Thursday, March 28, 2013

Can't Wait! Star Trek: Into Darkness

All we need now is the same advertising stunt done over the Golden Gate Bridge. That is where Starfleet Academy will be located, after all.  :)

Movie release date: May 17, 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013


   What do you do when you hear your cousin is getting married down in sunny Cancun? You buy tickets, of course, especially since your very favorite cousin is planning to go and you've never been to Cancun. (At least I haven't.) My family said they were using the site to plan their trip, so that's what I used, too. I'm always a little nervous about using a new travel site, but I was pleased to see that you could break your trip package down into two payments. AND, you could also buy insurance in case you get sick or become unable to travel for some reason. So I put down the first payment of $600 or so, and I bought the insurance. I called my cousins to tell them the good news. And that's when they told me that the wedding had been called off. 

   I called cheapcarribean immediately to see if I could get a refund. I told them the wedding had been canceled, and they said "the insurance doesn't cover that." If I had been sick, I would have to get an actual doctor's note for them. Things started getting fuzzy here. I began to lose my temper, I'm afraid. I was promised a credit voucher for $596.25, after they knocked off a fee of $50.  I was told I had to use the voucher within one year of the date it was issued, and I couldn't use it on a cruise. The employee I spoke to said he was "pretty sure" I could use the travel voucher for airline flights within the continental U.S., but it would have to be with the same airline I had originally booked with. Well, okay, I could probably work with this. I printed out my voucher and taped it to my bedroom wall.
   Months later, I decided to plan a trip with my favorite cousin Beth. (No weddings this time.) It took several weeks for us to finally decide on Vancouver, Canada as our destination. Neither of us had been before, and we both had heard great things about the city. We decided to fly into Seattle and then drive across the border. 
   I spoke to four different cheapcarribean representatives before I got this to work for me. At first they couldn't understand why I had a "cheapcaribbean" credit voucher since I had canceled my trip within 24-hours of booking it; I should've had an American Airlines voucher. All of the flight prices they were giving me for Seattle for my needed time frame were more than $1000. Holy crap! I've never flown in the U.S. for more than $600. I went straight to the American Airlines website myself and found acceptable tickets for right under $600. I called cheapcarribbean back and told them to book it for me. The rep informed that I could only use a certain percentage of my voucher for an airline flight. "I haven't heard this before," I snapped at her. She was the fourth or fifth person I had talked to, and that really was news to me. She put me on hold and then came back. "Nevermind," she said, and she booked my flight with another $15 charge on it.
    Hopefully I was done with cheapcarribean. I'm not sure I'll be so quick to go to a destination wedding again, or do business with a company that has the word "cheap" in their name.
   It came time to fly to Seattle, and, I missed my flight out of Little Rock. After packing up, watering plants, feeding cats, doing laundry, all the little things you need to do before you leave your house for a while, (and we had to stop and get gas on the way to the airport), I arrived at the check-in terminal approximately 26 minutes before departure. I was not allowed on the airplane. "If you didn't have a bag to check, we'd let you on," said the very young and very new American Airlines representative. It was Saturday evening and the place was dead. This was the last flight out of Little Rock for the night. The next flight was at 6:15 am the next morning, and it was booked. My cousin was already in Seattle waiting for me. "Why don't you let me go and send my bag later?" I asked. "TSA won't let us do that anymore," he said. I was starting to lose my temper again. This airport was tiny. No one was in line to go through security. I should've been able to zip right through. The boy called his supervisor so I could talk to him. His supervisor said he would talk to me when he got done upstairs. *After* the plane leaves. I was furious. Once upon I time I would fly somewhere every week for my job. Airlines usually work hard to make sure you don't miss a flight. I have gotten to a gate 15 minutes before departure and still made the flight. Now they have new rules. I was told the computer "locks you out" 30 minutes before a flight. 
   I was assigned standby tickets and told to come back the next morning to see if I could get on the 6:15 am flight in case someone didn't show up. I had hope that this would work, since 5:15 is a ridiculous time for anyone to be up and functional, so I figured someone would miss their flight. And that's exactly what happened. I spent the night at the airport. On the cold, hard floor, with construction going on through the whole night. I didn't sleep, actually. I lay there, on a spot of red carpet, huddled with my fleece jacket around my head. There were padded benches downstairs, but there is also a singing Coke machine right next to them. Jeez! The bright overhead lights were on the whole night. It was horrible. 
   Around 5:00 am, I went to the American Airlines terminal to check in my luggage. The same supervisor was there from the night before. He did not make eye contact with me. I paid $25 to check my one bag. I went upstairs to my gate and waited. There was a large group of scuba divers who were going on a trip together. Two other men from their group tried to check in less than 30 minutes before take-off. They were cut off, just like I was. "They're going to miss some dives," I heard their dive instructor say. He spoke to several different airport employees to try and get them on. He was not successful. And THAT'S how I got a seat on a full plane to Seattle. One man's ruined vacation is another woman's seat to salvation.
   It was not a direct flight - I had a short layover in Dallas. I had to do the standby thing again, and thankfully someone missed their time window or else I would've had another fun evening at an airport. 
   I landed in Seattle, and my sweet cousin Beth picked me up. We ate dinner at a nearby restaurant then headed for the border.  We stopped at a Cabela's on the way out of town. There are no Cabela's where I live, so it was fun to see all of the stuffed animals on display. They had huge fish tanks with bass, crappie, and sturgeon (see photo below.) 
A living fossil - the Sturgeon
To be continued.....