How much do I love Slovenia?
How much do I hate a certain low-cost airliner? A million times more than I love Slovenia. Here's why: I had to transfer from Heathrow to Stansted to catch a said airliner to Ljubljana. What was advertised on the web as a 40 minute shuttle was in fact an 80 minute shuttle. Hey, what can you do? Garbage in, garbage out. So, when I get there and my flight is gone, I start working out a contingency plan. The attendant behind the counter tells me that for 35 BPS I can transfer my flight to the next day. Well, hot dog! I've definitely slept in worst places than London. I commence to situating any one of a handful of friends living there for an overnighter. I'm ready to bribe it up; I have 1.75 liters of sour mash with me. (At Heathrow customs, I was informed that 1 liter of spirits is the import limit. I jokingly threatened to consume the other .75 liters right there. I'm not sure how the agent took that, but my bottle didn't get seized.) Fortunately, I track down an old crush who agrees to put me up and put up with me. So, I stroll back over to the airline's counter. The former attendant has been replaced by a new one. Me: Hi. I missed my flight and I'd like to do that 35 pound thing. New Attendant: Oh, it's already been two hours since your flight departed, so you may have to buy a new ticket. Me: Um, what?! Why didn't they tell me about this two-hour window when I was here the first time? So, how will a new ticket be? New Attendant: 120 pounds. Me: You've got to be kidding! Can I please talk to your supervisor? Supervisor (to be read in sugary, proper English): I'm sorry, sir. You must buy a new ticket. There's nothing I can do. It is after two hours. (Pointing blank-eyed at a computer monitor facing away from me.) Me: I'm just curious. You don't think it's bad faith in business to offer a service but not the conditions of that service? Supervisor: (still pointing): Well, the 35 pound ticket change is a courtesy. It's a courtesy to our customers. We don't advertise it. Me: You most certainly do advertise it. I walked over here, said I missed my flight and the attendant offered the ticket change to me. I didn't like...read your employee handbook to get this information. Supervisor: Well, this is a courtesy we offer. But it is only an option for two hours after your plane departs. Me: Right. But I did not have this critical piece of the puzzle when I was over there, on the Internet, tracking down a place to stay overnight. In London. So I could fly your airline tomorrow for 35 pounds more. I have to cut my little drama here, because I get paid by the word and my publisher is refusing to pay me for 9,000 more ideations of ¯It's a courtesy®, ¯We don't advertise it® and ¯You must buy a new ticket.® Suffice it to say, robot lady has a brilliant career in American politics ahead of her. So, I do what any red-blooded capitalist in my situation would do. I go to their competitor. Adria. Yes, I took me 3 hours to get from Stansted to Gatwick. Yes, it cost 25 BPS to ride that bus. And, yes, it was worth every dollar to minute forked over. Upon boarding, the coffee tasted richer. The salami sandwich had more bite. The turbulence was softer. The air stewards paid me more poignant compliments on my attire. Of course, all of this is rhetorical, because I never boarded the first airline's plane. Here's the equation I was working with: their customer service was condescending, rigid and counter-productive, therefore anyone else would be better. This column usually tries to depict some aspect of Slovenian life as observed through my expatriated goggles. Sorry. I'm not sleeping on you. Consider this a public service announcement. If you have run out of options and you absolutely must fly this airline and then you miss your flight, YOU HAVE EXACTLY TWO HOURS TO CHANGE YOUR OLD TICKET. Coming back to why I love Slovenia, I can now add Adria Airlines to this evergrowing list of great Slovenian things. (If you can't see me, I have my arms stretched at full-span and I'm making engine noises as I pretend to fly around the office.)