Posts Tagged With: ramblings

United Airlines Nine Months Later

Well it’s been almost nine months since I’ve flown United Airlines. Wow it’s hard to believe it’s been that long. The last time I flew them in March was for my third mileage run to Dubai in a six week period. Yes I know I’m nuts.

No I’ve not stopped traveling, are you crazy, and In fact another banner year with over 160k paid miles flown. Plus my wife and I are about to embark on an epic trip around the world.

Why no love for the former world’s largest airline? Well they just aren’t what they used to be. Tomorrow I’m taking a short haul up to Seattle in connection with a much larger trip from the Bay Area and it just feels weird to fly on UA. I’m hoping that the crew and flight experience are back to the good old days before the merger with Continental, but I don’t have high hopes. But you never know things can change, right? The crazy part, is I don’t miss them. I do miss my 1k status and better shot at free upgrades, and the friendly staff from years gone by, but all of that disappeared years ago. Plus I get way better treatment on American, Alaska and even Delta. What’s there to really miss?

I guess I’ll find out. Maybe.

Categories: Airlines, Travel, Travel Blog, United Airlines, United Airlines | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Flying the not so friendly skies of United Airlines

UUGH what a day, we just landed in the US after our awesome 13 day Transatlantic cruise. This was a risky trip for us, since we would be taking “S” on such a long ocean journey not knowing if she would get seasick or even enjoy the trip. Plus we brought along my mom yes voluntarily. I’ll save the vacation posts, pictures and details for another time, but as I sit at 37,000 feet in my not so awesome middle seat, I reflect on the not so friendly service that United Airlines provided our family of four.

I bought these tickets about 6 months ago mainly for two reasons, a direct flight from Ft. Lauderdale to SFO and for the fact that I could upgrade us at time of booking to first class from coach with miles or coupons. I thought that this would be a nice ending to our trip, and for a 6 hours flight, would make the ride a little bit more comfortable. In this case I rolled the dice and only upgraded the other three and hoped I’d get a freebie, but if I didn’t I’d gladly sit in the back in my extra legroom seat, or sit with the munchkin upfront if my wife wanted peace and quiet.

As usual I checked in about 23 hours in advance, I wanted to make sure that we had our seats and all was good, I’m also OCD to a point that I checked our seats weekly. UA as many frequent travelers know loves to bump your seats it’s just one of the many enhancements that CEO Jeff Smisek has added to this once great airline. Well, at the gate we hear an announcement looking for volunteers to give up their first class seat for $250, and my wife and I just laughed. Not for a 2500 mile journey. So sure enough we get to the gate to board and my mom and daughters tickets chime and they spit out new seats for them. They were in row 1 and 2 respectively with mom supposed to sit next to “S”, but “S” was moved to row 34 and mom to 24 booth middles. This was no joke. WTF. So for the next ½ hour the agent and I were trying to sort this out. She said we were on free tickets and it was the luck of the draw and that everyone else 13 passengers in first all paid for their tickets, this I find very hard to believe. Forget the fact that a computer takes a 2 ½ year old and moves them to the back, really. United you really sucked the big one today. Then the brilliant gate agent, and I use that term ever ever so loosely , tried to give my mom and daughter the same seat. I tried to explain to her that this would not work. I kept telling her we had four seats, and she thought my daughter was a lap child, forget the fact that the FAA requires all children over two too have their own seat. So again we were scrambling to get seats. The agent finally gave us two seats together in first for whomever wanted them, and the other two were seated in coach, mind you in the mean time they had moved my seat 2x and my mom’s about 4. She just could not get that we were all family members with the same last name but different first names, so she kept reissuing tickets and seats for the same person in one of our already occupied seats. OY are you keeping score at home.

