travel madness

Certainly the 43 hours trip to San Francisco on Friday and Saturday was one of the worst travels I ever experienced as we were delayed, disembarked and left waiting in queues for most of two days. The August vacation peak weekend “coincided” with an Air France strike action by flight attendants and a correlated lack of ground personal in the airport. Rather than cancelling flights, Air France chose to downsize the number of passengers on board depending on the available flight attendants on that flight, which is presumably less expensive for the company. And so nice for the disembarked passengers, frequent fliers included. This was the Friday morning flight. We got rebooked to the Friday afternoon flight. Meaning six hours in the Air France lounge. After one hour delay, the afternoon flight rode for about 100 meters when leaking fuel was detected, apparently due to overfull tanks. Getting this sorted took around three hours, after which the captain told us that labour regulations prevented him and the crew to fly to San Francisco as it would be too long a working day. The whole plane was disembarked, which took another hour, to a transit area with hundred of people and no airline representative. Eventually someone from Air France appeared and started talking to people around rather than making a global announcement. Herding us back outside the restricted area with vague indications to get to another part of the terminal for rerouting. After more delays and chaos we ended up in another queue for hotel vouchers as the only choice was to wait for a specially chartered plane at noon the next day, our baggage being sealed and inaccessible. It took hours to get those vouchers and reach the airport hotel by midnight, before rushing back the next morn to another vaguely specified rendez-vous. This worked out more smoothly, except for another three hours delay waiting for enough flight attendants to show up.  This ruined our chances to get there in time to recover material for the race. Fortunately, our son managed to board an earlier plane [if last on board!] and grab it for us.

The worst thing about this [first world problem!] trip was not the strike or the cancellations, but the complete disorganisation of the management of the issues, with the passengers being herded from one place to another with contradictory items of information by clueless airline representatives. I figure this may be a consequence of the strike as well, the airport desks being poorly staffed for a major vacation weekend.  [Again, first world problem, no one was hurt and we just lost one vacation day. Plus the opportunity to write half a dozen posts.]

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