Airlines against
free markets

A tale of people who defend freedom while using the products of one heavily regulated market


It’s almost midnight and I’m in a hotel in Vilnius (Lithuania) because we have the Free Market Road Show event here. In fact, it’s a morning event so I should be sleeping. However, I have to tell what happened in Spain last Monday.

On May 4th we were supposed to travel from Seville to Stockholm. So, we woke up 4:30 am to catch an early Vueling flight from Seville to Stockholm, connecting in Barcelona.

Vueling takes the “stop flying” part very seriously. (Source)

Everything seemed fine. 8:05 am the captain announced that in 20 minutes we would be landing in Barcelona. But 8:25, due to “weather conditions”, he made a new announcement. We wouldn’t land in Barcelona but instead we would be taken to Reus — an airport almost 100 km from our original destination.

When we finally made it to Reus the crew said that we’d be flown to Barcelona “shortly”. Shortly eventually meant “probably in two hours”. This put some pressure on us because we had to make a connection in El Prat to go to Stockholm. But apparently we’d still going to make it.

11 am things started to complicate even more. We hadn’t taken off and that possibility seemed very far by then. Close to 12 pm the captain announced the inevitable: the plain wouldn’t take us to Barcelona and instead the company would provide buses to go to El Prat. But there was something else, since the Reus airport was close to collapse due to the deflected flights, we would need to wait inside the plane.

At this point some of the passengers -ourselves included- were absolutely pissed off and close to mutiny. Eventually we were allowed to leave the aircraft and the dirtiest buses I’ve ever seen took us from the runway to the airport building. When we got there some employees were shouting that the buses Vueling promised would be arriving in two hours.

Basically, we were “kidnapped” three hours inside the plane for nothing.

Taken inside the airport bus in Reus. See the spider web and the filth?

Anyway, the “bus schedule” was a total no-go for us. If there still was any possibility to make it to Stockholm, we needed to get to Barcelona asap. So, we grabbed a taxi and headed there.

In the airport the Vueling people weren’t very nice nor helpful. There was a huge line to try to contact an employee who eventually would do nothing for you. And by that time, it was impossible for us to get to Stockholm in time for the event. So, we decided to go to Copenhagen — the next stop of the Road Show to be held a day later.

By the way, the event in Stockholm took place and went very well. It was great that we had there two true Road Warriors -Richard Rahn and Dan Mitchell- and that our partner Timbro is very professional and could manage.

Costumer service as Vueling understands it.

The best option was a Norwegian Airlines flight directly from Barcelona to Copenhagen. When they gave us the boarding passes something very strange happened. Though our flight was scheduled to 4:50 pm as boarding time the ticket stated 10:50 pm. We told the employee this and he said: “It’s just a typo, I will print new ones with the correct time”.

So, we cross the security control and went to a Priority Pass lounge. Another weird thing happened there because they didn’t have any internet. That was probably the only lounge in the world which doesn’t provide wi-fi to its costumers.

But things would get worse…

On the screen we saw that our flight’s boarding was “estimated 11 pm”. We talked to somebody from the company and he told us that this was true but that we’ll definitely depart at that time. We resigned ourselves and waited at the wi-filess lounge.

Norwegian Airlines: when they aren’t smiling they’re laughing at you. (Source)

By 8:45 pm Norwegian Airlines wanted to continue playing with us and the “estimated time of departure” changed again to… 2 am!

We went again to talk to the supposedly airline representatives and they said that they didn’t know anything and that we could call to the airline for more information. When we asked for a number, he showed a handwritten piece of paper with a number starting with “00 47”. It turns out that 47 is the country code of Norway so we had to make an international call from the airport… an absolute shame.

Fed up and tired of being mistreated we decided to go to a hotel and try to find some tickets for the next day with a more civilized company.

Tuesday we flew with Lufthansa via Munich and finally got to Copenhagen. Even a Lufthansa employee whose surname was ‘Marx’ was kind to us.

FMRS conference 2016 in Reus — to be announced.

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