I got word that I was to start working at Stanford in Mid-June with just under a month to make the move. Less than an hour after I had booked a round trip ticket from SLC to Birmingham, I had decided I would instead drive Walden to Birmingham for long term storage. When I booked the ticket, it said that since I had booked it less than 24 hours before the departure, it could not be changed. No problem, I thought. I would just forfeit the first leg, drive to Birmingham, and fly back on return ticket.
A few days later, I logged in to Delta’s site to test a tweak I had done to the configuration of my password management program. I noticed that under a section heading entitled “Upcoming Trips” was the word “none.”
Oh. They canceled my ticket.
Now I can only assume that I thought that I was in some parallel universe in which anything about how airline tickets are priced and sold made any sense at all. Of course not taking an outgoing flight means that the return flight is also canceled. I suppose I just wished I lived in an world in which I would not have to talk to anyone about plane tickets. I get tired just thinking of the number of times I have booked a ticket in the wrong month, or the wrong airport, or something else.
A couple days later, I called my friends at Delta. Yes. They had canceled my ticket. No, I could not use just the return flight. It was a Rewards Ticket and they do not allow you to book one-way tickets using Reward miles. She would have to check with her supervisor, but she was suggesting that my best option, if were to be approved, would be to pay a $150 change fee to re-book the EXACT SAME TICKET because the price of the one-way ticket from BHM to SLC was over $600.
In the end, it got better than that. The supervisor must have been in a good mood or something, because they just pretended that I had not booked the ticket at all. My miles were refunded. It would take a day or so for them to post back to my account, and after that I could try again to book a ticket. I was relieved. If I had booked a round trip from SLC to BHM only 24 hours in advance, I could probably do the same with my trip from Birmingham with a week’s notice.
No problem. The next day I logged in to delta.com. My miles had been returned to my account. Better still, I found a flight that would require only 25,000 miles of the 37,500 that had just been returned to me. Sure, to satisfy Delta’s requirements I had to book a round trip ticket, but I booked the return almost a year later. Surely by then they would have forgotten about the no-one-way-reward-tickets policy. Seriously, Delta, how is not taking the first flight of a trip that different from not taking the return flight? And if I can simply “forget” to take the return flight, how is that different from a one-way ticket? Would it not be better to know that I was not going to take the flight so that the ticket would be available to sell to someone else? The decision-making of airlines is mysterious.
So I did it. I re-booked my flight for fewer miles than my original ticket. Life was good.
I saw an email in my mailbox about my ticket being booked. I did not read it. The next day, I got another email, saying that since I had not booked the ticket that I had reserved, the ticket was canceled. I somehow failed to complete the process required for booking a ticket.
It was déjà vu all over again. This time, the flight that cost 25,000 miles I had previously booked was gone. The good news was that I managed to book a ticket that was actually more convenient. The bad news was that it cost the same 37,500 miles as my original ticket. Untold hours and wailing and gnashing of teeth after I had started the process, I was back where I had started.