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Posts from — April 2006

Unfair Miles – The Sequel

Due to popular demand and a lot of commiseration I have decided to fill y’all in on the secrets of using your airmiles. It’s quite simple really. Plan ahead. Waaaaaaay ahead. And be prepared for disappointment.

You want a summer vacation, gratis? Sorry, suckers, but you’ve probably missed the, ahem, boat for this year. But next year’s flights will probably be wide open. Why? Because you aren’t allowed to book that far in advance. See how they get you?

Some airlines have an extra special trick. They have two tiers of rewards so you can use even more points to go the same distance. Sound familiar, Aeroplanners? Here’s what I mean: a short haul flight within North America costs 15000 points (economy). There are a limited number of seats on each flight reserved for points-redeemers. Maybe a handful. A very small, itty, bitty handful. But if those seats are gone, the kind folks at the airline conveniently offer you the exact same seat – for 25000 points. Geddit? You “pay” more for the same flight. So you can either swallow it, and pay, pay, pay. Or you can book as far ahead as they will let you.

Has the point come across yet? BOOK AHEAD. The minute you start talking about your trip, put your money where your mouth is and book ‘er down. Especially if you want to go business class. Both ways. Or, my personal fave, the one where you score the business-class seat but it’s on a flight you didnt even know had stopovers and it’s only for the first (short) leg of the journey Then you’re demoted to steerage. Ditto and double if you don’t want to go alone. Otherwise what do you do? Fing for the good seat?

There are probably more ways to book your “free” travel than there are seats available. You can go online and try your luck. I did, and managed to nab one of the elusive 15000 pointers. Plus the usual taxes and surcharges and all that. Here’s the thing: I booked the trip in February. I’m going away in June. And there are about 12 flights a day on this route. Sounds like shoo-in, right? I thought so too, and kind of dragged my heels a bit. Until one morning I checked on the best return flights and found the cheap versions had disappeared. There was no way I was using 25000 points for a one hour flight. I booked then and there.

Another way is to get your travel agent to reserve for you. Ka-ching ka-ching. The agent will charge you, but at least you don’t have to do any work. You get what you pay for – and as we all know, you’ll pay for the free flight. This is the preferred method for long haul, deliberate stop-overs, or for those who are such frequent flyers that none of this really matters. In which case, how do you have time to read blogs??

Finally, there’s the old-fashioned way: calling the airline. If this is your thang, you’ve got nothing but time. In fact, you’re probably still on hold! Hang up now, loser – you’ll never get through. And if you do, chances are your seat has gone to the smartypants who went on-line.

2 comments:

pritza said…

I think the first possible date you can book ahead of time is 290 days before your flight or something like that. My opinion is to ditch Aeroplan and go for the points toward a ticket credit cards – my brother always seems to get flights this way. Aeroplan points may be more valuable, but if you can’t use them what’s the point? I have already ditched my Aerogold Visa.

5:45 PM

Anonymous said…

great job lady

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April 28, 2006   No Comments

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I Want My PVR

Yesterday was Wednesday, which can only mean one thing: Today, there is one less contender for the title of American Idol.

This week’s result show promised to be a goodie – someone would get the boot and we’d be down to the top 5. TOP 5! That’s huge! I know the results show isn’t nearly as exciting as its Tuesday night cousin but still, it’s the one with the definitive ending. Only one small problem. I missed it.

Instead of tuning in, I channel surfed, wandered into my kitchen, did a sudoku – anything but watch the show live. I had every reason to be cocky. I had PVR. I could watch it anytime. Commercial-free. Right?

WRONG!

I was betrayed. My trusty PVR (that’s Personal Video Recorder for those who are still in the dark ages) cheated on me. Left me high and dry. I admit, I tried to change it. Instead of sticking with the ever- faithful “record on this channel any day any time” I decided to play around and customize the times. And I got screwed. And not just out of any old show – out of American Idol.

I know I shouldn’t complain. Getting a life aside, I should be thankful it wasn’t Monday night’s 24/Prison Break combo platter. In the golden olden days I would’ve positively lost it had my PVR skipped Arrested Development. Maybe we shouldn’t go there, actually. It did (miss it) and I did (lose it).

I blame my husband. I blame him for a lot of things, but in this case it really was his fault. Every week we PVR Idol. We PVR everything, but it’s especially good for reality shows, where the commercials come fast and furious. For some reason AI always ends a minute or two after the PVR has stopped recording. So this week, at my man’s suggestion, I set it to end 5 minutes later. We thought we were pretty damn clever. And I checked it. Twice. And the rest is history.

