Misinformation Causes Misery

August 15, 2010

in Airport Stories

My story happened in summer 2009 on my way from Portland, Oregon to Frankfurt, Germany.

As United chose to cancel their direct flight from PDX to FRA, I had the choice between a trip with 4 stopovers or just one. Of course I took the single stopover option and so I only had to switch aircraft in Calgary, Canada. My carrier was Air Canada. 

I went to the United check-in counter (thanks to my buddy from Portland who has a Goldmember Status, so I could use the Business Class counter – my ticket was for coach), handed over my luggage and received my boarding ticket. I asked the agent if she would hand over my boarding ticket for the flight from Calgary to Frankfurt, but she refused and told me that I’d get it at the gate in Calgary. So she couldn’t reserve a seat for me, but no problem as I don’t mind sitting in middle seats. I asked the agent if I’d have to pick up my luggage as I’d be leaving the US. She said that my baggage would be checked through and that I’d only have to make sure to be at the gate on time. That was easy to say, because I’ve never been to Calgary before and I’d only have 45 minutes between landing and departing. Nevertheless, I was in a good mood and didn’t think of any problems that could occur. I have traveled a lot between the US and Europe and never experienced real big issues (except a 24 hour layover in Chicago on Christmas Eve 2008). 

The flight departed in Portland on time and I do not really remember any situation to complain about on board. When we arrived in Calgary, I noticed that I’d only have 40 minutes until takeoff.  I exited my plane from Portland and saw just one big aircraft standing next to the one I just left, so it was pretty obvious that this one would be mine to Frankfurt. 

If you’ve ever been to the Calgary airport you’ll know that this airport has only 2 levels. The arrival area is on the first floor, the departure area on the bottom. So when I got off the plane I could see all the people that were just about to get boarded on the flight to Frankfurt. I knew I really had to rush now, but I still didn’t worry because I wouldn’t have to pick up my bags again and I could simply walk to my new gate.


I was more passing than following the other passengers when I arrived at the baggage claim area. I was now very unsure if the agent in Portland was right, so I asked a customs agent if I’d have to pick up my bags or not, since I was in a hurry and the agent in Portland told me I wouldn’t have to. He said that of course I’d have to pick up my bags and go through security and customs again and that “not all North Americans are US citizens.” I like that guy!

I went to the belt and fortunately my bag was first. So I rushed through customs which was easy and found the next baggage drop off point for connecting flights straight ahead. I was 2nd in line and already handed my bag over, when the guy wanted to see my boarding ticket. Of course I had none and told him that the agent in Portland gave me instructions to receive mine at the gate. The Canadian agent so denied my luggage and sent me to the ticket counters upstairs… of course located at the very other side of the airport where I was. So I rushed the escalator upstairs to the next Air Canada counter where I was immediately rejected when I explained my problem. This counter was only for national flights. The agent sent me even further away to another counter that could handle international flights. 

I asked a gentleman in line at the other counter if could go first in the business line (remember, my ticket is only for coach) and thankfully he agreed. I explained my problem once more to the agent and I was told that boarding was already in progress and that there is nothing she could do for me. From now on I got really upset. I told her that it is not my fault if THEIR agents are stupid, tell me things that are not true and book a flight for me that I simply couldn’t catch in time. Well, I guess she saw that I was quite desperate at this point. So she picked up her phone and made a long phone call “Hi Heather, how are you and your kids?… Oh really? No I have already plans for Saturday night, I’m sorry…” However, 1 minute later I got my boarding pass! I handed my bag over and was told that I’d not only have to hurry, I’d have to run like a motherf***** (she actually said that – probably because I’m not a native speaker and she thought that I wouldn’t understand that). 

Long story short, I caught my plane. I was the last person to board, had a very nice experience with a security guy and was very thankful for the nice Canadian attitude. You might think now: Wow, this is not a flight from hell and no bad experience at all, but you should perhaps think about the fact that I’m only 15 years old, English is a language I’ve learned only in school for 6 years now, I didn’t have a cell phone with me, no Canadian money and no experience on how to handle such a problem.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Barb August 16, 2010 at 10:11 am

Sounds like you handled yourself quite well!


Bob August 16, 2010 at 1:36 pm

You did fine and you are already much more mature than most twice your age. Happy travels.


Ron August 17, 2010 at 4:03 am

Through and through this sounds like bs. And I'm calling you out on it. 45 minutes lag time to catch an international flight? Doubtful. She picked up her phone and made a long call while taking care of ticketing? Doubtful. She said you'd have to run like a m-er f-er? Step away from the crack pipe and your computer and stop putting bs stories on this site.


Dina August 17, 2010 at 12:54 pm

I've booked flights with similar international layovers. (Now, whether or not it was SMART is another question, but you know.)


xxx May 9, 2013 at 11:23 am

mother in law just missed her 1 hour connection in Amsterdam en-route to Vancouver

So Ron, go suck it you waste of skin, you know nothing, take your iq of 35 and go play with a box


Christian August 17, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Dear Ron,

I can assure you, that this story happened just the way it is written above.

The Air Canada agent booked these flight for me and I thought it would not be a problem since I would not have to pick up my baggage again.

The lady in Calgary actually made this "long" phonecall (approx. 3-4min) while she was typing something into her computer. And yes, she said this sentence to me, I don't think I understood her wrong.


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