Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm Pretty Sure US Air's Theme Song Should Be "Let's Get Retarded"

Ok, so, the trip down to Puerto Rico wasn't horrible. One of the legs of the trip down we were upgraded to first class (granted, it was the 20 minute flight to Philly, but, at least there was free alcohol). The PHL-to-SJU leg was what you'd expect from coach-class.

A couple days before our return, we got email notifications that we'd been upgraded on both the longer SJU-to-CLT leg and the shorter CLT-to-DCA leg. Coolness: free alcohol and extra space (we'll ignore the free hospital-quality food). Twenty-four hours before flight-time, got the notification to do web check-in.

It was at this point that it all went sorta sideways. I hit the "Check-in" button and then the "select seats" option. Everything was cool on the SJU-to-CLT leg - other than that our seats weren't together (no biggie, we figured we'd just ask people to trade so we could be together). However, the CLT-to-DCA leg was fuxored. Though both of us had been upgraded and our coach seats de-assigned, there was only one seat selectable for us in First Class. It also wouldn't even let me re-select a coach seat for either of us. Fuck.

So, I clicked on the "contact us" link. I called the number, navigated the call-tree and then was placed on hold for a CSR. Eventually, the CSR came on the line and quickly informed me, "oh, that's an international itinerary: you'll need to talk to the international ticketing desk. I'll transfer you, but here's the number in case you get disconnected..."

I'd never really considered Puerto Rico to be "international" given their legal relationship to the US. However, in retrospect, Puerto Rico does have it's on TLD (pulling up Google redirects you to and has Spanish as its primary language. So...

At any rate, the CSR transfers me the "international" call-tree (i.e., not a "warm hand-off"). Grr... I navigate the new call-tree and eventually get a new CSR. She finds that the CLT-to-DCA situation requires supervisor override (apparently, there were seats available in first class, but reserved and the supervisor was the only one that could force-allocate me a seat). She puts me on hold while they sort things out. Eventually, she comes back on the line and tells me I've got both my seats but that they're not next to each other. I figure "cool/whatever: we'll sort it out later". She also tells me I'm checked in and all I need to do is go back to the web site and click on the "print boarding passes" button. We say our goodbyes and I go back to my laptop to print out my tix.

The retardation that is US Airway's online reservations system isn't done with me, yet, however. While the website shows that I've now got two seats on each leg of the trip, it only lets me print the tickets for the seats that were allocated prior to my chat with the international reservations CSR. This is problematic, as I really didn't feel like having to ass-around in Charlotte due to not having a printed pass. So, I call US Airways, again. This time, I call their web tech support number, as this seems to be more a web-portal issue than a true ticketing issue. I navigate the call-tree and then wait on hold for a CSR. Eventually the CSR comes on the line. I identify myself and explain my issue. She asks me to hold while she tries to resolve it. Unfortunately, she has about as much success as I had and tells me to just have one of the gate agents print me all four passes when I check my bags. Great. This doesn't exactly give me the warm-fuzzies, but, "what can you do". On the marginal plus side, at least the CSR had the same problems I did. So, it wasn't a PEBKAC error on my part.

The next day, we get to the airport. We get a porter to lug our bags (they don't do the rental carts and Donna always packs heavy). We go through the APHIS/FDA screening, then go to the agent desk. Fortunately, being on a First Class itinerary, there were no lines to wait in. Donna discovers our desk agent is a kindred spirit: her ID-lanyard is printed with skulls and crossbones all over. The agent starts checking in our bags - tagging them and getting our bag-receipts all stapled up. However, she also appears to have issues getting all the tix to print. A supervisor is called over and eventually everything is all sorted out. As a bonus, our SJU-to-CLT leg is re-ticketed so that our seats are next to each other.

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