You don’t think I’m just going to tell you off the bat what went wrong, do you? I need to set the stage so you can really understand.
I was traveling with a girlfriend to Cancun for a few days. As we had an early 7:30 AM flight, I spent the night before at her home because I live 125 miles from the airport. Before I left home I checked everything – passport, credit cards, confirmation number for flight, suitcase, etc. I even went back home to make sure I had turned something off before I was too far from home. Perhaps you can already tell where this story is going. We were even upgraded from economy to First based on my newly acquired silver status with United that I had earned less than 48 hours earlier. I was truly excited for this experience.
We got up early (4:30 AM) as she had the spouse of a mutual friend picking us up at 5:00 for our quick 15 minute trip to the airport. Knowing we would have time in the lounge after check in and security, we ate nothing at her house anticipating pastries, fruit and oatmeal at the United lounge.
He dropped us off, we made our way to the International Check in. We were asked for our passports. I took mine out of my backpack and gave it to the ticket agent. She surprised me when she said “is he going too?” HE???? What is she talking about? It was then when I looked inside of the passport that I realized I had grabbed my husband’s passport and mine was 125 miles away at home! Oh no! My heart starting beating fast and I needed to calm myself done and figure how we could solve this problem. Obviously I couldn’t make the next flight which was at 8:30 – I would just be hopefully getting home at this point. After much time searching for the best option for me, the ticket agent found a flight that left at 12:40 connecting in Houston and I would arrive in Cancun around 7:00. instead of the 10:00 AM I would have had. That was the best I could have hoped for and I was extremely grateful that it wasn’t late at night or even the next day. After telling my friend to go ahead without me and that I’d meet her sometime at the hotel we called our friend again and asked him to return to the airport, pick me up, take me to her house and I would be on my way.
Luckily this was a Sunday morning and it was still dark out. Not much traffic for which I was thankful for. Fortunately I have a cousin that lives about 15 miles from my home and is an early riser. I sent her a text message told her I had an emergency but not life threatening. She graciously went to my home, grabbed my passport and met me at a highway exit about 50 miles north of my home. I am forever in debt to her. As I was driving back to the airport I called my son and asked him to locate a shuttle ride for me to the airport – he is a bargain hunter and I knew he would get a great deal for me. I called my daughter and gave her my new record locater number and asked that she check me in. I didn’t want to find out that I had been bumped because I was the last one to check in. Finally, I called the Hyatt Globalist number and asked them to get in touch with the Hyatt ZIVA, where I would be staying, and let my friend know when she goes to check in, that I would be arriving around 7:00. I wanted her to know that I did get my passport and I was ticketed on the flight.
I got back to my friend’s house where I left my car, called my friend for the ride again and was back at the airport and checked in. I now had about 2 1/2 hours before boarding so I went to a United lounge. I told my tale of woe how I had the wrong passport, drove 150 miles to get it, lost my first class seat and now had economy plus. She took pity on me and told me to go downstairs and rest a little.
First thing I did was to get some breakfast, call my family to let them know I was back at the airport and that I was fine. It’s irritating when something like this happens but I couldn’t dwell on it as I needed to keep moving forward. I had checked numerous times that I had my passport – I just had never looked inside to make sure that it was mine.
Meanwhile as I was sitting in the lounge I heard an announcement about a delayed Cancun flight and that when they had more information, they would pass it on. My ears perked up. I went to the desk in the lounge and they said that this was the 8:30 non stop flight (it’s about 10:45 now). When I inquired if there were any seats available I was told “no”. Never one to take the first answer I was given, I decided to walk down to the gate and ask them there.
Luckily no one was standing in line at the gate agent’s desk when I walked up. I again asked if there were any seats available and as he was looking on his computer, I looked at the screen over his head and it showed one seat available. Excitedly I asked if I could have that seat. He looked at my boarding pass and said that it was First Class and I had an Economy Plus seat. I then pulled out my earlier boarding pass for the 7:30 flight that I didn’t take, and showed him that I was originally a First Class passenger. That one available seat became mine but I did ask him to protect me on the 12:40 flight to Houston in case this delay lasts even longer. While he was doing that, he got a call to begin boarding. How lucky did I get!
Once again I called my family to share my great news and let them know what flight I would be on and to change the time of my shuttle from 7:00 PM to 2:30 PM. I called the Hyatt Globalist number again and asked them to send an updated message to the hotel to pass on to my friend who should be arriving within the hour.
I put my seatbelt on, was given a Bloody Mary by the flight attendant when he heard my tale (he thought I needed it) had a fruit breakfast and then slept, and slept and slept.
Going through Immigration and Customs was a breeze. I walked outside and found the Cancun Shuttle representative. This was the shuttle that my son had arranged at $12 for one way. I arrived at the hotel around 3:30, got the key to our room and said a little prayer of thanks that for such a disasterous start to my day, everything fell into place.
I couldnd’t have done this without the help of my cousin Linda, Sue W who was the United ticket agent who initially spent time trying to find me a flight into Cancun, our friend who dropped us off, picked me up, dropped me off to get my car and then picked me up again to take me to the airport, my family for arranging a shuttle for me and checking me into the later flight and finally Hasan S who was the United gate agent for the delayed flight and managed to get me on it.
This was totally my fault. The United employees that I worked with reaslly tried to help me and I think it was because I remained cool, not panic stricken and I didn’t lash out at anyone. I praised them for the help they gave me. Flexibility was the key word for the day knowing that I wouldn’t get the same experience if I had made the earlier flight but with all the changes, I came pretty darn close. I needed to be open to not having a non stop flight as well as having a later one. Finally, I was able to ask for help and everyone that I asked for help was able to help me.
The take from all of this – we have decided to get some painters tape and put it on the outside of our passport and write our first names on it so it is visible from the outside whose passport is whose. Another idea is different colored passport colors. Just something so we know which is mine so this will not happen again. From every experience that we have, we learn something and generally do not make the same mistake twice. You can be sure that I will double and triple check that I have the correct passport – you will never have to remind me.