2014-1217 Twilight Zone TerminalI decided to take a vacation later this month. My plan is to carpool (sleep in the car), while a friend drives from my house in California to his house in Texas. Rather than stay on my friend’s couch for the rest of my life, I will fly home after spending a week in Texas. I used all the travel sites to find the best return date, time, and price, then started the elaborate ticket purchasing activity which requires using a magnifying glass to see the many questions.

As a side note, the airline has the worst website imaginable . . . the kind that tells you there is an error, but does not tell you where the error is or how to fix it. The website timed out twice while I was trying to purchase a one-way ticket, and during three other attempts, it provided me with error messages before I finally called the airlines.

When I called, I was greeted by a pleasant outgoing message that instructed me to press the number one for something, the number two for something else, and so on. By the time the recording finished, I had absolutely no idea which button to push so I pressed zero then zero repeatedly, but the computer told me it did not recognize my entry. I received the same response when I tried the asterisk, pound sign, and number nine. Resigned to the fact the computer had won, I pressed the one button. The computer thought about my response, then politely informed me I had once again pressed an invalid key. I promptly ended the call and redialed the airline.

During my second attempt to reach an operator, I followed the computer’s instructions, but once again had no idea what to do. I randomly selected the number four and pressed the four button. The 2014-1217 Crossed Overperson who answered my call sounded exactly as I imagine someone sounding who was surprised to hear a voice other than her own. It would not shock me to learn the person had never seen a phone and had no idea how to use one. I explained how I reached her and what I wanted to do. She mentioned I reached the wrong extension, but she could transfer me to the automated reservation system or try to help me herself. The second option did not sound great, but the first option sounded worse. I gave her the information she needed to enter my reservation.

When she wanted to know my seating preference, she asked me if I wanted a First Class, Premium, or Coach seat. I explained I had not flown in a while and I had not heard of Premium Seating. There was no response from her, so I asked what I thought was the obvious question. “Could you please explain the features of Premium Seating?” When she admitted she could not, I suddenly realized that transferring to the computer might have been the better option. I don’t know the real benefits of Premium Seating, but I imagine it includes some combination of 1) receiving recently expired first class food; 2) getting one extra ice cube more than the other coach passengers receive; 3) obtaining closer seating to an emergency exit door;  and/or 4) receiving an in-flight massage chair as seen on T.V.

Thankfully, I now have a flight confirmation. However, I will check with the airline to make sure the flight details are correct.

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