Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Sunday, April 20, 2008
NOT Helpful
I've been asked to represent Maryland as a voting delegate at this year's national convention for the League of Women Voters in Portland, OR in June.

It's an honor to be asked, and we're hoping that one or more of the US Presidential candidates will show up to speak at the convention.

It's also fun, because I've always wanted to go to Portland, and to spend some time and $$ at one of the world's best bookstores.

The League is paying my registration and hotel costs, but I am responsible for getting there and for my meals (it's a volunteer organization after all). Since I am on the Board of Directors for the Baltimore League, my new job is letting me attend as "Community Service" instead of making me take vacation time, which I thought was really generous of them.

So anyway, I thought I would pop on to and use a free RT award I earned to get out to Portland. Not so fast - there are no Rewards flights available for the dates and times I need to go. Same old story. And - Southwest's regular fare to Portland is a whopping $730!

On to United Airlines.

I have a $200 voucher from my trip to China thanks to a delayed flight out of O'Hare, and since I racked up a LOT of miles on my UA frequent flier program going to China and back (and Air China is a UA mileage partner, so the six Air China flights I took in country counted as well), another cross country RT can only help, and their regular fare to Portland is only $454 - so that makes the fare with the voucher applied $254 - perfect.

Not so fast. The small print on the voucher informs me that I can't redeem it on the Internet, only over the phone. Once I found the flights I wanted using the website, I called their reservation line and spent an excruciating 25 minutes with an automated voice leading me through complicated message trees, and was never given an opportunity to redeem the voucher or enter a code. In frustration, I hung up and tried again. And again.

Finally, I figured out how to get through to a live agent in the Philippines or some other far off place who booked the flight for me, and when I asked her how to redeem the coupon she said I had two choices. One - go to United ticket desk at BWI (??!!!) in the next 48 hours. This seemed really ludicrous. Or two - mail it in and wait for the reservation to be confirmed via email.

I started trying to find a flight at 3:00 PM - it's now 5:30 PM

Why does this sound like it's going to end badly???
posted by Broadsheet @ 5:13 PM  
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