Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Origins 2011: Part 1 - "A Hero's Journey"

Last week was the Origins gaming convention in Columbus, Ohio. I wrote about it last year on this blog, and I went again this year. The first interesting part of the adventure was getting there. I originally booked a combination flight/hotel deal on Travelocity. The flight was from Champaign, through Chicago, and then to Columbus. However, the day of the flight, I was informed that the flight from Champaign to Chicago had been cancelled, and they automatically rebooked me on a flight the next day. I looked online and found that if I took a Greyhound bus to Chicago, I could still make the flight from Chicago to Columbus, so I called Travelocity and asked them to book me back on the original flight. However they informed me that was impossible because the flight from Chicago to Columbus was also cancelled. I wasn't sure they understood what I wanted, because I looked online (if you put the airline and flight number into Google it will give you the status of the flight) and that flight was showing as on time. However, when I called American Airlines, they told me the same thing. Eventually I decided to just not use the outbound ticket and take a bus from Champaign to Columbus instead, and take the plane back. (I felt really stupid for booking the flight in the first place and not remembering that there was a bus, especially since I took the bus from Champaign to Columbus to get to my brother's graduation.) looked online to see if I could get a refund for the part of the ticket that I didn't use, and I actually found that for some airlines if you don't use the outbound portion of the ticket, they won't honor the return portion. So I had to call American Airlines to change the ticket. I called and was directed from phone number A to phone number B, then to number C, then back to A, then to B again, and finally after about half an hour of waiting they told me that they were able to change the ticket, and I wouldn't get a refund because it was booked through an external source, but it wouldn't cost me anything extra. (It would certainly have been annoying if they charged me extra for not using part of the ticket.) Anyway, it worked out and I ended up in Columbus the night I expected to. Also, it was a good thing I decided to take the bus because as it turned out, the flight the next day that they originally rebooked me on was also cancelled.

So here are a few things I learned. First of all, always check to see if there is a bus or train before booking a flight. Second, I wonder why sites like Travelocity don't also incorporate things like buses and trains into their tool - it seems like it would be useful to have a tool that figures out the best/cheapest way of getting from point A to point B whether that involves a bus, train, plane, or some combination. I guess it just doesn't come up that often. Third, always book directly through the airline if you can because it is easier to change your flight that way if necessary. Fourth, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Champaign-Urbana airport has an average of 28% of its flights delayed and 6% cancelled, compared with the national average of 20% delayed and 3% cancelled. After I move to Colorado I will usually be using Denver International Airport, which is better at 18% delayed and 1.6% cancelled, which of course makes sense because the people who work at the secret underground base there wouldn't want their evil plans ruined by flight problems. Of course, if there really was an evil conspiracy going on there, information about it wouldn't stay posted on Wikipedia. Or maybe that's just what they want you to think, and it's a clever diversion. (Of course, I don't actually believe that there's a conspiracy or anything, I just thought it was funny.)

But that's just part of the adventure. Next time I will tell you about what happened after I got there!


Dan Mont said...

How annoying, but I'm glad you got there on time. So...are you taking the bus back to Champaign and then getting on a bus to Chicago? Is there no way you could have done a "triangle" trip?

Tomorrow I am going to Mumbai to connect with a disability project there. I've never been to that part of India before.

Alexander Mont said...

Like I said, I took the plane back to Champaign. Origins is already over; I just haven't put up the blog posts yet. The family reunion in Chicago isn't until this weekend. There's a whole week separating the two events.