I ranted. I raved. I ran upstairs to check on-line. NOTHING WAS POSTED. Eventually, Newsweek.com came through and I found out what everybody else already knew: America voted (Canada isn’t allowed) and The Pickler was history. Finally! Sure, I felt for her. The whole daddy’s-in-prison-but-I’ve-got-my-grandpa thing tugged at my heart strings too, I’m not a rock. But this is prime time TV, not a telethon. So ta-ta, Kelly, it’s trailer- time. (and I don’t mean those cheesy faux-mercials)

Today, I’m much calmer and my PVR has been reprogrammed to avoid any future mishaps. Sure, I missed the show. But I also missed the whining lines and insipid swan song of The Pickler…..Thank you, PVR!

3 comments:

Anonymous said…

Oh. My. God.

The same thing happened to me, except it was The Sopranos, which is the only show more preciously PVRed for me than American Idol! Death to Rogers, I say, unless they iron out this wrinkle soon!

And what IS Paris doing in the bottom two anyway?

12:53 PM

pritza said…

The time change killed our PVR it went haywire. We reset everything – made sure all was kosher and then, as luck would have it, the PVR was possessed. Satan himself fucked with our Sopranos as well!We were so upset that we checked our other preprogrammed gamut of goodies only to find that the Beast took issue with our overzealous viewing. We have since reprogrammed but how’s a lady to feel secure?

peff said…

That’s why I just go the good old fashioned route–digital satellite television, which gets me about 400 odd channels. Even though there’s often nothing I want to watch, at least I feel secure when I sit down in front of the telly in the anticipation that something MUST be on. And when there isn’t, there’s always the infinite reruns of Location, Location, Location (UK real estate searching reality tv show), which I’m obsessed with as I do love my property porn.

April 27, 2006   No Comments

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Why Blog?

Hola and welcome to my blog.

The one about anything. Everything. Whatever tickles my fancy. A new movie, an old book, those crazy yellow carrots they’re selling at my local market (and guess what? They really are sweeter than the orange ones). Whatever.

Here’s the thing you need to know about me (the first of many things): I’m a bit of a maven. Can one be only a bit of a maven? Scratch that, I’m a full blown, you-asked/I’ll-gladly-tell-maven. A know-it-all who likes to chat. About pretty much everything and anything. I have an opinion and I like nothing more than to share it. Over and over again.

And here’s something else you should know: people actually ask me about what I think. At least they used to. Back when I was a hotshot film industry exec (ok, an assistant to a hot shot movie director, but who really knows the difference anymore?) Yeah, back then I was in the know: great Parisian restaurants, hip London pubs, best gourmet food emporiums (imporia?) in Toronto, hottest beaches in Southeast Asia to meet Israeli boys… And so on. For better or for worse, those days are done. Sure I still know what I know, but now I’m at home with my baby boys, being a mom, trying to deal with identities old and new, pounds lost and found, and all the usual crises of self that we moms who used to be something other than mothers go through.

So you’re probably asking yourself (again): why blog? And my answer: because I can!

It really is the only sane thing to do. For myself, of course, but also my poor friends and family who have been forced into hours of therapy discussing, planning, undoing, laughing, whining and crying. On the phone and over coffee walks. In Weight Watchers and out for dinners. At the park and in the basement. And everywhere else in between. Mind you, it’s not like I’m about to stop calling them. God forbid! What else is a stay-at-home mom pretending to write her masterpiece supposed to do? Be a domestic goddess, the prefect mother, blab….

And now, blog.

1 comments:

ninepounddictator said…

Hey! Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging. It’s quite addictive isn’t it?
can I add you to my blogroll? I love the people I’ve met through blogging. Even though I’ve never met them in person, I feel like I know them, and I think about them…Weird huh?
Welcome, welcome welcome!
Rebecca

April 26, 2006   No Comments

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my-Tunes

I’ve got good news and bad news.

The good news is that my eldest son has FINALLY stopped requesting “One Was Johnny” off of Carole King’s classic album Really Rosie.

The bad news is he now insists on U2.

