Ben hasn’t been home to Kenya for a year and a half. So, we decided it would be good if he could visit his family over Christmas break. Given that he will probably have to quarantine for two weeks when he arrives and another two weeks when he gets back, we wanted as long a time there as possible. We identified when exams will end at the university, and set a date.
My first attempt to find a reasonably-priced ticket was my faithful Kenyan travel agent. Her prices were quite high, like in the four-figure range. We checked on alternative dates, but the prices stayed the same or went up even more. Christmas is a difficult time to travel because everyone else who has the need, does.
Ben began to prowl the Internet and found a ticket in the three-figure price range – almost too good to be true. We finally settled on a flight from New York to France to Nairobi. Of course, he still had to get from here to New York. If that part of the route is included in the ticket, the price nearly doubles. So, he found a separate flight on another airline for a very reasonable two-figure price. He succeeded in purchasing that ticket, but the New York to Nairobi ticket wouldn’t go through.
Actually, he ran my credit card three times. Each time it seemed to clear, but within an hour or so, a message came to say the credit card had not cleared with the airline and the ticket was canceled. I was out all morning while this was going on, so said I would work on it when I got home.
Guess what! The same thing happened to me twice. It’s there until it’s not.
I called the credit card people to see if it was a problem with them holding up the charge. They denied all knowledge of that charge and said I had plenty of money available on the card and there was no problem on their end.
Next I called the airline. These days, they should be grateful if anyone wants to go anywhere! First, however, they kept trying to send me to the website to resolve my issue, but my issue didn’t appear in any of the choices, so I opted to talk to someone. Normally that means I get to wait for half an hour or so, but this time, I got someone within five minutes. Maybe they are desperate for customers.
The agent was very helpful and we ran the credit card again, and as usual, it went through. However, when he tried to apply the amount to the ticket, the system refused. One of the flights out of Paris had a change of departure time and that seemed to be causing the problem. By this time, we had moved from texting to an actual phone call. In the course of this interaction, I learned that the extra charges offered by the booking company for changing flights and canceling at the last minute are already included in the ticket for no extra charge. It is just a money-making ploy. So, beware!
The poor man struggled multiple times to get the charge to be accepted, but after half an hour or so, decided he had better hand it over to the IT department. Normally, I wouldn’t be allowed to talk with the IT department, but they have a new system of texting, so I agreed to move to IT.
Within 10 minutes, the IT department actually texted me. He said he was putting the charge through and I said, “Yes, that’s where the problem happens.”
He asked, “Where?”
I replied, “Putting the charge through. There is a problem with one of the flight times changing.”
“I’ve fixed that already,” he assured me.
“Good,” I responded.
Then he started trying to apply the charge to the ticket, and after 15-20 minutes, he phoned me and we put the charge through again in person. After another 30 frustrating minutes, he was finally successful. By this time, it was 9:00 at night and I was exhausted. But the good news is, Ben has his ticket. Now all we have to be concerned about the “normal” things like: whether he can get back in the US on his current visa, COVID, safe travel, etc. I’ll leave those things for another day.