A passport stamp just to talk to a competent agent

I’m in Brussels right now waiting out the 4ish hour delay on my flight to Philadelphia on US Airways. So far they’ve mostly done things badly, but perhaps the worst part is that in order to actually speak with someone useful required clearing immigration and going to the ticket counter. Yes, they have an agent near the original gate who is handling rebooking of affected passengers. But she is unable to answer simple questions like “Is a 60 minute International to domestic connection in Philly legal?” or “Why can you not provide access to the EU-mandated phone call that I am permitted to make?” Her two comments were, “Go to the ticket counter,” and “That is not my job.” Funny thing is that she’s sitting at the counter with a US Airways name tag on and “helping” passengers who are affected. Seems quite a bit like it is her job.

So off to immigration I go. I relate my reason for passing through to the officer (“Apparently that is where the only competent employees are”) and he laughs a bit as he stamps me in. I make it to the check-in counter where I’m told by someone else that I really should go to the ticket sales window since I’m not checking bags. At least there was no line over there. The guy refused to consider any reroutes (“We don’t do that on this sort of ticket” but no explanation of what “this” is) but was kind enough to show me the documentation in my record for the cause of delay (mechanical) and that I’ve been protected on another flight tomorrow morning. Oh, and he also suggested I write down his name since this is his last day on the job and I cannot do anything to him. Classy. At least he was willing to have a conversation as opposed to the single agent US Airways assigned to deal with the 40ish folks in line when I finally left the air-side part of the terminal.

If everything works out perfectly I won’t be needing to take advantage of the protected booking. Given the operations so far, however, I’m not betting in my favor.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Star Alliance: they can make all the rebookings to other Star carriers regardless of your type of ticket.

    Good luck.

  2. @sfogate: Of course they can. Whether US wants to do so is another matter. Perhaps “this” as stated by the guy at the sales desk means award ticket or deep discount Y? Eh, it’s US after all. Not the most accommodating at times, unfortunately, EU rules applicable or not.

  3. Don’t I know it…of course they can. The problems in my case were that:
    1) They waited long enough that the other useful options (namely CO BRU-EWR-SJU) were already gone; and,
    2) They don’t want to so they play dumb.

    Making me clear immigration just to get a somewhat useful agent was ridiculous. Sadly, that’s about all it would seem I’ll get out of the deal.

  4. They can actually book on ANY carrier. Had a WX issue at LGA and was rebooked in full Y on DL the next day. Ticket agent said they allocate dollars for rebooking on other carriers when things go awry.

    I don’t know how true that is, but it worked at the time.

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