Friday, August 26, 2011

Plan C (Part 1) has worked

The Peoria trip turned out to be a bit more  complicated than I had anticipated – no real surprises there.

We were going to Washington on mileage points - so we could not split the trip and have Cate go to Peoria early and meet me in Washington. We both have to go to Peoria together which means that she gets an air fare from Washington to Peoria and back from Ducky Pharma but I have to pay for one which does not seem right to me particularly as it costs a shitload of money - but anyways.

So I can theoretically also do this on points with United. 

So I am coordinating with Rozalin who is doing Cate’s trip and I have my flights lined up with Cate’s and I say by email to Rozalin ‘Go and do it now’ as I am booking the exact same flights on the United site because it is flashing red saying ‘There is only one "mileage plus" seat left on this flight’ and I press ‘Book Flight Now’.

The flashing sign immediately flicks over to the ‘Fuck You’ sign well known to all website users who are trying to do critical things online - and then it throws me off the site. With an error message which explains everything. It says ‘Error E_ _’

So I try again and again and I get the same sign with the same informative error message, so with a heavy heart and with the usual degree of pessimism - reach for my Skype headset and dial the number for United Airlines ‘customer service’ in the USA.

Oh Jesus in Splints – it’s one of those voice recognition things. It’s going to try and book me a ticket using voice recognition. Well we all know how that is going to end up don’t we?

We never get past the airport thing. The voice thing wants me to leave from Washington-Baltimore Airport and after 10 minutes I am almost ready to agree – but I am thinking that Washington-Baltimore airport is probably in Baltimore and I will be in Washington DC so I would really prefer to leave from Washington Dulles so I dig my heels in and I expect that any minute he is going to move to the default option and cut me off or send me to the mail room in Spearfish - South Dakota.

‘Hi this is United Airlines Parcels Chuck Warbells speaking may I start with your Parcel ID number. You will find this in the top right hand corner of your United Airlines parcel invoice – that is the blue form that you received from United Parcels not the yellow form I repeat the blue form not the yellow form.’

But there is a software malfunction and I am accidentally switched through to a real person - after a fashion – but he cannot help me – because I am in Austria – and am Australian – and he thinks I should be talking to the International Flights people – I am still but-butting about this - as there is clicking and whirring and then I am talking to Cindy Lou.

Cindy Lou is not much interested in my story and I can tell that she is focused more on her iridescent nail polish with the purple sparkles than my sordid tale. Yes she could theoretically book the flights but she cannot take ‘foreign’ credit cards for the taxes.

This makes no sense at all but she is not about listening to reason because she has many other fish to fry - so she suggests I call United Airlines in Austria. She makes up a number and gives this too me. It does not work. Neither of us expected it to.

I try and find the United Airlines site in Austria. There is something that looks like it could be one - but it says that the only way I can book air miles flights is through the website or by calling the USA number that I called already.

Brainwave. Maybe the site was designed by a Democrat who hated Arnold Schwarzenegger for being the Republican governor of California - hence the refusal to accept my Austrian credit card. I try with my Australian credit card. Success.

Frau Flapovic turned up on our front doorstep yesterday with the key I thought I had lost in the supermarket. I must have left it in the door of the Müllraum but Frau Flapovic waited 24 hours to see if I could get into my apartment without it. She would have found it within 15 minutes of my leaving it there. Perhaps it was a test.

Lenny got the new SIM card and has tested it. It works. He is ready to send it to our hotel in Peoria. What can go wrong? I am making a list.


  1. From downtown DC you can use either airport, Dulles and Baltimore. ;-)

  2. yes, baltimore airport is in baltimore - it's not that much further than dulles, but if you're coming in domestically, DCA is your bet.

    makes up a number, he he he. that's for sure. good luck in peoria. i hear it's lovely this time of year.

  3. good luck with the travelling! I too have had known the impossibility of booking a domestic American flight with United because I don't have an American credit card. And I AM an American, I just live abroad!
    I'm sure it will be lovely in Peoria for you, just don't get too wet in Washington.

