Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Traveling


The saying 'Getting there is half the fun' became obsolete with the advent of commercial airlines. --Henry J. Tillman

I have been away from the blogosphere this week because I have been working on some travel plans. I have so much going on!

Today I'm going to Savannah for a work conference. So I'll be gone for the rest of the week. That's a picture of the 1858 fountain in Forsyth Park, one of the most well-known landmarks of the city. You might recognize it if you've ever seen Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which is set in Savannah. That's a great movie, by the way. I'm kind of excited since I've never been there before. I hope I'll have time to look around and check out some stuff. Or at least get some great food. There is so much history and culture down there. I'm hoping to dine at The Pirates House because it is supposedly haunted. You know how I love anything ghosty!

While I'm gone, Sammy will be at the kennel. I just dropped him off and I sobbed the whole way back. I couldn't even say goodbye because I was too upset. Needless to say, I'm feeling very over-protective and fear that this will traumatize him. I'm worried he will think he is homeless or something and will sink into a deep depression while I'm gone. I certainly flatter myself, don't I? But the kenned has been highly recommended and is reasonably priced, so it should be ok. Too bad they don't take credit cards. This will be a little more financially challenging for me, but I should be ok. I sure do wish I could take him with me, though. I'll miss him so much! K will be out of town too, so that's why she can't help me out in the dogsitting department. Navy Guy is graduating so she has to go to Charleston this week and then she has to go to a wedding near Charlotte on Saturday.

Speaking of weddings, after I get back from Savannah on Friday night, I have to turn around and pack for a wedding in Hickory, NC. Blonde's brother is getting married and she invited Brunette and me to attend as her guests. I guess that the bride is somewhat of a bridezilla because she is having a dozen or so bridesmaids. These attendants have to buy $250 shoes and $350 dresses. Miss Bridezilla also registered for some pretty hoity-toity fine china and crystal. A dozen of each Kate Spade place setting. Yeah...that comes out to around $250 worth of dinner plates alone. Must be nice. I'm hoping that she has the same taste when it comes to the buffet. Especially since I will know only three people at this wedding--hey, I can keep myself occupied if you have some good food around!

Let's cross our fingers that I'm not too fat to fit into my dress. When the number on the scale is rising like the price of gas, it's time to hit the gym. I have been sleeping and playing with Sammy too much. Note to self: must start working out again. Thank goodness there is a gym in the hotel.

So I'm trying to get a plane ticket so I can visit my friend German Nurse in (where else?) Germany. She just had the cutest baby and wants me to come visit. "No problem!" I say, "I should be able to get a free ticket with all the points I have saved up on my credit card!"

All 32,000 points. Which took me two years to accumulate. Which I got by using the card to spend $32,000 of my hard earned money. Considering it's only about 10,000 miles or so on a map from here to Germany and back again, I figured I had it in the bag, right? I mean, usually for every point you transfer, you get one mile. Right?

Oh, not in my case! I'm not going to mention the credit card or the airline, but this is basically what happened:

I called the credit card people to transfer ALL 32,000 points over to the frequent flier mile program of the airline. I then go to book the flight. Based on some unknown mathematical equation, my 32,000 points are not based on real, actual geographic miles, but some pathetically small fraction of that. So 32,000 miles are not enough for a free ticket to Germany. (Remember, I have spent $32,000 dollars! And it's not enough for one measly little ticket! Never mind the fact that that much money will buy you a lot of airline tickets to Germany!) How many miles do I need? A total of 50,000. So I offered to buy extra miles to make up the difference.

This seemed like my solution until I found out that they only allow a certain number of frequent flier tickets per flight. And every single flight to Germany in June is fresh out of frequent flier tickets. Go figure. So since I would be one of those frequent flier ticket people, I cannot buy a ticket for a flight to Germany in June.

"If you want to wait until July you can go then using that kind of ticket," they said.

"If I wanted to go in July, I would have booked it in July," I said.

"Ok, well, if you want to stay in Milan a couple of days, then go to Germany, you can do that on June 23rd."

"But I don't have any money or enough vacation time to do that," I said, "Besides, I'm obviously broke, because I'm trying to get a free ticket." Duh.

No dice. They can't work with me on this. All the frequent flier tickets have been sold. I ask to speak to a manager. Some lady (who I imagine looks like Frau Farbissina) gets on the phone with me and interrupts me a zillion times. Finally I asked:

"Well, since I'm not paying for the ticket with 100% frequent flier miles, isn't that ok? I mean, I'm willing to pay $600 of my own money. That's really only about half frequent flier." I asked. To which my reply was, "No, if any portion of the ticket is paid for with miles, it is considered a frequent flier ticket." Oh. Kay.

