Of Trains, Planes and Making Nice.
Brief recap: Because of a demonstration at the entrance to the Chunnel in France last month, Eurostar trains stopped running for several hours and, as a result, I was a no-show for a hotel room in London I had reserved weeks earlier through Booking.com.
After consulting one of the ombudsman-types on Christopher Elliot’s web site, I’m going to file a formal claim with Travel Guard despite the fact that their rep told me during the first phone call that it would be denied. The logic is inescapable: how can I challenge Travel Guard unless and until they have formally denied my claim? Besides, I can’t just shrug and say nothing because this is exactly the kind of problem that happens when you’re traveling. It’s why you buy their damn insurance in the first place. I will post here periodically if and when there’s any progress.
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Amtrak’s Empire Builder continues to have problems maintaining any semblance of a schedule. The latest problem was caused by the derailment of a BNSF oil train in Montana. Fortunately, there was no explosion or fire, but 16 cars at the rear of the train slipped off the rails. When that happens, and it’s a train hauling crude oil, it pretty much guarantees everyone’s attention. Still, it caused at least one Empire Builder to arrive into Chicago more than five hours late.
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Here’s a weird one: For an upcoming NARP-related trip to Chicago, I decided to use miles from my American Airlines Aadvantage account. American’s web site told me that for 35,700 miles they could book me on an Hawaiian Airlines flight from Maui to San Francisco, connecting with an American flight to Chicago. The flights were fine (both non-stops) and the number of miles was quite reasonable—we sometimes have to use that many miles just to get to L.A. or San Francisco from here—so I went for it. A few days later, I double checked the confirmation email I got from American and that’s when I noticed that I would be sitting in first class on both flights. Wow! I’m certainly not complaining, but how did that happen?
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My best advice to anyone on an Amtrak train who misses a connection as a result of one of the delays that can occur: Run, do not walk, to the Customer Service desk in the railroad station. There will soon be a hundred or more passengers trying to talk to those people and you really want to be at or near the head of that line. And, for heaven’s sake, be nice! No mater what went wrong, it wasn’t the Customer Service rep’s fault. What possible good will it do for you to take your frustration and anger out on the person who is there to help you?