06 November, 2011

It runs in the family

Friday afternoon I was in the lounge of the student residence where I live trying to find things to occupy my time in a continual attempt to put off studying. I was trying out a new app for my phone that's supposed to manage your travel itineraries. You forward the airline confirmation email to them and they sort all the relevant info into your account on the app for easy access. Simple enough. I was sitting on a couch juggling my laptop, phone and coffee while trying this out when I realized that I'm a complete idiot.

For whatever reason, booking a round trip flight from London to San Antonio was $500 cheaper than booking it from Geneva. And since I can easily get to London and back from here for significantly less than that, it seemed like a good excuse to spend a day in London while also saving money. I had looked into flights the previous weekend while avoiding studying for midterms (this is becoming a noticeable trend) and had worked out the travel dates. Buying them seemed like a lot of effort at the time though, in that two roundtrip international flights needed to be booked separately, but while ensuring I had enough time to transfer within London's Heathrow airport on the return leg. I decided to put this off until after midterms and get back to studying.

Monday night I intended to devote myself fully to cramming for Tuesday's tests. Naturally I woke up sick and got progressively worse throughout the day. Biking home from a review session on campus that night I got into a bike crash (solo, I might add- no cars involved) and managed to fly head first off the bike (again). Banged up and bruised but in one piece, I made it home but my resolve to devote the night to studying had waned. Sleep deprived, sick, and now banged up from the crash I decided that the cost of the flights to Texas would probably increase imminently if I didn't buy them that instant. I looked up the flights, made the purchases for the dates I had settled on, took a handful of ibuprofen and went back to studying.

So on Friday when using this app I realized I had missed something crucial. I had intended to fly back to London from Texas on the 29th of January, and that is indeed the flight that I booked. I also wanted to book the return flight from London to Geneva that same day. No need to spend another day in London since I'll be doing that on the way to Texas. I had checked to see that I would arrive in London by noon and booked a flight out of Heathrow that same day at 6pm. Plenty of time in case of delays, security, changing terminals, etc. Except what I hadn't thought about in my sleep deprived and injured state the night I bought the tickets is that even though I leave Texas on the 29th, I won't be arriving in London until the 30th. Transatlantic flights to Europe are, from my experience, always overnight flights. Always. I had booked a flight from London to Geneva for 6PM on the 29th, around the time I'd be in the air somewhere between Detroit and the East coast.

This realization brought on a sudden wave of panic, the "oh shit oh shit, what have I done and how much is this going to cost me to fix," variety. I was on my laptop and tried to make a Skype call to Delta while mentally trying to tally up the potential cost. $200 change fee, difference in price of the correct flight, fuck fuck fuck. I verbally recited my Delta number for the automated system and was transferred to a representative who greeted me with, "hello Mr. Stevenson, how can I help you today?" Clearly the voice recognition with Delta hadn't worked out too well and I tried to tell the woman my correct account number. She interrupted me repeatedly. "Sir, I'm sorry, the line is breaking up. Can you switch to a different phone? Sir, I can't hear you at all, the connection is very bad, I'm going to recommend that you hang up and call on a different line." The internet connection here is the bane of my god damn existence. I can hardly stay connected to gchat much less make a VOIP call half of the time. The line went dead and I remembered that the router was located at the other end of the lounge. I quickly grabbed my messenger bag, laptop, phone and coffee and rushed across the lounge as I envisioned the cost of my mistake increasing with every minute I wasted not on the phone booking the correct flight with Delta. Surely that $500 in savings was totally eaten up by now.

I dropped my belongings on a table, sat down and redialed on Skype. The connection was much better and as I was repeating my Delta number I felt warmth spreading across my body. I was confused at first; was this a feeling of calm seeping through my skin, letting me know that everything would be ok? I looked down and saw that I was holding my open coffee mug sideways and had poured coffee all over my shirt and pants. Shouting an expletive confused Delta's automated phone system as I was told, "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that. Please say or enter your Delta sky miles number, followed by the pound sign." The internet connection in my room is even worse than in the lounge so I stayed put despite having a massive brown stain on my shirt and looking like I had pissed myself. I got through to a representative, explained that I'm a complete idiot, was currently covered in coffee, and needed help changing a flight I had booked that was clearly impossible for me to make. Thankfully due to the mileage status I have with Delta from work trips I don't have to pay change fees in these situations, so my absentminded mistake was made right in about 2 minutes with no additional costs.

After telling this story to my mom she had this to say:

Sounds like something I would do. I pulled out of the driveway this morning and as the car was going down the driveway under that big Burr oak tree there was a large crashing sound on top of my car and I saw something big and white fall off the back of the car onto the street. We had temps in the thirties last night but I couldn't imagine where a chunk of ice that big would've come from. No it wasn't ice - it was my new white coffee mug that I had set in top of my car while I was loading my stuff in the car. I just left it shattered in the street because I was already late for school. This is about the 4th or 5th thing in my life that I have left on top of the car while driving off. Uugghhh!
One of those previous items she's left on top of the car before? Her and my dad's wedding rings when she picked them up prior to the wedding. With her genes, I think I'm fortunate that this is only the second time I've fucked up booking a flight.


  1. At least you *have* coffee to spill! Every time I resolve to just use Nescafe, I take one sip and pour it out.:)
    Why use Skype instead of gchat to call? I don't understand why, but gchat calls work a lot better than Skype calls over my slow internet and it's free!

  2. Every part of what you said sounds like a comment I would make. You'd think that with China's massive investments in Africa they'd at least be getting some good beans in return.
    I actually did use gchat to call and not Skype. You're right in that it seems to work better over slower connections. But everyone knows what Skype is and there's a good chance not everyone knows what the hell I'd be talking about if I said I made a call with gmail. Enjoy it while it lasts, calls are only free until the end of 2011.