Missed connections

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on October 11, 2007. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, car rental, cruise, disaster, Erica Silverstein, hotel, insurance, vacation package.

Debbie G. tells of a hectic experience as she tries to get from Boston to Barcelona in time for a cruise.

"Our dream European cruise this June began with some excitement for sure. I left two days pre-cruise with my three teens, but a connecting flight from Boston to Philly and then on to Barcelona never transpired. After pulling away from the gate and then pulling back in, we were told weather delays up the East Coast required us to sit on the plane until further notice.

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"Two hours later, passengers with international connecting flights were made to get off and sent to a re-booking line. After an hour in line, the agent told us no flights were available until three days later because an Air France flight with mechanical problems had rebooked most of its passengers on the remaining flights to Europe from Boston. Upset, I had my kids get on their cell phones and ask their friends to go online and see if there were any flights from Boston that night to anywhere in the EU.

"A flight to Manchester, England, was scheduled for two hours later and had six seats left. We told the agent, and she found the flight and booked us. We also found a connecting flight to Barcelona from Manchester via Frankfurt. With this all set, the next ordeal was to get our luggage. With 50 minutes before boarding, we ran to the baggage claim area to find that a decision had just been made to take the international luggage off of the original flight. My boys befriended a worker who kindly took descriptions of our luggage, took it off carts, and brought it to us in about 20 minutes. We made it with our luggage to Barcelona, only about five hours later than originally planned."

What to do

This story demonstrates a resourceful way to deal with unexpected flight problems. When Debbie learned that her airline had no flights to get her to her cruise on time, she found her own alternative flights on another line. And instead of biting their nails hoping their baggage would make the tight connection, the family found airport staff who could help them. Their safe arrival in Barcelona well before their cruise departure was clearly due to their resourcefulness in the face of adversity.

Should you find yourself in a similar situation, don't count on the travel provider to help you. You can't avoid bad situations caused by weather delays or mechanical problems, but you can be proactive and create your own solutions.

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