DESTINATIONS, TRAVEL, Travel Planning, United States

Gee Thanks Covid

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Travel There – Booking Nightmares in a Post-Covid World

When we returned from Vegas, the trip we hadn’t planned for or anticipated, I had loose travel ends I needed to decide what to do with. My bestie and I had credit with Southwest Vacations for the NYC trip Covid had obliterated and with Hubby I had credit with Southwest Airlines leftover from the resort deal we decided to abandon.

Plans for the Big Apple

The trip we’d planned to NYC for May of 2020 is not one that could easily be replaced. My bestie’s son, a young man I’d watch grow up, was graduating from Pratt and was scheduled to receive his MFA at Radio City Music Hall. That’s one of those events you can’t rewind. However, I’d never really been to NYC and I wanted very much to enjoy that orgy of entertainment.

Though Deb and I talked about using up our travel credits every time we got together there was always the lingering masks and Covid surges discouraging us from planning anything definite. Then she was invited to a christening by her family in New Jersey and that proved the impetus for us to go. We selected the week before the christening as our travel dates and I took on the responsibility for getting it booked.

Have I Reached the Party to Whom I am Speaking?

Perhaps you remember Lily Tomlin and her operator skirts or maybe you’ve just seen clips of her on You Tube. If you have then you’ve heard the question above. As I called around trying to figure out exactly how to use the credits we held from Southwest Vacations, I felt Lily’s question was appropriate.

My travel agent had been one of the early victims in the massive layoffs experienced by the travel industry. When NYC shutdown, I went through several different representatives with the company she’d worked for and eventually ended up having to contact the president of the company to get the credits we were due.

Two years later, I had no desire to reconnect with a company who had not only fired my favorite travel agent ever, but they’d done an awful job of helping me in the aftermath. So, I asked my old travel agent if she knew anyone still in the business which could help me. She gave me a name, but that name had no interest in helping me if there was no money on the table for the trip she’d be helping me with.

I anticipated what a nightmare the rebooking would be and did not want that headache. In the world before Covid, a travel agent would be happy to help you rebook travel, even if they didn’t make anything from it, because they wanted your business for the future. The travel industry is in such dire straits, courtesies like that no longer exist. That meant it was up to me.

The Nightmare Begins

I made the call to Southwest Vacations and I honestly thought the hour and a half I waited on hold would be the extent of my nightmare. When Renee finally got on the phone with me, he was so nice, I thought all of my troubles were over. I had no idea they had just begun. See, I don’t know whether he was stupid or he just lied, and after months of dealing with the aftermath of the conversation it’s still not clear.

The easy part was getting booked in the wrong hotel. I wanted the Sheraton New York Times Square. He put me in a Four Points by Sheraton in Times Square. During the call he always said Sheraton Times Square, so I thought we were good. It wasn’t until later I realized the gap between what I wanted and what I got. However, except for the LONG wait on hold, waiting for a representative, changing to the right was relatively easy or at least seemed that way at the time.

The hard part was what happened to my Southwest Airlines account. Renee said he was taking some credit from that account to cover my airfare for NYC. As we were talking he told me it would be about $25-30. I blissfully can’t remember at this moment, but at the time I had written down in my notes and it was in that range. I asked, “And that will leave me with XXX amount of credit with Southwest Air?” His answer was, “Absolutely,” but he was absolutely wrong.

The nightmare continues, so come back next week and let’s find out how badly Renee’s wrong answer messed me up!

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