How I Spent My Morning Yesterday


Yes, this is exactly how I felt yesterday morning at work; my second call of the day was from a client flying on Continental Airlines, who had let a ticketing deadline expire. I had to call the airline to get a waiver code, and although I was confident I’d be given the okay to issue at Thursday’s rate, I groaned as I dialled their number. Why? Because due to Hurricane Ike’s merry romp towards Houston, CO had announced that they were closing down operations for a couple of days. Which meant that their reservations lines would be jammed with calls as travelers and agents scrambled to rebook people who’d been routed via CO’s hub at Houston Intercontinental (I try to avoid calling it “George Bush International, it will always be IAH to me).

Even though my client was going nowhere near Houston and was flying internationally, meaning I was callling an international res line, I knew the hold times would be long, as all their agents would be handling a huge amount of extra call volume.

Sure enough, when I got through, there was a warning announcement about “unusually high wait time” and then an automated voice said, “Your approximate hold time will be…[BLANK]”

Yeah, that’s a good sign when the hold time exceeds the announcement’s capability to relay it.

40 minutes later, I got through to a surprisingly cheerful agent named Diane, who was happy to help with my problem, as it required very little effort on her part and did not involve being sworn at or cried by a traveler whose plans had been ruined by Continental’s stupid insistence on caution in the face of a little old rainstorm.

It took all of five minutes for Diane to get the code generated for me, and my record was soon stored with the special formats that put the previous day’s price in so the ticket could be issued. It was easy for Diane to give the waiver, because it was a business class fare, on a corporate client of Continental’s with their own internal “hey, it’s me, I’m important” ticket designator code. No problem.

But those 40 minutes, although productively spent working on other tasks while I listened to Continental’s very short loop of “please hold” mood music. It was so short that it must have repeated dozens of times. After finishing up with “stuff I can do while on hold,” my brain slowly went on hold, too. Just like in the picture.

Lolcats ‘n’ Funny Pictures of Cats – I Can Has Cheezburger?

London Bound

We leave in 2 hours. Yeah, we like to hang around OHare and not run late.

The TSA guy was way too cheerful; what’s in his coffee?

We’re on standby for business class and it’s nice that AA’s gate monitor actually shows our request. I got a courtesy Space-A upgrade put in the record by the sales rep, and it looked good last time I checked. Nothing certain until our asses hit leather AND we’re in the air, but surely 11 years of booking biz class on AA for my corporate clients increases my juju.

I’ve been fighting a cold all week, using the Neti pot and OTC cold remedies. My doc is on vacation but yesterday decided I needed prescription drugs in case the cold upgrades itself to a sinus infection. Teh azmuh was already kicking in. The family tendency toward upper respiratory problems…. Gah!

So I went to the local doc-in-box. And it was better than seeing my own quack. Sad, I don’t think our guy has kept up enough.

People are starting to show up at the gate- we were the first ones here. The sunrise was lovely, weather looks good for arrival too. We have prepaid Heathrow Express tickets straight to Paddington, and the hotel is a short distance from the station; no cab needed.

We’re all set, now hope we get the upgrade.

Sorted! Boarding soon, hard work really does pay off. Met Sylvia, Premium Services, who gave us the good news.



My husband David took this picture of the ginormous bowl of steaming hot mussels we had before lunch yesterday.

The broth was to die for – rich, savory, and totally worth sopping up with the hot herb bread. The waitress taught us this trick, bless her. The mussels were delicious and so was the lunch, and at this little shoreline restaurant we could watch the tide creep slowly in. It was fascinating to watch. It was in Cape Neddick, I think, and it was just a little place along an inlet well inland from the ocean.
Via: Flickr Title: Lunch! By: fallingrock
Originally uploaded: 10 May ’08, 12.47pm CDT PST

Very Freaky Friday

I’m already having a bad day, and it’s not even noon yet.

All seemed normal until I went to leave: the garage door was stuck halfway open. I didn’t notice it until I checked the rearview mirror and couldn’t see the street. There was enough light to see by when I went out, so my blinkers were on and I thought “David left the garage door open.”

