SOPHIA MONEY- COUTTS MODERN MAN­NERS Some­times it’s good to fly off the han­dle

Af­ter I was told I’d have to wait 12 hours be­cause my flight had been over­booked – well, they saw a com­pletely dif­fer­ent side to me…

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Front Page -

Ipref­ace this story by telling you that, in real life, I am a fairly placid per­son. Slow to anger, I al­most never shout and would rather eat my own foot than “cause a scene”. But last week­end, ar­riv­ing at Colombo air­port for my 12-hour flight back to Lon­don, I reached the check-in desk to be told that the air­line had over­booked the lunchtime flight and I was be­ing bumped to the next one. This was 12 hours later, tak­ing off at 2.20am. In the mean­time, I would be shut­tled to the Colombo Hilton with a food voucher.

Well, I tell you what, noth­ing takes the shine off a hol­i­day like a voucher for a fes­ter­ing buf­fet at an air­port ho­tel. So I de­cided to Take a Stand and get an­gry. I was not go­ing to be a mouse on this oc­ca­sion, I was go­ing to make life dif­fi­cult for the air­line staff.

“THIS IS 2018,” I shouted at the check-in lady, be­fore re­mem­ber­ing what year it was. “I MEAN THIS IS 2019. HOW ARE AIR­LINES STILL AL­LOWED TO DO THIS? IT SHOULD BE IL­LE­GAL.” The check-in lady was un­moved and told me she thought the ho­tel had five stars.

I car­ried on protest­ing. Loudly. Why hadn’t I re­ceived an email or a mes­sage about the over­book­ing? Why was I be­ing booted off when, all around me, oth­ers were still check­ing in? At the “VERY LEAST”, could I be up­graded to busi­ness class for the 2.20am flight so I could get some sleep?

This sug­ges­tion was met with a shrug. “Ma’am, could you sit down while we ar­range your voucher and the trans­port to the ho­tel?”

I re­fused to sit and re­mained lean­ing on the desk. Sit­ting down would be cow­ardly. I was Gen­eral Al­lenby and check-in desk 17 was my front line.

There are mo­ments when pub­lic melt­downs such as these are em­bar­rass­ing. We’ve all wit­nessed one – some­one shouts their head off in an air­port and we all pull faces at one an­other, grate­ful that we are not that per­son. If your bag is over­weight, or you have ar­rived too late to check-in, then shout­ing at a mem­ber of staff is rep­re­hen­si­ble. Some air­port crises – a de­lay or a drone, say – might make you want to shout, but these aren’t nec­es­sar­ily the air­line’s fault, and so scream­ing at a hap­less em­ployee in a hi-vis vest may not get you any­where.

When it comes to over­book­ing, how­ever, I reckon it’s your so­cial duty to kick up a stink. I was booted off with a fel­low solo trav­eller, who’d spent Christ­mas away from her young daugh­ters and wanted to get home to them. While stand­ing be­side me bel­low­ing at the check-in desk, she was fran­ti­cally chang­ing pickup ar­range­ments with her ex in Lon­don. This was all the air­line’s fault. I gave them hell.

It didn’t do much good, of course. We were al­lot­ted to the 2.20am flight and that was that. Al­though can I of­fer a tip if you’re ever in the same sit­u­a­tion? Do shout and scream, be­cause I think we must protest against such be­hav­iour even if it has no ef­fect, ect, but, also, carry a spare pair of un­der­wear in your hand lug­gage.

“Ma’am, are these yours?” said the driver who took me to the Hilton Colombo for my buf­fet and 12-hour de­lay. He handed me a pair of cot­ton M&S smalls that had fallen n out of my bag in the back.

“Yes, thank you,” I snapped, tak­ing ng them. “I’ll def­i­nitely be need­ing those ose now.”


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