My First Late Check-In at the Airport
Di na ako makikisabay sa trending topic about the recent “Thrilla in NAIA” by Mon Tulfo and Claudine and Raymart Santiago which I guess a lot of blogs, forums, and in social media, are talking about. Anyway, the airport is a place where stress levels may go up. I have one experience, but at least managed to control myself and didn’t go barbaric. But I was a bit tense, since it was my first time.
I always show up at the airport, either 2 hours before the departing time (or even way earlier) or an hour before the flight if I’m done web check-in. It’s a contest of getting the best seat on the plane (always on window please, Alpha or Fox Trot). It was just recent when I started using seat selector, but not on all flights. But the morning of April 20th in Manila’s NAIA Terminal 3, something came in. It was my first time…and it wasn’t a pleasant one. My first late check-in. The first time I was left by my flight!
All my bags are packed and I’m ready to go. Departed home at Imus Cavite about 4:45AM. Done with web-check in and I can just whiz my baggage. I am moving down south as work opportunity arises, and I’m bidding Manila a farewell. It was easy getting a bus, was smooth all the way to Las Pinas. The Sun hasn’t risen yet, then…in Kabihasnan area of Coastal Road, vehicles started to crawl. I’m still 3 kilometers away from Roxas Boulevard. I thought the traffic jam was due to the Macapagal-Coastal Access route being opened for public. It’s just beyond the bridge…but I was wrong. It even went beyond—worst case scenario. I was conditioning my head to accept the fact. Got stuck there for more than an hour and arrived at NAIA Terminal 3, ten minutes late from the boarding time. The lady of the airline denied my entry. I was already beyond the “45 minute policy.” Then, as if the sky came down. Anger, frustration, disappointment…zen, zen…don’t get scandalous. Be calm…but it’s something difficult. I was about to leave Manila, and the stress was overbearing that morning.
The reason why I checked-in on the web was at least I get my preferred seat and remove the hassle of lining up at the regular check-in counter, since today’s summer. Also, you are given the benefit to at least show up 45 minutes before the departure time. Such convenience isn’t it?
But there is a down-side in checking in on the web—if you missed the 45 minute policy of the airline, “your ticket is as good as used.” In other words, you cannot rebook that particular ticket and buy a new one! That’s an “ouch” on your wallet! And that is exactly what happened to me. The airline agent calmly stated that I should buy a new ticket since (it is in their rules, stated clearly) that if you checked-in and didn’t showed up, consider it as sold. I didn’t take that nicely, but I have no choice, whether I like to move out of the capital and continue with the trip, or not. Zen…zen…
Manila’s Last Laugh
Despite conditioning myself with the worst case scenario, deep inside me, I was already flaring up. I was 10 minutes late from boarding time and I still could get to the gate and pushed me through with my 7:00AM flight for Gensan, but the flight was already full. Late and bumped off. Ang pait ng kapalaran! Yet I have to move on. I didn’t blame the airline for my fate, I have done my part responsibly by leaving home early (sun wasn’t shining yet!)—I guess it’s just, fate, and poor urban planning. Manila had her last laugh at me.
I have to book the next flight, which was already expensive. Good thing, the next flight wasn’t fully booked. All I have to do was to wait for noon…and boy the airport is just like Cubao Bus Terminal at the eve of Holy Week! Full to the brim! Good thing I brought my laptop and surf my time away.
It does pay to read the fine print on fare rules and restrictions, in which a lot of us neglect or don’t give a damn. You get to digest the next solutions or you’d understand what risk are you taking when travelling, may it be physically, mentally, emotionally and most especially financially. In the era of budget travel, prima-donnas, donyas and yayas share the same flight, same aircraft, same fare rules and restrictions, same accommodation—most especially from big airports like that of NAIA and Mactan in Cebu. No one is special (and recently, even people with disabilities on some airports and yeah…actors in a scuffle) except for a few exceptions (elderly, women, children, PWDs). And as for the airlines, I guess a need to “refurbish” customer service and communications may thwart stressing issues.
At the end of the day, I still managed to fly to General Santos City with assistance. There goes my 7AM ticket to the coffers, yet at the same time, charge it to experience. Indeed, experience is the best teacher for us, even to frequent flyers like I.
In case you don’t have a fare and haven’t done web check-in, try have it rebooked. You may have to pay for the fare difference and rebooking fee though, although it is still more affordable than buying a new one, especially if you need to go that day. Try contacting friends or colleagues and lend you some money in case you don’t have one.
If you’re not in a hurry, you may just book another flight on another day. Most of the flights within the day are already expensive.
Another tip: airlines may say that you have to buy a ticket at the ticketing office if your flight is within the day–that’s not true in all cases. Try also booking a flight online (if you have a laptop or tablet with internet connection) and check if you can still book your flight within the day.
Also lesson learned, don’t assume–even if it is very early. You might encounter things you may not like along the way. And given Manila’s penchant on traffic congestion, even a web check-in cannot guarantee your flight. Scrat early!
And one last very important thing–keep our tempers in control. In this era of social media, making a scandal in a public place has a multiplier effect once the scene is online. We don’t want to end up being the talk of the town–in a negative way.