Then she said for our troubles, read that our troubles we would get $250 bucks, what are you kidding me. Sure $250 is $250, but I paid for my upgrades fare and square, and that was NOT enough, she even had the audacity to tell me that another passenger would get $500, because they paid for their ticket and mine was free. Oh I was boiling, and it took all of my strength to not jump over the counter and yell at this lady. So with everyone on the plane except for mom and I, she finally issues us two seats in the back, and the ladies two seats up front, bad then started to process my compensation, which she said would be $500. All this while I have the diaper bag and child entertainment in our carryon suitcase, and I’m freaking out that they will make me check the bag, since they had to gate check about 10 bags. I calmly told them this must be one the plane. Because they were worried about space they had me sign the compensation form, and board sans my receipt. With the assurance she would come on board and give it to me. Well three hours onto my flight I’m still waiting. I want to hope that when I get off the plane, the SFO agent will have it for me, because w/out the receipt as far as I know I can’t claim the credit. But right now all I can think is that the agent will delete the paperwork and move one to her next task. Why do I think that, because the whole process was shady, there’s no reason we should have been downgraded. My wife is also a 100,000 mile flier and they were on the same reservation, I was the only one that was on a different reservation. Plus the fact that others got upgraded within the 100 hour window, which is when they pass out the freebies, and we had confirmed ours 6 months ago. So needless to say I currently have a very bad taste in my mouth.

Now between this incident, and all the other crap UA is pulling with the frequent flier program, I’m really starting to move away from them, but they have been my carrier of choice if I have an option and their price is reasonable. But I will no longer go out of my way to fly them. Which in years past meant if they were the same price as say US Air or Southwest, but their times were worse or forced a connection or flying from SJC or SFO instead of Oakland, I would still fly UA. But now between today’s seriously poor customer service incident and the aforementioned ones, I will avoid when possible.

Categories: Airlines, Travel, Travel Blog, Traveling with kids, United Airlines, United Airlines | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nemo, Dory, Nemo, Dory, Nemo

My kid loves the aquarium, anytime we tell her we’re going it really makes her day and I just love that. “S” loves the ocean, loves looking at fish and just can’t get enough of it, just like I did when I was young. Last weekend we spend a very nice afternoon at the Academy of Sciences and the Steinhardt Aquarium in Golden Gate Park. We have an annual pass and do our best to get there as often as we can, that being said it’s probably been three months since I’ve been there. This place is just amazing, and every visit I marvel at how great a place it is, coupled with the fact that I get to see it with a new set of eyes, just make it that much cooler.

The funny part about coming here or going any place that has an aquarium, is that “S’s” first words are always where’s Nemo and Dory. It’s pretty amazing she’s only two years old and knows who they are and knows what they look like. I guess we’ve trained her well, ha ha. But seriously, that’s the only movie she’s ever seen, granted about five times maybe more, but she’s incredibly observant. Damn smart kids. The funny part is that she saw the movie on our trip to the Maldives last December on the inflight TV, and ever since when she sees a TV on a plane she expects they will play it. Oh how little she knows about air travel.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves about the Academy, but I will say that if you’re ever in the city this is definitely a place to check out for sure.
DSC_0088

DSC_0089

DSC_0090

DSC_0092

DSC_0096

DSC_0101

DSC_0102

DSC_0104

DSC_0112

DSC_0119

DSC_0121

DSC_0126

DSC_0128

DSC_0132

DSC_0133

DSC_0134

DSC_0140

DSC_0141

DSC_0155

DSC_0156

DSC_0158

DSC_0161

Categories: Americana, Family, Ordinary Life, Photography, Random, Review, Travel Blog, Traveling with kids, Uncategorized, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feeling Like A Baller- Tropicana Hotel,Las Vegas

photo 2

I had a pretty impressive stay at Tropicana Hotel A Doubletree Resort. Earlier this week I had to work in Las Vegas and for the second time thought I’d give my body a rest at the Trop. This hotel has been around for a long long time, and in all my years of visiting Sin City I’ve only been there once prior to this year and never stayed. But once Hilton took it over I thought I’d give it a try. And with one stay under my belt back in April I thought I’d try it again because I had such a positive experience. We’ll let me just say that again I was impressed. It’s had a really fresh remodel something to the tune of 55 million dollars and in October of 2012 it was rebranded as a Doubletree. What was once a hotel I would not have any reason to visit, is now a hotel I would stay at when I need to be in Vegas. Ok so there are many luxurious hotels here but on a busy weekend and on a work budget this place is well priced, earns points and can help me qualify for Diamond Status with Hilton.

