If you travel often, you know how the airlines have started stacking up fees and already feel the pinch. This is another story. My 14 year old son was going to California to visit his best friend. The airlines policy states that he is an unaccompanied minor. So we had to shell out $200 (yes, two hundred dollars) in addition to the air ticket. Okay, so I thought if we leave him at the ticket counter he will be escorted to the gates. No mama! On parent or guardian has to accompany him to the gates, where once seated, the airline personell will take custody. So what did the airlines do here for $200. Nothing really. Same story when he flew back home. I guess in case of any interruption to service, once he is in air, he will be in safer hands than on his own, though my experience with the airlines doesn’t give me the confidence.
Upon his landing in LA, the airline personell wouldn’t let go of him to my friend’s wife who was receiving him. She had to spend quite sometime arguing her case with the coy-but-not-very-thought-capable airline personnel. Apparently Hema’s name wasn’t on the release form, so told the US airways personnel. After pointing out that her name was indeed there right in the form, she acknowledged. No wonder, some people just are confined to petty jobs and they don’t do that well too.
On the way back, my wife called US Airways and asked if she could pre-pone Vikas’ trip onto the 11 AM flight. The reservationist was all helpful in changing the reservation after confirming there was no charges for the change. We call LA and woke up Vikas and had Ranga and Hema take him to the airport only to be told that Vikas was still on the 1:40 PM filght. Apparently no changes had been made. The fact was the 1:40 PM flight was delayed and the nearly 6 hour flight would have put Vikas in Philly around midnight. Anyway, no arguing here – at least US airways hadn’t removed Vikas’ seat on the 1:40 PM flight. Thank God there is such a thing as luck when dealing with goofballs!
We went to the airport at 11:10 in time for the 11:30 arrival of Vikas. Only to find there were no airline personnel at the check-in counters where Rama or myself would have been issued a pass to go pick up Vikas from the Gate. One employee at the counter blankly refused to give us any information. The Security gaurd asked us to go to the baggage claim area where we could find someone who could help us out.
The old lady was very sweet and helpful for a mid-night time crisis. One guy whose diabetic medication was on a missed baggage gladly let us ahead after we requested that we need to be at the gate in a few minutes to pick our minor son. Finally, the Manager came out of his office and assured us that Vikas will be carted out of the gate and to a point where he will pick him and ‘deliver’ him to us. Sigh of relief!
I wait for the day when we don’t have to do air travel but mere transportation as in those Harry Potter movies!