there's a signalling problem on that track so all future trains are canceled, but you can take a National Express bus outside on the street”. They knew they were all canceled and let us stand there watching the sign for 40 minutes!
I grabed the wheelchair and told everyone to beeline it for the curb and upon arriving we found ourselves standing in a line of 50 people. The current bus is pulling away and the next one is in 30 minutes but we have a full bus load of people in line ahead of us. It takes an hour for the bus to get to the airport. Forty minutes wasted inside plus 60 minutes for the bus after the next one plus a 60 minutes travel time = 10 minutes late.
Here's the conundrum:
- All of our accommodations in Slovenia, Croatia and Italy are already booked and paid for.
- Some of them have a strict reservation policy where we get only 50% back if we cancel.
- New plane tickets the following day will be $800 total plus the cost of staying in London short notice for another day which we can't really afford
If we miss this flight we would have to cancel all of our accommodations, get whatever money back we could and go somewhere cheap (not England) and hole up for a month – probably France.
Our only real choice is to get on that plane using whatever means necessary and as long as it costs less than new tickets. Just then a taxi pulled up and said he'd take us for 200 quid. Yes, that's $320 USD for a taxi ride to the airport. We had no other option but to accept.
An hour later we've arrived at Stansted Airport and I proceeded to the Ryanair desk to print out our boarding passes. The nice lady said we'd have to see an agent since she didn't have the ability to charge us. Charge us? That's right, it's going to be 75 pounds ($120 USD) to print our boarding passes! Are you nuts? She did say that we could use the Internet computers and print our own for much less so we head to the Internet computers and attempt to print them. The computers don't work very well but I eventually get logged in. We have 30 minutes left to check-in.
Previously I tried to insert our birth-dates and it only accepted strange date ranges. My daughter was born in 2000 but it only accepted years up to 1998. My other daughter was born in 1997 but would only accept 1996 or less. I try again on the Internet computers and we've run out of time. You can only check-in up to an hour before. I return to the Ryanair booth and explain that the dropdown wasn't accepting the correct dates so I couldn't check two people in. He says there's nothing wrong with the website. I insist that it will not let me put in the correct information and that I can tell him what the problem is as I write code for a living. I'm beginning to be visibly angry.
- I buy tickets on Ryanair.com
- I try to check-in and it doesn't let me enter the correct birth-dates for two people
- I don't print the boarding passes since I can't enter the right information.
- I tell this to the Ryanair person and he tells me I'm lying and it's going to cost 45 pounds per person to check us in for a total of about $350 USD.
- The plane tickets cost me $200 USD.
He's going to charge me double the price of the plane tickets to check us in and print our boarding passes! This is the worst airline in the skies!
Those of you who know me know that I have a great deal of patience which is part of being a teacher. I rarely ever get angry. I wasn't angry now, I was visibly angry. No, I was livid. My veins were bulging in my neck and my face was red.
Me: “This is what I fucking do for a living – your website is broken!”
He looked at me and said 'The website is fine otherwise we would have heard from users”
Me: “I'm telling you NOW!”
I very nearly went to jail right there when another Ryanair employee showed up and asked if he could help someone on the other side of the booth. We followed him. We had 4 minutes left to check-in.
He told me he'd only charge me for checking in 2 people as the other 3 were already checked in for a total of $200 USD. Yes, we paid them as much to print our boarding passes as it costs to fly an airplane 1000 miles. Stupid stupid company.
I will NEVER EVER fly Ryanair again. I don't care if they have a $1 flight and everyone else is $1000. I will never give my money to such a horrible company. I get it that they're cheap and you can't expect much but cheap does not mean evil. These people are evil. What incentive do they have to keep their website working properly if they make that kind of money from it not working?
The day is not over, but you have to give me a moment to compose myself. I feel angry even thinking about it.
The last time I flew out of Stansted Airport it was quite small. Since then they've added a really long gangway and a bunch of new gates. They've also made it impossible to walk from one corner of the square terminal building to the other corner. They've built this maze that winds you in zig-zag fashion through every single show selling perfume and bad jewelry in the building. We have 30 minutes to board the plane and they've made a 5 minute walk take 20 leaving 10 minutes to get to the last gate on the end of the terminal. Kris and Leah went ahead while I brought up the rear with the wheelchair and mother. I thought my mom was going to have a heart attack or pass out. She was very near expiring when we finally caught up to the others and we boarded the plane. Yes, we got on it right before it took off. Now all we had to do is sit back and enjoy the shitting flying experience of Ryanair.