The hotel has a white washed old school beach theme. It seems open and comfortable and not smoky like many of the older hotels. The casino is fin not too big, but enough games to enjoy. There are several restaurants as well, and it just has a nice welcome feeling. Again not over the top like the newer hotels, but just right I guess.

As a Hilton Honors member they have a dedicated check in line, but for Diamonds they have a separate lounge for check in. On a busy day that can save tens of minutes waiting. In my case the lounge was perfect, the gentlemen working check in was free, and when I asked for an upgrade I was kindly obliged with a 1 bedroom suite on the 17th floor. Giddy Yup. Little did I know that I was on the corner facing the strip and had spectacular views of New York New York, MGM Grand and The Excalibur. It was just a really nice room, plus it was HUGE. Also being a Doubletree I got coupons for 2 free chocolate chip cookies, that were served in the main floor food court, and yes they tasted just like they always do. Also as Gold or Diamond you get the usual free breakfast, which I didn’t check out, so I have no idea how good it is. Anyhow here’s a few of the pictures from the room and hotel.

The Hotel Exterior
DSCF1117

DSCF1119

Entrance to Diamond Lounge
DSCF1120

DSCF1121

Hallway to my room
DSCF1115

The Family Room, Desk Area, Coffee Bar and Lounge Area
DSCF1093

DSCF1094

DSCF1096

DSCF1097

DSCF1098

The Bedroom
DSCF1099

DSCF1100

Bathroom
DSCF1101

The Amazing view from the family Room- A View of The Excalibur, New York New York and MGM Grand
DSCF1109

DSCF1110

DSCF1128

DSCF1131

Categories: Americana, Hilton Hotels, Hotels, Ordinary Life, Photography, Review, Travel, Trip Report, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bucket, Bucket Bucket

So the Year of Rahul has got me thinking I should finally put my bucket list down on paper. I’ve been very very lucky to have had the opportunity to do so many things during my almost 40 years on this rock, and with hopefully at least another 40 more to go I look forward to the challenge of crossing some of these off the list. By no means is this list complete, but it’s a good start in the process.

• The Great Wall of China
• See Terra cotta warriors
• Visit all 7 continents (Antarctica and Africa) are all that’s left
• See the DMZ in Korea
• Visit Vietnam
• Visit Thailand
• See the Oscars live
• Hold an Oscar
• Go to the Super Bowl
• Go to a Rose Bowl game
• Go on safari in Africa
• Go whale watching in Alaska
• Play an event at the World Series of Poker
• Transit the Panama Canal
• Fly around the world in one trip
• Go to The Vatican
• Visit St. Petersburg
• Ride a gondola in Venice
• Visit the Sistine Chapel
• Go to the Sundance Film Festival
• Go to the Cannes Film Festival
• Drive a Ferrari
• See the Amalfi coast
• See the Pyramids
• Visit the Forbidden City
• Watch a taping of a TV show live
• Go to the Opening or closing Olympics ceremony
• Go to a World Series game
• Go to the Baseball all-star game
• Visit Fenway Park and Wrigley Field
• Go to Cowboys stadium
• Go to Mardi Gras
• See a no hitter live item accomplished July 2, 2013 SF vs. Cincinnati
• See Mount Rushmore
• Meet a former or current President of the United States – any will do
• Be at Times Square for New Year’s
• Go to Patagonia
• The Galapagos
• Go to Oktoberfest in Munich
• See Tibet
• See the Berlin Wall
• Visit Dubai
• Visit all 50 states (four to go)
• Cruise around the world
• Visit the Guggenheim Museum(s) in LA and Spain
• Visit la Sagrada Familia, Spain
• Eat at the French Laundry
• Eat at La Bernadin
• Eat a Philly Cheesesteak at Genos
• Go to Unos in Chicago
• Take my family to India
• Visit Quebec City
• Visit Pisa
• Visit Giza

Categories: Airlines, Art, movie, Ordinary Life, Random, Review, The wish list, Travel, Trip Report, Uncategorized, Wandering the city | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s hard to say goodbye

