Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

I’m Screwed

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It runs in my family – I can remember my Dad on the phone for hours, booking our hotels for Italy, especially, making sure everything was perfect. We like to be in control of the details, we like to make sure everything will run smoothly. We like to have records to back us up and to insure our trips will not run into any snags.

Oh well.

Yesterday, on the way to our son’s house to take care of the sweetest little baby in the world, I got a phone call from Alaska Airlines that my carefully crafted reservations, all paid for, were not going to work now that there had been a schedule change.

For a minute, it was like my brain went on hold. I had worked SO HARD to make those reservations, with just the right routing and just the right amount of connecting time and everything was PERFECT and now it wasn’t going to work? She was offering me alternatives, but all I could think of was having to change our cat’s reservations, having to re-arrange all my PERFECT arrangements.

Hmmm. . . Even at the time, I could laugh at myself and my horror that now it wasn’t going to be PERFECT. Even at the time, I could hear God laughing and saying “maybe I have something better in store for you.” I could hear him, but getting off that hamster wheel in my brain is like trying to make a steaming locomotive make a 90 degree turn. I need a few minutes for the gears to shift, for the impetus to slack; change does not happen quickly, it happens in stages.

She had an idea, but had to call me back. That gave me the time I needed to take a deep breath and roll with it. When she called back, I was ready for her suggestion, which involved switching to an airline I never fly, a route I avoid, etc. but I was ready. The timing achieved the goal I wanted, which was to fly from Pensacola to Juneau in one day.

Then, as it turned out, there was also a problem with the return, same deal, something about being or not being a code share flight, or being or not being an Alaska Airways flight. Here is what I am experiencing with all my flights – these airlines might SAY they are a team, but when I call Air France to use my frequent flyer miles, they always want me to fly Air France, and they have these routes that will take me from say Atlanta to Paris to Kenya to Johannesburg, rather than putting me on the partner flight that goes directly from Atlanta to Johannesburg. And here is the line I hate: They haven’t released any seats on that flight for us to use.

Here is the truth as I see it: anything is possible. I have seen it happen. There are phrases bureaucrats use to put up barriers, but if they want to help you, those barriers can fall.

OK, OK, back to the subject. I am grateful to Alaska Airlines for calling me and sorting out the problem with ME. At the same time I just happened to check on some other reservations I have only to discover, online, that the reservations had changed from something I loved to something I hated, and when was Delta going to tell me? There is a disclaimer at the top saying I can try to change the changed portion or I can cancel my trip. If I hadn’t checked, how would I know??

I admire Alaska Airlines for stepping up to the plate. It can’t be easy for their people to face the wrath of people like me who don’t want their plans changed, who liked their plans just the way they are.

When these things happen, once I have a chance to cool down, I think about some changes and disappointments as being a protection. I don’t always understand why something didn’t work out, but I believe it was for the good. There was a house I did not buy on a slippery, landslide prone area in Seattle, a house with a magnificent view. I still think about that house now and then, and now, with the tragedy in Oso, I am thankful I did not buy it. I had put an offer on the house, then changed my mind, knowing I would worry all the time I was overseas about it slipping down the hill. It was enough to deter me, knowing I would worry too much about it, and always be looking for signs of instability, that I would become anxious when it would rain – and if you know Seattle, you know that rain is a given.

The screwed part is really that no matter how carefully we plan our trips, if we are flying we are at the mercy of large bureaucratic airlines who really don’t care about our comfort or convenience. They don’t care about the hundreds of thousands of miles on my frequent flyer card; I am just a logistic to them. Within the US, most ‘business class’ isn’t that much better than economy, and ‘economy comfort’ is still squished three abreast in seats that are too narrow and so you are touching shoulders with your neighbors. That is just wrong. A shift in reservations should trigger at least an e-mail, so people to whom it matters can make necessary changes. It’s not just me, we are all screwed.

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March 27, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Bureaucracy, Civility, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Survival, Travel | , | Leave a comment

An Unexpected Adventure

I thought we were traveling on a partner airline, but Alaska Airlines does things its own way, and I laughed – it’s a lot like most Alaskans. They board Alaska Airlines team members first, then they board from the BACK of the plane – whoda thunk?

We fly for a short time, then descend into rain and more rain and the small fishing village at the very southern tip of Alaska called Ketchikan. My Dad used to fly in and out of all these small Alaskan towns, and I grew up hearing all their names, but had never visited myself. Those getting off in Ketchikan, with all their fishing gear, de-planed, and the party began – a lot of people aboard knew one another.

Then came the announcement that there might be something wrong with the plane, and a mechanic was coming in on the next ferry, so we could all deplane and spend a little time in Ketchikan – well, the Ketchikan airport.

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You know who all the Alaskans are because they head directly to the bar. We followed them in to see that the seaplanes come in on the other side of the Ketchikan airport.

Whatever the problem was, it was soon solved and we headed into Sitka, where we landed on a field that looked like an aircraft carrier.

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Getting into Juneau just an hour late, our car was waiting, a car we liked, and our hotel was minutes from the airport. All in all, a great day, an easy travel day, with just enough adventure to let us know we are beginning a great holiday.

August 19, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Beauty, Cultural, Travel | , , | Leave a comment