Adventures in flight bookings + related technology gripes

So I spent some of this weekend helping my aunt book domestic flights in the U.S. for her and my uncles trip in December/January to catch up with my cousin who’s over there at the moment. The travel agent had quoted a particular price, but based on my travel research last year for the big trip I was sure we could do a fair bit better.

So after doing some searches on Priceline.com we began the adventure of booking the tickets. Except since we wanted to pick seating too, we went through the airline and not Priceline.com as Priceline doesn’t let you specify exact seats.

Now I thought it would be pretty straight forward except for the technology issues we came across. Continental Airlines booking was pretty straight forward, but US Airways and United were a somewhat nightmare effort to get the booking completed. Perhaps coincidental, but maybe not seeing they most likely share the same booking system as they have codesharing agreements.

US Airways has a site where Purchase does not work if you have multiple tabs open to their site. Except they don’t tell you before you buy, only after you click and sit there for ages… so not trusting airline sites when their systems fail (had an experience with Singapore Airlines a few years back), it was time for a Skype call to the US. Another failed attempt later, another phone call deciding to do it over the phone for an extra $25 per passenger… Poo to all the US airlines that charge you extra $$$ for everything – bags, baggage etc! Eventually got those tickets sorted… getting names etc right was funny what with American versus Australian accents…

As for the United booking experience… it tanked as well, but at least when I rang they had record of all passengers and payment details etc so it was on hold and all I had to do was verify some info. And since I had like a another 3 sectors to book I did it over the phone, as since they already had the details correct I didn’t have to freak that they might get the spelling wrong. On the up note at least they didn’t charge any reservation fees like US Airways.

Meh and along the way Verified by Visa… argh I can’t stand it. Read Wikipedia article section on criticism. It looks totally fake/phishing style and it’s a pain to have to enter details + remember yet another password.

A cool thing though in the whole process is Skype is awesome. Freecall US numbers are free to call… so convenient!

Woot no longer travelling solo…

So I’ve gone from potentially 5 weeks of solo travel through Vietnam and Laos to now having company all of the way. Em’s arriving in Laos on the morning I arrive and I managed to talk my dad into coming to Vietnam as he was thinking of visiting the relos in Singapore. So now he gets to spend 3 weeks backpacking it up the coast with me before going to Singapore for a week.

I must say that since solo travelling can get lonely at times it’s definitely tops that I won’t be myself. Friends/family to share random train adventures, confusion and funny moments with is always so fun. Can’t wait!

From I’m a PC, to Linux and now to I’m a Mac

So I think I’ve completed the ‘Circle of OS’ and am now currently sitting in the Mac camp. The decision to make the move to Mac was for a number of factors – curiosity, iPhone OS programming, learning new things, and of course one cannot forget the eye candy that comes with any Apple product.

As with my move to Linux a couple of years back, there’s always the initial confusion with a new OS. And with the Mac there’s also the added learning of new keyboard shortcuts! I must be getting somewhere though as it seems I’m in the habit of now pressing the Mac combos at work on my Windows machine!

Along with all the above is learning Objective-C the Cocoa framework and getting a grasp of the Xcode IDE as hopefully will start playing around with some iPhone dev.