Tuesday, October 24, 2006

When Your Airline Itinerary Gets Changed Five Times . . .

. . . you have to wonder if God is trying to tell you something.

(I know. I've been saying things like that a lot. More on that later, mayhap.)

Ever so many years ago, Grandma G made the extremely generous offer of flying any interested grandchildren down to Costa Rica to visit her daughter Susan (the aunt of said grandchildren). At the time, I was living in London and jetting around for ridiculously low prices to random Eastern European countries to visit former au pairs who had, after participating in my church’s ESL classes, returned home. All that to say: at the time, I wasn’t really very interested. Don’t ask me how anyone can be uninterested in a free trip to anywhere, but there you have it.

Last March, I was talking to Andrew’s-sister-Janice about the tropics and suddenly remembered the offer. It also finally dawned on me that maybe this was too good to pass up. Particularly because it costs a lot more to get to Eastern Europe from here. Fortunately, Grandma G was overjoyed to have someone else take her up on it.

I didn’t want her to have to pay too much, though, so I searched the web for the-cheapest-tickets-I-could-find. The good thing was, they turned out to be pretty cheap. The bad thing was, it was because the itinerary was shared by two airlines flying people around at deeply inconvenient hours of the day and night, via completely irrelevant locations like Philadelphia. I didn’t really think through all the repercussions of these details until things started to go wrong.

The first thing that went wrong was that United Airlines tried to ditch their leg of my return journey, leaving me stranded in irrelevant Philadelphia. (Apologies to people like Bryan and Bay and Lloyd Alexander, but you have to admit that Philly doesn’t really help me in the getting-to-Costa-Rica-quickly department.) Almost the last thing to go wrong was that United Airlines, who, over the course of three months, endeavoured to wrest me from their passenger list time and time again, finally succeeded. In the interim, I made numerous very long phone calls to very determined expedia employees and my tickets got changed five times. Moments before the final change (which happened a day and a half before I left), there was a nerve-wracking episode where it looked like I would have a pair of completely useless tickets, leaving from and returning to . . . where else but Philadelphia?

In case you haven’t guessed this by now, I do not live in Philadelphia.

In the end, though, I got to fly my whole trip on American, who behaved admirably throughout the entire ordeal, at much more human-appropriate hours, allowing for things like sleep and breakfast. But you can imagine that by the time I got on the first plane at 11 a.m. on the 7th, I was wondering if there wasn’t more to this trip than vacation.

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