I cheated on Ryanair
Trip Start Aug 09, 2009
108Trip End Oct 23, 2009
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I cheated on Ryanair and karma got me good for flying on BMI Baby instead from Cardiff to Belfast. Yes, there really is an airline called BMI Baby, and it's the low fare subsidiary of BMI which evidently is much maligned in the press here. The plane even has a cartoon baby on the tail and I paid about ten bucks for the pleasure.
Sometime this morning my friend discovered that it's a 30 pound fee if we checked in at the airport so of course we tried to do it online. Neither of us had confirmation numbers and the website had no way to let us retrieve them. Of course they make it difficult if the number isn't written down when originally booked and that was my fault for losing my piece of paper. And to make matters worse,BMI Baby doesn't send a confirmation email with the info either. Even Ryanair does that and they let anyone retrieve the booking number through a variety of ways online. Basically we were screwed and decided we'd have to call the airline at a cost of one dollar a minute. One big problem...we don't have phones here that work and a buck a minute is a total rip off.
After sweet talking a girl with our charming American accents into letting us use her cellphone, we gave her a few pounds for her trouble. Finally with confirmation numbers from the airline, we checked in online and thought we were homefree. Fast forward a few hours after we breezed through security and we were just sittling idly around the departure hall. The monitor with all the departures started blinking delayed for ours and Cardiff Airport uses contractors who are really no help at all for all airline staffing. We were told we'd need to exit security to find someone at the counter for further details. Of course the counter staff are all contractors as well who really don't give a flip if travelers depart successfully or not.
Our boarding passes were already scanned at security so that meant we'd need new ones for the pleasure of another body search and I was assured there would be no 30 pound charge for it. The unhelpful customer no service b word told me to pay for passage back through security. I held my ground, said no and won battle number one with her. She then made us put our bags in the size checking unit and I asked her why since we'd already been through security with no problems. I finally got the bag to fit after smashing it into avoid paying to check it in. Bye Bye cookies and snacks in the side pocket.
Now of course she made us weigh our bags and mine came in at 12kg, or 2 kg over the limit. Now how can that be when it's been 8.9 to 9.1 kg on Ryanair all along? I challenged the veracity of the scale, and she said it would be 30 pounds to check the bag in since it was too heavy for the cabin. Since my friend's was 7kg I told him I'd just use 3kg of jhis allowance kind of like the carbon credit scheme being proposed back home. Customer no service B Word told me that using my friend's unused weight was not allowed and that the bag would be rechecked at the gate so she would know if I had switched items. Even pointing out that the weight was going inside the plane one way or the other whether in my bag or his made no logical sense to her and she was just hungry to collect cash.
Funny thing is while my bag was on the scale I took out a pair of jeans and jacket and the weight INCREASED half a kilo. I took out some tee shirts and the weight went up again. I told her this was b.s. and yes actually used that word. My nerves were shot by this time with her but not once did I raise my voice. She called the supervisor and said I was being belligerant and profane and I asked the supervisor to prove I had been anything other than a gentlemen. He told me the scale doesn't lie and BMI Baby's policy is what it is. Whatever!!!!
Needless to say I reminded counter b word that we were entitled to compensation for the delay per the European Union regulations and she asked how I would even know that. Well, for starters a sign outlining the rules was four feet to her right and I pointed to it. She told me, "That's just for Europe." I reminded her to check an atlas where the UK is and she tossed two 3 pound meal vouchers at us after grudgingly typing whatever is needed in the computer to produce the paperwork.
So my tasty birthday dinner at the Burger King at Cardiff Airport was on BMI Baby, and the double cheeseburger value meal was the only thing for under 3 pounds. The Black Angus burger looked so tantalizing and mouth watering in the pictorial ad but I didn't want to shell out two additional pounds of my own cash for it. Maybe in a few years I can splurge for that on my 40th birthday. Something to look forward to! Had we gotten to Belfast on time we would have celebrated somewhere awesome. That's ok...I will always remember my birthday burger with a smile and some greasy BK at an airport is more memorable than a regular restaurant. Sometimes things just don't go as planned when traveling and you just roll with it.
But back to the ticket counter issues. To get the weight down on my bag, I just started putting on clothes right then and there at the counter. My stuff was going without having to pay the fee. When I was done I had put on a pair of jeans over my jeans and put on four tee shirts. I gave my book and camera to my buddy and dared her to prove they weren't his to begin with. If she wanted to play her stupid BMI Baby games, I was ready to go head on and win. So through security I went looking like the Michelin Tire Man and the security agent just said, "Flying BMI Baby are we? This is quite common." I stripped the bulk off and put the extra clothes in my buddy's bag after security and just waited out the delay with not one announcement or update from BMI Baby.
Finally after three hours of watching flights leave on time ours was called but bend over here it comes again. When it came time to finally board the agents were strictly enforcing the one bag per person rule and she told me I wasn't boarding with my small backpack and regular bag. I told her I was and she said I wasn't. She had my passport and boarding card and said they were the property of BMI Baby until either paid 30 pounds to check a bag or consolidated to one. My buddy told her if she didn't give back the passport we would call the police since it was not her property. She waived the passport at me and told me she didn't care who issued it, it was hers until I complied with her regulations.
One quick motioning by my buddy to a police officer standing nearby was enough for her to give my passport back but she still had the boarding card. I really felt like I was on Concourse D in Atlanta and I TRULY feel for our own customers. I was tired of BMI Baby already and being treated like one, so I just shoved my backpack into my other bag and got on the plane which was a 1980s 737-300 with the original faded weird color blue cloth seats. When I say faded, I mean they were tatty and worn. Ryanair at least gives you a brand new plane with rich Corinthian pleather seats! But seriously, I REALLY, REALLY enjoyed flying on the retro jet. Stepping back in time made my night. I know I am weird like that but I love aviation and how often do you get these original vintage cabins?
So yeah, we got to Belfast late and walked 20 minutes through the city to the hostel at 11 at night. And you know what...it was completely safe with people out and about. Tomorrow we are waking up early and I will let you know what I find. We are taking a tour of The Troubles offered by the hostel so that will be great.
Where else can ten bucks buy memories that we are already laughing about?