Traveling here can be interesting. Back home we go online, find out all the information, and book our tickets including paying for them right then. You’ll generally then print your ticket off and be good. Here things are a little more complicated. Take my trip here to Vila. It’s been fraught with messiness of the sort that is just to be expected here in Vanuatu. In summation, I nearly didn’t make it to Vila and now I’m staying for an extra couple of days. So how did this happen?
We book tickets from the outer islands by calling Air Vanuatu. We get the booking set and get a confirmation number. Then we have to get to our local booking agent who is generally the guy who works at the airport. Our airport is an hour truck ride away (which costs $40 if we charter the trip) and the guy is only there when planes are coming in. Fortunately, the woman at the post office goes down every Wednesday to get the mail. If a truck is already going somewhere you just jump on and don’t have to pay anything. Once you get down to the agent you give the confirmation number and pay for the ticket. Once you’re paid, the agent should call Air Vanuatu and let them know that you’ve paid and not to cancel the booking. This is where things broke down. Apparently, that communication didn’t happen. And no, I didn’t find out that it hadn’t until I showed up at the airport to get on the flight (which was on Ambae so not my airport). I gave them my ticket and was informed that I wasn’t on the list. They did a bunch of calling around and figured out the problem. Since I had the ticket telling them that I had paid, the agent there told me that he’d try to get me on the flight. So I waited. In another display of typical Vanuatu, I was never actually told I could get on the plane. I took them loading my bag on the plane, which was empty, to mean I could go. I got in just fine.
Today there was further excitement. Firstly, I’ve been sick for the past few days. I’ll spare you all the deals but traveling would have been inconvenient. So I went into Air Vanuatu to see if I could change my ticket to Wednesday. What do I find there but that I am once again not confirmed on the flight but wait-listed. We’ll see how Wednesday goes. Maybe this time the plane will have come two hours early and I’ll miss that one too. Yes, that has been known to happen.
On the upside, this does mean I get more time to take care of things on the internet.