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Monday, January 07, 2008

How *Twinkle* and I motivated BA to spend £1500 on us in order that we could spend another day together

I don't believe in 'luck'.

I used to though.

When I was about 12 years old I started a campaign called "Save the Hi-fi". My idea was to rescue a Hi-fi from its miserable life in a box in the storeroom of my local Dixons branch. It would be brought home, and would spend many happy years sitting on my chest of drawers playing CDs, tapes, and The Archers.

I made a special money-box in which to collect funds - constructed from a Cadbury's Drinking Chocolate tin. I put a label on the tin, and every week put all of my pocket money in it.

After a year or so, I'd collected £400. Quite how I managed this I don't know. Perhaps I threatened my little sister with violence unless she donated her pocket money too.

One Saturday, mum and dad took me into Hereford to buy my Hi-fi. I knew which model I wanted (it was a beautiful Sony, with a lovely grainy texture, like a 3D black & white photo), but I also knew it cost £600, and thus was way beyond my budget. I would have to settle for a far simpler machine, perhaps without that really funky 2-layer remote control.


Arriving in Dixons though, what did I find? My Hi-fi, with a label that read "End of line sale - Reduced to clear - £400".

Wow! How LUCKY IS THAT?!!!

Looking back at it now, I don't believe it was luck. As with everything else in life, I drew it towards me. I put myself in the position to be ready to receive the benefit of 'circumstance' - something that I believe we all do every day all of the time.



British Airways have recently started to balance their aricraft between lamp-posts prior to take-off to reduce fuel consumption


Two nights ago, we were staying with my good friends in Bristol. It was late at night, *Twinkle* was packing her suitcase ready for the following day's flight, I was checking my emails. Reminded by the British Airways bookmark in Firefox, I asked her if she wanted to check-in online. A discussion followed, resulting in a joint decision to not check-in until we got to the airport. We had a strong feeling that she was going to get some kind of upgrade, and didn't want to obstruct the natural course of events.

Arriving at the airport three hours before departure, we were greeted at the check-in desk by a smiling lady with a clipboard.

"Good Morning! Are you checking in for BA005 to Tokyo? You are? Right, erm, would you be at all interested in volunteering to go on a later flight? You see, your flight has been overbooked - it often happens at this time of year - and we're looking for people who would be happy to go on another flight". You'd be put on a flight that goes via Hong Kong later today, and receive either £440 in cash or a £610 flight voucher as a Thank you".

This sounded like the deal we'd been waiting for! With the first of our two weddings scheduled for this summer (oh, didn't I mention that before...?!), a return flight for Japan with BA would come in handy...


We were directed to counter L, where Graham, the duty manager greeted us warmly, and thanked *Twinkle* for volunteering. "Your chances are a bit slim I'm afraid as we already have 8 people on the list ahead of you. Here's a £10 voucher - go get yourselves a cup of coffee and come back in an hour - we'll then know whether or not we need you to take another flight."

One hour and a couple of coffees & nachos later, we joined a group of about 20 people assembled in front of the Customer Service Desk. All eyes were on Graham, busy on the phone confirming final numbers. The atmosphere was electric - who would win the lottery?!

"Right then Ladies and Gentlemen, it's the moment you've been waiting for. I'm going to read out a list of names - those people I call will be put on our direct flight, those left will win the compensation and be booked on the next flight".

"Greenwood!" The family of four beside us sighed. "Oh, well, nevermind..." said dad.

"Yamanaka. Kojima. Kurosaki. Edwards..."

One by one, disappointed faces stepped forwards and placed their bags on the conveyor. "Well, at least we get there as planned".

Graham paused. There were four of us left, standing with baited breath. "And *Twinkle*, Jones, Congratulations! You've won!" The four of us erupted in cheers, causing everyone around us to turn and stare - what were we so pleased about?!"

We were told to wait for a while as the first flight was despatched, and seats booked on the replacement. Dennis, the deputy manager came along with his compensation pack - what would we like? Cash or a travel voucher? *Twinkle* opted for the latter (being worth almost £200 more than the cash) - with that in hand, we sat down to wait, smiling all the while. Graham in the meantime was buzzing around like a busy bee. After 15 minutes or so he gathered us around:

"I'm afraid I've got some bad news. That flight we were going to book you on is now full. So, we've got two options; we could put you on our next direct flight which departs in a couple of hours - or alternatively, because we're already overbooked on that, we'll give you another compensation package, pay for a local hotel with all meals included, and put you on tomorrow's flight. What do you reckon?"

*Twinkle* and I debated it for about 3 seconds. What was it to be? Go our separate ways today, or spend the night in a top hotel for free, with an additional £440 in cash to use as we wished? It wasn't too hard a decision! *Twinkle* signed on the dotted line, and was presented with a credit card; "The PIN is in this envelope. Just put the card in that ATM over there - you can withdraw the £440 from that account".

And so at 1pm, we walked back to the car, now holding a free return ticket for Japan, £440 in cash, two free bus tickets (worth £8, which we gave to a bemused German couple at the bus stop), and a voucher for a double room with meals in a £209-a-night hotel. Not bad for a few hours 'work'. We were very happy... and spent a fairytale last evening together.

This morning we arrived back at the airport a little early. We knew that today's flights were overbooked too - perhaps *Twinkle* could help by volunteering to fly with another airline? When *Twinkle* suggested this, the duty manager paused. "Well, I'm not sure if we're doing that scheme today. But looking at the numbers, I suppose we should. Hang on a sec, let me check with Andrew - he's our banker!"

A couple of minutes later he reappeared with Andrew. "Well, if you could do that that would be really helpful! We can get you on a flight that leaves in just under an hour - goes via Helsinki, and will get you in to Tokyo 50 minutes after our direct service that you were booked on. If you'd like to do that, we could give you another £220 cash!"

Not bad, not bad.

With that second ATM card taken into account, British Airways had given *Twinkle* a little over £1500 in cash and services, in return for her volunteering to spend a night with me in a nice hotel (the £660 cash just about covered my fee).

So, a big THANK YOU to BA for your generosity. Really appreciate that.

(Now if you can just make your planes pollution-free that would be great!)




I strongly believe that 'luck' had little to do with events at Heathrow Airport.

Of course, I could be completely wrong, but it's far more exciting to think of it as the result of a splendid interaction of purposeful energies, aligning themselves to bring it about, than to think of it as 'luck'. I feel that it was as much a case of 'good luck' as that when myself and *Twinkle* both decided to study at Sheffield University in 2005. I can't see our relationship being the result of 'good luck', not when so much has been leading towards it over so many years.

So, a fantastic start to 2008. It fills me confidence and excitement when I think about what the year ahead holds. It's going to be just great!

1 Comments:

Anonymous Amelia said...

Wow, that`s amazing, truly a fairytale experience! Also, congratulations on the wedding decision, I wish you the best of purposeful energy interaction in sorting out all the details of your homegrown, natural affair. : )

8/1/08 14:47  

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