Category Archives: Airlines

That Time American Airlines Gave Me a Heart Attack

It has not been a good few months for American-based airlines.  I’m not going to sugarcoat it – the frustrations of subpar and declining service which has been the norm since 9/11 was just looking for a reason to explode.

And it has. Rather than just going away, people are now more willing to listen to others’ complaints about customer service and strong-arm tactics.  Airlines have their defenders, yes, but even those defenses often just serve to fuel anger.  Is there a valid reason for enforcing a no-one standing while the plane is in line for take-off rule?  One hundred percent yes.  But what happens if you just can’t hold it?  And what happens if you have to go, but the line to the hopelessly overextended bathroom area which services 75 other passengers stretches down the aisle and turbulence happens? I noticed, to my horror, upon disembarking a flight from Frankfurt to Johannesburg that one of the adult passengers had actually wet himself.  That should *never* happen.  But it does.  And many people are afraid it might end up being them.  Fear, dread, and total loss of control – combined with a multi-hour uncomfortable smoosh-fest with gross food – does not lend itself to happy and easygoing passengers.

If anything good comes of this, it will be that US-based carriers up their game and remember that customers are paying them for a service, they are not doing customers a favor by taking their money and abusing them.  And airlines are making the right noises about change; whether they follow through or not remains to be seen.

I think some of them are trying, though, and it was as a part of one of these attempts that American Airlines triggered my ulcer into acting up and gave me heart palpitations that nearly sent me to the emergency room for treatment.

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Those Don’t Seem Like Such Friendly Skies Anymore

Do I even have to mention it?  *IT*?  The fact that United Airlines demanded a man ALREADY BOARDED AND SEATED get off the plane, and called the police to force him to leave with a few bits of blood thrown in along the way?  We already all know that story, right? And although most of the internet is firmly on the side of hating the airlines, there are some defending the airline’s actions as well.

I’ll get to that, but first, I think we should have a little fun playing a game I came up with called Flying United Airlines Bingo.

How many categories can YOU get? And what would be an appropriate prize?

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That Time We Stayed in a Murder Hotel in Addis Ababa

Right at the start I can assure you, I’m not using similes, metaphors, or exaggerating.  Me.  Two kids.  Murder hotel.  Addis Ababa.

And I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ethiopian Airlines for their high commitment of customer service in adventure travel (*COUGH*).

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The Time I was THAT Mom

I’m not going to lie, I’m THAT mom more than I’m comfortable with.  I’m THAT mom whose kids melted down at the dinner table after a full day of sightseeing while other children sat beautifully and quietly in starched dress clothes and said things like, “Please, Mother, might I have a bit of cheese?”  At least, that’s what it seems like the other kids are doing when I’m THAT mom at the restaurant.

I’m also THAT mom when my son chooses to run-off to the bathroom without telling anyone while we are checking our luggage at the airport and in a time crunch due to unexpected traffic.  You know the one, THAT mom who loses her mind and marches her child, goose-stepping toward the immigration officers who look like they are caught between fear of bringing the matter up and causing an explosive incident and wondering if the flight will be safe with that much frustrated anger  in one economy seat.

This time, though – this time I was the mother who should have been featured on Passenger Shaming. Specifically, this mother,  although not really that mother, just one with the same sort of detritus left by my offspring.

It happens.

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The Dark Side of Pointage – Staring Into the Customer Service Abyss

 

There's always a curry at the BA Heathrow lounge.  Except in this picture.  This is the one time.
There’s always a curry at the BA Heathrow lounge. Except in this picture. This is the one time.

I’m sure you can understand why, as of the middle of September, I was rather reluctant to use reservations we made using United mileage points way back in April.   Maybe you can’t.  But you *could* if I told you that those reservations were made on a route that would be using Accra, Ghana as a transit point to get from one place in Africa to Marrakech, Morocco in December.

Okay, maybe you’re still a little confused.  Let me illustrate:

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On Airlines: Virgin Atlantic

The following is a guest post from Mr. Kate:

A recent quick trip to the States led to a new experience: flying Virgin Atlantic. 20 days ahead of travel, the price was hard to beat. For this short trip, the chance to minimize jet lag with the  non-stop flight from Gatwick to Orlando sealed the deal.  The airline cultivates an image of a maverick challenger, with affordable swankiness. You’ll find mixed online reviews, but my unscientific sense is that most of the negatives use the word “disappointed,” so the marketing is at least working to set up expectations.

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Don’t Fear… One Way Tickets

This summer I’m sending my husband on a very short trip, but one he has been dying to take since… forever.

Shanghai?  Kuala Lumpur?  Sydney?  No.  No.  No.

 

Definitely not Marrakech.

A fantasy and gaming convention.  You’re welcome, honey.

But of course, I want to get him there cheaply, and I don’t want to waste our precious airline miles on it.  Done and done – how?

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A Closer Look at Expedia Miles

Right outside a hotel we booked via Expedia.  The most important thing here to Surly is the UFC poster.
Right outside a hotel we booked via Expedia. The most important thing here to Surly is the UFC poster.

Go ahead – sing the Expedia theme song.  Right now.  I know you know it.

Now that is out of the way, let’s move on to the why of Expedia.  It’s actually very simple – of all the aggregators I’ve tried for hotel, car, and flight reservations, Expedia is the furthest reaching and the most easily tweaked.  While I adore Kayak’s little map with pictures of special price deals (gives me ideas!), there have been several times I’ve been able to find and book flights on Expedia that I could not find on Kayak.

Plus, Expedia has a points program – Expedia Rewards.  But right up front I’ll say that if the points program is your main reason for choosing Expedia, don’t bother.

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