Get comfortable and enjoy the story of how I almost was unable to get on my flight to Helsinki because of a rookie mistake.
In this story, I am both the protagonist and the rookie and also maybe the villain.
Hey. Remember how I was all packed and ready like eleventy-nine weeks ago to go on vacation? Yeah, well, I was ready and DONE, you know. The night before departure I did my normal online check in thing which worked for the first leg (LAX to Heathrow) but weirdly the phone app wasn’t able to check me in to my connecting flight (Heathrow to Helsinki) but no biggie because I’ll double check at the airport plus carryon bag, it’s all good in the hood.
NO. Stop right there. It is NOT all good in any hood. The moment you try to do online check-in and your connection won’t recognize you, don’t roll over and go to sleep with dreams of champagne in a plastic cup. Get on your phone and use it to make an old-fashioned real-live telephone call (the horror.)
But I did no such thing. I went straight to sleep and decided to fine tune it at the airport. <— very bad decision
I got to the airport almost two and a half hours early so it should have been a simple deal. It was not. I waited in line at the British Airways counter and discovered at that time (plus or minus 60 minutes) there is no meaningful way for the BA system to talk to the Finnair system so they did not have a seat for me on the flight to Helsinki (???) and could not print me a boarding pass. So I tried calling Finnair but guess what! Finnair customer service was closed (???) so the ticketing agent called another person who brought in a third person and after two hours it ended with the jewel of advice:
“You can just sort it out when you arrive at Heathrow.”
This is a genuinely terrible idea, made even more terrible by the following:
- The layover was not really that long people
- The plane ended up being late, so short layover made shorter
- My Finnair flight required a terminal change at LHR
- You cannot get to your actual gate/terminal in Heathrow without going through security and to do that you need a valid boarding pass
- I had no boarding pass
Now in danger of missing my flight to London, I decided to wing it and walk to the gate and talk to the gate agent. While I stood in that line, yea another line!, I called American Airlines. Here is where it gets all good.
You see, I booked this flight through AAVacations which I love and use all the time. I fly mostly on OneWorld because points, loyalty, upgrades etc. and both British Airways and Finnair are part of the OneWorld circle. So the lady I got connected to on American ended up being an amazeballs human and called some people and did some things and by the time I got to the gate agent she had found a way to get the BA folks to print me a boarding pass. And that, friends, is the real golden ticket.
The rest of the trip to London was pretty easy peasy and I drank many champagne cocktails but also I had some worry about the Finnair portion. My connection in Heathrow was pretty short and until I was literally seated in the airplane and the door was closed I had mild anxiety (there was a big issue over my seat assignment back in LA, so I wasn’t sure it was totally resolved until we were in the air.) Then the door closed and the wine appeared and I played candy crush all the way.
The moral of the story: Do not make rookie moves. If anything seems a little hinky about your reservation or if your check in process doesn’t go well, call right away.
The other moral of the story: Most anxiety can be cured with some soda crush and a little bit of vino.