Frequent Flyer Craziness: First, I have actually managed to snag a ticket to Star Mega Do 4. This is, basically, a major frequent flyer party, involving a charter flight, airport tours and lots of time with airline execs. You may recall I went to Star Mega Do 2 a couple of years ago, so that entry will give you some idea of the level of craziness.
Getting the ticket was not easy, by the way. The event sold out in about 8 minutes. I am excited!
Annoying Air Travel Booking Engines: This complaint applies to almost all of the travel agency type booking sites, so I won’t single out one. Why bother asking me to input a travel time if you are not going to use it in showing my results? I was looking for a flight around 6 p.m. for a reason.
Note that the airline websites generally do this correctly, offering the option to show other times, but starting with what you entered.
Dear United Airlines: It is very nice that you let me check the status of my flight on-line. It is even nicer that you let me click to see where the flight is coming from and the status of that flight. Would it be asking too much for you to connect the dots and figure out that, if the previous flight is arriving at 6:31 p.m., my flight will not be departing on time at 5:57 p.m.?
And tracing it back a couple of flights, the reason for a 3 hour delay cannot be “late arriving incoming flight,” when the incoming flight actually arrived 15 minutes early the previous day. I am expecting a long day.
Airline Partnerships: One of the valuable things about frequent flyer programs is earning (and using) miles on airlines you don’t fly regularly. Alaska Air was pretty quick on crediting my recent Delta flights, though it took me surprisingly long to figure out that the “bonus miles” were just the amount needed to get to the 500 mile minimum for a flight. I was puzzling over why the bonus was less on the longer of the two flights (since I flew out from BWI and returned to DCA) until this dawned on me.
American, however, has still not credited one of my two Qantas flights from over a month ago. I will need to call them and I am sure that will not be fun.
I Hate Hotel Websites Too: I had to make two phone calls to deal with hotel points recently. One was to consolidate multiple Starwood (i.e. Sheraton and Westin) accounts. I only figured out there were multiple accounts because I couldn’t log into their website using one of them. It was straightforward enough, but annoying.
The more annoying hotel website glitch involved Priority Club (Holiday Inn, etc.) whose website was down when I was trying to make a reservation. The reservation site was up, but I couldn’t log in to put in my account number. They insisted this was no problem – I could modify the reservation later to add it. However, the link to “modify reservation” only allows you to cancel, change dates, change number of people, or change type of room. I did not appreciate waiting 10 minutes on hold to talk to a person and fix this.
Marriott annoyed me because their hotel search function has no way to specify the allowable distance from a city when you search.
And Hilton’s website makes you log back in about every three minutes.
Why, yes, I hate them all.
Hotels in General: I do, however, like to collect hotel points, mostly to get free rooms when I need to go somewhere pricy (e.g. New York). This is a matter of convenience and I have little to no interest in things like suite upgrades and fancy resorts. I’m pretty much in the hotel to sleep and the size of the room makes almost no difference to my enjoyment. And, when I am on vacation, I prefer staying in local places with local character, instead of glitzy international resorts that could be anywhere on the planet.
More on Hotel Booking: There was a recent kerfuffle about Orbitz “charging” Mac users more for hotels than PC users. Of course, this was not the case at all. They were arranging the order of which hotels they show, not charging higher prices for the same hotels. The simple solution is to just click on the button that lets you list by price.
I admit that, while I look at the booking engines, I normally make my actual reservations at the hotel’s own websites. That lets me kvetch about at least two websites per reservation.
Travel Dilemma #1: There are more places I want to go than there is time. This is being exacerbated by two events I very much want to go to overlapping. As dilemmas go, this is not a bad one to have.
Travel Dilemma #2: My current passport expires in June 2013. Since most countries require six month validity on entry, this poses the problem of when to renew. December is not usually a good time to renew because: a) it is a busy time for the passport office and b) I may want to go somewhere over Christmas. However, if I renew earlier, it would have to be September-ish because I want to go somewhere over Thanksgiving. (I have an actual plan for that, but need to work on the execution. Let’s just say it involves beisbol.)
A simple solution is to go to somewhere I don’t need a passport for (e.g. U.S. Virgin Islands or Guam) over Christmas. Another option is doing the bookings in such a way that I will be within the two week window that lets you renew in person.
This is also not a bad dilemma to have.
Nice Timing: Frequent flyer credit cards often have bonus categories for extra point earning. I am absolutely delighted that one of the bonus categories for my Alaska Airlines card right now is bookstores. Powell’s ships. This could be dangerous to my budget.