We're still alive - or - why not to fly iberia

Trip Start Jan 08, 2009
Trip End Feb 09, 2009

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Flag of Uruguay  ,
Monday, January 12, 2009

so. we hit a bit of a rough spot right outta the gate. the plan was to load everything into marco's camper, drive to our friend claudia's house, park the camper and have claudia take us to the airport. it was unhelpful that the camper had been parked immobile in polar temperatures for over three weeks. needless to say, when marco tried to start the engine, the camper said, "oh playa...please."
i had a small seizure.
marco said some bad words.
we hailed a man in a little truck who was rummaging through a dumpster to try and jumpstart the camper.
long story short: two unsuccessful jumps, a race to the nearest gas station, €110, a new battery and many crossed fingers later, the camper roared to life.
we made it to the airport in time and arrived in barcelona without a hitch. our flight from barcelona to buenos aires was the next morning so we spent the night at the airport. [comfortable chairs, tasty potato-omelet sandwiches, very expensive wi-fi] the next morning we got to our gate to find that, much to our surprise, we were to have another layover in madrid. you know, just a minor detail our online booking company decided we didn't need to know about beforehand. in any case, the flight was delayed due to snow.
several hours later, when we were finally airborne and mere miles from madrid, the captain came on to inform us that we would not, in fact, be landing but rather going back to barcelona because madrid's airport had been closed as they were completely and utterly unprepared for the treachery of the snowstorm. [i believe the final count was 4cm of snow] oh yes.
aaaand back to barcelona, where we proceeded to stand in line for five hours to have the iberia lady tell us that the next flight for us would be in two days. 
oh no.
back in line for another four hours supposedly to be given accommodations but which turned out to be a ticket change for an hour later to madrid and then to montevideo instead of buenos aires. [quite honestly i fail to understand the necessity of flying to madrid to then fly to south america...come on barcelona, put your big boy pants on] oh ś́́́́́́́́. A glimmer of hope.
hurrying and scurrying we made it to the gate in time and miraculously got to madrid. [which - might I add - was in fact not submerged in a meter and a half of snow. damn spaniards.] the flight for montevideo was scheduled to leave at 1.05 am.
at 1am the departure time on the screen at the gate changed to 2am.
at 2am the departure time on the screen at the gate changed to 3am.
at 3am the departure time on the screen at the gate changed to black.
you'd think a helpful iberia worker would've come out and explained what was happening, yes? oh no. a#1 iberia is not helpful. don't fly iberia. b#2 this is spain, friends, and apparently in spain they are even more disorganized than in italy, a phenomenon i would not have believed had i not witnessed it with my very own eyes.
it is fortunate that marco's first language is spanish otherwise i might still be in madrid. 

as it was, he was able to get us a hotel paid for by not-so-helpful iberia and by 6am we were finally able to sleep...
...for three hours. at which point we had to go back to the airport because our flight was supposed to leave at noon.
so. we got into our seats [late, but would we expect anything less?], i got nestled into my inflatable neck pillow and promptly fell asleep. about an hour later i was vaguely aware of the fact that we still hadn't taken off or even moved, really.
then captain mccaptainson came over the loudspeaker to blandly announce that the plane was no longer departing and would we be so kind as to disembark, muchas gracias.
the plane erupted with shouts of "¿¿QUE??" and  "¿¿¿COMO???" a short obnoxious guy with an obnoxious baby up front stood up and yelled, "anyone who has balls doesn't get off!!"
[by the by, angry south americans are frightening. there were a few tense moments where i quietly wet myself.]
it was pretty much unanimous that no one was getting off. mutiny!! i mean, seriously, iberia. get it together. a very self-important man i like to call "the mayor" started loudly making phone calls to local newspapers and to the iberia hotline to try and get someone from iberia to explain themselves.
some men went to try and talk to/shout at the stewardesses to get some answers which they [obviously] did not have, although they were very sympathetic to our flight and never once tried to force us to get off the plane. 

some families with small children started getting their things to get off the plane. as they started walking up the aisles towards the exit, a crazy older woman shrieked, "well i guess we've all seen who doesn't have any BALLS!!!!"
while the mayor tried all his connections, obnoxious baby man tried to get all passengers to chant slogans and the stewardesses handed out shit sandwiches [no, really], the pilot locked himself in the cockpit fearing assault. after several hours, iberia sent someone in. not only did they make him wear a bright spanking red jacket but they had also apparently neglected to train him in customer service techniques. the guy was so nervous he was jittering all over the place as he tried to explain to a plane full of irate south americans exactly why iberia has no organizational skills whatsoever. 

negotiations ensued. in the end, mr iberia guaranteed us a bus to take us all to a hotel, dinner included, paid for by the company and a flight at 6,30 the next morning. the pilot emerged from the cockpit accompanied by four armed policemen and babbled some lame excuses about de-icing and too many working hours and not enough personnel blabbity blah.
just a sidenote: as i write this, i am fully aware of how drawn-out this story is...i wish i could say that nothing else went awry but alas...

