Flight Cancellation, Meet Flight Compensation

Hello Dear Readers!

It’s been a busy few weeks here in Carissa-town. Joni and I just got back from a week long trip to the UK, I renewed my annual pass to Disneyland, and- oh yeah- I worked at my job.

As always, my life is hectic to the point of chaos, but I’m used to it. Comfortable with it, even. I find peace on long-haul flights with nothing to do but watch movies and blog. It’s my safe zone.

But you know what isn’t my safe zone? Airports. More specifically, the Los Angeles airport. Have any of you ever flown through there? The place is a nightmare, a sprawling mess of dysfunctional security lines and angry customers, sprinkled all over with the dust of its constant construction.

So it was that Joni and I left five hours early for our flight to the UK, laden with luggage and bleary eyed, ready to spend three hours in LA traffic.

To our immense surprise, the drive took only a little over two hours, and we arrived with plenty of time to spare. In fact, we boarded our plane on time (me in peasant class, Joni flying fancy up front) and took off right as we were meant to.

Shortly thereafter, however, the pilot landed again, citing a “small engine issue.” An hour later, they had us deplane and bussed us back to the terminal, telling us to come back in two hours to board again.

At this point, we already knew we’d miss our connection in Amsterdam, so both of us were on the phone with KLM, who insisted that the plane had taken off as scheduled. You know, despite the fact that we were on the phone, talking, from a terminal in Los Angeles. The call ended with them doing a virtual shrug and advising us to call back later.

Ok, sure. So instead we headed back to our deplaning area, where a few harried gate agents were still typing furiously at their computers.

Why were they typing furiously? Well, it turns out that our entire flight was canceled, and rather than updating the system, they were instead rebooking every single person on the flight right then.

So it was that we were booked on a flight- not to Inverness- which was our original city, but to Edinburgh. And Joni? She was bumped from business to the back with Brit and I.

Ah well, at least we were going to make it? *foreshadowing intensifies*

By the time we made it out to the British Airways check in desk, which was our new airline, the entire airport was jammed full of angry re-accommodated passengers, all jostling each other for elbow room. Not to be deterred, Joni and I entered the special assistance line, which we were quickly dragged out of as British Airways informed me they ‘don’t accept dogs.’

Long story short, I ended up in a massive argument with the British Airways people, we nearly canceled our trip, and at the end of it all I ended up on an Air France flight connecting via Paris in premium economy, and Joni routed through London Heathrow on British Airways in sad regular economy. (Ok, she did purchase an upgrade to economy plus).

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I guess this is roomier?

We met up in Edinburgh, our entire trip in disarray and zero plans left with what to do.

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At least it’s still Scotland!

Frazzling? Yes.

Annoying? Also yes.

But the redeeming factor? Since we were flying to the EU, our canceled flight fell under European flight delay jurisdiction, which meant that they owed Joni and I $682 each.

Considering I paid under $400 for my round-trip flight, how mad can I be?

-Carissa “Thanks for Paying Me to Fly!” Rawson

Spain With a Service Animal

Hello Dear Readers!

I’m on my way home from my very first international trip with Brit, and boy has it been a learning experience. If you’ve been following the blog since the beginning, you’ll know that nearly two years ago I took Nala, my 10lb yorkie, with me all around Europe. It was great. I booked pet friendly Airbnb’s hung out at outdoor cafes, and when I wanted to tour inside something, I simply left Nala at home for a few hours.

Europe is so pet friendly.

Europe is not service dog friendly.

I know that’s a sweeping accusation, so let me refine it. Spain is not service dog friendly. I really wish I had some positive things to say here, but simply put, my trip was extremely uncomfortable from start to finish. The lack of relief areas in the airport sucked, the hotel requesting additional documentation for her training was stressful, being thrown out of restaurants and kicked out of markets was dismaying, and the constant disbelief and doubt was a struggle. (What do you mean she’s your dog? What’s wrong with you?”)

