Saturday, July 23, 2011

You're welcome, Bruce Phillipes

Our trip started with my trademark difficulty: when I powered down the transformers for the PCs, the lights went out.

No problem; this happens a lot (oddly it's when I power them down, not up). All I have to do is flip the circuit breaker. But it's dark outside, so first I need the flashlight.

It doesn't work, despite the fact that I used it two days ago. Fine, so I get the backup flashlight. Nope. Change the batteries. Nope. Finally Sara had the bright idea to use the car headlights. So it only took us 10 minutes to turn off a computer.

Our flight was actually great. The plane had a lot of empty seats (at least in our section in the back) so we had a whole row to ourselves. The baby only slept for an hour, but she didn't cry very much. One young woman actually stopped us in the hallway in LA to tell us how good the baby was, and how she'd turned off her movie to listen every time Sophie laughed.

Once we got out of the International terminal in LA, I began to feel the psychic distress that is America settling down around me. Our flight on US Airways was a bit annoying. When printing out our boarding passes Sara had noticed that both tickets were booked under her name. Several phone calls later I was forced to buy a new ticket, because the airline simply refused to change the name on the existing one (they did offer me a refund, but the fee for using the refund was $150 and the ticket was only $70). Why in the world do the airlines even have a "non-transferable" policy? They sold a seat, and somebody was going to be in it. How does it affect the profitability of their operations if it's a different person? Of course, I imagine they make a fair amount of money off of their customer's mistakes.

Anyway, we checked in for the flight, and I explained the situation to the clerk. I offered to sell them the ticket back if they needed it, but she said they didn't have anyone on standby. So just before the plane lifts off, guess who sits in my paid-for but unoccupied seat? A US Airways employee.

I explained the situation to him, and he offered to vacate the seat and spend the flight on the jump seat up in the cockpit. But it turns out I'm not a complete jerk. Given that he already had a legitimate seat on the plane, I wasn't going to make him suffer in an uncomfortable seat for no reason. When push came to shove, I was unable to view him as a policy object instead of a person.

But only because he was a working stiff. If he'd been an executive, I would have laughed in his face. Of course, executives don't fly jump seats; they fly in First Class.

I will say this about America, though: we bought some bananas for $2 a pound - about 25% of what they cost in Oz at the moment.

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