The subconscious as a travel agent

Well before my mother passed away after her battle with Alzheimer’s, while she still was aware of who I was and having more clarity about what was happening, we made sure to capture her living will and advance directive for medical decisions. While this is a difficult conversation to have with your loved one, it’s one you will be thankful for when you are faced with the very difficult decisions you might need to make concerning their health and treatment as they approach the end of their life. This allowed her to state her wishes: things like not wanting to be intubated or resurrected in the face of such a situation (she didn’t want to become a burden for an indefinite time), to wanting to be cremated, not buried, and rest close to my dad in Miami.

In a subsequent post, I will share more about the experience of my mother’s cremation: a tough episode, but one I’d love to share with anyone who could learn and benefit from it. Today, just over a year after she passed and was shortly after cremated, I find myself still having her ashes in the small box they put them in for me to take. A year ago, I told myself I’d be bringing the ashes to Miami “very soon”, yet here they still are… In connection with this, I found a recent experience fascinating and felt you’d appreciate the irony and the power of the subconscious.

Last year, I was invited to attend the North American HR Executive Summit in Orlando. Having registered for it back in August 2018, I forgot about it until early this year. Someone helped me get my hotel booked for it, so in January I sat to book my travel, and here’s where the interesting part begins… I convinced myself that the conference was going to be in Miami (a 4-hour drive and a 1-hour flight from Orlando), so I decisively proceeded to get all my travel set, including a stop in Denver on the way back home, to spend a day with the folks at myStrength, the company that Livongo acquired this year.

It wasn’t an easy task, I must say, because I try to fly Alaska whenever I can, and Miami is not one of the airports they fly to, so I had to go out of my way to find best fares to and from Miami. Ultimately, I aggregated all flight information and lodging information within TripIt, which has been a great tool to make sense of travel plans for many years now. I pull up the upcoming “Miami, Denver” trip, and that’s when it hit me: I didn’t need to go to Miami!! At least not for the HR Summit! Why did I do this?

Enter the subconscious… it is my belief that on the surface, I have been postponing bringing her ashes to their final resting place, as I am still working through some of the things that were left unsaid and undone. But my unconscious seems to have a different opinion: it seems to be saying “JUST DO IT! Be done with it, so you can move on.” If only it had done the full booking, and saved me a room in Miami, it would have probably tricked me into going there, with her ashes in hand.

I ended up changing all the tickets to/from the correct destination (although you could argue that I could have still stopped in Miami to drop off her ashes). I have now planned to make a dedicated trip to Miami for this, in March. And as the trip approaches, I feel some of the pain from her loss resurface, but it’s pain that I need to go through.

I am SO upset with Southwest Airlines!!

The email I just sent them complaining… Hope they REALLY are not becoming another American or United Airlines!

I just had the most disappointing experience with booking anything on SW ever. Yesterday, I called 1-800-435-9792 to cancel my hotel stay in San Diego over the weekend (confirmation number #777388792). I was told I had to call Southwest Vacations to cancel it. When I called yesterday they were closed already. This morning I spoke with them and they told me I had to talk to the hotels department, they also told me that often at Southwest they give the wrong phone to call in these matters.

Today I call 1-800-545-4489 to cancel it. It takes 30 minutes for the agent to find my reservation (she alluded that it was because it was under Manuel Hernandez Paredes, and I told her only Manuel Hernandez -only my 1st last name, however I also gave her my reservation number and that seemed to not help).

She told me I’d be charged a one night penalty, because it was the policy of the hotel. I complained about this being unfair when I have been attempting to contact Southwest to take care of this since 48 hours before checking into the hotel and have been given wrong numbers and the run-around, and now I am being made to pay for something I should not be responsible for.

I asked for her supervisor (Wendy) and she was respectful but not helpful at all. I explained to her that the hotel reservation confirmation email I received had no numbers to call to cancel the reservation so I could have not known the right number to call in the first place (it’s not outrageous that I called the main 1-800 Southwest number) and to that she replied that all the contact phone numbers are clearly listed on the web site.

That made me very upset! Because this is not even clear to Southwest employees that route people’s calls ROUTINELY to the wrong places (as told to me by the Southwest Vacations person). How is it supposed to be clear to me, as a customer?

I told her to escalate the issue. Southwest should pick up this penalty not me, if it is the hotel policy to cancel the reservation at this stage. If I get charged the final penalty and this does not get picked up by Southwest, I will use up the rest of my miles and make sure neither I nor anyone in my team of 6 does any business travel (and I won’t do any personal travel either) using Southwest from this point on.

I will too be sad to see that Southwest is becoming another United or American Airlines, airlines that I dread to fly with!