This a bit of a long read but one I had to share.
SUNDAY 25 NOVEMBER 2018
05:30, I wake, roll over and sleepily reach for my iPhone. Mother departs for Lagos, Nigeria from London Heathrow later in the evening. I set about her online check-in.
Surprisingly I’m unable to!
I check the calendar entry automatically generated on my phone upon confirmation of her booking, it reads, Sunday the 25th of November at 22:35. Assuming the Virgin Atlantic app is on the blink, I ‘pop’ into my mailbox in search of a customer service contact number from the booking confirmation email.
I open my inbox and time stands still!
Topping my list of emails is one titled, “Hope you enjoyed your flight”. The feeling is indescribable, words cannot do it justice!? My mouth is arid, my stomach churns, last night’s dinner makes its way up, my bladder contracts and I break out in a cold sweat with seemingly red droplets!
Shivering like one standing naked in the winter winds, I open and read the booking confirmation email. My worst fear is confirmed, her flight had been for the previous evening. Mother has missed her flight!
Befuddled, confused, stunned, bewildered, you name the adjective, it is me. I am numb, speechless and paralysed.
A bit of a back story… A few years ago, mother who is in her eighties, requests a seat in the front of the plane and since that initial taste of the pudding she hasn’t looked back, pun intended. Now she flies only Upper or First Class.
Flying First Class is by no means the cheapest way to get from A-to-B. To accommodate her desire, balls often have to be juggled. This time involved purchasing a lower class ticket and upgrading with air miles to Upper Class.
Back to the story at hand… I overcome my initial shock and frantically ring the airline’s customer service desk with the hope of rectifying the massive gaffe made on my part.
The representative I speak with, to my horror, informs me that nothing can be done. Since mother failed to show up for her flight, not only is a change of date impossible, but her ticket is null and void and will be cancelled, including her 2019 return.
The desert mouth feeling and all over malaise return, I request to speak to his duty manager and after much deliberation, I’m put through.
I explain that the flight calendar entry generated is out by 24 hours and plead that he help with a date change. Matthew, the manager, refuses blatantly, citing that the airline isn’t at fault and the only option open to me is to purchase a new ticket at the cost of £6000.
All I’ve said clearly fell on deaf ears. I upgraded the outbound with air miles with the view of upgrading the return at a later date. Here we are, a null and void ticket, which I am informed is now non-fundable and non-transferable.
I implore again, he responds,
He admits he has the power to honour my request but in this instance he isn’t going to, to quote him again,
I beg, plead, grovel, appeal to his humanity, request he take mother’s age into consideration, ask he put himself in my shoes, all to no avail.
All I get back is an ‘I can’t’.
He utters those two words over a hundred times in the course of the near three hours we are on the phone.
In adding insult to injury, he offers to refund taxes of £70 and my air miles. ‘A gesture of goodwill’, he says.
During the pauses in our one-sided ‘conversation’, I speak to God. He had previously admonished me for a lack of faith and challenged me to be more consistent and persistent, to persevere in all endeavors.
Not only should I believe, but act like nothing is impossible for He that created the heavens and the earth to do on my behalf, and now that includes getting mother’s ticket fiasco resolved.
I get off the phone extremely frustrated and dejected, no closer to my intended goal with my faith dealt a massive ‘below-the-belt’ blow. I physically feel the pain in my gut!
The phone call not providing resolution and not willing to take no for an answer, I head off to Heathrow Airport with the intention of finding a solution there.
At the Virgin Atlantic customer service desk in the airport, I meet and narrate my plight to a wonderfully attentive and sympathetic lady, Rosemary. She system checks mother’s flight details and apprises me that Matthew, the manager from the marathon phone call, has indeed cancelled mother’s ticket. My already below zero heart sinks even further.
Rosemary goes off to have a chat with her supervisor, Rachel, while I continue to pace, beseeching heaven to provide me with the equivalent of a Red Sea parting.
Rachel comes over, again I tell my sad tale, show the culprit of a calendar entry behind the whole mix-up and entreat her.
A team huddle and a phone call later, to Matthew, the ticket-cancelling manager, actually 30 minutes. During which he acquaints Rosemary of his shock to hear I’m at Heathrow, my extreme politeness to him and his questioning why he hadn’t helped me, I am offered the option of paying a ‘change of date’ fee of £150 to get mother on the evening flight.
In addition, my air miles are refunded which are to be put to upgrading her return trip.
My joy knows no bounds, I well up and offer gratitude to the Holy Spirit and the two wonderful ladies God used to resolve the situation. I literally danced out of Terminal 3!
My takeaways from this episode are, technology will fail; GOD is forever an infallible constant, and like the widow in Luke 18: 1-8, perseverance and refusing no for an answer coupled with a faith rooted in the Lord Almighty is a sure route to achieving one’s goals.