I am writing this story of mine from Rome, Italy. I am on a vacation with my husband, and we are visiting his sister in Austria. We added 2 more countries to our itinerary and made it a 15 day trip!
Our flight itinerary from Costa Rica to Salzburg, Austria, was quite simple. We had our flight scheduled for 9.10 am on Thursday, April 6. Our destination was Salzburg, Austria, and we were flying from Costa Rica through Air Canada. We had one layover in Montreal, Canada, and one in Frankfurt, Germany.
The adventure started right from Costa Rica in the morning of April 6. For the 9.10 am flight, we thought of leaving at 5.30 from our house considering that Semana Santa had begun in Costa Rica and official leaves were starting from that day. For this we set an alarm for 4.00 am.
As soon as we got up, we read an email from Air Canada mentioning that there was a 1.5 hour delay in our flight time due to “pilot scheduling issues“. The new take off time was 10.40 am. We were a bit worried because we had only 2.5 hours transit time in Montreal, which was now reduced to 1 hour. We had transited through Montreal airport before and know that 1 hour transit time is sufficient. So we leave it on the airlines to take care of the rest.
The boarding began at around 10 am and soon everyone was on the plane. It was around 10.30 am and there was no announcement from the pilot yet. After a few minutes he announced that some maintenance papers are being taken care of, hence the delay. We kept waiting. Soon he announced that the restrooms were being cleaned, and we would take off after that. He assured us that he would cover up the lost time.
The flight took off at 11.10 am, 30 mins after the scheduled time. A delay of a total of 2 hours! At that moment, we got a feeling that things were not going to be smooth at the Montreal airport, but we still trusted the airlines to take care of it.
We landed at Montreal airport at 6.20 pm, Canada time. Our flight to Frankfurt was at 6.50 pm. Soon, there was an announcement that the passengers who had a connection to Frankfurt should meet Air Canada agents outside and collect new boarding passes. We knew that we are now rescheduled to another flight.
We deboarded the plane and walked inside the airport. Soon we saw a lot of passengers hurled near the desk where the Air Canada agents were present. We waited for our turn, but kept wondering if we could still run and make it to our flight.
When it was finally our turn to speak to the agents, we were left in disbelief and disappointment. The flight that they had put us into was due to take off at 6.50 pm the next day. Basically the same 6.50 pm flight that we had to catch that day. Wow, a delay of 24 hours! Can it get worse than this?
Well yes, it can. Just keep reading!
We told the agents that this was not acceptable to us and that we cannot afford to lose 24 hours from our Europe itinerary. They gave a standard answer that there was no other flight to Frankfurt with a connection to Salzburg for the next 24 hours, and that if we still wanted to try we could meet an Air Canada customer care representative inside.
We knew at that moment that this was our fate and that there was nothing more we could do about it, except asking them what to do for the next 24 hours at the airport.
For this they were happy to share that they would be providing us with meal vouchers, a hotel to stay for the night, and ground transportation from the airport to the hotel and back.
One would say these were nice perks! But 4 meal vouchers of 10 CAD each, to give to the 2 of us to spend 24 hours, redeemable at the airport restaurants only. Are you kidding me? Have you even read the menu of the restaurants at the airport?
Oh, but there was a more pressing issue to take care of than meal vouchers. We didn’t have a visa to enter Canada, we only had a Canada transit visa.
So we asked them where the hotel was, and if it was outside the airport as we didn’t have a visa to stay. They assured us that we need not worry as the immigration officer would understand our situation.
They instructed us to collect our check-in bags from the baggage belt and deposit them again the next day for our Frankfurt flight. This was something we weren’t supposed to do in our original plan, but were happy to do, because we would need stuff to spend the night at a hotel.
We walk to the baggage belt, and start looking for our bags. Since we had spent a lot of time talking to the agents, the bags were already lying there. We quickly spot one bag out of the 2 check-in bags. We keep looking for the other one, but soon realize that it is missing. My husband had put a Samsung tag in one of the bags in order to track it.
Unfortunately, it was in the same bag we had with us. So we quickly went to the “Lost and Found” department and asked them about our bag. They asked us for the tracking number, and checked for it in their system. The answer we got was very amusing. Their system showed that the bag was on the flight to Frankfurt!
