Ask and ye shall receive does not always work when traveling, but if you don’t ask you won’t get anything. Just about no one really likes the travel part of traveling.
The waiting in lines, the heightened security processes, and crowded planes could take the joy out of any trip if you let it. That is why we always try to roll with the punches. Our philosophy was tested in a big way when 2 flights on Air Canada were cancelled this summer. In the first case, en route to Nova Scotia from Syracuse, we arrived at the airport at 4:30 am and were notified that we had been rescheduled for the following day which meant missing half of our eventful short trip so we quickly looked for alternative city connections, airlines, anything. We ended up driving four hours to the Toronto airport and begged for our seats back on that day’s flight to Halifax. We made it.
The next time we were flying from Kelowna, British Columbia back to Syracuse with appointments the next morning but we ended up spending the night in Toronto because, yes, the next flight was again cancelled. Oh well, we rolled with the punches.
Yesterday however we were extremely delighted with luck and caring employees by two airlines. As we departed Loreto in Baja Mexico for LA on Alaska Airlines, the gate attendant offered us a voucher for $25 each if we would check our carry on roller bags. Sure, we had already paid for our golf bags to be checked so would have to wait at the baggage claim carousel anyway. We knew we were going to have a four hour wait at LAX for our Southwest flight at 7:10 pm.
The customs process when we arrived was extremely efficient as was the baggage delivery so we rolled across the street to terminal one and checked in quickly. Then we saw the help desk and decided to ask about an earlier flight, thinking the chances were slim to none or too costly. The agent didn’t seem optimistic at first but with smiles and “Oh well, we really appreciate you looking into the idea even though we know it is unlikely. Thank you so much for checking,” Maria Herrera discovered two seats on the 4:20 flight that would cost us $100.
“We’d spend more than that waiting at the airport. We’d rather give it to Southwest,” we said. But wait, we just checked our luggage on the later flight. Maria called TSA to get them rerouted and told us to run to gate 17a. We’re speedy but the security line was looking like an hour delay. While we usually get TSA precheck that puts us in a special line, this was one time we did not. We knew we weren’t going to make it through in time. Just then we were tapped on the shoulder and asked if we would like to go to the head of the line. Really? Sure.
So we were finger printed three ways, photographed and scanned for eye recognition by Clear, a new company that offers domestic speed assist, to the front of the line! This was a trial we signed up for in 5 minutes, gave our credit card to be charged an annual fee of $139 per year each. We have 30 days to cancel or can cancel anytime and get credit for the unused portion of the year. We were then escorted past all the other antsy passengers to the security agent who waved us on. We placed our stuff on the belt, hurried to the gate in time to walk on the plane, take off and arrive home way before our original flight was supposed to depart from LA. We’ll investigate Clear further before deciding to keep it and let you know in another column, but for this trip it was a Godsend just like Southwest agent, Maria. And oh by the way, at no point did we ever say, “We’re travel writers.”
The lesson here is to think ahead and always ask politely even if the answer seems likely to be no.