02 November, 2006

Why I'm Still in the Country (part 2)

(When we left our heroes, they were standing at the entrance to the Lyon-St-Exupéry airport staring at the list of departing flights wondering why they weren't on it.)

At that point we weren't really worried, because there was an Air France flight to Madrid at 15.20, and we could well have gotten the time wrong, or it could have been changed, and Air France and Iberia fly together sometimes. We were, however, looking nervously at each other and giggling.

So we wandered up and down the row of check-in desks for a while, hoping to find one that said "Iberia." I stopped at the Air France ticket-sales counter and asked the lady working there where Iberia was. She pointed vaguely in a direction, so we set off. We walked the length of the airport without seeing an Iberia counter. We got a little more worried, but still not too worried, because we knew that Iberia did fly out of the airport, having found the airline through the airport's website, and after all, the Air France woman had said that there was one. I stopped at another ticket counter, where the woman said, "Does Iberia fly out of this airport?" I laughed, said, "Well, I hope so!" and started hyperventilating. The next counter, though, was able to give us more precise directions. When we arrived we saw no one behind the counter and a sign saying that they were closed between the hours of 12.30 and 19.00. This was slightly more worrisome.

We went over to the information desk and asked the people there if they knew anything. They didn't. All they could suggest was that Air France flew to Madrid with Iberia sometimes, so we went to the Air France check-in kiosks and tried to check ourselves in to the flight at 15.20. We weren't on it. The looking-nervously-and-giggling increased in frequency.

We sat down by the Air France counters and started up my laptop. The airport had wireless internet, which was free if you wanted to look at the airport website and cost an arm and a leg if you wanted to look at anything else. So we looked at the airport website, and discovered that there were no Iberia flights scheduled ever from the Lyon airport to Madrid at 15.35. The only Iberia Lyon-Madrid flights leaves at around 8pm.

We went over to an internet kiosk, paid our 50 centimes for 5 minutes, and checked my email. Yes, we had scheduled a flight from "Léon" (which is how you say Lyon in Spanish, we checked) to Madrid at 15.35. However, to get from Lyon to Madrid takes a little more than an hour and a half, and our flight was supposed to take almost exactly an hour. It was at this point that we googled a map of Spain and discovered that there is also a city called Lyon/Léon in Spain, and Iberia flies out of it too. This trip takes almost exactly an hour.

So we plopped ourselves down around the internet kiosk, got out the salami and cheese and chocolate, and had lunch.

It was tasty.

Then we went over to the information desk, explained our situation, explained again because the man didn't understand the first time, listened while he called Air France to see if we were on their flight, explained AGAIN that no, actually, we had NOT booked a flight from THIS airport to Madrid, not even with Air France, were understood, got laughed at, got laughed at some more, laughed ourselves because what can you do, found the Iberia reservation hotline number, spent ten dollars on a phone call to Iberia, were told that we could not cancel our flight, no, not even the return part, and ate some more chocolate. And an ice cream bar. Then we called the hostel in Madrid and cancelled our reservation.

Then we looked at each other and said, "Do you want to go back to Grenoble? No? Neither do I." So we walked to the TGV station and bought tickets for Paris.

Now, while the statement that "You should always make sure what airport you're flying out of" is undoubtedly true, I did check the confirmation email, and the Iberia website, and NOWHERE is a distinction made between the Léon and Lyon airports. If you ask for the site in Spanish, they're both "Léon," and if you ask for it in French they're both "Lyon." Nowhere does it list a country. While knowledge that each aiport has a unique three-letter abbreviation (thank you Mom, and Laura's mom) is more useful, neither airport's abbreviation can be found on either the website or the confirmation email. Anywhere.

I think they must do this on purpose.


Anonymous Mom said...

I like the bit where you stop and eat lunch. The other day Uncle T told me to pass on to you the wisest advice he remembers getting when he was about your age. "T," the man said, "always remember to eat and sleep."

11:17 AM  

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