b Papa Dog's Blog: We Break Free From Itinerary Hell

Papa Dog's Blog

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Monday, October 31, 2005

We Break Free From Itinerary Hell

We’re going to Edmonton for Ho Ho so that Baby Dog can meet my family and learn what snow is and so Mama Dog can get a refresher on what actually constitutes cold weather (and how, search as you might, it’s not to be found in California). We had a complicated set of arrangements to make so that we could also visit Halmonie in Santa Barbara. What we came up with was that we’d drive down to Santa Barbara, spend a day or two there, fly to Edmonton from LAX, spend several days there, then do the whole thing again in reverse. Mama Dog made the reservations ages ago, managing to score us direct flights between LAX and YEG. We’d spend only three hours in the air both ways, give or take.

As Bernardo is known to have said once or twice, “There were some complications.”

First complication: Halmonie decided she was going to sell the house and move up to the Bay Area to be close to her daughter and granddaughter. Since there was no way to predict when the sale of the house might go through, this made the Santa Barbara leg of the visit a dicey proposition. We decided to scrap the Santa Barbara visit, and had to book an extra flight from OAK to LAX to catch our flight to YEG.

Second complication: The airline cancelled our flight and gave us an incredibly lame substitution. I’ve noticed this happening more and more in recent years. At least two of the flights I’ve booked for nephew and niece visits have been cancelled and changed around. Has anybody else noticed this trend? It used to be, you booked a flight for a particular day and time, you got an itinerary, and when it came time to travel you actually followed the itinerary you were given. When did this change? Our new itinerary was no longer direct LAX-YEG. Now we flew from OAK to LAX to catch a flight to PHX to go to YEG. “It looks like they’re trying to avoid diagonals,” Mama Dog observed. All told, we’d be spending twelve hours in transit each way. Worse, the return flight departed YEG at seven in the morning, meaning we’d have to be at the airport by about four to go through customs and all. We started to view the trip with dread.

Last night at the Pirates’ house, Mama Dog told our tale of woe to the Pirates and a couple of the fierce crew of Pirate Grandparents, who were aboard. “You should call Expedia” – the online agent through whom we’d initially booked the trip – “and have them rebook your flight,” Stepgrandmother Pirate-in-Law said. Mama Dog and I were all like, “Der, yeah, we should.” We were both so conditioned to the idea that airline tickets are non-refundable, non-transferrable, and without a court of appeal that we hadn’t even thought to try.

When we got home, Mama Dog spent about an hour on the phone, explaining our situation and working through options. Because of the many factors involved – the removal of our reason for going through LA, the fact that our flight was had been changed on us by the airline, and the fact that we were traveling with a small child who couldn’t be reasonably expected to happily endure twelve airplane hours – Expedia was surprisingly sympathetic. Not only did we get our itinerary change, but Mama Dog managed to find us a flight from SFO that, while including a connection through SEA, was almost as short as our original direct flight from LAX. Better still, we wouldn’t have to depart YEG until the afternoon.

So, yay Mama Dog! Way to TCOB. Yay Stepgrandmother Pirate-in-Law! And if you find yourself stuck in itinerary hell, don’t give up! Complain!


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