This week I find myself unexpectedly in California, which is all kinds of wonderful. We have a family reunion next week, so I was planning on coming out for that, but Tony and the children were going to come out and spend a whole month here while I stayed at home in Florida starting my new job.
I was perfectly happy with the arrangement, and even looking forward to starting work with zero at-home distractions (as well as getting some welcome “me” time). But I was even happier when my boss called at 4 p.m. last Wednesday and suggested that instead of starting the week before my vacation, I could start the week after, since he’d have people out for the long 4th of July holiday anyway.
Tony and the children were scheduled to leave at 9:25 a.m. on the 4th of July. It was the afternoon before when I got the call from my boss, and they were just putting the finishing touches on their packing.
It was pretty late notice, but Tony decided to call the airline and see if I could get my flight changed and leave with them the next morning. I’ve had too much experience with airline customer service to be more than slightly optimistic, but I figured we had nothing to lose.
At least this time we were dealing with Southwest, and not the infamous Ryanair. The first phone call, though, went as expected. Yes, we could change the flight, but it would cost us 40,000 points. Since Tony’s parents only had 20-something thousand in their account, it would use up all their points and then cost an extra $400 to change my flight. Not promising. However, Tony obtained another phone number for a more important customer service person, and called that too.
We had found a flight online that left later that day and cost the same number of points as the original ticket, so theoretically it is possible that we could have changed it online ourselves (although I’m not sure what the rules are for flights that are leaving in less than 24 hours). It was an online only fare, so it wasn’t really the province of customer service at all. But Tony’s mom, who had purchased the tickets to begin with, was at church girl’s camp on a week-long internet and cell-phone sabbatical. And Tony’s dad was on his monthly work rotation halfway around the world in China. So there was really no way to get into their account and change the tickets, short of charity from some sympathetic Southwest customer service representative.
Which fortunately Tony found. After repeating the entire story to the representative at the second phone number, he asked if I could possibly get my flight changed to the one leaving later that day, so I could at least arrive the same day as everyone else, rather than a week later as originally scheduled. The representative said he would put me on the same flight if there was room (there was) and do it all for free with nary a transfer fee or anything, since he didn’t want to take any points out of the account without asking the actual account holders. He even checked me in to the flight.
So I’m thinking that Southwest wins the airline customer service award of the year. Although I left out a few crucial items in my harried last-minute packing, we had uneventful flights. And they served us peanuts, cookies, crackers AND pretzels. AND they let us check two bags each for free (or would have, if we had wanted to lug along that many bags). What domestic airline even does that kind of stuff anymore? Hurrah for Southwest.
We’re having a great time out here in California. I’ve already eaten countless cherry tomatoes out of my parents’ overflowing garden. The kids have been to the Jelly Belly Factory with Grammy, and we’ve spent an evening in Uncle John’s legendary movie room with Megamind. And although strawberry season was over a month or two ago in Florida, in California it is still in full swing.
Lest we be well on our way to having more fun than anyone should rightfully have on a summer vacation, Tony and I did come down with strep throat the day we got here, and Raj was diagnosed with pinkeye a few days later. There are times when Grandpa being a doctor is an an incredibly convenient thing. A few rounds of antibiotics later, and we are all feeling better.
So until further notice, we’ll just be California dreamin’.