Friday, May 11, 2007

Technology makes things harder

This morning, I spent almost 2 hours making two fairly simple plane reservations; one for my son to go to a Summer program, and one for me to pick him up at the end of it. (Not that he needs picking up I hasten to add, but said Summer program is near my parents home and I want to visit them as well as attend the end of program festivities.)

I have more than once made on-line reservations for non-refundable tickets for the wrong day, or for Robinson Christine rather than Christine Robinson (security took a dim view of this, I can tell you) so I'm slow and careful and a bit anxious. Shopping around took a while. I had to read an entire page of information to figure out that a 16 year old, while still a minor can travel unaccompained without a fee. (A relief. My 6'3" son would have felt pretty silly being hauled around the airport by a stewardess.) However if the passenger is not traveling as a child, the person making the reservation has to have the same last name as the passenger, unless the reservation is made by phone. And after waiting for the phone I discovered that there was a $10 fee for this, unless one is a frequent flyer on that airline, which I'm not, but I returned on line, signed up to become one and made reservation #1. (They said this was for security purposes, but the ease of signing up to be a frequent flyer puts the lie to that excuse.) But it insisted that I was giving the wrong security code for my credit card, which I wasn't, so I changed cards, entering all the data again. And dealing with streams of numbers in an accurate way is one of my weak skills, so that took a couple of tries. Reservation #2, was easier, (being a frequent flyer, now, all those numbers were magically remembered) but still the whole thing took, as I said, almost 2 hours.

Once upon a time, one called a travel agent. But travel agents have been put out of business by internet ticket sales. Or one called one's favorite airline, and if they didn't fly where you wanted to go, they'd take a quick peak at their computers and tell you who of their competitors had the best deal. That used to be free. Now it costs extra. People are "supposed" to get their tickets on the internet.

This is how it is that technology has made things harder than they used to be.

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