It used to be so much easier to learn about and take advantage of special travel deals, mistakes and glitches. The community was smaller and an easy occasional glance at Twitter, Airfarewatchdog, a few blogs, Flyertalk and/or Milepoint was all you needed to stay informed. We shared and cared and smiled. Life of the point and miles enthusiast was so much simpler then.
These days the community is massive. It takes hours to read through the forums, the blogs and twitter. And still… if you have a job, or other things that take up your time (such as… errr…. travel?), the deals are so easy to miss. The secrets are guarded. (don’t get me wrong though – I cherish my “points and miles” friends and friendships!). These days I usually only learn of the deals after they are pulled. I don’t know how some people do it!
Last month, there was a “glitch” by United Airlines whereby pricing of tickets was virtually free. To the surprise of many, and delight of a few, United honored those tickets. I was not one of the fortunate ones – I learned of the pricing error soon after United shut down its website.
Well almost a month to the day, this scenario repeated itself. Sort of. Kind of.
I learned of this new glitch yesterday. I did not read it on a forum, or twitter, or a blog. In fact, I learned of it through an email from an entirely different source – a group of people who are not directly involved in the points and miles universe. The flurry of emails filled my iPhone. I could barely keep up. Of course I needed to see for myself what this was all about. The problem was, I was away from a computer, and only had an iPhone with me. I was in an industrial park somewhere on Long Island waiting for my friend’s car to be serviced. The mechanic finished the job, and we rushed to the closest Starbucks and tried with the wi-fi there to see if I could figure out what these people were talking about. No luck. The question then became: was it worth it to try to find a computer, or was this plain silly? We decided to travel 20 minutes in the opposite direction to my parent’s home, just so we could use my dad’s Mac. We called ahead, said, TURN IT ON, leave us alone, we’ll explain later. We parked the car, jumped in the door ran down to the basement. Dad was perplexed. Leave me alone, I said, as I frantically tried to bring up the website. I’m a PC person so using his computer was not easy for me. Eventually, we did book one trip, and, not wanting to be pigs or to jinx ourselves, called it quits. With our fingers crossed that this one trip may happen, we turned off my dad’s computer and said hello to my parents who had the most perplexed look on their faces. We packed up our belongings once again, and kissed and thanked them for everything and we were on our way.
Last night, a United spokesperson announced that United did not intend to honor these fares. They pointed blame at their customers, saying they were manipulating the system. Oh, the nefarious customers. Obviously, this is not the final word. Meetings with lawyers and experts will, I’m sure, be happening today.
And so another day in the world of the points and miles world turns….
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