Worst of all? The lack of awareness within the country meant that people were constantly after Brit. Calling her, grabbing her, petting her, dragging their dogs over to her…like I said, they’re very pet friendly. Unfortunately, Brit is not a pet. My stress came to a peak as I went through security at Madrid airport, where I put Brit into a stay and prepared to walk through the metal detector, at which point the security guard called her over and straight through ahead of me. He then grabbed her and began roughhousing, which Brit totally went with because she’s a dog.

Mid-play, as I’m freaking out, one of the other security workers realizes what’s going on and tells him to stop because she’s a working dog and you’re not supposed to touch them. I thanked her profusely, but this basically just sums up my entire experience in Spain.

I’m going to keep this brief before it becomes a ten page complaint fest of what an awful time I had.

Enjoy some nice photos of Brit looking cute instead.

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At the terrible Airbnb in Barcelona that I left early. Brit for scale. (This is literally the whole apartment!)
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At the amazing (Hilton) hotel I went to instead. Brit for scale. 
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All the photo I took of myself during this trip
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A dog posing in front of a dog

-Carissa “For The Love of God She’s a Service Animal!” Rawson

Mileage Running- Mad Genius, or Just Mad?

Hello Dear Readers!

It’s that time of year again, where I make intensely insane decisions for the sake of status. Last year, I flew for a weekend to Nice in order to make Platinum status with Delta for 2018.

This year? This year I flew from LA to Spain in order to make Platinum Premier status with United for 2020.

You may be asking yourself, “for the love of God, why?”

Sometimes I ask myself the same thing. But the long and the short of it is this: ThePointsGuy values Premier Platinum elite status worth $4,580 for the year of 2018. Why? For the huge number of benefits you get as a result. (Free economy+ on all flights, free exit row seating, free upgrades to business and first class, free priority boarding, free checked bags (all of these things are for you and up to 8 companions on your ticket), Star Alliance gold status, and free access to all Star Alliance lounges whenever you’re flying on them).

More than this, though, I am acquiring my Premier Platinum status through a status match challenge. It’s pretty common, as airlines try to poach frequent fliers from each other. So just before my Delta status expired (which I earned through real flying), I emailed United, asking for the challenge.

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The requirements for a status challenge are that you fly 18,000 miles on United owned aircraft (so no partner flights) within 90 days. For me, that’s an easy trip to Israel and back.

Or so I thought. I didn’t know about the United owned aircraft clause, so after I completed a trip to Israel in November, I was still like 8,000 miles short of my goal and had until January 26th to complete it.

This put me in a bit of a bind. You see, I could either let the challenge lapse and not get status on United, which would have probably been the easy route.

I have been meaning to stay home more often, after all.

But the thing is, I was planning on using my United status for 2020 American Airlines status (worth $3,430), and my 2020 American Airlines status for 2021 Delta status (worth $4,025). It was a serious waterfall effect, you see.

Which is how I ended up on a plane to Spain a mere seven days after returning home from my most recent trip. This time, my service dog Brit flew with me, and she was a total champ. Brit happens to be a bit of a potty snob, as she’s used to the lush, rolling hills of Illinois in which to do her business. Airport service dog relief areas are not her jam.

“Please let me potty”

Which is how she ended up holding it from Los Angeles-Houston-Frankfurt-Madrid.

She’s a better woman than me.

-Carissa “Never Gonna Stop” Rawson

Georgia: Touring Tbilisi

Hello Dear Readers!

I’m writing to you from sunny Barcelona, where the beaches are white and literally no one pays attention to the do not pet patches on Brit’s vest. I took it off, if you were wondering. 

This next post is all the extra bits from our trip to Georgia, where we walked around more than is sensible and equally ate more than is sensible. 

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I love food!

Enjoy!

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Wow flattering
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We are in love.

-Carissa and Brit “No Seriously I’m a Service Dog” Rawson

New Year’s in Tbilisi

Hello Dear Readers!

Did you know that Israel doesn’t celebrate New Year’s like we do? Such was the impetus for our trip to Georgia, as I literally cannot go a single holiday without a celebration.