  4. Merisi: Handy if my plane lands in Pennsylvania Avenue.

    TNDW: I checked the weather. It's only 45° so I should be OK if I stay in the hotel room in the bathtub.

    NanU: The Americans have never trusted any foreigners since that business with Kruschev.

  5. Badger,
    the only safe place to land on Pennsylvania Avenue, in my opinion, is in front of the Canadian Embassy. Of course, you could follow The New Diplomat's Wife recommendation and go straight to DCA (that is the DC airport just across the Potomac, albeit in Virginia). Just make sure you avoid the morning rush hour, lest you get stuck at the 11th Street Bridge. ;-)

    That the little lady who found your key waited 24 hours before turning it in made me laugh out loud. You sure she is not a witch?

  6. Your life is so complicated Badger. My head hurts trying to work it out. No wonder you get migraines....

  7. Clearly you have a more complicated life than anyone in the known universe.

    Entertaining for us, your loyal readers - but how do you STAND these frustrations without going completely crazy?

  8. I'm happy to see the SIM card made it & works! All that trouble w/ the phone company, and then the airline... Finding good customer service is hard! I've had some good experiences lately & have made sure to reflect that in the surveys. If you are sent any surveys, be sure to let them know the things that have gone on!

    And also - SAFE TRIPS! : )

  9. I have figured out what thee problemo is: your starting point and destination BOTH end in "ria", Peoria and Austria. So I understand why you are Peo-Aust. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, thinking, where did this happen to me once upon a time ago? Then in a whats-that-lady's-name-who-is-an-actress-and-a-singer-who-believes-in-reincarnation, oh yea, Shirley Nutclaine, and then the fog rolled d'way and I remembered this conversation from 10,468 years ago when our group got lost while traveling from Austria to Peoria over the Siberia-Aleyeska bridge:

    Me: "Ugh ug U grr go huh?"
    Gola: "Erg gah, erg gah, gah go tu"
    Me: "ERG GAH!?! Go go no"
    Gola: "Berga berg ga?"
    I turn around to see the sabre tooth moth and he clubs me. I wake up bloody, alone, cold and disappointed that I never saw the moth. It took me several minutes to realize all my possessions were gone.

  10. I suddenly noticed there was a comma missing! That last line is s'pposed to be: "Berga berg, ga?" ... sorry for the puncuation confusion.

  11. HA. can't believe you have the original key back!

  12. Merisi: I am determined to catch a plane to Peoria from the place where my plane from Vienna lands. She may be a witch - she always has a broom or a mop when I see her.

    Sandy: It's not that bad - I only get one or two big problems a day - the rest are tiddlers.

    Alexia: But I have oodles of time to solve these problems - and the cats are great sources of calm and comfort. And - I started off being a bit crazy so had a head start.

    carmar76: I have never had a survey from an airline company - but if I get one from from Emirates of United - or Qantas - I will be sure to fill it in. And thanks foe the good wishes.

  13. esbboston: As usual you have gone straight to the heart of the problem and identified the key issues. But if you go back a step you will see that the problem started when we came from AustralIA.

    And incidentally - are you sure that when you broke in you did not do anything with the air-con because it is about 50° out there today and the roof is melting but you could snap freeze peas in here.

    ANGIV: Yeh how about that - but we still need to do the lock thing because the key we hid was stolen and that is the one I am worried about.

  14. Well, I don't remember doing anything too special other than installing the 800 gallon (total) liquid nitrogen tank inside the walls at the center of the residence, so thats where it should be the coldest. I also replaced the live cats with more energy efficient robo-cats so they generate less heat as swell. When you notice that they seem run down and wish to recharge them, just poke their tail in an electrical outlet. A slight amount of noise and/or smoke is eXpected. Wear gloves. Thick gloves. Very thick gloves.

  15. I told my wife about the Peoria-Austria connection and disconnection, and her reply about recharging the cats was "Wear a mask".

  16. Ha! This is why their behavior has been particularly shocking since we got back from Australia.

  17. must be your accent mate ( word verification - citypict!)