18 February 2007

Our Dramatic Voyage to Paris

It is Friday afternoon. GLH and I sit on the train with our packed luggage, our camera bag and our plane reservations printed off. We are on schedule to get to the airport with plenty of time to check in and have a quick dinner at the sushi bar. We are going to Paris for the weekend and we are just enjoying the moment.

As the train pulls away from the Zürich Hauptbahnhof, GLH looks at me and says, "Did you remember to bring the passports?"

A very, very bad word escapes my mouth.

Neither of us has brought our passports. Which tends to make international travel difficult.

After a quick discussion, GLH jumps off the train at the next stop. His job is to get back to the apartment to get our passports and return to the airport as fast as he can.

I continue to the airport with our luggage. My job is to discover if we can take a later flight if GLH is unable to return in time.

A quick discussion at the check-in desk proves to be disheartening. Unfortunately, our tickets are both non-changeable and non-refundable. And a telephone call to GLH confirms that there is no way he can be back in time.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I walk back to the ticket counter and launch into my story.

Me: My husband and I have just done something very, very stupid. We are supposed to be on the flight to Paris leaving in only 45 minutes. But we forgot our passports at home. He's going back to get our passports, but we don't think he'll return in time. Is there any way you could possibly put us on the next flight.

Ticket Agent: I'll check the flight status. (clackety-clack on the keyboard) The flight is only half full. Let me see your reservation. (more clackety-clack) I am so sorry. These tickets cannot be changed and are not refundable.

Me: Please. I am begging you. Isn't there something you could possibly do?

Ticket agent does not look away from me. Excellent sign.

Me: I purchased these tickets as a Valentine's Day gift for my husband. It was meant to be our romantic weekend in Paris.

I see a slight softening in the woman's face and press on.

Me: It isn't going to be a very romantic Paris weekend if we cannot even get there.

With these final words I allow a couple of tears to run slowly down my cheek.

The ticket agent looks me in the eyes. I hold her gaze. Then she gives a slight nod and a determined expression comes over her face.

Five minutes of constant clackety-clackety-clacking. I watch her without saying a word, my heart thumping in my chest.

Finally she has a slight smile. After another nod and a bit more clackety-clack, she looks at me and says: I've had to tell a small lie about why you didn't get to the airport on time. But you are booked and confirmed on the next flight. Can your husband be back in time?

I am overjoyed. I cannot help myself and I exclaim: I love you! You are fabulous! You have just saved our Paris weekend!

From the expression on her face I realize that may be a tad too much exuberance for a Swiss person to handle. So instead of jumping over the ticket counter to hug her, I warmly shake her hand with both of my hands.

As I walk away from the ticket counter I call GLH and say: Get back here right away. We're going to Paris!

I also congratulate myself. After all, I didn't Letter in Drama back in high school for nothing.


CanadianSwiss said...

Wow! You should get an Oscar for this! Very well done.

Global Librarian said...

One of the advantages of having worked more than 20 years in direct public service is that I have learned how to successfully manuever through a variety of customer service situations.

And we learned a new lesson - never, ever buy your tickets from an airline discount website. Those tickets tend to be the non-changeable, non-refundable variety.

Tickets purchased directly from the airline are far more flexible and well worth the bit extra you may need to pay...

Sara said...

very well done!

since we cross the border everyday and im afraid of forgetting my passport i got a large wallet that has room for it, best decision i made, all i have to do is make sure i have my wallet and im ok (well, i still have to remember that, but it is one less step)

Anonymous said...

My sister the crier. You know it isn't nice to use crying to your advantage AND still make fun of those who cry because of touching situations. Just keep that in mind dear sister.

Expat Traveler said...

holy cow!!! Definitely well done. Making a swiss person change their minds is hard to do!