I swear at a robot... and one person

If you switch on your phone to discover that weather conditions have stalled a bunch of trains, do what I didn't do:

Roll over and go back to sleep. Your plans are on ice. 


Instead, my sleep-muddled brain merely mocked the news site for separately listing both the train to Sapporo from Hakodate and the train to Hakodate from Sapporo as cancelled. Rather than deriding this excess of information, what it should have thought was:

You've a flight today. If nobody's moving by rail, you ain't taking to the skies. 

I had eaten half a bowl of cereal before that thought dawned. I had eaten the other half before I acknowledged that picking up the phone and talking to someone was really going to be necessary. 

I was travelling again. Or at least, that was the plan. Unlike last time however, I had a 2.5 hour connection in Tokyo. It was enough to easily absorb delays from the weather. Well done me! Good safe flight choices. There'd be no problems ... so long as we actually flew.  

According to the airport's website, I was still doomed. Almost every flight was cancelled until early evening. Suspiciously, the exception to this were flights operated by 'Air Do'. I remain unsure if this was bravado, or if the airline is really a cover for an entirely different operation. With a website only in Japanese, I've never attempted to book a flight. 

I called Air Canada.

They told me that since the problematic leg of my journey was the code-share flight down to Tokyo, I had to call All Nippon Airlines. 

I called ANA.

They said it was officially an Air Canada flight and I had to call...

It was the start of a deeply trying morning. 

While Japan are wildly efficient if you miss a connection, apparently trying to fix a problem before it's actually occurred is a whole new ball game. Air Canada couldn't rebook my domestic flight, since all last minute changes had to be done by the Japanese carrier. ANA struggled because the reservation was made through the Air Canada booking system. Neither party were able to take control of both legs of the journey from Sapporo to Toronto to find the best solution. 

90 minutes after I'd first called, I was on the phone to yet another assistant from ANA:

"We can book you a flight that leaves at 1:30 pm."

My original flight was due to leave at 2:30pm. In theory therefore, this plan was great. Except...

"It's now 12:36pm. I'll never make it to the airport."

The airport is about 90 minutes door-to-door from my apartment. If I'd been rebooked as soon as I'd called, we'd be golden. But seriously, who could make a flight that departed in less than an hour if they weren't actually at the check-in counter? It was worse than useless. It was an empty promise of flight happiness. 

Let's declare that 'eternal happiness' just to press home that this was highly annoying.

I called Air Canada.

After working back through their machine-operated options ("Press 2 for services in English" / "Press 1 if you have an existing reservation" / "Press 666 if you'd like to rethink your life choices and order a pizza...."), I was in a repeating cycle of English and Japanese messages telling me all operators were currently busy and I could make changes to my reservation by calling this number in Canada which they'd give me twice every minute until I lost my mind.

Around cycle 4 I lost my mind.

It took the form of informing the robotic voice that --given I had already specified I wanted services in English-- it was hardly necessary to prolong my agony by repeating these deeply annoying messages bilingually. To emphasise my language preference, I colourfully adorned my diatribe with every profanity I'd learned since the age of 10. 

Which was when an actual operator picked up the phone.

"How about you --heaven forbid-- have TWO ****ing recorded ***** voice record---- Ah, hello. I'm having... a few... uh, issues."

With my ticket. Not my mental health. Honest. 

I'm still unaware of how much she heard of my screeching. She did seem quite relieved when I presented my situation calmly and instilled with fresh terror when she asked me to hold. 

The upshot was I'm on identical flights to today, 24 hours later. I concluded February 29th effectively didn't exist and went out to order a curry to compensate for my empty fridge. Half-way through the third bite I get another call from Air Canada.

"You checked in online... we need you to cancel that."

I confess I always thought checking in online was deeply flawed. The fact you can declare yourself present for a flight without actually being in the right city is utterly daft. It's also impossible to cancel.

"The website just says it can no longer handle my reservation."

You and me both, website, you and me both.

After yet more debate, Air Canada remembered they could cancel my check-in themselves. They've promised me they know I'm flying tomorrow. I'm holding them at the same level of trust as US presidential candidates.