A Qantas A380 Tale Of Woe – With A Happy Ending.

A little piece of advice.

No matter where you are travelling around the world book through a travel agent.

Take it from me, if you make all your bookings yourself and something goes wrong where do you turn to for help?

We had a perfect case in point.  We booked our US holiday specifically to travel in the Qantas A380 there and back.

The flight over was event free and very enjoyable.   The aircraft is remarkable with a level of space and comfort never before seen in international travel.

For the next 3 and a half weeks we had a wonderful holiday all over America.

It was in the days leading up to our return to OZ that things started to go wrong.  The A380’s engine flame out over Singapore saw the Qantas fleet of 6 A380’s grounded.

With almost a week until departure we thought that would be plenty of time for the fault to be rectified and flights back to normal.  Sadly no.

24 hours before we were due to fly out of Los Angeles I received a call from Qantas. It was an Australian voice but where the call was coming from I do not know.

She acquainted me of the ongoing problem and said we had to make alternative arrangements.  There was a huge backlog and we couldn’t  get on the Qantas 747 out of  LA Wednesday night or for  the foreseeable future.

However, there was an alternative, seats on either United Airlines or Delta.  I said leave it with me and I’ll get back to you.  To which she replied “There are three business class seats left on United and 2 on Delta. If you don’t decide immediately those seats will be gone and you could be going home via Paris.”

Now that option didn’t sound entirely bad, but I had to be back to read 7 News on Saturday night.  I chose the United seats.

Who knew that half United’s Business Class seats face backwards, and that’s what we had been allocated without being told. What happened to  disclosure?

The only way I found out was by looking at the United seating plan on the net . My wife Eve, who isn’t a great flyer was far from happy, the thought of flying backwards for 14 hours filled her with dread.

Have you tried making contact with a human voice regarding airline bookings?  It’s impossible.  I tried for two hours to find someone at Qantas or United to talk to about the problem but got absolutely no where.

Now this is where a travel agent is invaluable.  An email to Lucy Bellamy at Phil Hoffmann Travel in Adelaide started the ball rolling.

Next morning we  checked out of the Intercontinental Hotel in LA and had our luggage placed in storage.

While we were sitting in the hotel lobby wondering if we would ever get the mess sorted out Lucy phoned to say Hoffmann’s had spoken to Qantas and found us two Business Class seats on the next flight out of LA  (Thursday night) and our connecting domestic flights had already been re booked.

She then said go to the hotel front desk, ask for Andre and he will sign you back into the hotel for the night.

Everything organised from Adelaide.

Within 24 hours we were on the Qantas flight and heading home.  We cut things fine but despite the flight being diverted to Sydney to refuel (and that’s another story)  I made it to the Channel 7 studios in time for the news.

I’m sure there are some other travel agents would provide that level  of service but Phil Hoffmann Travel and in particular Lucy Bellamy will always get my business.

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