This week, I want to share a story with you…. something that did actually happen last week.
It was just after 5.30pm one evening and I received a phone call from clients who were on their way to the International Airport to catch their outbound flight to New Caledonia. I say ‘on their way to the airport’, but the awful thing was, they were jam packed on the Highway and had been in a stand still position for sometime because a major accident had closed the two southbound lanes (the accident would have been a 30 min drive south under ‘usual’ conditions).
My clients were becoming concerned because they had not moved at all for some time, and even though they had allowed ample time to get to the airport, it now looked a real possibility that they may not arrive in time for their flight. On top of this, there were also two young children in the car who were now violently travel sick due to their prolonged time sitting in traffic.
The family were heading away for a special occasion and the flights are not daily, they needed to be on this flight to make it in time for the event, so everything was becoming quite distressing for all concerned, although they were handling things very well based on the circumstances.
I made two calls immediately – one to their travel insurance company to see exactly where they would stand if they didn’t make it in time, a definite grey area as you would need to prove you had allowed sufficient time to get to the airport, exactly what had happened etc. The other call was to Air Calin to see when was the absolute latest my clients could arrive and still get onto the flight.
I spoke to an amazing lady at the Airport Check In Desk and after explaining the situation; I was told that as long as the clients arrived up until 45 mins prior, they could still make it happen. We still had a couple of hours up our sleeve at the moment, but we had no idea as to when the roads would re-open, so it was going to be an interesting time ahead.
Over the next three hours, it became a team effort to do the best we possibly could. My client kept updating me every fifteen mins/half an hour on their progress in the traffic (which was not much for the next two hours) and we worked on documenting together the information we may have needed if an insurance claim needed to be lodged. The airport staff gave me a personal mobile number so I could reach them to advise what was happening and keep them informed. We obtained all passport information and pre checked in the clients over the phone, so that they would be able to drop their bags, collect their boarding passes and make a run for customs and immigration.
The aircraft was then delayed by half an hour as it had arrived late into Australia – I’ve never been so thankful to hear that a plane had been delayed! – and all of a sudden the traffic started to flow and there was a glimmer of hope that they may make it in time, even though it would still be fine-line and no guarantee.
My clients arrived at the airport two minutes before it would be necessary to close the flights, so they did make it!
The airport staff were truly amazing and went above and beyond, pulling out all stops to make this happen – thank you Karen at Air Calin and Kelly at Qantas, you were truly sensational! And I was quite proud of myself for helping make it happen too.
It was a terrific outcome for everyone involved, we all worked together – clients, travel agent, airline staff – to make sure we did the best we possibly could and to make sure we had done everything possible for our clients to make their flight.
A classic case of ‘Without a Travel Agent You’re on Your Own’ and one with a happy ending due to an amazing team effort!