Don’t fly US Air!

I need to get this down before my anger overflows and I have a meltdown. As you all know, flying anywhere really sucks these days. It’s amazing that the airlines don’t even care to make it better. It’s become way more expensive (you now pay for baggage check, food, drinks, security). You have to deal with ridiculous searches by the TSA, you usually have to connect, bags get lost all the time, etc.

I’m used to all of that. I’ve reluctantly grown to accept that a sucky experience is part of the deal.

But what happened to me on this trip, thanks to USAirways went way beyond the normal.

So, I made a reservation to fly to New Orleans and back. Your standard round trip non-refundable, non-transferrable crap ticket. It cost about $700 (paid a little extra for direct flights). All was well in the world.

Until I realized I was not going to be able to make it on to the outbound flight. I knew this about a week before the flight so I called USair to see what I could do to change it to Friday (2 days later)

The call went something like this:
“We’d be glad to fly you out on a later flight on Friday, but oh, I see this is a non-refundable non-transferable ticket. There will be a fee”,

“Yes, I understand, that’s reasonable, how much will it be?” (and it is reasonable, bad customer service yes, but reasonable).. but here’s where it gets good.

“Ah sir, it will be $150”


“…Plus a $20 fee, plus applicable taxes, plus any change in the flight cost which in this case is $335…” (note of course that it’s the same flight, just 2 days later)


“that brings the total to $575 shall I make the change?”

“um. wait a second. I am looking at a direct flight on another airline for $275. Why would I pay for this flight? Is there anything else you can offer?”

“no sir. I’m sorry.”

“you realize that I’m going to book the other flight and miss your flight and you will now be flying an empty seat down to New Orleans without me right? One that you could have sold to someone else. You get that right?”

“I’m sorry sir there’s nothing I can do.”

“Ok then, thank you” (and I hang up and book the other flight)

So at this point I’m out about $800 for my trip. Sucks, but since its virtually impossible to get a refundable/transferrable ticket anymore that’s the price I had to pay to make the change. Fine.

The beauty happens today, as I sit here in New Orleans ready to go home. I check the website to check in (don’t even get me started on that crap) and low and behold, my reservation is gone, replaced with a phone number I’m to call.

I call.

“Hello sir, how can I help you?”

“Well, there must be a mistake..” (and I explain the last phone call and the attempted change of flight, etc.)

“Well sir, since you did not make that flight we listed you as a ‘no show’ and cancelled your return flight as well. It’s clearly stated in the regulations that for round trip tickets if you don’t show up for one leg, they are all cancelled. You could have alleviated this by calling us on the 22nd when you were due to fly out.”

“um? I did call a few days before the 22nd.”

“well sir, there’s nothing we can do. You bought a non-refundable and non-transferrable ticket”

“but I’m not trying to get a refund or make a transfer”

“sir, there’s nothing we can do. You have been removed from the flight. You should go to our website, click complaints and post your complaint. Someone will be in touch with you between 1 and 3 days.”

“Um. I need to get home today. Can you not help me? Connect me with the department that can help me please”

“sir, you will need to file a complaint on our website”

“supervisor please”

(explain again)

“Certainly sir. I can assist you. What I can do is transfer your ticket to a one way ticket for a $150 change fee, plus some other fees plus the difference in cost which is $165 bringing your total to $405” {by the way, note that the difference in cost is for the SAME FLIGHT!}

(this begins a huge argument (mostly one sided)) where I tried to make the point that I was being refused a flight that I had already paid for. Weather I fly or not, the seat should be mine right? No luck with the supervisor. I then proceeded to complain and argue some more, explaining how horrible this makes me feel about USair, etc.. Blah blah blah. Finally when I asked how much of this is being recorded on my record (since I intend to sue) I was hung up on.

Of course this meant I was literally stuck in New Orleans. I had to buy another flight (this time on delta, this time with one stop, this time leaving 5 hours later and arriving at 1AM) for another $300 while USAir has my original $700 and is probably filling my seat as we speak.

Fine. I agree that we always should read the fine print. I agree that they probably were interpreting the policy correctly. I also agree that they are a private company and they can do whatever they want (but guess what? I’m never flying them again and I hope you consider my experience next time you book with them). What I don’t agree with is the fact that this policy is enforceable. If I pay for a seat, I should have that seat. I’ve done nothing to deserve loosing it. At the least I should be given a refund right? Or perhaps the first guy, when I explained I’d be missing the flight could have said “sir, please be aware that if you miss a flight we will cancel your return flight” right??

I’m filing a claim in small claims court. I’m not sure what to ask for. Should I ask for the cost of my flight home? Should I ask for a full refund? Would anyone like to take my case?

