13th Nov. 7.55am, I see the text message (sent at 5.19am) from Jetstar saying Flight JQ 264,11.35am from Wellington, is cancelled. Following the link, I find the only other flight they're offering is 8.30pm. This would land after the seminar I'd booked to attend in Auckland had finished.
I immediately ring their 0800 and explain things.
"I'm going to miss my seminar and my business meetings. You must have another flight in the afternoon."
"No, sir. Would you like to book for the 8.30pm flight?"
"It's absolutely no use to me. Can you get me on an Air New Zealand flight this afternoon?"
"Sorry sir, we can't do that."
I hang up in exasperation and immediately ring Air NZ. They do have a flight that has a couple of seats left, but the cost of the ticket is more than the budget for my entire trip (return flights, hotel room, ground travel, food...) so I decline it. I'm not complaining about Air NZ's price. You'd expect to pay that to get on a flight leaving in a few hours, and if it were a matter of life and death - of family or friend - I would've taken it and then found some way of paying for it later.
But a business trip demands a business decision (made before I've even had a cup of tea): No.
Actually, last time I flew to Auckland (to give a guest lecture at Unitec), I chose Jetstar, and they cancelled that flight. (I know what you're thinking...) That time, they offered two other flights within a couple of hours of the cancelled one, so I took the earlier one. Inconvenient, but I got there.
Just in case - just in case - they did that again, I booked a flight that'd get me to Auckland wtih more than 5 hours up my sleeve. But it does happen again and this time the only other flight on offer is 9 (nine) hours later.
So, I miss an unrepeatable seminar on photographic lighting with Australian Peter Coulson (extra-useful for me because I run lighting workshops myself and I wanted to learn some more current techniques and presentation methods), and the opportunity to meet some other photographers and people in the trade - potentially valuable business contacts. It's good to show up at these things.
Also, I'd also carefully organised several meetings, one with a Photospace Gallery exhibitor and friend whom I haven't had the opportunity to see for ages, and others with new exhibitors, prominent people in nNZ photography, and some young, talented, upcoming artists, whose curated exhibitions are scheduled for 2015.
I was looking forward to these meetings - they're important - and I was very pleased to be able to fit them all into a short trip away.
When you're self employed, opportunities to leave home base for a couple of days and do stuff like this come along all too seldom. My diary is pretty much full for the rest of this year and into next, so another window of opportunity to make the trip probably won't open anytime soon.
- Jetstar are refunding the cost of my flights (NZ$178.00) to my credit card account "within 15 days." (I was so steamed I forgot to ask them for the hotel fee, dammit.)
- I had a day off work and went to the movie Interstellar, which is suitably epic and really pretty good.
If anyone from Jetstar reads this and would like to contact me regarding compensation for my cancelled trip, I would really like to hear from you.
Otherwise, I'm going to have nothing but bad things to say about the airline to a lot of people for a long time. So give me something positive to say about Jetstar. Please.