I hope this trip doesn’t kill me
We’re going to South Africa next June. After years of cajoling, I got Mike and Linda to go visit the dark continent with us, along with Kate and Brad and the granddaughters.
My challenge at the moment is to find us some airplane seat, without breaking the bank. I’d like to try first class on Emirates, but that’s $37,000.
Normally we go places on frequent flier miles, but I spent every last one we had getting the kids and grandkids there.
Fortunately, we have access to a pile of American Express points, which can be turned into miles on many airlines. Not American Air, though, because that would be too easy.
I’ve been on the phone for hours and hours trying to solve this.
I tried Virgin Atlantic, but they have no availability.
I tried British Air, but that didn’t work either.
Delta!!! Delta has a great flight–SFO to Atlanta, then non-stop to Johannesburg. True, we need to get to Capetown, but if I can get us to Jo’burg (as the cool people say), I’ll work out the hop to Capetown later.
I find the flights. I call American Express, and try to move the points into miles. Unfortunately, I only have 17 of the 18 meaningless pieces of information I need for “security”. Make a few calls, get the answer and call back.
Success!! I now have almost everything. Except I’m 24,000 miles short. But I knew that, and Delta says on their website that they will be happy to sell me the remainder for a mere $800, which is highway robbery but I can live with it. Better than $37,000.
Oops!! New rule: they won’t sell me the miles I need until the Skymiles account I have just opened is 10 days old, and I must earn at least 1 frequent flyer mile somehow. What you hear is the sound of my head exploding.
How about this? I have a friend, Don Mamula, with lots of miles. Maybe he could give me some, and I’d make it right to him later.
Delta isn’t real big on that, but they will let him buy miles to give me. Fine, I can pay him back. Nope, the same 10 days and 1 frequent flyer mile applies to gifts–he can’t give them to me either.
Well, I guess i can wait the now 9 days. But how do I earn at least one mile? The account isn’t exactly in my name, I can’t take a short flight. I could open a credit card and get 30,000 free miles, but I’d have to spend $500 a month for 3 months and that’s too long.
Skymiles has retail partners. I could send Gail flowers, except she doesn’t really like them.
Perhaps I’ll replace my noise cancelling headphones. Mine are 6 or 7 years old and there’s a new model. Bose will give me 1500 for the purchase, I just hope that they can do it quickly.
My next worry: what’s the best process at this point? I have enough miles to purchase one ticket, which would guarantee that Gail got there and back on the best dates. Then wait until I can purchase the extra miles and hope to be able to get the same flights, or have to leave or come back early or late or on ugly flights, which leaves Gail to navigate the trip and customs by herself. I don’t much like that option, but the alternative is to wait and try to buy both tickets later, which might be perfect and might be a disaster.
I don’t handle frustration well. This has been an incredibly difficult and stressful process, where every time I think I have worked out a solution the damned airline throws another roadblock in my way. I haven’t gotten to the point where I am banging my telephone on the counter while screaming at the clerks on the other end, but it’s only because of my general cherub like demeanor.
I know we will eventually get there, and then have a great time. I just hope my heart doesn’t shoot straight out of my chest in anger, stress and frustration before it happens.