Life on the Mekong and Other Rivers

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Getting to Kenya is harder than it looks...

So trying to book our AA Award tickets using miles. Call the number and get the automated service. The voice recognition certainly has improved, but it is still a very maddening experience.

Para Espanol Diga Espanol!

Got through that part without switching to Spanish, but ran into problems after that. Advantage number, no problem, but what zip code is my account under? The disembodied voice gives me two chances, and I get them both wrong. Then she helpfully reminds me that I can check my account info online, where I can also book the award ticket and save us $10 per ticket. Okay. Plug in Kyiv to Nairobi online. Turns out flights originating outside the US cannot be booked online. So they've hornswaggled us into paying a $10 fee per ticket just to use a phone operator.

Meanwhile, back on the phone. Aha, I think, I'll circumvent the voice. AGENT, I say.

I understand you want to speak to someone. Just let me get some more information from you first.

Foiled again, I press on.

The voice asks where I'm departing from, where I'm going, what day were going. No problem, I know the answers.

What time are you departing?

Uhh, I don't know.

I'm sorry, I didn't understand your answer, what time are you departing?


I'm sorry, I didn't understand your answer, what time are you departing? No matter how much you raise your voice, she remains quite chipper. Really just looking to help, afterall.

Uhh, 4 pm?

We seem to be having trouble, I'm going to transfer you to an agent but you will have to give the agent additional information.

YES! Success! A few beeps and I'm connected to dead air. Then a busy signal. Disconnected. Bastard Computer Voice!

Call back, same issue, but this time I know my zip code. Clever me, I changed it online. Got through everything, got in the queue for an agent and...

Your call will be answered in approximately Thirty....Seven....Minutes.


I hung up. Will try again tomorrow. The American Airlines automated system will NOT beat me.


Success. Flight to Nairobi booked. Via London with an overnight no less. Not the most direct route nor the fastest, but we're using miles. 60K miles for coach, 75K for business class. Business class it is!

So, London? Anyone planning to be around December 16? We're arriving at 3:30 pm, departing the next day at 10:30 am. Who's up for a $30 steak and kidney pie?


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