We couldn’t believe our ears. How is that possible? Our bag was in the flight that we ended up missing. Were they that quick with the bags?
We were told that there was nothing to worry about and that we could collect the bag from Salzburg airport.
I forgot to mention
The bag that was missing had everything that we would need in order to spend a comfortable night at the hotel. Toiletries, cosmetics, change of clothes, etc. The one we had with us had all the gifts we were taking for my husband’s sister’s family in Salzburg.
My husband and I decided to calm down, and make the best of what was available with us. So we leave the airport and take a cab to the hotel. The hotel was actually very nice, and made us forget our ordeal a bit. The only bad part was, our toothbrushes were missing, and the hotel staff said they didn’t have any. The area near the hotel didn’t seem to have any store from where we could buy some. But we managed! We spent the night at the hotel and checked out the next day for our flight to Frankfurt at 6.50 pm.
Now here is another interesting piece of information. Our new ticket had a transit time of 1 hour at the Frankfurt airport for our connection to Salzburg. By research we knew that 1 hour is not sufficient at the Frankfurt airport because it is very big and there are many boarding gates. And since Frankfurt would be our first point of entry in the Schengen area, we would also have to clear the immigration.
This is why, in our original flight, we had deliberately chosen a flight with 5 hours of layover at Frankfurt even though we could see the option of 1 hour layover in front of us. But when they rescheduled our flight, they didn’t take anything into account and put us into a flight with only 1 hour layover at Frankfurt.
We finally board the flight to Frankfurt praying and hoping that there are no unexpected delays and we land on time. When we finally deboarded our plane at Frankfurt, we were left with only 40 minutes to catch our next flight to Salzburg.
We started running. It’s no joke when I say that we were actually running the whole time with 1 shoulder bag and 1 cabin bag each. We ran and ran and ran. We quickly cleared the immigration and the security check.
We then asked for directions to our boarding gate. The weird part about Frankfurt airport is that they have stairs at many places with no escalators. But we kept running even on the stairs. Our boarding gate was B and we kept following the directions with B written on it.
We soon realized that the directions were wrong and gate B was not in that direction. We had even asked at the information desk and even they had pointed us in that direction. But now it turned out to be wrong. We came all the way back from where we had started following the directions. This time we asked a security personnel hoping that he would have the right information.
He pointed us in the opposite direction and we immediately started running. We had only 10 minutes left before the boarding was scheduled to close.
I had finally given up hope by them and told my husband that we wouldn’t be able to make it. He requested me to just keep running and that “trying our best” was the only thing we could do at that moment. We kept running! We managed to reach the boarding gate just 1 minute before it closed and we finally got on the flight to Salzburg.
We landed at the Salzburg airport right on time. We were happy to be finally at our destination, but also a bit worried about our missing bag. We quickly got down and reached the baggage belt. Right beside the belt was a “Lost and Found” department.
I told my husband to go and check there while I collected our bag from the belt. He soon returned with shocking news. The staff had got a call from the Frankfurt airport that some bags were left behind and they were on the flight to Salzburg. Is this for real?
We still kept looking at the belt hoping that those bags weren’t ours. Thankfully, we noticed our bag on the belt. We quickly picked it up only to realize that this bag was the one that went missing earlier, and now the other bag was missing (the bag that we had with us in Canada). We filed a complaint, filled a form, and requested them to notify us as soon as the bag reached Salzburg. Meanwhile, our family had been waiting for us for 40 minutes outside the airport.
We meet and greet them, happy to be finally able to see them. We laugh about the bag situation and curse the airlines. Honestly, we two were quite happy to be home, to be amongst our family. Seeing them made us forget our ordeal for the last 44 hours. They then took us home promising to make it up with their sweet hospitality.
If you remember from the above story, the other bag had all the gifts we had brought for our family. We were very excited to give the gifts to them immediately upon meeting. And that’s what is supposed to be done with the gifts. But gifts would have to wait, I guess.
In the end, we did get both our bags. 1 month from now, we may even laugh and joke about our trip, but the 20 hour delay did cost us our precious time with our family. Are we happy with the airlines? No, not at all! Will we leave negative feedback? Yes, definitely!
But till then, I want to enjoy the remainder of the Euro Trip, and live in the moment.