.photo 1

photo 2
It can be hard to say goodbye to an old friend. This guys has been around the block with me for many years and it’s sad to see it go. I’ve had this Kirkland roll aboard 22” suitcase for say 5-6 years, I’m not exactly sure how long I’ve had it, but in 10 ½ years of travelling for my job I’ve only gone through 2 of these suitcases. In that time I’ve flown over 500,00 miles with this guy and been on many many road trips. In that time its’ been to 4 continents numerous times (Asia, Australia, Europe and North America) if you’re keeping score. Although we’ve had many good times, with two very squeaky wheels, a strap that’s so broken and sharp it scratches me every time I pick it up and main zippers that are broken it’s time to put him out to pasture. Sorry to see you go my friend, but you’ll always have a warm space in my heart

Categories: Random, Travel, Travel Tools | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Planes, (Not) Trains and Automobiles

What started out as a simple flight from San Francisco to Wyoming via Denver, ended up being three flights one aborted landing, on plane swap, a second mechanical while in the air and a 6 hour road trip with three strangers. Wow what a day yesterday. I had a trip scheduled that was 7 hours long and 2 flights, but as the travel gods giveth they taketh away too, and the trip took 17 hours instead. I was scheduled to fly from San Francisco to Jackson Hole Wyoming. SFO was a zoo Monday morning, the sequester was part of the issue, being a Monday was the other. My 5:35 AM flight was on time, but was oversold as were all flights to Denver till the late afternoon. United was looking for volunteers to travel later in the day if my travel plans were flexible. In my case they really weren’t but I was willing to change flights if I could get closer to my final destination Worland Wyoming. Central Wyoming is a little tough to fly into, even though there are several small airports there are only a few airlines that come here, so you’re not only limited on options but you can also pay an arm and a leg too. In this case Worland has an airport, but tickets were just over the moon expensive so I had booked to Jackson, 4 hours away because it was 40% cheaper, and I had a budget to keep.

So with that being said I jumped at the opportunity to change flights if I could get flown directly into Worland, which is serviced only by Great Lakes Airways two times a day, and is a partner airline of United, who was my carrier today. I knew that United may help me get there if I would give up my seat on this first flight. The agent found me an option that would get me to Worland at 8:30 PM, but it meant not leaving SFO till 1:30 PM, remember I was there for a 5:35 AM flight. They told me to hang out during bearding and would let me know if I was needed, secretly I was hoping I they would. Well I asked about 10 minutes later and they said they were good, I got on the plane sat in my seat and waited to take off. Sure enough a few minutes before departure they come on and ask me if I’ll still give up my seat, and I said yes.

At this point the agent starts to work their magic, and the whole time two other customers are yelling at the other agent because they MUST be on this flight, and don’t understand how their seat could be given to someone else. On and on they go, and my agent and I just smile at each other. If you only take one piece of advice form me never ever show up late for a flight, always check in online and be at the gate no later than 30 minutes before departure. Period. If you aren’t there you may lose your seat or just miss your flight, and some lucky SOB (read me) gets your seat. When I show up early walk up ask for standby and take your seat. It’s never malicious, but I can tell you countless times, I show up for an earlier flight ask for standby and viola I have a seat and get home hours early. While you beg and beg to get on a flight home.