Well, not quite. I couldn’t open it or close it, and last time it got stuck, the red release handle caused the whole thing to drop down and bust the springs, which were replaced the next day. Looks like we’ll be getting a new garage door opener-upper-thinger, I bet. So I called in late, and took a cab to work. David will pick me up today.

Of all days to run horribly late: today was moving day and I had to pack up my stuff quickly and get to my new desk, as they needed all the desks in my former row to be empty for an incoming refresher class on some of the software we were supposed to be using all along (grrrrr).

But I couldn’t log in, because we’ve got some brand new phone software that takes a while to load up. This means that in future, I’ll need to get to my desk at least 5 to 10 minutes before login time: no more sliding in the door and punching into my phone-based time clock.

While moving things back and forth and setting up all the stuff I work with on my desk (the computer and monitor were already moved and working, huzzah) I got a call from yesterday’s Favorite Traveler.

This FT is going somewhere in South Asia that’s a pain to set up: you can’t get there from here unless you overnight somewhere, in addition to flying all those hours in biz class. And she was starting her trip with a personal side trip to somewhere in Canada, and had needed to know all these different “what if” parameters to satisfy herself that she wasn’t soaking the company for too much in extra fare cost. And she was leaving tomorrow. I was here last night until 7pm wrestling with the thing trying to get it to issue, as there were technical problems. So when it finally finished issuing last night, I went home irked but happy.

So this morning: she looked at her passport and discovered her visa for one of the countries she’s visiting is expired – no can go. And she made a date error on the itinerary that she changed many times and that I recapped many times, because she was confused by a flight that takes off just after midnight. So it all had to be rebooked and repriced to avoid that one particular country. And it’s been like this since the booking was first created.

Now I’m trying to get the tickets to reissue, but there are issues, you dig? Almost there, but grrr.

And now I’m at lunch and will go away for a while. And we’ll find out what else is going to be freaky weird.

Airline Cancellation Blues

American: Normal schedule days away —

The number of canceled American flights stands at more than 3,000 since late Tuesday, wreaking havoc at the airline’s hubs in Chicago and Dallas and eroding its profits at a time the industry is hurting because of high oil prices and economic worries. Chief Executive Gerard Arpey said the costs to the airline will run into the “tens of millions of dollars” from the disruption of service, but he said American can withstand the loss. The American terminal at O’Hare International Airport was calmer Thursday, despite 124 cancellations, as passengers had more notice and did not show up at the airport to rebook their flights.

Part of the reason for the passengers having more notice and not having to show up in person at the airport may have to do with the special waivers American has issued to travel agents (hey, like me!) to reissue e-tickets onto the next available AA flight without having to park someone on hold for an hour just to get through to an AA res agent empowered to reissue at no cost.

We got empowered today after spending the last two days gradually getting a handle on records on a case by case and then batch basis. Most of the other agents have taken a lot more calls than me; I’ve either been spinning my wheels on international records or been stuck off the phones, rebooking and reissuing records that were identified and put in a queue for batch processing. Tomorrow, even more empowerment goodness; for records that need intervention by an airline rep, we’ll have a more technologically savvy method of getting the records handled.

Meanwhile, I’m praying, literally, for some space to open up on one international record that could have been handled last week, but it was a thing I left undone for too long. My own fault. Also hoping for some space on one record that is the last of 6 that I ended up having to fix, because I made a fare quote error on the first one. It’s all due to inattention and having too many things going on at once. I keep feeling the need to take a break from doing 3 or more things at once.Honestly, this week it feels like I’m losing my mind. The stress isn’t THAT bad, but my brain is toast.

Also: I did a little stylesheet tweaking; the Talian theme has some oddities in the way some things are displayed, and I was finally able to take an hour and make the post title section font a little less freakishly HUGE. Also, the custom field entries – the mood indicator doodad – no longer has a needless border that floats outside of the margins of the entry. I may make the colors paler and less intense, or do something completely different in a week or two.

UPDATE: The space cleared whoohoo!