Sunday, 21 July 2013

ABOUT TAM AIRLINES and TAM supervisor Eduarda in Curitiba

About TAM – Brasilian Airlines and TAM supervisor Eduarda in Curitiba

This is mainly a big compliment to TAM, Brasilian airlines, still a member of Star Alliance. But middle of July, due to the new joint venture/new company with LAN (which changes LAN and TAM into LATAM or LANTAM or TAMDERAMTAMTAM, like a Samba drum), they will leave the Star Alliance to join the One World Alliance, which is like relegating themselves from the Premier League into the 2nd division. But I am sure the big guys at LAN and TAM will earn themselves a huge bonus, which is common all over the world, but maybe a little bit bigger in Brasil. But this is a different story.

I flew TAM on the following connections:
Porto Alegre – Florianopolis, Florianopolis – Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo – Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro – Salvador da Bahia, Salvador da Bahia – Brasilia, Brasilia – Manaus, Lima – Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo – Foz da Iguacu, Foz da Iguacu – Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo – Curitiba (here we will have a big criticism coming up, but just the only one), Curitiba – Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro – Belem, Manaus – Brasilia, Brasilia – Vitoria, Vitoria – Rio de Janeiro.

First of all, the staff was very kind and friendly (hello Ryan Air), except in Curitiba, but more about this later, although most of them struggled a little bit with the English language, because Brasilian generally don’t understand why not the whole world speaks Portuguese.  (As mentioned before in a different article, their Portuguese sounds a bit like a drunken Russian puts two tampons up his nostrils and speaks backwards.) But they did their best, because this silly foreigner could not say much more than bom dia (pronounced “Bong ghia”, like in Carman Ghia) or boa tarde (pronounced “Taji”, like in Fuji) and Obrigado 
(pronounced Brigaaaaaaaaaado, although the o at the end turns more into an u, but the female version of “thank you” would be Brigaaaaaaaada anyway,athough the a at the end turns more into an u.

All my flights were booked through and I never had any problems with the check-in. My luggage was constantly overweight, but they always smiled and did not charge me extra (except, of course, in Curitiba). And my hand luggage, because of all the camera equipment, was even heavier, but Brasilians have no problems to take even 17 handbags on a flight.
When the staff found out, that I have some disabilities, they always took special care of me and boarded me first. Special care means “special care” and not what Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryan Air, promised business class passengers on forthcoming transatlantic flights that blow-jobs will be included. Occasionally TAM even let me into their Premier lounge which is normally reserved for big guys or guys from TAMDERAMTAMTAM. Only one (1) of the above mentioned flights was delayed… and just 30 minutes. Otherwise we were always on time and my luggage was never lost (hello Alitalia).

OK, being friendly to staff helps (hello Brasilians). It’s a wonderful experience for TAM personal not being abused or shouted at. PS: at this stage I should mention, that GOL or Azul are good airlines as well, but TAM has a little bit more.

So, what was wrong in Curitiba? First of all, none of the check-in staff could speak English, although one guy tried it, but gave up after “Hello”. Then they insisted that I have to pay for my overweight luggage. When mentioned to them that I never had to pay on any other TAM flights and even when I showed them my special Star alliance card (and a golden card from a London video store, because they could not speak English, I thought this card might impress them) they insisted and said “No, this is Curitiba”. I thanked them very much for the incredible information, which confirmed just the town I was in and asked for the supervisor. There she was: Eduarda, who behaved more like Eduardo. I was so surprised, that even the supervisor Eduarda/o could not speak English. All she said with a smile like recovering from a hangover after a three-day-party “help me, help me, help me”. Now I got even more confused, because I was under the impression that she was there to help me. So, I gave up and then they told me that I had to go, or better said limp to a counter, approximately 10 miles or so away, where I had to pay my 35 $ overweight penalty, because Eduarda/o showed no mercy… but then again who would with this incredible hangover? So I limped to the “sin bin”, waited 30 minutes in a long line, before I was generously allowed to pay the penalty. Although arriving three hours before departure at the airport, I nearly missed my flight.
After all these good experiences which I had with TAM, Curitiba killed it nearly all. But I honestly believe now that I should be fair and I have to accept, that Curitiba is probably the TAM sin bin. I guess, TAM has a competition every year regarding friendliness, kindness, and professionalism and the losers are sent to Curitiba – as a penalty – to work there. Of course not to improve, but as hopeless candidates who will never make it back into the real TAM world. On a TAM monopoly game version, Curitiba stands for “jail”.

Oh, Eduarda/o, I am so scared of you. If I meet you again one day, you will take revenge by screaming “help me, help me. Help me”.

To all the football fans who will come to the World Cup in Brasil in Summer 2014: I can only hope your team does not have to play in Curitiba, although it is not fair to the city. Curitiba is nice and has a lot to offer. Just do not use TAM when leaving this lovely city unless you are a masochist who loves the encounter with the TAM people there and of course the supervisor Eduarda.

 Dirk van Appeldorn

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