So as the agent processes my new flight, she says I’ll standby you for the 7 AM, and I gladly accept. I’m now booked on a 1:30 PM to Denver and a 6:30 PM connection to Worland via Cheyenne. Whoo Hooo. I head over to the new gate an wait my turn hoping I get set up. Sure enough this flight is oversold and they need volunteers. SO it doesn’t look good, but I’m #1 on the standby list. I cross my fingers. 11 minutes before departure they have 3 seats that are still no shows and I’m still #1. They tell me to come up and line up, at 10 minutes they give me a seat number and I board. I go to my seat and it’s occupied. Crap. I go back up front and they say take any open seat, what is this Southwest I walk all the way to the back and there are none. I go back and say now what. They then move a non-rev to the jump seat and now all is set. We get to Denver on time, but…On landing about 2000 feet off the ground the plane starts to rev engines and ascent. Wait aren’t we landing. Apparently no, we circle around, and the pilot says a plane took too long to leave the runway so we had to abort landing. Just great. Ten minutes later we land and off I wait for 6 hours. At that point I go to the board to stare at other flights and what do I see the earlier Worland flight is delayed, and I may have a chance. I change terminals and hoof it to the gate, I have 20 minutes to the newly delayed departure. They tell me sure we can set you up. I’m stocked back on track. Well the 10:30 departure creeps from 11:40..12:00…12:15…12:25…12:50…1:15 plane swap due to mechanical 1:30…2 finally boarding. By now it’s snowing bad, and I just hope we get to leave. We get on do two deicing procedures, and off we go. At 3 we land in Cheyenne drop off 10 of 16 passengers deice and take off again for 1 more hour, at this time it’s 3:30. Half an hour later, the pilot comes on and says were going back, we have a mechanical issue that must be fixed in Cheyenne and can’t be fixed in Worland, no mechanics. CRAP, now what. I’m worried I may never make it to Worland, I have to work tomorrow. They have all six of us to deplane and hit the portable also known as the gate, what a Podunk airport for the capitol. 20 minutes later they give us two options, they’ll pay for a hotel and we wait till 11 AM Tuesday to continue to Worland 300 miles or 6 hours driving away, or fly back to Denver (which oh by the way was underground stop due to snow) and hope to get to Worland on the last flight or Tuesday afternoon. Three strangers and I are like can we drive, they say sure but it’s on you cost wise.

We all decide we’ll drive, two of the others were married and had travelled for 24 plus hours and just wanted to get home from vacation, the other was also from Worland and was going home to perform a few medical procedures the next day, so he had to be there. All three I had talked to during the several hour delay in Denver but they were all strangers. Sure this was not the smartest thing to do but I HAD to get here, and the other two options we’re not going to work in any way shape or form. So off we went, we got a car, our bags and off we drove. What can be a 4-5 hour drive took six because of bad weather ½ the time, that slowed us down on two lane slightly windy roads. It ended up being a fun drive, I got to see some really beautiful landscapes and parts of the US I had never seen before. Plus I got really great narrative of the scenery from locals who knew the area, it was a great tour of the South Eastern and Central parts of Wyoming. I called my wife to let her know my crazy plan, needless to say she thought I was straight up crazy. But sort of understood, what I had to do. She was worried but I texted and called her a few times to let her know I was alive.

Finally at 10:30 PM after one gas fill up, and dinner at South of the Border in Casper I got to my hotel unwound and went to sleep. What was one heck of a travel day was finally over. Sure this is not how I expected to get here, nor had I expected to meet 3 new friends, but hey it was fun and showed me again how amazing people can be in an odd situation. I made it via plane, not train and automobile. Take that John Candy.

So if you’re taking score at home. I was going to fly SFO to Jackson arriving at 11:30 AM, got rerouted to Worland via Riverton arriving at 8:30 PM, showed up in Denver and was put on the earlier Worland via Cheyenne at scheduled for arrival at 11:30, but due to the initial delay was 1:00 PM. I finally flew to Cheyenne and got off at 4:30 PM and arrived in Worland at 10:30 PM. BTW the original Worland flight landed at 11:45 PM so I was the winner right.

Categories: Airlines, Airport, Random, Travel, United Airlines | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thanks readers

Thank you readers for reading my Blog. It has almost been a year since I started this little endeavor and I’m now just making my 50th post. I didn’t know if this would be something I’d embrace or enjoy, let alone have others want to read. It’s also been fun to hear from friends and get feedback from other bloggers and strangers, I can’t believe that others actually read it. When I started this I had no idea if anyone would even care about what I was doing or had to say. It’s just nice to know that what I have to say can be of interest and help to others out there.
Again thanks for reading, please continue to leave feedback and ask questions of anything I’ve posted about or that you may have questions about.

Categories: Random, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

My most recent travel mistakes

There are days where I feel like George Clooney’s character in the film “Up in the Air”. Where I get the travel game and am totally prepared for navigating the airport and my travel responsibilities. The scene in the beginning of the movie when he gets to security, and has a “routine” fits me to a T. I may not have his routine, but I have the art down pretty well and my system works well for me.