So it was that we spent New Year’s Ever in Tbislisi, with no plans and only a mild hangover we were trying to overcome.

Let me start by saying that Georgians love their holidays.

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On a casual jaunt through town

This is evidenced by their decorations, the massive amounts of people out on the town, and the sheer multitude of fireworks we witnessed as the clock struck midnight.

Let me lay the scene for you here:

Harrison and I, tired but excited after a long day of touring, ready to celebrate the New Year with a bang. We’ve settled ourselves at a strangely abandoned bar and begun to enjoy some final 2018 libations in preparation for our New Year’s resolutions (drink more?).

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I don’t know who this woman is but I aspire to be her

We’ve smoked a hookah, eaten about a dozen cheeseburgers (God Bless the foreign exchange rate), and have had more to drink than is entirely sensible.

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I’m so sober

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Shortly before midnight, we wander outside, as we’ve heard there might be something big to see.

And there is!

The bell tolls, a thunderous, booming sound, as all around us fireworks begin to shoot in the air. The sounds of people cheering fills us, and we look at each other, smiling shyly, each waiting for the other to make the first move.

And thus we shared our first kiss of 2019. It was romantic, perfect, and sentimental, us cuddling against one another, the lights bright above us and the frigid air forcing us close together.

Until someone shot a firecracker at us.

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Pictured: Me snuggling with a bar cat

-Carissa “My Eye Is Still Kinda Burned” and Harrison “My Eardrums Have Burst”

Dinner With Strangers, On Purpose

Hello Dear Readers!

Harrison and I travel differently. Oftentimes I enjoy the pure luxury of travel, sunbathing, swimming, free food, excellent drinks, etc. Harrison, on the other hand, judges the value of a trip by the level of discomfort he experiences while on it. And that’s a pretty cool measurement, I’ll agree. But it also leads to me doing things with which I am vastly uncomfortable.

Like going to a random stranger’s house and eating a dinner that they’ve prepared. Both in theory and in actuality it was really cool. But would I have ever done it on my own?

Not a chance.

He and I are good for each other, in that way. He drags me out of my comfort zone, and I make sure that we can afford to be there. It’s a win-win for both of us.

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Our digs for the night.

So it was that on our first day in Georgia, jet-lagged and miserable (me), we found ourselves the only two dinner guests of some Georgian folks out in the suburbs of Tbilisi.

I’ve got a ton of social anxiety, so I spent the entire first half of dinner trying awkwardly to keep conversation flowing. Things I learned? Russia sucks, nearly everyone in Georgia makes their own wine, and it’s customary at a party for (male) guests to drink out of horns.

Sorry, male guests.

I’m not even sorry!

-Carissa “That Was An Entire Horn of Wine” Rawson

A Very Georgian (2nd) Christmas

Hello Dear Readers!

Today I am writing to you from my economy(+!) seat, heading to Madrid for my very first international trip with Brit, my service dog. She’s currently laying on the floor, exhausted from the sprint to meet our connection in Houston. Kidding, that’s me. She’s exhausted from all the floor licking she’s done.

So, last I left off, we were talking about Harrison’s visit to California to meet my family, which went about as well as possible. He returned home just before Christmas, which was good, because for Christmas my family and I crammed four (and a dog) to a room in the Disneyland hotel.

Future family Christmas photo

Somehow ending up riding alone

It was actually super cool going to Disneyland for Christmas, and Brit did an amazing job as my service dog, diligently cleaning up any and all crumbs that I spilled.

“Diligent”

A mere four days after Harrison returned home I flew out to Israel for a visit. Sadly, Brit wasn’t able to come with me, as Israel requires a rabies titer test (it takes an entire month to process!) and I hadn’t had one done yet.

As an aside here, I know some of you have probably seen my post about PTSD. There’s obviously no miracle cure, but I severely underestimated the effect Brit has/has had on me. So this trip was really difficult, as being separated from her is just…the worst.

