Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday Memory - Flying old vs new

Again I am one day late with my Monday Memory but I have had so many problems with both my computers lately that I can barely get my emails read and some of them answered before it shuts down on me. Good excuse huh?

So my memory today has to do with flying. On airplanes flying not on drugs flying :) I remember in my good old days that when I would want to go somewhere I would just call the airline, tell them what I wanted and then show up on flight day with payment in hand even if it was cash.

Times have changed a lot. After just booking flights for 5 from Alberta to here and then 13 flights from here to Hawaii I have come to believe that things are not made to help with customers. The bottom line is how much money can we make off these people that want to get from point a to point b at the same time do it with the least amount of amenities.

We used to always get a snack AND a meal if your flight was more then just a short jaunt. You could also bring these on board with you to eat/drink. Blankets and pillows were free for the asking. Headphones were free. There was room for your legs to move. Staff worked at getting your business and keeping it.

Now.. this is what I get. There's no longer free checked luggage. You have to pay for each bag you check in. If it is one pound over the limit you pay dearly. You no longer get a free meal. Your snack where once was a muffin or cookies or fruit with cheese and crackers etc is now a small pack of overly salted pieces of cardboard. You no longer can even bring a bottle of water through security with you. Oh but you most certainly can buy bottled water at the airport kiosks and food to take on the plane with you. Yup at 4 dollars per small bottle of water, you really want to jump at those prices.

I worked my butt off to get gold status with my airmiles over the last couple of years as I knew I would be booking a lot of flights. When I went to use them to book I was told I could not use my status for this flight from Alberta to Vancouver. Why not? I am supposed to get 40% off the airmiles needed with gold status. Well yes I am told... but only on pre-selected flights. Well so then why did I work that hard for to get the status in the first place????

Not only that but I am limited to one flight each way. One is at 5am. Ever try getting a family of 5 ready to get out the door to be at the airport that early in the morning?? Why do you only have 1 flight? Well cause there are only so many seats per flight used for airmiles the rest are for regular fares. Ok well let me use a different airline. Sorry nope can't do that for you either. There is only 1 airline and that is Air Canada. But I can use West Jet with my airmiles. Yes you can but West Jet doesn't fly to Lethbridge. Groan.

Ok fine... do I have a choice? So let me see if I have this right. I can't fly on the days I want cause you have no seats available even though I just checked with Air Canada online while you had me on hold and saw that they had plenty of seats available, I have to get my family at the airport at 5am plus have to transfer in Calgary, they can't bring their own water on the plane, I can't get 40% off because that is only available on flights YOU tell me I can use it on, they can't go home on the day they need to be back for the same reason that you already told me do I have it correct? Yes I am told.

well obviously I need them here and have no choice so fine book it.. ok that will be $691.97. Uhhh no I am using my airmiles.. yes we know but these are for taxes. WHAT?? What taxes.. GST and PST do not add to that. Well no but there is airport improvement fees, other airport fees as well as fuel surcharges. WHAT? Are you kidding me? Do you realize that gas is down 50% in the last year? Why have the fuel surcharges not gone down? I don't know ma'am.

I get the information about Sea-Tac airport to find out what is admissible or not and it has taken 3 of us to translate their terminology into plain English so that we could understand it. But I can almost guarantee that we still are going to have to throw something out that we brought with us cause we understood it to be fine.

So to bring it all to a head:
Free flights with airmiles: free but pay taxes the cost of 2 full flights with West Jet
Free headphones for movie: no
Free blanket: no
Free pillow: no
Free meal: no
Free snack: no (salted Styrofoam does not count as a snack)
Free checked luggage: no
Free smiles on flight day: I'll get back to you with that one
Being able to go on a family vacation with our children and grandchildren: Priceless and still worth the hassle. But man I miss the good old days