So let’s step back two weeks. My work computer crashes and I can’t recover the data. Crap, thankfully it’s mostly all backed up remotely and can be restored, but first you have to fix the computer. Since T minus five days form the crash I’m heading on a two week work jaunt to New Zealand and Australia, I needed that computer fixed pronto. My amazing, and I really do mean amazing IT department, suggests the best option would be to send it to the office to fix, send me a temporary replacement, restore my replacement via the back up and while I’m out saving the world fix my computer. Sounds like a great idea, and would give me the least amount of downtime, even if my spare was not 100% restored to my computer. Ok now what does a crashed computer have to do with travel, or in my case “Up in the Air”, well not much really, but I think that caused a chain of events that I’m still trying to figure out, and recover from.

First off 95% if not more of my business travel is domestic or to Canada (is that even a country) Eah? Not until June 2012 did I start making the much longer treks to the Southern Hemisphere for work, and soon enough those trips will be over and it’ll be back to all the domestic stuff again. I say this, because for 10 years I have a routine, I know what to pack for work, I put stuff in the same place in my bag each week, and I know what accessories I need to have with me power cables, adaptors, headphones, extra batteries etc. Life is good, I have the business of getting my suitcase packed down to a science, and can be done in 10 minutes for a 5 night trip. But now look at what needs to happen when you go international, it’s like throwing my stuff in the laundry and watching it spin. Yes I do travel a lot, and yes I do travel internationally a lot for pleasure each year, but now I have to actually think about what I need, and I that’s what screwed me up this time.

So what makes packing for this kind of trip different, what possibly could I need that would make it that much harder. Well it’s simple, I need power adaptors, splitters, my phone plan set up, foreign currency, US bills needed in a pinch, ATM card or at least a PIN friendly credit card for cash advances, VOIP headset, and oh yeah plane tickets (I’ll get to that in a minute). So here’s how it went down and what caused me to write this up. The first week in Auckland was fine mostly. I apparently lost two of my power converters between trips, and one of my spares is so janky I couldn’t use it. When you have three phones, a computer, an iPad and CPAP machine that need juice having 2 power converters is a little light. Now I don’t need to charge all of these at once, but you get the idea six items two converters and an extra 3 prong splitter, and you’re juggling constantly. Why am I so important to have three phones, well I’m not. I have a personal one and a work one, that’s normal. But I also have an unlocked one that I only use down here, that I can swap the chip out of and get local calls and such at local rates, it’s a much cheaper way to call locally and also internationally when abroad. Unless I want to go through the expense of jail breaking my personal phone, or asking my employer to replace my Galaxy 2 with a non CDMA phone, this is the dance I have to make. Until this trip the US work phone was only used for checking voicemail and for some calls back home I need to make in a pinch, but this trip I got hosed. Sometime between trips CDMA became obsolete in these two places and I flat out can’t use it. So even having it with me turned out to be a waste. Lesson learned find out about your phone before a trip abroad, although in my defense it worked in October. Next time, bring more adaptors, and bring a better three prong splitter. UUGH it just makes it a total pain to power any device.

So what else could I have done wrong, well the next stupid thing I did was leave my computer power cord at my clients office Friday night and didn’t realize it till five hours later, when I was 1500 miles away. OOPS. This caused all sorts of problems, I was no longer in a place where I could run to the store and get one, and the earliest I’d be able to get the one from New Zealand sent to me was Tuesday, and that would not work. So I had to spend my weekend trying to find one and juggle work commitments over the weekend without my computer. That would normally not be an issue, but when you need your computer to conduct seminars and grab data that’s only on the computer it really caused me trouble. Thankfully buy Sunday afternoon, I was able to find a replacement power cord, for an arm and a leg, but at least I was back in business. To think at home I have like four power cords, and have NEVER done this before, but to leave my cord plus an adaptor at a client’s office and not be able to contact anyone there to send it to me till Monday would have ruined my week, and to have my wife FedEx me a replacement and “temporarily” borrow one from a store so I could work was one heck of a juggling act. Anyhow it finally got sorted, but the heartburn it created was not anything I was needing at the moment.

