Raspberry Blog Part 1

May 29, 2008 -

John Heald

Sometimes I feel I have become a grumpy old man especially since I have this wonderful forum to share my misgivings on.

This is the first of a few raspberry-flavored blogs for today as we begin our journey to Italy. Well, its 7:30 am and I am feeling as grumpy as the snakes that the late great Steve Irwin used to grab while they were enjoying a bit of sun before eating a baby Meercat.

The reason for my grumpiness is, for regular readers not going to be a shocker ………airports and airlines.

The disclaimer at the side of my blog thingy will come in useful today especially when I say things like Easy Jet are idiots and have no more right to call themselves Easy than I have the right to appear in a Calvin Klein underwear commercial.

Before I tell you why, you are probably asking “if they are so bad why does he keep flying with them?” …..Good question. There are two answers. Firstly, Easy Jet flies out of my local airport Stanstead and this means I don’t have to travel to Gatwick or Heathrow which are 2-plus hours further away…..Stanstead is only a 20-minute drive. Secondly, I am the eternal optimist and every time I fly Easy Jet I live in hope that they have discovered the words “customer service” in the dictionary and things will be so much better…………what an idiot I am……….they had not discovered the words customer service and were instead adopting a policy of…..Couldn’t Care Less.

There were 11 flights all leaving within an hour or so and this meant that hundreds of people would all be checking in at the same time…….that did not concern me because I had been sensible and paid for something called “speedy boarding”……have a look at this on easyjet.com.

Speedy boarding costs an extra $50 and you because Easy Jet has unassigned seating you are guaranteed a separate check in desk and priority boarding.

If only someone had told the employees about that. The check in area was in chaos and it looked like someone had said that Uma Thurman, Kate Moss, George Hamilton and Todd English were checking in passengers and they were naked.

I looked for the Promised Land that was the “speedy boarding” check in desk but there was no sign of this oasis. I would have asked a staff member but they had obviously all buggered off for a cuppa tea. Eventually Heidi saw the ticket desk and leaving me with the bags she went off to ask. I saw her face a few minutes later and it reminded me of the time I had accidentally put her favorite pair of jeans in the charity bag…..I knew she was not happy.

She had asked about the speedy boarding check in desk and was told that because so many passengers were checking in at the same time the desks were open to everyone ……..speedy boarding therefore took 43 minutes of standing in line and behind me was a kid who screamed the entire time right in my ear……..so far there was nothing Easy or Speedy about the service this airline was providing and I was as happy as a rabbit in Gordon Ramsey’s kitchen.

Eventually we reached the check in desk. Unfortunately Uma had left and been replaced by a young man called Ashi who was either extremely constipated or had discovered that Garfield his cat had peed in his bowl of Cheerios this morning…….I had expected an apology not someone with a face like a slapped arse.

I asked Ashi for a refund for my speedy boarding but without even looking up from his computer he told me that it was non-refundable. However, his eyes did meet mine and they were bright and shinning when he told me that my three bags were overweight and I had to pay £150…………I am not a violent man but Ashi was very close to having my foot speed boarded into his bottom………however, I paid the money and once I saw my bags disappear down the conveyor belt I left Ashi with the words “Have a nice day, try some Ex-Lax” …..He was…….unmoved.

It’s not the money you know — actually Carnival will reimburse me — it’s not the waiting, it wasn’t even the lack of organization…..it was the lack of care and consideration to us, the paying guests.

When we first brought the Carnival Liberty to Europe I made some fundamental mistakes during our debarkation of 2,000 guests on the various tours. During this time myself and the staff were there, listening and apologizing for the time spent in line……it made a huge difference ………….not to everyone…….there were still some very upset people……..but on the most part people appreciated that we were there and we cared.

Easy Jet are a no frills airline but I am sure Andy Harrison, the company’s Chief Executive, would have been truly embarrassed today to be the leader of an airline that could not have cared less……….maybe a blogger can forward this to him……I don’t want anything…..not even an apology……but I would like five minutes of his time so he can come onboard and see how with just a few smiles and some caring a difficult situation can be made so much better for everyone.

Well, it’s time to turn off the raspberry as we are preparing to take off………35 minutes late I may add which the Captain said was because of busy traffic.

Onboard we have all the elements of a disaster movie. We have a large group of teens, two men in Army Uniforms and yes……we have four Nuns seated across the aisle from me……..if Shelly Winters boards the plane I am getting off.

Another raspberry blog coming soon so please check by later or visit the speedy blogging line.

John and Heidi

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.