When booking your flight, choosing the right dates and picking the right city are very basic things one should do. Right? … Wrong! We’re humans, and, sometimes, we mess up. Like that guy who landed in Sydney, Nova Scotia (Canada) instead of Sydney, Australia.
And now, you can add me to the long list of travellers who’ve done a dumb rookie mistake.
On Sunday, I realized that I messed up. Big time. I’d booked my flight to Greece without paying close attention to my calendar. With my initial return date, I’d be missing a rather big event (the christening of my own godson). So, I phoned the airline company to change my return date. I knew full well there would be a penalization fee. They’re running a business after all. What I didn’t realize was that they are in the business of taking people for fools.
I’m not one to shy away from my responsibilities. I messed up. I shoulda (coulda, woulda) checked my calendar and planned properly. (But we’re passed that.) And I was ready to pay for the consequences.
The conversation went a little bit like this:
Me: I’d like to change my return date, please.
Agent: Sure. Please note that there will be a penalization fee.
Me: *out loud* Sure. *in my head* This is not my lucky day, I guess.
Agent: *typing and clicking away* I found a cheaper option.
Me: Cheap! I love cheap!
Agent: The penalization will be $300.
Me: *in my head* I hate my life.
Agent: With the cost of the new ticket, your total will be $3,000. [Rounding for clarity. Um, not true. In fact, my brain just shut down the other numbers and replaced them with zeros.]
Me: *in my head* WTF. *out loud* I’m not sure I heard you properly. You said cheaper, yet you’re telling me $3,000. How is that the cheaper option?
Agent: *explains how a change of date actually means buying a one-way ticket*
Me: I don’t want a one-way ticket. I want to change the date. Also, I don’t want first class: I fly coach.
Agent: This is coach. And that’s the only option you have.
Me: *in my head* I will never fly with y’all, ever again… Don’t go making promises you can’t keep. Why didn’t you check your calendar, huh? I hate my life. *out loud* Give me a minute please.
I took a minute to quickly browse flights. Lo and behold! Round-trip tickets were still available at the price I had paid for mine about a week prior. I could cancel my round-trip ticket—and pay the $300 penalization fee— AND buy a new round-trip ticket and not come anywhere near the $3,000 figure the agent proposed as a cheaper option.
Now, you need to know that I was amused by the entire exchange. I was laughing out loud and being sarcastic while talking to the agent. Hubby came my way to listen to my side of the conversation and to make sure that I wasn’t about gather that agent’s entire life.
Me: Ma’am, I’m currently looking at round-trip tickets for the same amount I paid for mine. You mean to tell me that it would be cheaper for me to buy another ticket altogether than to change my return date?
Me: Ma’am, you do realize how illogical that is, right?
Agent: *pause* [I don’t want to guess what she was thinking.] But that’s the way it is.
Me: I guess I’m going to cancel then.
Hubby waved at me. We had a 10- to 15-second exchange. He pointed out that I wasn’t booking the flight properly. (This is why he does booking, and not me.) He asked me to phone back.
Me: Ma’am, can you please hold on a minute? I’d like to think about it and phone back.
Agent: You can certainly phone back, but I’ve already cancelled the flight.
Me: *in my head* Wait. What? *out loud* O…K. Thanks.
I was baffled by the quickness to cancel and the lack of options. The agent didn’t even try to keep my business. I get it, big company vs traveller. What could I expect? Right.
The reality is that I’ll be going to Greece during high season. The airline will not struggle to sell my spot. Hell, I probably bought my own spot back. So, they can be outrageously nonsensical and say things like “a $3,000-one-way ticket is a cheaper option” with a straight face and the customer just has to pay up or find another way.
I’m going to Greece, folks! I’m excited. And that’s all that matters. 60 days to go! (Is it too soon to start a countdown?)