Earlier in the diatribe I mentioned how I needed a plane ticket, well that’s a funny story too. In between weeks in New Zealand and Australia I decided to spend the weekend in Fiji (the trip will be a future post so check back soon). Since it’s only three hours from Auckland and four from Sydney I thought I’d take a chance that I’d enjoy it. My wife was cursing me the whole time, since she was stuck at home, but I had to be somewhere and Fiji was cheaper than the other two cities I would be in go figure. Anyhow, let’s get back to my ticket dilemma. Initially I had purchased mileage tickets using American Airlines miles on their partner Air Pacific Limited, it was an ok deal 40k miles in coach, where a roundtrip ticket was well over $600. I would rather save the miles for a better flight experience, but I’d also like to save myself $600. So mileage ticket it is. Well the day of departure the one way ticket to Fiji had dropped to under $200 and for me to save half the air miles was worth it. For a comparison I can fly roundtrip in coach anywhere in the Continental US for 25k miles, so I think spending the cash in this case was worth it. My wife was awesome, she was able to cancel my ticket book my purchased ticket and made sure all was ok for my return from Fiji to Sydney, since I was not cancelling that part of the trip. Ordinarily this is an easy proposition, and should take minutes with the airlines, and I’d take care of it myself to boot. But in this case, I was stuck paying a long distance charge and having to make multiple calls, having the “boss” help me out was huge. So fast forward to my return journey, I get to Nadi Airport 2 hours prior to departure, the hotel recommended three. My flight was at 9 am, and I was 45 minutes from the airport, how early did I really need to get there. So I took a risk. I get to the airport, check in for the flight and the agent says you don’t have a ticket it was cancelled. I’m dumbfounded, stunned I have a look of horror on my face. All I can think of is now what, I have to be in Sydney tomorrow to work, I must leave Fiji today. She says let’s see what we can do, and takes my passport and ticket to a hole somewhere in the airport. I wait, and wait and wait. Now because of my phone issues, I only have one option, use the jail braked phone, that has no Fiji chip, but does have an NZ chip with limited minutes on it, and somehow get AA to help me. Or pray she can work it out. It turns out the airport had Wi-Fi, I go online and find out AA had cancelled my whole trip and refunded the miles (thanks AA). I’m still sorting out that mess. I then figure out what a one way ticket home will cost, thankfully it’s $300, not cheap but what can you do. I finally start to panic, I know I can buy a ticket but I need my passport, and the lady has not come back yet. I take a deep breath and just wait. It seemed like hours, but it must have been 10 minutes. She walks me over to the customer service counter and says I need to buy a ticket. Well what else can you do now. So that’s what I do, but then that’s where life gets interesting again. They try to run my credit card three times, and discover their only credit card machine isn’t working. She says she can take US funds. Great. So I fork over my cash, but wait I only have $200 US and need $300. Can you take Australian or Kiwi money, sure but only the full amount. I don’t have it, I’m short even more the $200. Is there an ATM, yes there is, OK I’ll be back. The ATM will only let me take out $200 Fijian from my BofA ATM card, I need like $600. I forgot my only credit card with a pin number at home so now what. Exasperated I go back up to the agent and ask what she can do, she was super cool and understood I was really in a pinch. She ended up taking my $200 US, $200 Fijian and $15 Australian, it was a total gong show. But I had a ticket and now I could check into the flight. Once that was done I was off to security, what seemed like an eternity was all totaled 1:15 so I still had 45 minutes to spare, not too bad. But I guess the hotel was right. The only silver lining I can come up with is, that I never lost my cool, and never got mad at the airline staff, they were just doing their job, and didn’t do anything wrong. The baggage attendant that initially took my passport and helped me out after I had my ticket, said I was the friendliest American she had ever met. Now that did make me feel good, but also sad since that means there’s a lot of unfriendly ones out there giving us a bad reputation, but at least I was able to prove that we can be nice too.