Then she says, "But we do have a special program where if you have 100,000 frequent flier miles, you don't have to worry about that and you can fly on any of our flights at any time. You can take whatever flight you want."

"But I just told you I only have 32,000 miles. So that isn't really an option for me. That doesn't help. I have no choice but to buy a regular ticket at the full price of $1300."

"Oh, but you could buy the missing 68,000 miles you need to total it to 100,000 miles. Let me see how much that costs...um, that would be $1700 approximately."

I don't think she was even listening to me. It's like that scene in Tommy Boy where David Spade says to the airline ticket counter lady, "Hi. I'm Earth. Have we met?" and she says, "I don't think so....?" That's exactly how I felt!

Gosh, how helpful. When I started to get upset (and yes, cry), she said I can write a letter to corporate. Yeah, because they would do something! I told her she must think I'm stupid. That's when I let her have it.

"You know, I used to have sympathy for airlines when I would see on the news that they were going under. But now I understand why. It's because you have crappy customer service and inflexible policies. I'm offering to pay half price for a ticket. Isn't half price better than nothing? You know as well as I do that that seat will probably remain empty because you would rather stick to your silly policies than get half price. And with the cost of jet fuel these days, I'm really surprised at your business practices. It's no wonder your industry goes belly up all the time. Here I am, a new customer, and all that has happened is that I've misunderstood your policies because I didn't see anything about them on your website. Your website never said anything about this during the whole time I was browsing and looking for a ticket. Your other customer service person, whom I called yesterday, told me I wouldn't have a problem doing what I want to do, so apparently, y'all need to work on your consistency because I'm hearing two different things."

I was not aware of their policies about frequent flier tickets because the policies were hidden on their website. I looked for them, trust me! But nothing on the site said anything about special tickets. Oh, sure, I found it later, after she explained to me where it was on the website. But it shouldn't be that hard to find something so important! I told her she needs to tell the website people at Screw You Airlines that they need to re-do their website because it's very confusing and misleading. She said she'd pass the information along. How much more condescending can you get???.

Wanna hear the kicker? Those points I transferred from my credit card CANNOT be put back onto my card. Trust me, I tried. So it's not like I can start over or something. Now I'm stuck with 32,000 frequent flier miles which aren't enough to help me take the trip I want to take. And now I hate this airline, so I don't even want to have anything to do with them. This was two years of point-saving for NADA.

I think what I'm going to do is use 25,000 of them towards a free domestic flight. I'm sure I'll find somewhere to use them. Gotta make sure it's a flight that isn't booked up already! Sheesh! Let's hope I book it in the next 12 months, because if I don't I will lose those too. Don't you love all these little catches?

Then I will never fly again because this is ridiculously complicated and I feel I'm really not getting my money's worth out of these points. Grrrr....I'll just use my points for other things from now on.

But now I'm left with a dilemma. Do I suck it up and shell out $1300 for a plane ticket? I did find a cheaper flight for $1100, but that's not much of a difference. Or, do I tell German Nurse I can't go? She will be heartbroken. She's already emailed me three times about how excited she is that I'm coming to see her. I'd love to go see her and I already have the time off. But I'm b-r-o-k-e. Any advice for VB?? What would you do?

So continuing on with the money theme of this post...I bought some eye cream at Target the other day. I love Target. I think just about every American woman does. I usually am very happy shopping there. But I go to open the eye cream to use it yesterday. The tube is empty. That's because someone used all of the eye cream (I could tell because there were traces of it in the cap) and then put it back into the packaging and returned it to Target, where they didn't bother to check inside before putting it back on the shelf for sale. So someone got a free tube of eye cream, leaving me very ticked off. And I couldn't find the receipt.

Isn't that gross that someone could do that? I mean, what if they had an eye infection? And how cheap can you get--it only cost about $10. I wish I had thought to check, because people used to do that all the time when I worked for Clinique. Some women would even open their half-used bottles of perfume, dilute it with water, then return the "new" bottle to us. Incredible.

Luckily, I found the receipt this morning. Yesss!!! Maybe my luck is turning around.

Better news: I think Repo is going to get a job offer from a nice hotel today. He said his interview went really well and they called him last night for a second interview. Then they said he should be getting another call today. Sounds good! I am really excited about this because he'll be much less stressed. He's happy because he'd be making more money. Woo-hoo!

Ok, I'm off to catch up on reading some blogs before going on my big adventure! Have a good weekend everyone! I'll be back on Monday.




11 comments:

Gypsy said...

This is *precisely* why I left the travel business. Yes, in a previous life I thought it would be nice to be a travel agent. Oh, was I mistaken. Soooooorely mistaken.