What if you were the only one

Imagine for a moment that you are in fact God. You have all this power to create but you are alone, you are the only being in existence. To keep yourself sane, you create a universe of thinking beings. Since you control time, you are able to put yourself into the mind of each of these beings separately so in your ‘world’ you are interacting with yourself playing many different roles : animals, people, plants. You also make it so that you’re not aware of your charade. All you know is that you are just one being in the universe. You believe that the others are actually ‘others’. But one day, today, you wonder if in fact that’s not the case. Imagine how crushingly depressed you would feel when you realized that you were so alone.

Google Map Travel Ideas

Ok Google maps. I’m on vacation and I turned my laptop on. Here is what I want to do:

#1) Find my hotel and mark it on the map with a star. This star also shows up on my android maps app as well.
#2) I want to put in tourist destinations, or otherwise and mark them with some notes. I want all of these to show up on the map and on my phone as stars of another color or something. When I click on them, my notes and other info comes up.
#3) I want to have maps make an itinerary for me. I choose walking or public transportation and GM figures out the most efficient path (maybe even including an option to make me walk by things that GM fees are interesting that I didn’t choose)
#4) Maybe allow me to have multiple itineraries for multiple days of my trip, maybe allow me to ‘check off’ things I did and have the ones I missed roll over to the next day.
#5) Maybe make these sharable and post-able on my google profile. I could see people getting into making the perfect 1,2,3 day trips to their hometowns. You want to get into social? Here’s an untapped market
#6) Hire me. I have good ideas all the time.

Still Bill

Wow. I just got done seeing ‘Still Bill’, a documentary about Bill Withers. It was a perfect documentary and I reccomend everyone sees it.

What makes this so great is that this isn’t a film about Bill Withers the musician, this is a film about Bill Withers the man. What I mean by that is that this film is special not because this guy made some amazing music. It’s a special film becasue it’s about a man who at 70 isn’t even sure he’s happy in his life even though everything about him is drenched in success and achievement (and I’m not even talking about the music). Here’s a man who has figured out life but isn’t sure he’s got it right though it’s so clear he has. It’s kind of frusterating to watch at times. I mean, this guy has got it right. He’s chosen to live a simple and pure life, not focusing on material things and instead trying to continually persue happiness in enotion and feelings. He has a wonderful family, an amazing wife, a son in law school and an absolutely gorgeous daughter. He is loved by so many people that it’s mind boggling he seems so sad. Though as the film progresses he seems to transform somewhat and see that his life is pretty damn successful afterall.

I so hope when I’m 70 I can live the life he’s living!

Some ideas for Netflix

I’ve been a Netflix subscriber since the beginning. I also have owned their stock for ages as well, but the story about that is for some other time. They do some things really well, but in some ways they do some really dumb things and also are missing some opportunities. Here’s some thoughts:

Movie Reviews
At one point, whenever I gave a star rating to a movie, a little box came up and asked for a short review. This review popped up on facebook along with my rating. This was good. It wasn’t great. But it was the start of taking all that movie review data and adding a social aspect to it. Interestingly, Netflix had (still has) a second review system in place where you can type a review and other Netflix subscribers can see it. Unlike the short review box, this one is moderated and is far from instant. Not good at all. And worse? They discontinued the FB integration and removed the short reviews entirely. Why? Who knows?

So what should happen here? First off, Netflix has to realize that they have a golden opportunity to become the ‘Yelp’ of movies and tv shows. Most Netflix users are compulsive about rating things (since it improves their recommendations) and they are reminded to do it after every movie return. Netflix should make it very easy to post movie reviews. They should bring back the FB integration and add Twitter and others as well. Make it the users option to publicly say ‘hey, I just watched this film, check it out on Netflix’. Netflix members also need to have some kind of public facing identity, a profile page with all the users reviews and recommendations, etc.

User Accounts

This is a no-brainer and I can’t figure out why this idea has been given so little love. Allow one household account to have separate users! Each user should get a queue and a login and a profile, etc.

Right now this is sort of allowed: I can add users to my account and they share in my 3 disks a month (1 goes to my girlfriends queue and 2 to mine) but there are many issues with it. First off, they don’t have the ability to set their passwords and thier accounts don’t work on their devices. (My girlfriend has an iPad but to use it she needs my logon info. Lame). Secondly, these ‘profiles’ can’t be removed, even with a phone call to Netflix. So my ex has a profile still listed in my account. Why?

The Queue

How stupid is this? I search for a movie and once I find it I have to decide which queue to put it in : watch now? or Send to me?. Why do I have to choose this? Why are there two queues? Why not one queue? When I add to my queue it should be set to send me a DVD but also show up on my devices as an instant view (if available). I can’t explain how stupid this looks to the average user. Also, make it easy to export from and import to the queue. I have a huge list, I want to maintain it myself or add stuff in bulk. Let me.

Super Add
I’m at the movie theater and I see some previews before my flick. There should be a way to easily add what I see here to my queue. Make an app (or add ot the netflix app) that will allow me to point my phone cam at the preview and have it figure out the movie and add it to my queue. How cool would that be? So when the movie comes out I can get it.