There are a lot of airlines on earth. Some are good (Delta, Qantas), some are excellent (Emirates, Singapore), and some are utter crap.
Sliding futilely into the latter position I present Vueling, a low-budget Spanish airline duking it out with Air India for the top spot on my ranking of world’s worst ways to fly.
On what should have been a quick, easy domestic flight from Barcelona to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Vueling instead set about mashing up our journey from the first opportunity, and never let up.
Once at the airport Soo and I proceeded to the Iberia desk, since we had Iberia tickets. Some readers may foolishly think this perfectly reasonable. Apparently not.
After waiting in the Iberia line for some time we reached the counter, handed over our tickets, and loaded our luggage on the scale while the agent pursed her lips and clucked at what she saw.
She promptly handed them back, and told us we had to go to the desk for “Vueling”, an airline that until that very moment I didn’t even know existed. I wish that were still the case.
I was a smidge miffe. No one had consulted me on this decision. How did they know I wanted to fly Vueling?
As it happened, I didn’t.
We made our way across the terminal to the Vueling counter, which, of course, was a study in chaos. There were a number of attempts at lines – six or seven of them we think – but mostly there was about 60 people just milling about and complaining. I knew we were in trouble.
We fought our way into the closest approximation of a line we could find and waited.
Some 45 minutes later, a time uncomfortably close to our flight’s scheduled departure, we made it to the desk. The stunted shrew behind the counter, once she got done chatting and laughing with her colleagues, took our tickets, studied them a bit, glared over her little red glasses at us, than spoke to us in Spanish while tossing our tickets back at us.
“Beg pardon?” I said, perhaps a tad irritably.
“English?” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied, again a bit irritably.
“Jew too late. Flight eest close.”
“Closed?!? We’ve been standing in your damned line 45 minutes!”
I was no longer a bit irritable. I was shouting.
This at least got her attention, though it failed to move her. She rolled her eyes extravagantly, leaned over to giggle with a colleague, then looked back up and said “ve made hanounsement. You hear?”
“Was it in English?”
I merely glared.
She glared back, yawned, then handed back our tickets and instructed us to go to a different line.
“Another line?? Our flight leaves in 30 minutes!” I veritably screamed.
“I no help.”
“You don’t say.”
So we moved to the other line, which was, blessedly short, but at the end of which we met an equally disinterested and unhelpful schmuck.
He was initially disinclined to put us on our flight – or any flight for that matter – but our hollering proved sufficient to goad him to action. He, gleefully it seemed to us, punished us for our outburst by separating us and putting us in middle seats, on different rows, toward the back of the plane. I joked to Soo as we ran for the flight that these fools were all but certain to lose our luggage.
This proved prophetic – as we boarded our flight to Tenerife our luggage departed for Belgium.
And the flight was miserable. The seats were tiny, apparently designed for short, anorexic teenagers, and they smelled as if every previous occupant had glandular problems and issues with bathing.
Nothing is free on Vueling, not even a cup of water, and the on-board entertainment consisted only of watching fights break out as people trampled each other trying to climb out of cramped middle seats.
We were more than a little relieved to land in Tenerife, though a bit dismayed to learn our luggage had gone elsewhere (it was a full 24 hours later before we learned where.) Instead of lounging by the pool in the hot sun, Soo and I had to dash out and buy clothing and toiletries.
Vueling returned our luggage three days later, and compensated us not one penny for our trouble or expense. Why, you might rightly ask? Because this is Vueling, and as their haughty representative explained, if they locate your luggage within 24 hours, company policy is that they pay nothing in compensation. That’s all they have to do – just locate it. That it took them another two days to actually get it to us is, in their judgment, irrelevant, because at least they knew where it was!
And when they did finally return our luggage, it had been extensively vandalized. Again, zero compensation from Vueling.
Like I said, it’s a crap airline.
So now, I return to my favorite blog activity, where we all get to participate. Let’s all submit our suggestions for Vueling’s new company slogan.
Here are my top three:
Vueling: Go vuck yourself.
Vueling: Making you appreciate colostomy bags every day.
Vueling: more fun than a jalapeno enema.