It was May 9, 2010, and Delta Airlines had made it clear to me that they were not going to do the right thing and get me a new flight home. I had to trek over to Jet Blue to get a ticket. Unfortunately, we sometimes make the biggest mistakes when we feel as though we are under the gun, so to speak.
My mistake was in trying to book the flight on the Expedia web site instead of just going to the ticket counter and asking for it directly. I was in such a rush to get the ticket that I did not realize that the default ticket option is for the day after you are trying to buy a ticket, not the same day. I therefore booked a ticket for the following day. I did not realize this until I was trying to print the ticket at the ticket kiosk and the machine’s readout informed me that I would have to see an agent.
While waiting for an agent, my wife Elizabeth noticed the error and pointed it out to me. I am pretty sure at this point I had a minor panic attack that I managed to stifle only through the fact that the cold reality of the need to fix the situation was in my face.
I immediately called Expedia and explained the situation and asked them if they could change the tickets since there the flight existed that day as well at the exact same time. They told me they could change the ticket but it would cost one hundred dollars per ticket — in other words, half the cost of the tickets themselves.
I asked if there was an alternative and the agent told me that my tickets could be refunded — and that my money would be refunded in two to three business days. No problem, I said. I went to back to the ticket counter and asked for the correct tickets. The Jet Blue ticket agent asked me if I had an alternate method of payment since my credit card was declined. Of course it had been declined — I was trying to make a second large purchase in the course of less than an hour.
I called American Express, remembering the commercials from when I was young — the card company saving people in their times of need. I explained the situation and the person told me that I was already over my credit limit. I explained the situation again and asked them to temporarily raise the limit.
This is where the math got a little fuzzy. My balance at the time was about nine hundred dollars and I had just authorized a four hundred dollar purchase — the erroneously purchased ticket. All I needed was an extra four hundred and fifty dollars on top of that to buy the tickets. Somehow the person at American Express thought I would need to increase my limit by fifteen hundred dollars.
I decided that instead of going back and forth with the person at American Express about how addition really works, I would just request the extra fifteen hundred dollars. She told me that she could send an application and I would get a response in two to three business days.
“Two or three BUSINESS DAYS?” I nearly screamed. “I am at the ticket counter RIGHT NOW and I need to buy the tickets now. I am stranded in Florida at the airport. Can’t you make some kind of miracle happen like they do in the commercials?”
She asked me how much money I made, including alimony payments. I asked her what that would have to do with anything and that it was only a temporary raise of the limit I needed. She asked me again and said that it would help matters. I told her my exact salary as I understood it and less than ten seconds later she said, “Congratulations! Your application for a raise in your credit limit has been approved!
True, it wasn’t exactly like the commercials. I didn’t think the experience would be nearly as magical. I am certainly glad that the results were just about the same as we got to book our tickets home. Both American Express and Jet Blue earned my gratitude that day by helping me get home.