Flight of the nightmare

This past weekend I had the opportunity to fly out to Texas to visit LeTourneau University for a scholarship competition.

Since me and my family always think ahead, we got tickets at a great price 3 months before the competition. Thankfully, the university offers a program that would pay us back for the tickets if they’re under $300. Seemed like everything would go great…

Thursday, my mom took me out to the airport and dropped me off. I went to the self check in with my e-ticket in hand, but for some reason it wouldn’t let me check in. It just gave me a piece of paper saying to go to the regular check in counter.

Off I went to the nearest available American Airlines representative, and handed him my e-ticket. Then, I waited for a good 15 minutes… When my patience finally broke, I pointedly asked, “Are you checking me in or should I go to another counter?” The rep curtly responded that there was a problem processing my ticket and he was trying to contact headquarters to find out what the problem was. After waiting another 15 minutes (I wasn’t worried too much about the time, we had been informed that the flight was 2 hours late anyways), he informed me that there was a credit card dispute so he was unable to give me my ticket. However, he offered me the generous alternative of buying the ticket there at the counter for $1600. I asked if I could get back to him.

Stepping back from the counter, my mind raced; we always payed off our credit card bills on time and had a high credit limit. Besides, since we had bought the ticket so long ago, we had already paid for the ticket out of our pockets. What could have possibly gone wrong? I couldn’t afford this ticket now, I couldn’t go to another airline because American Airlines was the only one who flew to the city I needed, my mom hadn’t bothered to take her cell phone (luckily I had mine) and my brothers were unreachable at work, and last but not least, I’m not even 18 yet! Of course, there’s the factor of the event I was supposed to be participating in too. A scholarship like this could very well make the difference between being able to afford the luxury of eating and not; it was imperative I attend.

By this time, I was more than just a little upset at this whole ordeal. I had my e-ticket, and I had heard nothing from the credit card company or American Airlines about this. I decided to call a relative who lives in the area I needed in Texas. Luckily he was available, and after explaining my situation to him, he was able to agree that he would be able to arrange a way for me to get to the university if I flew into one of the more distant cities on another airline.

So, I spent the next half hour running to different airlines asking how much their airfare was, if they had any sort of discounts I could qualify for, etc. Eventually, I settled on SouthWest airlines who gave me a discount for being a minor and was able to get me there the soonest. It was about 10 AM at this time and it was going to get me there at 5 PM, making two completely out of the way stops along the way. Thankfully, the flight there and the trip to the university was uneventful.

In the end, we got a hold of our credit card company and pinned them down for this. They “accidentally” contested the charge on our behalf without telling us. After several threats, we got them to agree to pay the difference in tickets. That’s really the least they can do considering how much more time it cost me to go this route, it got me to the wrong city, and cost others’ time to have to make the two and a half hour drive to pick me up from this out of the way airport.

I’ll try to post on the actual competition later. For now, I gotta finish unpacking! 🙂

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