As you can see even the frequent traveler can make a mistake once in a while or a bunch of them like I did. The only thing you can do is take them in stride recover and move on. If you get mad or angry more than likely you’ll never recover and look like a jerk too. I just now know to make sure I confirm my plane tickets, make sure I have a PIN ATM card with me that has a higher cash limit and oodles of power cords. I guess these mishaps just proved I’m not George Clooney.

Categories: Airport, Random, Travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Wandering and Eating My Way Through San Antonio

OK so I must have gained five pounds this week. Wow I ate a lot off good food here in San Antonio. Plus I had a nice time walking around the Alamo and River Walk. Yes I’d been here before, but I’m not sure if you can count a trip 25 years ago, as being someplace. I do remember touring The Alamo, but not much else. Unfortunately since it was closed it’s open 8:30-5:30 I believe, I missed it buy a few hours. But getting a chance to see it again and see how beautiful yet small it is, was great. I remember the façade being so much larger and the photos you see on TV and such make it look so big, but seeing it up close it was small. I’m sure the environs and inside must be bigger but from outside it was not. The River Walk or at least the spots I walked on were great. I really had a nice time, watching the water taxi’s float by and listening to the mariachi bands sing and play on. It made for a festive night. I also was reminded of an old old movie Cloak and Dagger from 1984 with Dabney Coleman and Henry Thomas (of E.T. fame), and who was apparently born in San Antonio according to IMDB. From what I remember there were a few scenes of the downtown featuring The Alamo and River Walk. I had completely forgotten about this gem of a movie till I was walking around, I’m now going to have watch it on Netflix. Oh the memories.

Well on the River Walk I went to Boudrou’s and it was great. I saw it on Yelp and it had almost 500 reviews and was rated over 4 stars, we’ll I was satisfied. See my great meal below. I also had no choice but to visit Pappadeux two times, this is my favorite chain restaurant I think. Probably because I don’t have any near me and it’s a treat to find one when traveling. If you’ve never been, you must check them out. They are just fabulous, and I know I’m not the only one that thinks that. The funny thing is I always get the same thing, a wedge salad and shrimp brochette, so the food could really really suck, but I’d never know. When I went on Monday night the wait was 45 minutes for a table at 8 PM, that was crazy. I didn’t wait though, cause all the locations have a picture of me on the wall as one of their favorite customers. Ha ha just kidding, party of one at the bar, works every time. Oh and BTW Cooper’s BBQ was no joke. You get your food off the grill, they dip it sauce and put it on a tray, then they wrap it in the next room in butcher paper, weigh it, pick your sides and sit down to eat. Plates consist of more butcher paper, it was just awesome.

As for the Gruene Hall, it was a neat 140 year old dance hall, and was just a great little hang out. Just the kind of place to wet your whistle and listen to some Bluegrass. And from what I was told on weekends this little place has over 3000 people listening to some top-notch bands.

Boudro's Story

Boudro’s Story

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits

Ice Cream, Chocolate, Honey and Nuts

Ice Cream, Chocolate, Honey and Nuts

Prickley Pear Margarita

Prickley Pear Margarita

The pit at Cooper's Old Time Pit & BBQ

The pit at Cooper’s Old Time Pit & BBQ

Our Meat

Our Meat

Nuf said

Nuf said

Gruene Hall

Gruene Hall

the dance hall and seating

the dance hall and seating

The bar

The bar

Pappadeux

Pappadeux

Shrimp Brochette @ Pappadeux

Shrimp Brochette @ Pappadeux

The Alamo

The Alamo

Remember the Alamo

Remember the Alamo

DSCF0107

DSCF0111

DSCF0114

DSCF0115

The Riverwalk

The Riverwalk

DSCF0123

Categories: Food, movie, Photography, Review, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.

roads bel travelled

Exploring open roads without breaking the bank

Through Open Lens

Home of Lukas Kondraciuk Photography

micahdoes

Living wide and eating well.

Life at Her Brightest

by Anna Trestain

seagirll

Travel

theitinerary1.wordpress.com/

Across the Atlas One Blog at a Time

mat(the)writer

Travel...experience the world

The Pixie Dusted Disney Freak

A Disney freak's musings about movies, the Disney Parks, and of course, magic!

%d bloggers like this: