This last weekend, we had an incredible time skiing in the Alps, and visiting one of my former undergraduate roommates in St. Genis, just across the French-Swiss border from Geneva. This post is not about that. It’s about getting there…
If you’ve been reading our blog for very long, you know that we have many misadventures while travelling. Some are the fault of nefarious American websites, some are the fault of cultural differences in attitudes toward transport, and some are our own fault. Our attempt to get to Geneva this past weekend was in that third category.
Background: We bought tickets for an EasyJet flight that left ‘London’ Southend Airport at 17:00 on Friday. We met at Liverpool Street Station to catch a train to the airport, and, even though we had allowed ourselves plenty of time to get to the airport, we got rushed and quickly bought tickets from a ticket machine for the Stansted Express train. Notice anything wrong with this? We didn’t.
We were clear through to Harlow Town (this was an express train) before I suddenly realised that we were on the train to Stansted Airport when we needed to be going to Southend. Unfortunately, the only option at that point was to hop off and get on a train going back in the direction we’d come from and then get on the right train at Liverpool Street. We sensed that by the time we’d done that, we wouldn’t be getting to Southend in time for our flight (although we did briefly try, but gave up by the time we got out to Stratford).
During the back and forth train-hopping, I started calling EasyJet to see if we could get on a later flight. We determined early on that there were no more scheduled flights from Southend that night, so we had to try to find a flight from a different airport.
On my first call to EasyJet, I was told that the cheapest flight available to GVA that night was from Gatwick and that it would cost £187 per person to change to that flight. Luckily (for reasons that shall become apparent), I got cut off from that call as we went through a tunnel approaching Liverpool Street.
On my second call to EJ, I was told by a different call agent that it was now too late for him to change our reservation, and that I needed to call the airport to see if they would allow me to get on to a later flight for £60 each. This seemed like a very strange procedure, but nevertheless, I called the number for Southend that the agent gave me. I was unsurprised when no one answered on that number.
We were starting to lose hope, based on the news from this call centre agent that it was now too near our original flight time to change our reservation. But nevertheless, I called EasyJet for the third time. And thankfully I got a third different answer. This call centre agent told me we could switch to a flight from Luton for only around £200 total (ie not per person).
So that’s what we did. A somewhat cheap flight became not so cheap, but we were still able to make it to Geneva only 90 minutes later than we were originally scheduled.
The moral of the story is: EasyJet seems to lack consistency in their reservation/scheduling policies. If you have enough patience. You might be able to use that to your advantage.