Archive for the ‘Business Travel’ Category

Blackout Dates Suck

Monday, February 21st, 2011

I just booked a roundtrip flight through Southwest from SLC to BWI and was expecting to be able to use my recent “award,” aka free ticket.

This is an overly-whiny post, and I debated on even not writing it, but I decided to write it to remind me to NOT COUNT ON awards to save some money.

What I thought would have been NO COST turned out to be $600.  Ugh.

The first frustration was when I was trying to book – on the checkout page there is no place to apply any awards, even if you are logged in.  Extremely frustrating, as I would expect one of the payment options to be “use award.”

The second frustration was when I called the SWA 800 number to get someone to help me.  Usually I wait for all of 60 seconds, but this time I had to wait “20 – 40 minutes.” I got cut off twice during the automated “dial this for that or that for this” message… extremely frustrating, and not what I typically expect from southwest.

Finally I opted to just have them call me, which took about 40 minutes.  The person on the other end walked me through the process of using an award (you have to find flights a completely different way… not the normal way, so I basically had to start over).

She offered to do it for me, and I took her up on the offer… until she had to break the news to me that I wanted to fly in and out on blackout dates… which meant I really can’t use my tickets for this trip. I need to be in Baltimore/Boston on the dates below… if I used my tickets I’d be gone almost 2 full weeks (I could fly out on the 9th and fly home on the 22nd), which means time away from family (not going to do that), and hotel expenses.

Free just became a $600 spend.  Thanks a lot southwest.  I really hate blackout dates.  And now I feel my award is useless.

Sure, I’ll use it, but I was hoping to save the money from this trip.  Ugh.

Lesson?  Don’t count on using your awards/mileage when you want it.

The Miracle Van – Goodbye

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Almost five years ago I got laid off.  My wife was pregnant with our fourth child and we had to change from our car (Toyota Avalon, which is like harnessing heaven on four wheels!) to a minivan.

It was hard to give up the Avalon but the story of how we got our van is a very cool story, and why we call it The Miracle Van.  Even with it’s bumps and bruises, we really appreciated the van because we got it in a time of desperation, and it represented the goodness of humanity (many people where involved in helping us get it, since there was no money to pay for it at the time).

Two weeks ago I had just started a two week trip with about a dozen speaking engagements.  I was in California at the time when I got the dreaded call from my FIL:

“First, everyone is okay….”

When he said that I thought ... “okay, I think that’s not the statement I want to hear when I first answer the phone… is he going to tell me something bad happened?”

My wife was in an accident that could have been very, very bad, but fortunately she, and our two youngest kids, where okay.

An accident is not good for anyone… but events leading up to this accident where, as we recognized, tender mercies.

For example:

  • I had lost my car keys a couple of years earlier, so we only had one set (has a chip in it and we never got around to getting a spare). Days earlier, my wife found the lost key in a coat she hadn’t worn for a long time.
  • Her dad was in town on a really strange errand, right when it happened, and was able to be at the accident and help until she got home and was okay.

In memoriam, here’s a picture of the van, post-accident… note the numbers (explanations below):

  1. There used to be something here.  Now there is nothing but a void.
  2. This tire used to face a completely different direction.
  3. This is about where my wife’s legs were at the time of the accident.  Fortunately nothing happened to her body, except from bruises and bumps.  Sooooo close to something more dangerous :s
  4. This is one of two mirrors, and the only mirror that was intact.  Our other mirror had a few bouts with the side of the garage door, and was proudly bandaged up in shiny duct tape.  Never got around to fixing that.
  5. This is where our 18 month old baby was.  Thank goodness the impact was just a few feet in front of him, instead of where he was.

Shopping for a new vehicle isn’t fun, in general, but we’ve had some great experiences, which I hope to blog about on the JibberJobber blog.

San Diego and Walking (MapMyWalk)

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

I am in San Diego and went on a walk this morning.  To map out my walk so I could record the distance I did a quick search and found the amazing, awesome, just-what-I-was-looking-for map found here, on About.com’s walking page.

It is powered by MapMyWalk but I’m too busy/lazy right now to figure out how to put it on my own site…. for now I’ll use About’s page when I’m on the road (which is going to be a lot this next 6 months).

Here are some miscellaneous thoughts about my trip this time, my second time to San Diego:

  • San Diego is a beautiful place, I think.  Sunny and all that.  Except when it’s all cloudy and gloomy, which is exactly how it has been since I’ve gotten here.  That’s okay, it’s been quite sunny in Utah.
  • I love seeing surfers walking around town, barefoot and carrying their surfboards around, or driving around with surfboards on their cars.  Saw this in Malibu a lot … a fun part of the culture.
  • It’s okay for me to call people DUDE around here…. yeah :)
  • Had excellent Mexican food, which is what I expected coming this close to MX (even though the hotel receptionist said I had to go to MX to get the real stuff, this was pretty awesome :)).
  • Walking through downtown S.D., like any big town (granted, this isn’t big, but it is downtown) is interesting. I forgot how stinky big cities can be… lots of homeless people here (great weather – many homeless in Utah leave during the winter), and I heard things like “GETTING OFF PAROLE IS YOUR NUMBER ONE PRIORITY!!” (was a phone call) and “YOU *&%% @##%$, YOU ARE ON TOO MANY DRUGS,” (that was a guy shouting to a girl on the street.  The guy was good looking, well-dressed, British accent… and very frustrated with the drugged-out girl.  All this stuff makes me feel like i don’t get out enough!
  • Parking is fun here – went to a grocery store with Susan Joyce (Job-Hunt.org) and we parked in the stores only parking lot – a somewhat open, UNDERGROUND parking lot.
  • The trees and plants are amazing.  Super cool trees, and birds of paradise plants… simply awesome.

Now, back to work.  My next trip is to D.C. in a few weeks.