Separation aside, this trip was cool for a couple of reasons, the first being that Harrison and I spent New Year’s in Georgia, which is next door to Azerbaijan and equally as weird.

What’s going on?

We spent a total of five nights in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, and all of it was wonderful.

Most wonderful?

Georgians celebrate Christmas on January 7th and we arrived December 30th, which meant I got to celebrate Christmas all over again. Mostly it meant that the Christmas markets were alive and well, and the whole city was dressed up for the holidays.

Ooooh

As you all well know, Christmas is my most favorite thing in the whole world, so it was awesome to rewind myself five days and have more Christmas!

-Carissa, Brit “Floor-Snack”, and Harrison “Please Is Christmas Over Yet?”

Part of the Family- The Journey of a Lifetime

Hello Dear Readers!

I’m still aboard my Copenhagen-Los Angeles flight. I think it might be taking an eternity. So far we’ve covered quite a few days of Harrison’s trip to California. However, we spent the last few days up in Northern California in the picturesque city of Modesto. Yes, that’s a joke.

 

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Spending time with family is always a joy, but this time it came with the added stress of trying to make Harrison presentable to him. Lucky for me, he’s fairly capable on his own and I didn’t have to do much aside from elbow him occasionally. (He’s going to be so mad I said that but I don’t even care!)

Probably the highlight of our trip to Modesto was our pre-Christmas Christmas. For those of you who don’t know, Harrison is Jewish. That means he’s never experienced Christmas. I know, it’s a travesty. Luckily for him, we solved that as he ran the gauntlet of gifts from everyone up north. I have to say, for a Christmas noob, he did pretty well.

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What is all this nonsense?

Harrison and I also made it out to San Francisco for a trip to the Cheescake Factory atop Union Square and a few delirious hours with one of my best friends, Monica.

Just wait until next year. The Christmas kiddie gloves come off!

-Carissa “Christmas is Literally the Best Time of the Year” Rawson

Old Grandeur- The Napa Valley Wine Train

Hello Dear Readers!

Now, as many of you know, I happen to be a fan of alcohol. Not, like, too much of a fan, i.e. an alcoholic, but I do enjoy the rare beverage here and there (and everywhere).

To that end, one of the things I’d been most looking forward to during Harrison’s trip was our visit to the Napa Wine Train. It was the star of our vacation, costing both two arms and two legs, and while I’d definitely say it was worth it, I’m not sure I could really ever afford to go again. Kind of like the Maldives.

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I feel like I took this for granted

The basic premise of the wine train is this old, restored train that runs through Napa Valley and stops off at various wineries. It includes tastings at all of them, plenty of opportunities to purchase the esteemed wine, and also an extremely fancy meal aboard the train. All told, it’s about six hours long and is a helluva ride.

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This was my first big trip with Brit-Snacketysnack, so I was pretty nervous. We’d been out and about before, but nothing so luxurious as this. I had nothing to worry about though, as she was extremely popular and had the added benefit of making people like me. 

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Who doesn’t love this?

So, yes, I’ve already admitted that I’m a fan of alcoholic beverages, but I also happen to be extremely ignorant about wine. Thus, as the tours commenced and the sommeliers dragged us from room to room, I stood around waiting until I could hustle forward with my plastic tasting cup and request “a glass of your finest red alcohol, please.”

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Please!

I kid. I know there are different types of red wine. And also white. Aaaaaand that’s about the extent of my knowledge

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But we had a blast!

-Carissa “The Wino” Rawson

A Furry Road Trip

Hello Dear Readers!

We left off yesterday with the knowledge of Harrison’s visit to California and a plethora (kinda) of photos from our visit to Disneyland. 

Today’s post is mainly pictures, as we made our way to Los Angeles, Venice Beach, and alllll the way up the coast to Napa Valley.

Enjoy!

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We stayed overnight at the Venice Beach Canals.
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Including indoctrination into the In N Out cult.
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California is the best

-Carissa “How Many Dogs is Too Many?” Rawson