Reaching Stockholm looked challenging from Kiruna, however our SAS flight landed to Arlanda airport on 11.30 am in a bad weather of snow storm. We stayed on taxi for half more hour as some snow shovelling trucks were on work. I was not worried as my next flight would be at 6pm in the evening.
Once they cleared the snow a bit, we could get down. I headed to the international terminal to catch my flight to Paris. Unfortunately in Terminal 2 of Arlanda, there are very few place to eat. I grabbed a tuna sandwich from WH Smith along with a water bottle for lunch. Just when I had a bit and was about to have another, I noticed stands of growing fungus along the border of the sandwich 😦 Yak.. I hurried immediately to this store. A bored guy sitting over the counter gave my money back.. is it all about money ? how come in an international airport people sell such food ?
Frustrated, I went back to the domestic terminal and had a self made salad in half the price of that ‘fungus de sandwich’. I had lots of time to kill and few movies in my desktop, so I started watching incredible hulk while keeping an eye on Swedavia website, here you can get a constant update on Swedish airports . Updates did not look promising as many flights were cancelled. Around 3 pm they updated my flight was cancelled. One airport staff suggested, I should get back to the AF counter to get my rescheduled flights clarified.
Now, guys this part is most interesting service from Air France, so please give a bit attention. The lady behind AF counter told me my fight has been reschedule next day morning which will reach Paris at 10.30 am. I asked her what about the second flight because Paris is not my final destination. She confidently said, your second flight is unchanged. I told her, how that is possible, because when my first flight reaches at Charles de gaulle (10.30 am), my next flight already departs (10.20 am scheduled )!
I will never forget her argument all my life, she said : ” may be your first flight will be 10 min late, and you will be able to catch it” . I thought she did not get it. It is an international travel and between first and second flight, I need to go through security check, immigration and going to one gate from another, which minimum takes 1 hour. So I tried to explain her the same. She said, ” you don’t understand, this is best option for you that is why machine has given this” Then she referred me to another AF employee. Again I started from beginning to state my problem, again she said we cannot do anything, this is the best option for you. I failed to explain or may be they pretended they did not understand that it is physically impossible to board a second flight which is supposed to be already left when my first flight reaches to Paris. So, now they keep playing with referring me to one other and I got that is intentional to avoid their responsibility. I came to understand that tonight anyhow I cannot go anywhere and I need to arrange some place to stay.
My luggage was still with airport authority. I went to get that and saw a queue of passengers whose flights were cancelled. One lady told me this is the queue for hotel and food and taxi, so I joined that. In few minutes a kind ground staff from Arlanda came to note down my name, flight no etc and gave me the hotel name and taxi voucher. I went to grab my luggage and came back to the AF counter with that. It was late and I was hungry and frustrated with AF staffs’ poor customer service and cognitive deficiency. However, I decided to give one more try. Their attitude remained same and they told me you arrange your second flight after going to Paris. Now I was frankly angry and told them it is the same itinerary and they are supposed to arrange my flights till final destination. One lady sent me to a big queue saying your rescheduled flight is with KLM, so we cannot help you. But she said she will put a word. After waiting an hour and half when I finally reach to another customer care counter, the lady told me ‘she does not want to listen because she will be ill if she listens to all customers’. Fortunately for AF, one gentleman came down to help at last, he listened to the problem and arranged proper flight to Paris next day and a flight to Bangalore day after and also gave me dinner voucher for the night. I thanked him profusely for helping me in this miserable situation and left with much disgust about this airline.
I had an asian meal in the airport before going to the line for taxi. There was an extensive queue and I met a guy who wanted to go to Uppsala. I had the voucher and my hotel was 17 km away from Arlanda, I told him he can go till that with me, he does not have to pay. I thought the hotel was also in Uppsala. I was offered a voucher of Sverige taxi and other cab drivers will not take me. It was almost 9pm, cold and dark. After 30 min, I got a cab who was a pakistani and delighted to meet a customer who speaks Hindi. One old Swedish guy was behind in the queue and not getting a taxi, so I agreed to take him till the hotel. Then he has to pay to the driver for further ride. This is not generally advised, but almost 50 flight cancelled, that night had horrible scarcity of transport system. I felt bad for the guy travelling so far to Uppsala, but could not wait to see if he got one to take him there. At around 10, I reached the hotel one of the Scandics ” and they gave me a room at 19th floor.
In the morning, both the elevators at my floor had sign pasted on the door ” not working”. I was wondering how to bring my luggage down from 19th floor, then one lady came out of one of the lift (??!!) and I took it down without any question. I went for a short breakfast. When I checked out and asked for a taxi, lady in the front desk said, ‘today taxi service is closed due to heavy snow, we cannot help you’. Once again luck favoured me and one Sverigetaxi came to the front door of the hotel to drop someone. I ran to him asking if he will take me to the airport and he graciously agreed. He was a Kurdish man living in Sweden for years. I reached airport while chatting with him, and the Sun came up today. Flight went fine and I landed to Paris at 3.30 pm local time.
I had my luggage to be delivered to my final destination. So directly went to the Air France counter for arranging a hotel and met a very nice French gentleman. He called here and called there and told me ‘ D’accord madam, everything is fine. We have arrange you stay and this is your bus ticket and dinner ticket . Then he showed me a very complex way to go out and reach hotel. Very unlikely of Paris, another gentleman helped me to reached the bus stop which is near the train station. With a short bus ride, I reached the hotel, which is very very basic, but I can’t complain when it is free and knowing space is an issue in Paris.
They arranged our dinner in a nearby restaurant . Later I had some allergy from the seafood served, but I am ready to ignore that for the sake of french delicacy. Frankly, I am not a fan of French cuisine, but going for full French buffet is a new experience for me. The airport is seen in distance from the big window of my room and needed to be open for fresh air. Could not sleep much in fear of not getting up, the room is so basic that not even a telephone is there to get a wakeup call. Morning, grabbed a simple French breakfast, (I don’t complain as long as croissant is there ) and started for the airport.
Charles de Gulle is one of my favourite airport with lots of shopping and eating options. I bought a Dior perfume and lipstick for my mom before finally getting my final flight to Bangalore. In flight,me and my co-passenger were repeatedly ignored by the crew for getting some water. After this whole episode of AF drama, I naturally decided to avoid their hospitality (!) in future. I believe, they are not only putting their customers down, but also blemishing the image of culturally rich French community .
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