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A Painful Lesson

DeparturesLast week we talked about a trip to Florida in Baseball Binge. My father thought it was a good idea, so he asked me, like always, to book him some tickets for a trip.

I got the information from him over the phone and wrote it down. Then I followed up with him in person to make sure the trip information was indeed correct.

I waited until a Tuesday afternoon when there would be no distractions and got to work looking for the best fare.

I used the Kayak, Hipmunk, Orbitz, Southwest and JetBlue websites to find the best deal.  I eventually found a quick round trip nonstop ticket for the dates he wanted at a great price on Orbitz.  We then played phone and text tag a few times to confirm that the flight times and price were good for him. Then I booked it.  I was done, no problem.  I booked the tickets just like I’ve done dozens of times before.

Fast forward to the following Thursday. I’m working a live shot at a fire scene and I get a text from my mother:

“Yikes! You need to change our flights! Daddy said March not February!”

I replied quickly:

“What? I did what?”

“[Expletive that rhymes with fit] I’ll fix it.”

That’s right, I had booked the tickets for February — not March as intended. I was so focused on getting the dates and days of the week correct I didn’t notice the February and March calendars are identical (until you get past February 28th).

I waited for what seemed to be an eternity for my laptop to turn on and link to the internet.  I had to reboot twice for my air card to connect properly.  The frustration was building fast.  I got on the phone with Orbitz and waited, and waited, and waited. The time on hold could have only been 5 minutes, but felt like for-ev-er.  The first customer service person I talked to, after digging out the Orbitz Record Locator number (you have to have that for them to help you)  informed me that the grace period for changing flights with no penalty expired at 10 p.m. Central Time the day after purchase. That would have been 10 p.m. Wednesday. I would have to pay substantial fees to both Orbitz and United to change dates.

I was starting to feel sick to my stomach.  I did my best to reign in my panic and my computer finally connected to the web. I went to the website. I then began what was going to be the painful process in changing the flight.  I went to the “My Account” page in the menu bar and clicked.  I then signed into the site by clicking on the “access a trip without signing in” link (since I don’t have an Orbitz account).  I located the itinerary and clicked on the “change/cancel flight” link and went about selecting the right dates.

After being given several options, I was able to find the same flights but this time in March.  The button to select with the price told me what it would cost in addition to the original sale.  I clicked.  A pop up message then told me to call customer service to confirm with the new Record Locator number.  I was on hold for a shorter amount of time and  talked with a very pleasant woman who had me go over the credit card info, new itinerary and the Record Locator then confirmed that the seats were available and we completed the sale. I had her send me and my father the new information via email.

The change wasn’t cheap. The cost was the equivalent of buying two extra tickets and tossing the old ones in the trash.  I still felt sick.

I contacted my parents and told them the news.  I also took the responsibility for the f-up.  I offered to pay them for the mistake.  We eventually came to the conclusion we were both at fault since they had the information emailed to them when we bought the first tickets and they didn’t catch it until Thursday morning, after the grace period for no penalty changes. We are still working things out, but I think it’s only fair to split the cost of the change.

Lessons Learned

  1. Even experts in travel screw up.
  2. Mistakes, particularly easily preventable ones, cost money and YOU CAN NEVER CHECK AND RECHECK ENOUGH.
  3. My father must be mellowing with age. He didn’t even send a text in ALL CAPS.

About No Kids, Will Travel

In the eyes of their friends and family, Amanda and Zeke are a young jet setting couple without any real responsibility. In real life, the stress of work and raising a kitten push them to flee reality at every opportunity. The "lack of obligation" gives them the chance to explore the world.

One comment on “A Painful Lesson

  1. oh, that is so painful. It is the worst feeling to click the purchase button and then realize that you made a mistake.

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