Tuesday, August 10, 2010

trusty travel tips or how to avoid airline hell

1. Check and double check the names on your plane tickets days or weeks before pre-boarding time, not 18 hours pre-boarding time, or at least check the names during the hours your travel agency is open.

And by double check I mean get your husband or best friend to check, because if you have a different last name than your husband and kids, you may not notice that the travel agent listed your family's last name as your own instead of the maiden name you kept when you married.

i.e., not

And the Transportation Security Administration? You might find after two hours on hold with your airlines 1-800-TRAV-HELL line that the TSA does not like it one bit when the printed name doesn't match your government issued ID; i.e., they just might ground you.

2. Or not, if you make a special trip to the airport the night before you are scheduled to depart, and find a kindly airline agent who was about to leave for the night but returned to the desk just in time to see your frantic face begging for assistance. She may not even need to see the thousand pieces of identification you gathered in a desperate attempt to prove you are who you say you are.

3. The next day, when you are flying into DFW airport at 11:30 am and read on your ticket that your connecting flight departure time is 2:35 pm,, you may not want to assume that you have a two hour layover; i.e., when the GATE column on your ticket reads, "GATE 1," but the travel magazine map in the seat pocket shows that DFW has no GATE 1, it might be a good idea to double check with the airline agent before you get yourselves all comfortable in the adjacent lounge area.

By getting all comfortable in the adjacent lounge area I mean lying on the floor, head on backpack, feet propped on a lounge chair, losing yourself in the book you've been waiting months to read, ignoring blaring calls on the loudspeaker which say something like,

Bradley, party of five, please report to the check in desk immediately

Because? The ticket might have been printed incorrectly, and, in fact, the depature time is actually 12:35 pm, not 2:35 pm

And? You might just find that you have missed your connecting flight.

And then? You might just find that all remaining flights into your destination city are booked for the rest of the day, ma'am, where were you when we called your name on the loudspeaker over and over?!

4. When the flight attendants use your family's last name to announce the gate numbers for connecting flights, i.e., "Bradley 15" equals American Airlines speak for Gate B-15, and you point this fact out to the annoyed airline agent and tell her this is the reason you ignored her repeated loudspeaker calls, she might look at you like you have grown an extra head and tell you that two-headed passengers require two tickets; i.e., she may not validate the fact that using a common last name as a Gate identifier might make it their fault that a party of five missed their connecting flight.

5. When you miss your connecting flight and learn that all of the remaining flights are full, it most definitely is a good idea to put on your most deferring and pathetic face when you ask that they please put your family of five on the stand-by list. If you do this, they might just bump you ahead of 15 stand-by passengers and get you on the next flight out.


hokgardner said...

Oh no on all the airport stuff. We just traveled with a party of six, and I would have died had any of that happened to us.

Mental P Mama said...

Good. Grief.

Mary said...

So that was a relaxing 24 hours then?

Jenn @ Youknow...that Blog? said...

Nooooooooo!!!!!!!! Poor you!!!!!

I really do feel for you, but the empathy is somewhat marred by loving the post. Just sayin'.

Hope the rest of your vacay is/was fabulous!

Glennis said...

OK, I hate flying with a white-hot hatred that is strong enough to melt steel.

But you know what's cool? I know a former flight attendant who actually KNOWS the JetBlue flight attendant who flipped out at JFK!

And prickly pear 'tinis must be a beautiful color!

shrink on the couch said...

aunt snow -- prickly pear tinis are the most magnificent magenta color. neon, even. I feel like toasting George Jetson when I drink them.

Christie said...

I loathe flying, for reasons just like this that have happened to me a million times...

Kirsetin Morello said...

OH, oh, oh! What a mess! Is there anyone out there in airline world who actually cares about the customer? If so, I haven't met them.

Jennifer said...

If Dante were alive, he would add a couple extra circles of hell to accommodate airport nightmares.

I really, really love driving.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

Oh no. Are you still at the airport? Is there free Wi-Fi at least?

shrink on the couch said...

cheri -- free wifi if you sit on the floor behind the straight back couches

Anonymous said...

Vacations with children so relaxing, aren't they?

I caught up on your old posts, laughed my bum off at the advice for couples therapy, and appreciate the book suggestion for best book of the summer. Will have to remember that at the library tomorrow!

Susan said...

I am old enough to remember when the actually told each and every customer where their connecting flight's gate was and gave you a little map and directions. I am obviously ancient.

Rachel Cotterill said...

That sounds like one heck of a painful journey. But it also sounds like it worked out okay in the end...?

No Longer 25 said...

Ah nighmare journey, I've had my name called before when I was at the wrong gate - so embarassing! When they have to wait for you when your first flight was delayed then you have to run and everyone gives you evil stares when you get on the plane as if you held them up on purpose!

Anonymous said...

argh! i guess we all have a travel hell story. i'm going to refrain from sharing so that i can have a nice happy day. don't need to go back there! sorry for you tho'. that completely sucks.

shrink on the couch said...

JadeLD - have to admit, I have been the bearer of just such an evil scowl at latecomers. I now know better.

Unknown said...

that sounds like a nightmare

shrink on the couch said...

Just to clarify, I'm not a total victim in all of this. Travel agent told me to double check the ticket info. She made an honest, easy to make mistake and I didn't look closely enough when I printed out my itinerary.

AND had we paid closer attention to our arrival times we would have seen the second mistake. If we had paid more attention to my husband's confusion about the gate numbers. If, if, if.

In the end, all was well, but I'm pretty sure I lost 5 lbs in water weight with all the heavy duty sweating.

Kathleen Scott said...

Oh my god, you couldn't make this up...did you take turns going to the bar?

Jocelyn said...

I was all "Oh crap" 'til 5., at which point I relaxed.

But hell on wings.

shrink on the couch said...

Kathleen -- first thing I wanted to tell the agent was "And no, we were not getting drunk at the bar!"

We weren't But did I feel like getting drunk after this? Y.E.S.