Thursday, April 19, 2012

[Travel] Planning the Trip: How to be a Jerk

For those who are bravely soldiering through the pre-trip material, or for those who have subscribed to the RSS feed (which I assume I have through the Blogger platform) and therefore have no choice: good on you! Your patience will soon be rewarded. There's today's post, a mini-trip report next week so I can get some practice, and then one more post the week after finishing up on hotels. At that point you'll get some actual content. Crazy, I know.

I'd like to use today's post to once again apologize to the poor Aeroplan representative who was tasked with calling me two months ago to inform me of a forced schedule change. Back in January, when the reality of my original planned flight itinerary from Chicago to Hong Kong was sinking in (it was ORD-YUL-ZRH-CDG-BKK-HKG with no stopover being longer than 12 hours or overnight), I tried to find some more direct routings in first that would still keep me experiencing some of Star Alliance's nicest airlines. It was all for naught as the good folks at Flyertalk confirmed that if I made any changes to my itinerary I'd be slammed with Aeroplan's newly instituted fuel surcharges on my entire trip, not just the portion I was rebooking. As nice as it would have been to have a more direct routing there, it wasn't worth $800 to me.

Fast forward to late February. I had just sat through once of the most painful and stressful three hour work meetings of my life. It was one of the first times that I really questioned the decisions I had made that led me to this point in my life. So I'm coming out of that and I see a voicemail from Canada. Oh boy. Aeroplan/Air Canada is infamous for screwing with itineraries without soliciting input from such minor peons as the folks doing the traveling.

I listen to the voicemail. One of the flights on my outbound had been cancelled but I did not have to worry as they rebooked me on a direct from Chicago to Tokyo on United (note: not one of Star Alliance's nicer airlines). The woman who left this message actually made it sound like I'd be thrilled by this change. After all I was taking SIX flights to get from Chicago to Tokyo and she had found a way to do it for me in just one. I guess she didn't even notice that I had a six day stopover in Hong Kong that she'd just obliterated.

Needless to say I was hopping mad when, at the end of the voicemail, I have a call waiting. It's the same rep. She asks if I've listened to the voicemail. I said yes. At that point I should have just shut up and waited to hear what she had to say. Instead all of the frustrations of the morning came rushing out and she had to sit there and take it. I didn't curse or anything but it was the closest to yelling I think I've ever done to a poor phone rep. It turned out that the cancelled flight was the one from Zurich to Paris - I think I even said something like "I'm pretty sure I can hitchhike from one to the other during my layover, let alone take a train or a cheap flight".

Long story short (too late!), while I was in the meeting she had independently discovered the alternate routing I had wanted to book in January and she'd put me on that without any extra charges. I think the best I could manage to save face was to stammer an apology and silently be thankful that somehow it had all turned out better.

Let this post stay here for all of time as my 'mea culpa'. Random Aeroplan phone rep, I am sorry.

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