Ghetto burger stopped at Canadian customs and the perils of e-boarding passes

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Canadian Super Counsel (CSC) had a quite an ordeal after sating herself on the ghetto burger. The Rapid Traveler prefers to keep some things decidedly low-tech and has never relied on e-boarding passes on phones. Seems too much can go wrong, but his perspective is colored by years of emerging market airports where it can be critical to have printouts of every part of the itinerary. North Korean customs doesn’t scan phones, it confiscates them.

The Rapid Traveler loves those willing to be self-deprecating and share lessons learned. He recently posted on jumping on the wrong train to Newark Airport. No matter how skilled a traveler, mistakes are often made and new things always learned. There is too much variability and flux in travel to know it all.

GhettoBurger 007

Try running through the busiest airport in the world with this puppy in your belly

CSC writes (and demonstrates great resolve and problem-solving, trying every avenue):

I got back on the highway pretty easily. Traffic was actually pretty good, so I made it to the airport in good time. Returned the car and headed to the terminal. Life was good. Timing was fine. Burger smelled great in the bag.

I meandered through security thinking that life was still good. But it wasn’t…the airport scanner didn’t like the format of my electronic boarding pass. So, security wouldn’t let me through and sent me back to Air Canada to get a printed boarding pass. But, because it was now only 55 minutes to the flight time (not 60 …), Air Canada had closed it’s counter. And Air Canada no longer has kiosks in the terminal. So, basically, there was no way to get a boarding pass printed. I tried all the Star Alliance partners. Nothing…I tried to find Air Canada reps at the lost luggage counter. Nothing…I found a kindly airport employee who let me email the pass to her for printing, but the link wouldn’t work. Then I tried mucking around with the pass on the screen to get it into an acceptable format. At that point, the boarding pass basically blew up.

So – now it’s a half hour to my flight and I have no boarding pass. The only way to get a boarding pass is to go to the Air Canada reps at the gate. But I can’t get to the gate because I don’t have a boarding pass.

Security took pity on me and was trying to call the Air Canada gate. (I must say that there are an incredible number of very kind people in the Atlanta airport.) Nothing …

And then – thankfully – I spotted British Compliance Gent (BCG) checking in for his flight.

BCG had a boarding pass. So he could get through security to the Air Canada gate. He managed to get to the gate and explain the problem. In a twist of fate, the 4 pm Air Canada flight was hideously delayed. So, the awesome BCG convinced Air Canada to take me off the 7:30 flight which was leaving and put me on the hideously delayed flight that hadn’t left yet. Then he convinced them to print a boarding pass for me and give it to an Atlanta airport guy who walked it to me at the Air Canada check-in counter. Bottom line – BCG is a god. My kids are now both named BCG. It’s a little confusing, but they are just going to have to live with that.

The only remaining problem was that the delayed flight was under a lot of pressure to leave. So, once I got off the train I had to sprint up the very steep escalator and run to my gate. (Really run because Air Canada wasn’t guaranteeing that the flight would still be there when I arrived.) Naturally, the gate was D1 at the far end of the terminal. So I was running harder and faster than I have in many years with a great big ghetto burger in my stomach. I don’t recommend trying it.

During my train ride with the airport guy and my assorted chats with various personnel in the course of my adventure, I learned some interesting things.

  • Electronic boarding passes are great, but I will never again rely on them. A paper version is way better.
  • Losing a boarding pass is a really big deal. Especially if your airline has a marginal presence in the airport.
  • Once your boarding pass is issued with a depart time on it, you can’t go through security after that time. I didn’t realize that. So, if you check in and discover that your flight is delayed, it is still better to go through security. If you try to go through closer to the revised departure, you might not get through if the departure time shows as having gone by (security doesn’t get updated on flight departure times).
  • BCG is a god.

One piece of bad news – ghetto burger got stopped at customs going into Canada…It was tough to deny that I had meat in my bag with the delicious smells that were still coming from it!! I did recommend to the customs guy however, that he give it a try!!!

Addendum: CSC prudently has NEXUS membership but the machine was broken, otherwise, perhaps, ghetto burger could have reached hungrily waiting Consort of CSC.

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10 years ago

“No matter how skilled a traveler, mistakes are often made and new things always learned. ” The difference btw the skilled and the unskilled is that the former is not prepared for the mistake …