Good luck using those seemingly-worthwhile-but-really-useless miles! And have a great time in Savannah. I'm entirely too jealous for words.

jennster said...

i LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE savannah!!!!!!!! LOVE IT!!!! have a great time, but fucking read my blog woman- it's the big blog post with allt he questions asnwered, whore! READ IT!

Vixen said...

Honey, you need to install word verification to get rid of the spam. Go to Settings, Comments, click yes for Word Verification and no more Anon spammers--i promise.

Now, please tell us the airline so that we can boycott them for their bad practice. Bastards! I can't believe how shiesty they are being. Gosh! I hope you can find some way to get to Germany, it sounds like a heavenly trip. If you can shell out the 1grand to go, I'm sure that you could find an awesomely priced ticket somewhere. I'll even help you do research if you need it.

Enjoy Savannah!

NML said...

Let's hope your friend with the expensive dinnerware tastes has the same taste when it comes to your wedding.... That's pretty disgusting with your airline. I mean seriously, do you need to fly to the frickin moon or something to actually benefit?

Stuck said...

Talk with CSI-Guy about how he gets his tickets to Germany to see CSI-Girl. I don't know if he has some magic trick or if he just bites the bullet and pays full fare for all them trips, but he'd certainly have some insight.

The Dummy said...

What a crappy airline! I've heard people had problems with using frequent flier miles... you're the first to actually spell it out. I've opted instead to convert those 'points' straight into cash, instead of miles, because of the severe restrictions of the programs out there. Sorry to hear you're in a bind... it still sucks thinking about what they did to you!

K said...

Gorgeous pic, I've always wanted to go to Savannah. As for the frequent flier miles--those airlines are always trying to screw us! Did you hear about NW starting to charge extra for aisle seats? How low can they go?!

teahouse said...

Jeez, what horrors for you this week! ::hugs::

I was in Savannah over Thanksgiving, and we did see all of the little parks. It's a lovely city..you'll like it. Hopefully it will make up for the crappiness you've had with the airline and Target.

DetoxSmurf said...

Aww princess... you are way to sweet to have your heart broken like that. I hope everything works out for the best. If not, I can always set up a hammock and you can hang out with me at the beach! :P

I have a good friend from Hickory.

I work at a hotel and absolutely love it. No stress, laid back co workers, and the pay is pretty good. It's not as rewarding as being an intelligence analyst for the feds, but it's not a bad job either.

Hope you have fun in Georgia!

Virginia Belle said...

alright! that's it! i hate to do this to everyone, but the comment verifier is going on today! good grief! i'm sorry guys, but it's getting bad.

gypsy-- i love your cynicism! you are a girl after my own heart!

jennster-- my virtual tail is between my virtual legs. my most humblest of apologies. i will get right on it! i miss reading your blog! and when did you go to savannah??

vixen-- i know, i know! but i hate typing those dumb words. alas, i have no choice.and yes, after a lot of thought, i've decided to out the airline. i'll talk about it in my next post.

NML--well, seeing as how i don't know her and will probably never see her again, it's good that i didn't spend a lot of money on her wedding gift! that's the thing--i seem to get invited to weddings where i hardly know the people there and they would never come to my wedding because they hardly know me. oh well. that's the way the cookie crumbles. at least i get lots of free yummy wedding food. :) and apparently, i needed to first spend another $25,000 AND book my flight a year ahead of time before this would have worked out the way i wanted. grrrrrrr.....

stuck--that's a good idea. if anyone knows about flying to Germany, it's CSI Guy. thanks for the tip. i'll talk to him at trivia on wednesday.

DD-- thanks for the sympathy! and glad to read that you are smarter than i and have used your points wisely! i would not wish this annoyance on anyone. bastards! but glad i could educate the masses, to an extent. i hope others will remember my story when they are making travel plans.

K-- yes, i'm starting to view airlines as deceptive and self-serving. my sympathy for the industry has vanished.

teahouse-- yes, i did like it! gorgeous city. although, i would have had more fun if a friend had gone with me. so i'll have to go back one day. and it was a good way to get the whole airline thing off my mind. i'm not that upset anymore.

detox-- actually, now that you say that, i'm reminded that i'm supposed to be in myrtle beach at some point this summer. Repo's mom has a timeshare....so keep that hammock handy! thanks for the sympathy. did you know that Repo loves working in hotels, too? he adores it. glad you are liking it.

jennster said...

i went to savannah a few years back- cause i wanted to see it and go there! i combined the trip with a charleston, SC trip as well! itw as awesome, but we didn't spend enough time in savannah and i wanna go back! i am obsessed with the south!! lol