Monday, August 25, 2008

Travails of Travel

There is simply no need attempting to travel these days. None. At. All. The FAA (and cohorts) have squeezed every drop of fun from the whole process with the 3-1-1 rule, the non-priority seating of people with kids, the shoe removal thingy. Everything. It is so bad that even if, by some small miracle, you manage to make it across the ocean to your destination with all your luggage, tots and faculties intact, you are dead tired and cannot leave your hotel room until the day before you are supposed to go home, and then you end up doing the 'drive-by' tour thingy and then head for the airport - ( grumpy, unrested, and thoroughly dissatisfied with your feeble attempt at leisure) - to repeat the same 6-8 hour torture that you went through to get to your 'vacation.' Ha!

My beef today is that the travel agents have joined them. I would think that with the decline in air travel and business for the travel agents, they would be more enthused, more excited over the possibility of their commission. Or maybe just do their job, no? No is right. Here was my experience of recent with our Paris trip bookings. I mean, never mind that we had booked and paid (in full, mind you) for this trip months in advance. A week to the day, I get this EMAIL(because evidently, a phone call would be too much work, you know?)

Hello PP,
C is on vacation this week, and I got a call from the company who is handling your hotel stay in Paris, and they advised me that the R Hotel cannot accommodate your party for the nights that you are booked there.
They did offer an alternative for no extra cost at the V in two rooms there.
Both hotels are on the right bank. The R is in district 1 and the V is in district 2.
They do have another option near the R, called the L,
but that would be a difference of 1442 total for 2 rooms.
Please let me know as soon as possible what you wish to do.
If you have any questions, you can either contact myself or my manager, D. Have a great day

Basically, they had booked my hotel through a third party and were casually informing me that I would have to either stay in a cheaper hotel or pay more for another hotel which could accommodate my party. My 'party' being myself, hubby and 2 kids (7 month and under 3 years old.) Tell me people, should a travel agent not advise (before charging my account) on whether a suite is needed for a certain number of people? To me, this is right up there with letting you know you may need a visa or something. What I loved (read:sarcasm) was the way my regular agent was conveniently not in the office that day, and 2) how they tried to cavalierly make it sound like the problem was mine (and the third party agency's to resolve.) Keep in mind that I had hitherto had no prior contact with said third party agency.

I responded as politely as I could, letting them know they should work it out or refund my money. I got this reply:

I am checking with Travel Bound to see if they will cover the cost of your airline penalties if you indeed cancel. I will know that information shortly.
According to Travel Bound, they cannot accommodate a cot and a crib in their rooms at the R. I understand your frustration with Travel Bound because they should have advised you this at your point of booking in June.
There are other hotel options, but the best one at The L, that is closer to where the V is in district one, is about 1442 more. I was told by Travel Bound they cannot cover the cost difference if you choose this property.

I had an 'are you kidding me?' party all by myself when I got this reply. So another more strongly worded email was sent. This chick must not know I'm an attorney - in fact, bump attorney, try not addled. Cause this was getting to be ridiculous. Here comes the clunker.

Here is an option you may want to consider.
Travel Bound, the tour company who booked your room, told me by law the hotel cannot allow anyone bringing a baby into a room without a cot.
I asked Travel Bound if we took the baby off the reservation, could we have the room, and they said yes.
We could tell Travel Bound and the hotel you are not bringing the baby, and when you check in make sure the baby is not in sight of the front desk.
This is not something we normally recommend, but this is an extreme circumstance, and if you do not mind not having a cot, the best option.
If this makes you uncomfortable, we can look at other hotels that will provide four in a room.
Let me know what you think. Have a good evening!

No she didn't. Yes, she did! In writing! Did this person just ask me to collude with her agency to lie to the hotel and HIDE MY 7 MONTH OLD at check-in? Yes She Did! Where, pray tell, would I hide him? (assuming I was amenable, to her suggested option?) Under my jacket? In my carry on? I think I should have sued them at that point and been well within my rights! I was all set to cancel the trip and sit my butt at home, at least until some modicum of sanity returned to the travel industry, when I got this:

I have great news!
Travel Bound was able to keep you at the R.
They have two connecting rooms for you. It is guaranteed.
You do not have to use the second room, but they have to have it booked for you for no additional fee to you.
They will have the cot in the 2nd room, so you can bring that cot into your room.
At least you will have two bathrooms!!
Let me know if all is well. I think this is the best option. I do have other hotels in the right bank, but this way you can stay where you are.
Have a great day!

Great news, indeed. For her- even though I suspect she has no clue how close she and her agency came to getting the Prada Principal 'smack down.' Now all I have to do is to contend with the other stuff (see first paragraph) - you know, the travails of travel...

exhausted already...pp


The Diva said...

WHATT!!??? Oh, you are a better person than I, PP. Lord almighty knows there would have been a few funerals in the works...whew! Glad it all worked out for the best, oui ma cherie?

Anonymous said...

As in; hide the baby at check-in? Ok that was sooooo funny (not)!