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February 17, 2007

Costa Rica a no-go

I slept through my alarm, or maybe I turned it off, somehow waking up by myself at 5:30am at least. My flight with others from our group was to leave at 6am. I discovered that very few taxicab services even answer their phones before 7am on a Saturday, and MetroRail certainly doesn't work that early either. I wouldn't have made the flight anyway. The woman from American Airlines on the phone in the morning didn't mention that I should have rescheduled when I was on the phone with her, especially for international flights, which would have saved me $800 and enable me to actually go.

National airport was still insane with backups from the ice storm - long lines with lots of tense and upset people. When faced with an additional $800 to change my flight to tomorrow (there were no more available for today, and I can't be on stand-by with an international flight) and the vision of having to reschedule my connecting flight in Costa Rica sans decent Spanish speaking skills by myself, I just said "fuck it" and cancelled the whole trip. It would have been a chain of airport stays and a lot of uncertainty that I'm not in the mood to deal with. I don't travel internationally all that much and I'm not savvy in getting around stuff like that, and it looks like these days you need a cell phone to rearrange schedules on the spot.

All the other folks in my gang that went have either been there, are coupled and have pooled resources, and/or they speak Spanish. I'm in none of the above categories, and rearranging the trip would have been a mess with me by myself in San Jose for who knows how long - I had a connecting flight to the resort that I would have had to reschedule too. For now I'll stick with domestic, U.K. or Canada trips from here on out.

Lessons Learned:
- Early-morning flights are a bad idea for me;
- If I do have to do an early-morning flight, get someone to call me to wake my ass up;
- Taxis and MetroRail are undependable in the early morning - get a friend to drive me there;
- If I do an international trip again, it's better to stick with the group from the get-go;
- Or, for complex (to me) trips like this, use an old-fashioned travel agent, if they still exist. I don't have the time to figure most of this shit out.

I think at this point in my life, international trips are a bit outside my ability to handle solo and unwise with my current salary range. The onus of flexibility for air travel is at the customer's expense, and I just can't afford that kind of trip right now. Plus airlines seem to suck more and more every time I fly, with little regard for the customer at any leg of a trip. I know part of this is due to security concerns, but a lot of it is poor regard for the consumer by both the airlines and the government.

At least I have a travel voucher now for enough money to fly home to Wisconsin to visit the family this summer, when the weather is pleasant there with many things to do.

On a nicer note, I took some time out of work yesterday to participate in The Great Backyard Bird Count with a few of my coworkers. It's a quick bird census you can perform anywhere this weekend, and enter your count on the website. I didn't expect to see much in the afternoon of such a cold day, but we spotted quite a variety of sparrows, including the Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, and Chipping Sparrow. And of course the usual winter suspects: Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, American Crow, European Starling, and a pair of Northern Cardinals.

Posted by jimbo at February 17, 2007 9:42 AM

Comments

Bummer!
Yes, I too have discovered that metro is a let down for early morning getting somewhere plans.
Not that this helps now but sometimes the Supershuttle is worth the money. They get you there, way before your flight and they will knock on your door if they must. Don't even bother with cabbies unless you know one personally or live in a spot where they are trolling at all hours. Too many people I know have been let down by them. And yes, there are still travel agents of the old fashioned kind around.
Yes, next time, wake up service, several alarms, or just avoid flights before your natural wake up time.

Posted by: Mari at February 17, 2007 11:15 AM

That sux major donkey dick. I'm sorry.

At least this will give you more time to shop for my b-day present, which is next Friday. Thanks.

Posted by: durban bud at February 17, 2007 1:07 PM

Sorry to hear it - it sounded like an interesting vacation plan and I was looking forward to reading your thoughts on the region. Better luck next time.

Posted by: Chuck at February 17, 2007 1:14 PM

Bummer.

My heart breaks, not just because of the travel troubles, but because a sunny vacation would have been a nice break for you.

Want to come down to sunny FL? It's cold but not as cold ... and no snow.

Chin up, Jimbo.

Posted by: SmartAss at February 17, 2007 1:26 PM

Talk about the undeserved let down, this calls for many four letter words and a little manmeat distraction. Or the feathered kind.

Until the airlines sink to the level of Aeroflot, I can't complain too loudly.

Posted by: copperred at February 17, 2007 4:59 PM

That blows! Sorry to hear your plans got cancelled.

