Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[travel] The skies, they are not so friendly

Such a day. Oy. In Omaha now, working the Day Jobbe from the head office, but a journey it was.

When calendula_witch and I got back from Potlatch Foolscap yesterday evening, I went to double check my departure time and print my boarding pass, and my flight had disappeared from my account on the United Airlines Web site. Two hours of phone calling ensued. Airline reservations. Travel agent. Airline customer service. Airline Internet support. Travel agent. Airline customer service. Lather, rinse, repeat, beat with sticks.

The long and the short of it is that due to a recent TSA rule change, United Airlines did something in their database that trimmed the "Jr" off my full name, which (as anyone who has a book of mine can see on the copyright page) is "Joseph E. Lake, Jr." So a ticket issued in that name, which matches my photo ID and my frequent flyer card, is no longer valid for my frequent flyer account in the United Airlines system. This, they have explained to me twice, is because I "must have changed my name in the system."

Um, no.

So far, this remains unresolved. (Though I did get on my flight.) I've been told repeatedly nothing can be done, that this is my problem. I have pointed out repeatedly that I didn't create this problem and I have no power to fix it. So far, the airline remains unimpressed with my position.

United Airlines' customer service philosophy can best be described as "poisoning the well." In ten years as a high status frequent flyer on American Airlines, I never had as much trouble as I've had since switching to United last spring. I'm a hairsbreadth away from switching back to American. United has better planes, and better routes (at least for my needs), but their customer service is so abysmal it's not worth the freaking trouble.

So I get to Omaha, and lo and behold the Hertz Gold counter, which is designed to be a fast transaction where you pick up the keys to your waiting, reserved car, is being used as a walk-up booking service by the two people in line in front of me. The clerk is happy to help. There is no other clerk. There is an entire counter full of clerks just inside the airport whose job it is to do this, but no, this is not good enough for the people in front of me, who have gone rather out of their way to tie up what is supposed to be the express lane. This is the equivalent of going through the 12 item lane at the supermarket with $250 worth of produce in your cart while the adjacent full service lanes are open. So I spend ten minutes waiting to spend fifteen seconds retrieving the keys with my name on them I can see over the clerk's shoulder.

Then I get out on the highway, and I-680 is closed down due to what I later learn is a fertilizer spill. Meanwhile, I have to keep cycling my iPhone in and out of airplane mode to reboot the radio because the AT&T voice and data network keeps locking up and going into la-la land. I know AT&T likes to say they have the least dropped calls, but I'm pretty sure that's because their network doesn't seem to be able to connect the damned calls in the first place.

However, having broken the air travel, car rental, Interstate highway and cellular telephone infrastructures with the mighty powers of my mind, I managed to get through the rest of the day without significant further mishap, culminating in a nice dinner with garyomaha and elusivem.

Tomorrow, more work.

Originally published at jlake.com.

Tags: calendula, conventions, omaha, travel, work
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