Sunday, October 05, 2008

Emerald City's next - and Customer Service -- Again.

I'll be out of the cyber-realm for the next week, headed for the Emerald City Writer's Conference.

My trip starts tomorrow with a visit to a very dear friend -- the kind of friend where time and distance don't make a difference. The kind of friend who says, "Pick you up at the airport? No problem. Drive you back on Friday, sure." Never mind it's a two hour trip each way, and gas prices are astronomical. She'll call from the market to make sure she's got all the foods you want--which flavor yogurt do you prefer? She and her husband recently retired to Bellingham, Washington, and I'm looking forward to spending several days with her prior to the conference. She's got all sorts of possible activities planned, weather permitting. Which leads to the next thing on my list: Packing.

I hate packing. I hate it more now that the airlines have made that second bag a price-ticketed item. But I've got to pack the professional style wardrobe for the conference, and the "maybe we'll go hiking" wardrobe for the visit. Plus, there are all the promotional items like chapter books, magnets, and postcards that take up luggage space. Plus, colder weather means bulkier clothes. I'm not good at deciding in advance what I'm going to want to wear, but now that I have to be more efficient, I'll have to forgo some of the "I'll decide which shirt to wear from the five I'm packing once I get there" and "What if I spill coffee?" backups.

At least my eBookwise is already loaded with reading material.

And then there's the airline grumble -- back to my old Customer Service rant. I booked our flights on our default airline--the one where we have Medallion perks. Great schedule, great price. Did everything on line as always. Only the Orlando to Seattle leg is on a code-share partner. No biggie, right? Wrong. What airline #1 doesn't mention is that in order to book 'real' seats, you have to call the code share partner. So, although hubby and I have seats on my itinerary, these are "REQUESTS." By chance, I checked with the code share airline. Yep

"You don't have any seats on this plane. We can give you 28 and 29E" That's two middle seats, back of the bus, in separate rows. Nobody bothered to mention this. But, she says, "You can always request a seat change at the gate."

The code share website has a nice "live chat" link for help with seats. However, the helper can't do anything about that, because her resources are limited to telling you why she can't help you.
So, when I call my regular airline to see what's up, I get: "Gee, I always tell people to go to the code share airline to get seats. I don't know why nobody told you."

"But, I booked on line," I said. Nothing on your website mentioned that."

"Oh, well that's a website issue, not my problem."

"Excuse, me, I'm a customer pointing out that a flaw in your system has inconvenienced me."

"Well, you can use the 'contact us' link on our website."

"I thought I WAS contacting you with this phone call."

"I don't have access to the people you need to talk to. You can call reservations directly."

Which was exactly where I started.
So, I may be arriving a bit grumpy and uncomfortable. Six hours is a long flight. But, my special friend has promised we'll go straight to a great Seattle seafood place and have some wine before heading to her home. See you all on the 14th!

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