the hotel staff told us that they were unsure of the exact flight departure time but that we would be called an hour before the iberia bus left for the airport. they did, in fact, say "call" [or rather "llamar"] and not "randomly turn on your tv at 3 o'clock in the morning". which is what they did. we thought it was a technological malfunction. and when we called the receptionist at 6,20am in a state of sheer panic they said:  
 "oh, the bus left at 4am. we called your room."
no, you certainly did not. you turned on our tv.
"well 100 other people on the same flight came down on time."
well thanks for that.
but there was no time to bicker. no time! only time to bolt down the stairs and into the cab they had called for us and the other two lost souls who had also not understood the television code.
fortunately for us, iberia and its inherent tardiness saved the day. the flight was delayed an hour so we managed to scurry through the maze of death that is madrid's airport and got to the gate just as they were boarding the very last passengers.
by then, there was a sense of solidarity amongst the passengers and we were greeted like old war comrades who had gone missing in the field. and then, finally, at long last and at about f-ing time we took off and flew all the way to montevideo, uruguay.
have i mentioned not to fly iberia?
three days late but onwards to our south american adventure!!
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lw0199 on

Jesus H.
This was like reading a mini-telenovela! I really love Mr. Mayor...I think he's a pivatol character in this series. I also particularly enjoyed the fact that nobody was planning to leave the plane. That'll teach 'em. Also, were you in business class? Those seats looked so cushiony and fun..if only you got to fly in them! I'm glad you finally made it. I'll be sure to add Iberia to my list of 'don't ever fly this airline' along with Alitalia!

baurjk on


AIKE! I almost PEED MY PANTS reading your story!! WELCOME TO THE LAST 2 YEARS OF MY LIFE! SPAIN IS RIDICULOUS! I seriously have no idea how ANYONE gets ANYTHING DONE IN THAT COUNTRY! No one is organized, nor on time, nor the slightest bit helpful... at all! You think... what happened to 'the customer is always right'? Well I guess no one feels the need to employ that policy because everyone is an asshole everywhere so they certainly aren't going to lose you to the competition because the competition is just WORSE.

I also thought it was poetic that you flew iberia because my brother got stuck in spain for A WHOLE ENTIRE MONTH waiting for a flight out with Iberia... which he NEVER GOT and finally had to pay like almost 2,000 dollars for another ticket to get home!!! WHaaaat? CRAZY RIGHT!? Oh yeah, and they were not so kind as to offer him a hotel. It was just obscene. Here's the quick little story... my brother and a group of his friends flew to spain to visit me. Great trip, everything went fine... until they went to leave. They get to the airport on time, check out the monitors and look to see where their check in counter was SUPPOSED to be. They go saddle up into a 1:25 minute line... get up to the counter FINALLY only to find out that they were in the wrong line. They look back at the monitors... still the wrong info posted. So they go ask a oh-so-pleasant, informed, and helpful iberia employee and he rolls his eyes and points to a different line. They wait. WRONG LINE AGAIN! (yes, it was the god awful maze madrid airport) They FINALLY find they right one and they get up to the counter and the lady tells them that they have missed check-in by five minutes and they would no longer be accepting passengers for their flight back to another continent. Yeah. My brother at first tried to speak with her rationally about what had happened that they were only 5 minutes late, that there was still plenty of time before the flight, etc, etc, but the lady was just not having it. He obviously then started to get a bit upset, probably said a few bad words... and the stupid woman freaking called security on him to escort him away. Great way to treat your costumers right? They then tried to talk to some other people but everyone just shrugged their shoulders. There would be no flight today. So they give up and try to get another flight back... but OH NO, this was my brother & company's fault for showing up late and they could each pay 100 euros more to get a standby ticket so they could potentially get on another flight that had open seats... I like that word 'potentially'. Of course all of them traded their tickets and 100 euros for the standby ticket because what is the alternative?? buying a whole new ticket?? Yeah, but there was just one problem.. iberia overbooks EVERYTHING. My brother and all of his friends slept on the airport floor for the next WEEK (because I live 2 hours from the airport and they weren't interested in paying the pricey train fares, and well, being stuck on a train for 4 hours a day sucks. No dice. No flight. They didnt get on a single one. AT they end of the week everyone BUT my brother decided to just go ahead and buy a new ticket home... most of them worked and they couldnt really be missing any more work than they already had. However, since my bro wasnt employed at the time he decided to just wait it out. He came back to my house when he figured out there is a way to check the loads online so that he wouldnt have to wait at the airport if he already knew that flights were overbooked. THere were only three days in the entire month that werent overbooked. We went all three. Of course he didnt get on because all of the other passengers that also didnt get on... because iberia sucks and overbooks, always got on first since missing their first flight was no error on their part (as if it had my brother's either...). Anyway, the standby ticket had an expiration of one month... and my bother never got on. We threw a fit and reported them to the better business bureau... talked to a million different people... nothing. Absolutely nothing. He finally bought another ticket to get home... a month late. AWFUL, right???

Okay so that was WAY longer than just a quick story, but I just thought I would tell you about it so you wouldnt feel so alone. Long story short: Iberia is AWFUL and unpleasant and will not help you WHATSOEVER if you are in a bind... which the majority of the time is caused by them anyway!

I'm just glad to know that you finally did get there... and it sounds like going straight to montevideo is actually an improvement on the rented donkey ride their from Buenos Aires! hehe Hope everything has been going well since! TAlk to you soon!

furelise19 on

F-ing A
I am in rehearsal and they are lookign at me funny because I'm laughing so hard. I'm glad you made it and what a lovely story this makes!

kmartinko on

I love you!
This is endless entertainment. I seriously had to bite lip to stop from laughing in the middle of class. I love you!! Have fun and be safe :) Keep 'em coming... xo

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