Posted by: Bubala at February 17, 2007 5:34 PM

Oh no! We best see you out drinking it away this weekend. A-Ron & Boodaddy.

Posted by: A-Ron at February 17, 2007 5:48 PM

hmm so a car and a cell phone would have saved the day... interesting.

Still it sucks I really enjoyed the short vacation I got last month in the sun and was hoping you'd have a good time. Cheers to next time and don't give up on the idea!

Posted by: Tim at February 17, 2007 7:04 PM

QE2 and QM2 . . . the only wat to get to the UK and all points European. Airlines suck.

Posted by: boo augustus at February 17, 2007 8:25 PM

I'm happy you were able to get a travel voucher for the unused trip. Usually the airlines screw you over on that too. I know...I used to work for one. I'm sorry to hear that your travel plans went awray, Jimbo. Hopefully your trip to the Southwest will go better! Best!

Posted by: fstclss at February 18, 2007 12:28 AM

How heartbreaking. Well, Glennalicious is coming down to visit next weekend, maybe that will cheer you up a bit. There will be other opportunities for travel, adventure and fun in the sun.

Posted by: Mike at February 18, 2007 1:56 AM

how sad! i would be freaking out. no costa rica?? just because of my freakin' alarm clock? how awful.

Posted by: roman at February 18, 2007 12:51 PM

This reminds me of the beginning of Four Weddings and a Funeral ... Bugger Bugger Bugger .....

Sorry about the missed trip ... commiserations all around ... you're always welcome here ... though wait until summer when it warms up a bit.

Posted by: BILL at February 18, 2007 1:08 PM

sorry, Jimbo!

At least you'll be around for Battlestar.

Posted by: Paul at February 18, 2007 2:17 PM

Doh that really blows. I hate morning flights with a passion.

You may have some recourse with AA should you want to pursue it. It will require work on your part and being persistent and patient but...

Since the AA rep could have fixed your problem & didn't this may be an avenue towards recouping more of your airfare expenses (since I am assuming you got docked a change fee to receive the voucher). What I would recommend is a very sternly worded letter written to the CEO of American Airlines. Go right to the top and provide a concise yet very detailed account of the phone conversation.

You will want to finish with what you find to be an acceptable resolution (i.e. waive the change fee and credit the money collected to another voucher) Generally you need to raise hell (though politely) and you have a chance at getting something out of it. It may not mitigate too much of your woe but every little bit helps right?

If you write the letter I will help you find the appropriate address or fax number. I have some experience in these matters and it does work more than not! You know how to find me.

Hope you get to relax regardless!

Posted by: TOS at February 18, 2007 3:13 PM

Ok, either I never travel with you, or...........WTF?

You slept through your alarm? People are posting "Poor Jimbo!", but all I see is that it's kinda your fault that you didn't make your flight. I guess my friends are correct on their assumptions about me.....I'm old, that's why I always wake EARLY without the alarm clock. I(we, the bf & I) went on vakay with a couple friends last summer. I(we) was(were) up every morning at 6:00am without an alarm. And out the door to do stuff by 7am. They didn't emerge from their bedroom until 9:00-9:30. Did I mention everyone was in bed early. Their excuse about sleeping in....."we're on vacation".

I also seem to be able to wake up early to drive to the mountain to go boarding. I hear the alarm, I get out of bed to go turn it off, grab my towel and head to the shower....

I'm sorry you didn't make your trip, but you have to point the finger at yourself more than you did......it was entirely your fault. Next time set two alarms, the one by your bed and one you have to get up and walk to so you can turn it off!

Posted by: TonkaManOR at February 20, 2007 1:02 PM

Jim, I certainly won't be sharing a room with you on vacation, but you can get the room next door so you can wake me up at my request. You are clearly one of those people who gets up at 6am and shuffles around making noises that wake other people up in a shared living situation.

And thanks for explaining how easy it is to get up in the morning. I wasn't aware that it was such a piece of cake!

Posted by: jimbo at February 20, 2007 1:40 PM

Actually, I'm quite courteous when it comes to sharing housing with other folks. I even provide them with earplugs to drown out my snoring from down the hall.

And why are you the only one allowed to be bitter when posting? You post about your missed trip to get sympathy from folks and the when someone doesn't stroke your ego, you get all bent about it.

You are so East Coast!

Posted by: TonkaManOR at February 20, 2007 7:16 PM

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