Friday, August 22, 2008

Buses, planes, trains ... and a ticket adventure

Work's been particularly hectic this week - so there hasn't been a lot of time for blogging.

The terribly useful Translink timetable for the City Airport bus

Having caught the bus to work this morning, and then managed to find a bus stop that the Metro 600 to the City Airport would pull up at near the Waterfront (Chichester Street, stop B - the one nearest the car park outside Argos ... are you confident looking at the Translink map where you'd stand on Chichester Street or where near the Albert Clock?) and making the short hop across to Birmingham, I'm now in England for the long weekend, and a day in Sheffield on Tuesday to visit some internal customers.

It had been a great idea late last night to book all the train tickets I needed for this weekend and next week through the website, marked for collection at a FastTicket machine at Birmingham International (the airport/NEC station). It would cut out all that queuing at ticket desks and busy kiosks while the seconds count down to the train leaving the platform.

VOID ticket

The first set of tickets, seat reservations and receipts popped out ok. But with the second set, the kiosk omitted the actual ticket, just printing VOID where there should have been a whole lot more words and details.

"Oh, that's been happening a bit today ... Will have to get someone to talk to you" said the guy at customer reception at Birmingham New Street.

The resolution? Convince someone brought out wearing a Virgin uniform to ask the same guy behind the customer reception desk to write out a Special Authority to Travel - essentially a paper ticket and staple the remaining reservation coupons etc to it.

So now I've queued after all, and got the least credible looking train ticket ever ... but it'll be worth it at 07:02 on Tuesday morning when I start the long trek north east.

Thank you Virgin for a good piece of customer service - and even predicting the platform I should head to for this crowded train down to Gloucester.


Timothy Belmont said...

I've started using the Airbus service from the Europa bus station to Aldergrove. Very good, reliable service.
I often cycle to the City airport with my hand-luggage strapped over my shoulder! :-)


Anonymous said...

And you know what? thetrainline would have charged you for using a credit card *and* for collecting it from a machine. It's now impossible to buy tickets from thetrainline without paying for collection or delivery in some form. Next time try the new - the booking engine is far far smoother than thetrainline - cheaper tickets are easier to find and there is no booking, collection or delivery charge. And you can use the exact some fastticket machines at the stations.

Hope you enjoy my old alma mater of Sheffield. I particularly recommend the Brown Bear pub on Norfolk street (near the Winter Gardens and ugly new St. Pauls Hotel) for a particularly satisfying "old man" pub in the heart of the city. I believe they do lunch as well now.

Alan in Belfast said...

Ah ... But since the getting-to-Sheffield ticket was work related, it went through the corporate portal which (for us) doesn't charge for printing etc. (It would still for postage.)