Y’all probably think I’m nuts. Who wouldn’t prefer new, grown up U2 to old Carole King for kiddies? Sure, it sounds great in theory – after all, it is my cd. Trouble is he wants to hear one song, and one song only. And he wants it loud. Window-shattering loud. The dulcet tones of Ms King were ok by him at any volume (ie. soft). But for Bono’s boom, nothing less than full blast will do. We’ve tried to subtly lower the volume of the stereo. But this raises the volume, and ire, of the boy in the back. And if you think a blaring rock band is loud, that doesn’t hold a candle to a shrieking 2 ½ year old. I’ve got one of those. A screamer. Some have biters, or hitters, or criers. I’ve got a screamer. Our doctor told me that one day he’d learn how to use his “inside voice” but my husband doesn’t get that concept, so why should our two year old?

But back to the music. We thought it was amazing that our genius could correct Bono’s bastardized Spanish as he sang along to “uno, dos, tres, quatorze”. The yeah-yeah-yeah’s at the end? Adorable. At first. But I bought a couple of new cd’s and wanted to hear ‘em in the car (they get lost in my iPod. More on that another time.). I tried slipping in some new discs. No luck. The cry for U2 beat my desire to hear John Legend.

I recently read an article in New York Magazine. All the coolio parents were so thrilled that their little hipsters only listened to their (the parents’) tunes. But come on – didn’t their kids want to hear the same one song over and over and over again? I mean puh-lease, after a while, don’t The Beatles become as irritating as Raffi?

Last week, I slipped the latest Madonna cd in after track one of U2. Guess what? My boy loved her. So now when we get into the car he requests Old Madonna. Doubt she’d like that moniker, but we think it’s hilarious. Sadly for us, having listened to Old Madonna over and over again, we realize how much we miss U2.

April 25, 2006   No Comments

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Unfair Miles

OK. Hands up those of you who’ve tried to book reward travel using air miles.

Anyone who was unsuccessful can drop your hands now.

I’m guessing there ain’t a lot of hands left flying out there.

I am one of those who use my Visa…oops, I mean my credit card … to rack up the points. The pricier the item, the better to fly away on my dears. So why is it when you go to book these flights, there never seem to be any seats on the flights you want? To make matters worse, if you are lucky enough to have some magic golden horseshoe up your butt and snag a seat, you then have to pay (on your points-gathering credit card of course) to go for free. HUH??

My grandfather (bless his soul, rest in peace and all that) flew up a storm. Every 3 weeks he shlepped from Toronto to Ft Lauderdale. For months. And years. Obviously he collected points and, being the pre-war, first generation immigrant that he was, never used them. So get this: one day, he has a heart attack. In Florida. And as any Canadian, first gen or otherwise knows: do not get sick in the USA!! Immediately his wife, my grandmother, made arrangements to get him home. At last, she thought, I’ll use those airmiles. The ones we’ve been collecting since the program began. But guess what? As the clock ticked away on my Zaidy and his ticker, the folks at the Airline (no names=no lawsuits) told them there were no seats. Forced to pay the old fashioned way, the g’parents headed home to health care. When my grandfather emerged, relatively unscathed with a new pacemaker and a new attitude, he took the airlines on. He sent them letters, made some phone calls and finally, they paid him back – in airmiles of course.

These days, the credit card companies have wised up. They’ve realized there’s a market for cards that actually let you spend your miles. No shortage of seats, no blackout periods, no restrictions on carriers – nothing to stop you jetting away. Oh no, wait – there is one little itty thang; the tax. And did I mention the other “fees”? Lord help you if you dare to change your ticket. Ka-ching, ka-ching.

So, let’s get back to me (actually my man, D, but we’re just counting miles stuff here). A Toronto-NYC flight on a cheap ‘n cheerful airline (don’t get me started on our national biggie) retails for $250 (plus tax).That translates into $350 worth of reward travel via the go anytime/anyplace credit card. A mere $15000 in spending and you’re ready to fly for fee. I mean, free. After the tax (which you pay) and $40 to the airline for a date change, not to mention another $25 to the credit card (again, for the change) the price continues to rise. And you pay for it. I’m no mathematician but that’s seems like a lot of cash for a freebie.

Let’s just hope you’re not delayed.

1 comments:

Fearful flyer said…

Love the blog – it’s funny. I’m disturbed by the airmiles posting – I have a gold travel visa on which I’ve racked up a ridiculous number of points and haven’t yet tried to use them. In the back of my mind I’ve been anticipating problems when I finally go to book something, but in the meantime, I spend, spend, spend with that g-d card. Am I really going to get screwed? I was hoping to book flights in the fall to NY or London. Do tell friend.

April 22, 2006   No Comments

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