Monday, June 10, 2013

My last days in Cabo - Missing my flight again

In the morning, I said good bye to Ron and Don.  Heather was sleeping, and I was happy I didn't have to say goodbye to her.  I'm sure I hurt her feelings.  I could live with myself.

The Italian drove me back into the city.  I offered to buy the Italian a drink or lunch.  He didn't want it.  I'm sure he was happy to get rid of me.  I made him feel guilty about him exploding on me by continuing to be nice and not arguing back.

The last few days of Cabo wasn't very exciting.  I read and did more internet research.

 But on the day that I was supposed to leave to the airport - uh oh . . .

The day I was supposed to leave, I left early.  I gave myself enough time.  I even gave myself enough time in case something went wrong, but it went royally wrong.

I went on the bus and asked the driver, "To the airport?"  He nodded.  He saw I had luggage.  I should've realized, but he wasn't REALLY paying attention.  He was just nodding.

When we ended up further from the airport, I said in Spanish, "Hey, I was supposed to be at the airport."  And I could see he thought in his head, "Oh damn" or whatever the stronger Spanish equivalent of the word was.

Then he understood.  He gave me back my bus fee!  I had to hitchhike back to the main road.  For some reason, I got the worse bus driver - who was slow and didn't care.

Anyways, I rushed to the check in gate but because I was in a hurry - the security made my life worse.  I missed my flight by five minutes.  =(

But remember how I said I was doing a lot of research in Mexico.  Part of my research was understanding mileage systems better.  I did so, and although it took about two hours, I sorted everything out. 

In the end, I reduced a $200 surcharge to a $75 one.  It might even be less, if I play some tricks in the morning.  I think I could get it down to $50.

Was I stressed?  Not really.  I was disappointed I didn't get to see my dad for dinner in LA.  But there's tomorrow.  Come on: The Russians trapped me in house arrest once.  Now, that was super stressful.  This - this was more of a big annoyance that has become more interesting as I learn the game of travel hacking better.  Even in this - I'm becoming quite skilled.

So - did I learn something?  Yes!  I managed to get back home, without extra fee.  I may have lost a few miles.  Here is my flying tips, written in a dummies-blogging style.

Use BA Avios Instead of AA for Direct Flights
To get home, I had to waste a good amount of American Airlines (AA) miles.  I had booked a flight with AA, and it cost 17,500 miles.  I cancelled that booking today and rebooked the same flight on Alaska for 8,500 avios miles.
All fees are waivable - If you don't get what you want - Call Back
As I reached out for help yesterday, AA wanted to charge me a horrendous $75 fee for last minute booking 'cos I missed my flight.  I called back three times, and I got someone who sounded sympathetic.  They waived the $75 fee, even with a note from the nasty supervisor not to do this.  The new supervisor compromised and charged me a $25 booking fee.
Then, as BA offices opened up, I called AA gain to reinstate the miles.  They charged a $150 fee to do this.  I called back twice.  The first time a no go.  The second time, they waived the fee.  The reason I gave was that the flight was just booked.  Most airlines refund fees and miles within 24 hours.
I called BA three times.  The first time was to check the Alaska flight was available.  The second time was to rebook.  BA policy is that you cannot book avios flights for the same day.  I hung up.  The third time, the agent did it for me.  She didn't even charge me the $25 phone booking fee. I asked to speak to her supervisor to tell her what a wonderful job she did.  I explained I was stuck in Cabo.  She'll go home satisfied with work today.
Don't Challenge the Supervisor
I challenged the supervisor's dumb decision on AA and asked to speak to her manager.  She said her policy said that she didn't have to allow me to speak to her manager.  Because of that, she wrote in my record - refused once to waive fees.  That only made my life harder and I had to do more sweet talking to get what I wanted.  I should've just thanked her and hung up instead of challenging her.

Where I'm at
So, I paid no change fee.  Not even taxes, since they refunded the taxes on my no-show ticket.  This was a much better state I was in than yesterday.  Yesterday, I was looking at rebooking a ticket for $250 USD or paying $133 + 17,500 AA miles.
Lost out still on 8,500 Avios Miles.  I will contest this when I get home.  I've gotten no-show Avios miles before.

* * *

Anyways, this time, I made it back home.  Hooray!

When I walked out the airplane though, I have to say - I felt the strong sense of reality hit me.  I wasn't on holiday anymore.  =(

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