Travel doesn’t always go as smooth as we would like.
Today we got to the airport in Casablanca, Morocco to catch our flight to Tenerife, Spain. Our flight was at 1:05 pm and we arrived at 11:15 am. That’s actually pretty early for us considering we rarely check bags.
We went to the automated kiosk to fill out our information to print our boarding passes. We were excited to move on to our next part of our four country adventure.
Everything was going smooth until we looked at the time of our flight.
The boarding pass said our flight leaves at 12:05 pm not 1:05 pm. The boarding pass also stated it was boarding at 11:15 am. We checked the time and it was 11:25 am.
Panic started to set in.
We rushed through security and cut the entire line. That alone saved us 20+ minutes.
Beads of sweat started dripping down my forehead and permeating the arm pits of my shirt. I was confused, stressed, and disoriented all at the same time.
Thankfully, there was a small line at customs. But not small enough to have time to fill out our customs cards. My belt, passports, and customs forms were in one hand while the pen was in the other. Bella kept jumping up to grab the pen out of my hand as I was scrambling to get the customs forms filled out before it was our turn.
When the customs agent handed us our passports, we hurried to the nearest departure screen to see where our gate was. It was 11:40 am and the boarding pass said the doors closed at 11:45 am. We were cutting it really close.
Our flight wasn’t on the departure screen. No where to be seen. There was no Tenerife flight at any time of the day.
My mind was running all different directions. Did our flight leave without us? Did we go to the wrong terminal? I had no idea what was going on.
Out of breath and anxious, I asked the woman at the information desk where our gate was. Every second that passed seemed like a minute. Her confused face and fast typing wasn’t comforting at all.
“Your flight isn’t today, it’s tomorrow.”
Christine and I both looked at each other in disbelief.
I showed her my itinerary on my phone which showed the flight was supposed to leave at 1:05 pm. That didn’t help at all. She pointed to the date on our boarding pass which was in 24 hours. But how? Why? We were still confused and anxious for answers.
I never received any flight updates or anything about our flight date change.
She calmly directed us in the direction to go speak with someone at Royal Air Maroc Airlines.
We had to go down stairs and outside security to reach the right person to speak with. As we were about to go down stairs, Bella’s four year old bladder spoke up and she had to go to the bathroom.
Still stressed and not thinking straight, I told Christine to take Bella to the bathroom and meet me downstairs at the desk. I had to figure out what was happening.
I went down stairs and was met with eight security guards sitting around a metal detector and with no travelers in sight. None of them spoke English, only Arabic and French. Arabic and French are the official languages of Morocco. The language barrier made things 10x more difficult. When I tried to explain my situation, they kept brushing me off and told me to go upstairs. The other seven security guards started laughing at me and elbowing each other at the distressed traveler.
After the third time of me showing them my boarding pass, my 7th grade French class came out of my dusty long term memory.
“A demain, a demain, a demain,” I shouted over them. Funny enough, it translated to “See you tomorrow,” but I just meant to say “Tomorrow.” Foruntaely, I finally got the point across. The fourth time he looked at the boarding pass, his face of embarrassment told it all. He finally understood what I was trying to say. His ego was bruised and my ego felt a slight victory in a situation of drowning defeat. The security guard I was arguing with motioned another guard to help me out.
The soft spoken and kind smile on the guard made me feel reassured that we would go to the right place. Now the issue was he was taking me to a different area from where I told Christine to meet me. We passed by the bathroom that Christine and Bella went in.
My attempt in speaking french consisted of speaking Spanish words with french pronunciation. That didn’t work, but I was still able to communicate that my wife and daughter were in the bathroom. I yelled into the bathroom for Christine and Bella but got no response. The woman cleaning the bathroom spoke Arabic to me with hand motions as if she were getting rid of a hungry dog. Her dirty look and head nod was insinuating I was doing something wrong at the entrance of the women’s restroom. To be clear, I never stepped foot in the restroom and was just at the entrance.
With my tail between my legs, I backed out of the woman’s restroom entrance.
I glanced around the area hoping I would see Christine with her puffy hair. Nothing.
The guard patiently followed me around for a couple of minutes as I frantically searched for my wife and daughter in an enormous international airport. We had no cell phones or meet up points established. With me having all the passports and boarding passes, they couldn’t have met me by the desk anyway.
I decided to go with the guard and come back for Christine later. In hind sight, this was a poor decision. I thought I could go straighten everything out and magically appear with new boarding passes to save the day. Wishful thinking.
Instead, I was passed along two different security guards whose English, fortunately, progressively got better. A man with light green eyes, wearing a suit of supreme importance led me to his 10’x10′ office. Upon entering, he asked for my passport and boarding pass. After looking at the passport photo, he gave me a sideways glance that added to the collection of confused faces during my wonderful time at the airport that day. I handed him Christine’s passport by mistake. After explaining the story of what happened (which was fine tuned by this point), I ran off to search for the most important ladies of my life.
Another fifteen minutes go by as I searched every nook and cranny around a 100 foot radius near the bathroom I left them at. Finally, we found each other near the elevator and I was welcomed with some spicy remarks of how I abandoned them. Well, I did abandon them in a way. Kinda. Sorta. Uh, yeah I abandoned them. Fair enough.
We then got our special passport stamps from the patient green eyed man to leave the terminal and figure out what was going on.
Over the next hour and a half, we spoke to the same three people about three times each. They each said, “I’m not sure, my department doesn’t handle that, go speak with the BLANK department.”
Each of the three departments were conveniently located 5-10 minutes apart.
“But I did speak to them! And they said to speak with you! Where is the manager or person in charge?” I asked multiple times to each person.
“I don’t know where she is. She has blond hair.” They replied non nonchalantly.
“What is her name?” I asked several times to each person.
“I don’t know her name,” they all said as if they actually didn’t know their boss’s name.
Palm to face.
Eventually, I spotted this mysterious blond manager and sprinted over to her before she disappeared to the back offices.
She was silent and actually helped us figure out what was going on. We finally figured out what happened!
We booked our flights from Casablanca to Tenerife on July 18, 2017 for the departure date of November 17, 2017. The flight was cancelled July 19, 2017 (The day after booking) and we were rescheduled for November 18, 2017. Because we booked through the Chase Travel Portal (with cash not points), our contact information was never relayed to Air Royal Maroc.
So Chase is the one at fault in this debacle for not providing our contact information. I will update once I speak with Chase.
But there is still one question I can’t seem to answer. How were we able to get past security and all the way to the departure gates 24 hours before our flight?
Have you ever had a confusing airport experience?