Saturday, October 12
Elizabeth, New Jersey
It’s the afternoon of Saturday, October 12 and I’m sitting in the air conditioned lobby of the Embassy Suites by Hilton near the Newark Airport. I’ve been here for several hours listening to guests check into the hotel and working on my blog. I should be in Barcelona right now. But I’m not.
Last night, Daniel and I were saying goodbye to Katjia and Matthew when we learned that our flight was cancelled due to mechanical reasons. We had planned to take a non-stop flight from Newark to Barcelona which was scheduled to depart at 11:59 pm. We were given the choice to rebook the following night at either 9:50 pm or 11:00 pm. We looked at each other in dismay. That meant missing an entire day in Barcelona. There had to be a better option.
So I got on the phone and called Norwegian Airlines. I was put on hold and waited. And waited. As the minutes ticked by, we checked online and saw with alarm that the 9:50 pm flight had already sold out. After waiting on hold for 40 minutes, we gave up and rebooked to the 11:00 pm flight before it sold out, too.
Unsatisfied, we headed to the airport anyway. Maybe we could talk to a real person and get rebooked to an earlier flight. At a minimum, the airline would hopefully put us up in a hotel. We had no place to stay.
We heard the angry mob of dissatisfied travelers at the Norwegian Airlines counter long before we could see them. The airline was boarding a flight with the same flight number at the same time our flight was supposed to leave, but it somehow was not our flight. It was incredibly confusing.
After a long wait in line, we were eventually given a voucher for a room at the Embassy Suites. We were told that the hotel would provide dinner that night, as well as breakfast and lunch the following day and late check-out. Most of those things turned out not to be true – no dinner, no lunch, and no late check-out. But hey – the hotel was super swanky. And the lobby wasn’t a bad place hang out and had wifi. It could be worse.
Later that evening we headed to the airport for the second time in 24 hours. As we waited in line, we heard that the 9:50 pm flight was cancelled. I watched in disbelief as the couple in front of us, who was also on last night’s cancelled flight, learned that they’d have to stay in Newark a second night.
Thankfully our flight wasn’t impacted. As we hurried to the gate, I reflected back on my fruiltless attempt to contact the airline the previous night. That phone call delayed our rebooking and forced us to take a later flight – the one which did not get cancelled. It turned out to be a stroke of luck – although it didn’t seem that way at the time.
Barcelona, here we come! Finally!
Note: we have since learned of an EU regulation where passengers are entitled to compensation if their flight departing from or arriving at an EU airport is significantly delayed or cancelled. We’re currently working with a third party to apply for compensation. Fingers crossed!