As many of you know I book award tickets for a living, and occasionally I share my more entertaining interactions here. 99% of my bookings are boring, while 1% of the time I run into an agent that just doesn’t get it… and it kind of brings to a smile to my face. They usually have one common theme — they involve either Delta SkyMiles or US Airways Dividend Miles agents.
I called US Airways earlier in the day to make a booking for a client. I should have known immediately that the agent was pretty clueless, but then again that’s the case with a majority of US Airways agents. Usually I can spoon feed them enough so that even if they are clueless they can still get a ticket on hold fairly quickly.
Agent: “Sir, where are you traveling to?”
Me: “Seoul Incheon.”
Agent: “That’s NHN, right?”
Me: “It’s actually ICN.”
Me: “No, India, Charlie, November.”
When an agent doesn’t know a basic Star Alliance hub airport code, I try to make their lives easy and give the information to them in a language they’ll understand.
Agent: “So which flight are we looking at?”
Me: “It would be OZ flight 202 in “I” class from LAX to ICN” (for those of you that don’t know “I” class is business class award space)
Agent: “You flying Austrian Airlines from Los Angeles to ICN?”
Me: “No, Asiana Airlines.”
Agent: “Asian Airlines? I don’t think that’s an airline.”
Fair enough, after putting me on hold briefly she confirmed that they are in fact part of Star Alliance.
That should have been my sign. But I’m a bit of a masochist, so I played along.
Then we get to the return, which involved the ANA flight from Tokyo Haneda to Los Angeles. What’s “tricky” (if you can even call it that) about the flight is that it leaves at 12:05AM (on the 2nd of the month) and arrives at 5:55PM the previous day (on the 1st of the month).
So in this case we were booking Tokyo Haneda to Los Angeles to San Francisco. The agent is totally fine, until I mention the connection from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
Agent: “Okay, so you’re flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco on the night of the 2nd.”
Me: “No, the flight would actually be the evening of the 1st, since I just want to connect off the Tokyo Haneda flight.”
Agent: “Sir, that can’t be, the flight leaves Tokyo on the 2nd, you can’t go back in time.”
Me: “The flight actually lands in Los Angeles the previous day. It leaves just a few minutes after midnight, and because it crosses the international date line, lands the day before.”
She paused for a moment — I assume she had never heard of the international date line or time zones before.
Then she said: “Sir, you don’t understand what I’m saying. There’s no such thing as time travel. Let me talk to my supervisor and double check.”
So the agent puts me on hold. I spend 30 minutes listening to the classy US Airways advertisements about how I can have a luxurious vacation at a US Airways partner hotel with liquor dispensers and minibars that are refilled daily (the true sign of luxury, my friends!), until I decide to hang up. Nothing ticks me off more than being placed on hold and not having the agent check in with me at least once every five minutes to say they’re still working on the reservation and didn’t take a bathroom or Angry Birds break. I mean, what the heck was she even “working on?”
So I hang up and figure I’ll get a more competent agent. Nope, guess who answers…
“Sir, you’re the one that thinks you can travel back in time, I just spoke to you and your reservation is still on my screen.”
Crud. Of all the US Airways Salem based reservations agents, what are the chances I’d get this one twice?
She continued: “I had a supervisor confirm that the flight lands on the 2nd and we’ve notated the record to reflect that.”
It took a third call before I found an agent willing to permit time travel.
It is Friday the 13th…