Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Travel All Over the Day Part 1

The heat woke me hours before my body was ready to be dragged out of bed, but there was no sense in resisting. The fan was working overtime, the sun was shining in the filtered window and by 6 am our neighbor was giving us a preview of the pounding that he intended to pursue come a more reasonable hour. The man must have remodeled his apartment twelve times in the last four years. Either that or he is building a Trojan Horse in there. There is an endless trail of supplied being carted into his side apartment.

I wasn't sure what project I wanted to get started with, knowing we would be leaving for Bari later today. Okay, it was only 6 am and our flight was a full dozen hours away, yet there is packing, calling the taxi, planning on enough time for the Diner's Club Lounge, and so on.

What seemed reasonable was to check on tickets for our December trip to Quito. After checking an aggregator, I found not only the cheapest tickets I had seen, but also the best connections. I dreaded any connections through the US. Ugh! Plus, the travel times were anywhere from 24 - 48 hours, while requiring an overnight stay for connecting flights. This one that I snatched $100 cheaper per person and the travel time is only 1 hours traveling from Budapest to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Quito. Fabulous! On the way back, there is a stop in Panama, but it barely adds time to the travel. I thought for sure this was one of those "Book Now" and then "We are sorry, but that fare has sold out". What the heck, it is 6:15 am, I barely sipped my coffee, so I was in a gambling mood. I booked it. It went through. After plugging in my credit card details and having it accept them, I was getting tingles. It worked. It went through. We had tickets. Momentarily!
I received 2 e-mails from CheapO Air. One had our flights and all the booking information. The second one said that they could not verify the credit card information and I would have to call or e-mail them. Under that was a little box that was unnoticeable when you are basking in the glowing of a great airfare.

Deciding to call immediately, I was speaking with a man who apparently was working to pay his way through the English Language Academy of Tutanogo. Speaking slowly did not help. Speaking louder did not help. Screaming at him did help my nerves, but not the conversation. He kind of spoke like a Valley girl on Rohypnol having the sound level of Minnie Mouse. We went round and round. He wanted to call the New Mexico number where I thought I had my card listed. I explained I would not be there to answer the phone. He would not try calling me in Budapest, because they have to call the number on your credit card billing. Finally, I suggested I change credit cards to on that has my Budapest information. He kept interrupting me with his slurred speech, causing me to get increasingly interested in being a sadist master.

Finally, I hung up from him and called Customer Service, which is an oxymoron in itself. I was on hold for 32 minutes. After 15, I decided to try the online chat and play both ends. I was 4th in line, but by the time I was moved to number 2, they went offline. I lost my place. I hung up on the voice that kept telling me how important my call was and they would get to me as soon as possible. If our calls are so important, why don't they increase their staff?

I called AMEX to see if a charge was attempted. There was nothing. They said they would have put it through had it been attempted, because they know I am a big boy who can handle his own finances like an adult.

Venting my anger some more did not do much for my frustration level. When I looked at the e-mail once again, there was a tiny box that said "If you made this purchase, you can verify it by clicking here." I clicked, snapped, crackled, and popped the box. The window that opened said our ticket has not been confirmed. There was another box to click to make our seat choices. Go for it, my mind raced. All that it produced was a notice stating that my seat preferences would be taken into consideration at a later time. What a tease.

Off to pack now; we are leaving for Bari, Italy in a couple of hours. More later...
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