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Spain
It's good to be home again.

I won't say it wasn't a swell trip. We saw friends, had a good time at Boskone and the New York City Comicon, did business, enjoyed a great dinner with my family...

Getting the norovirus in the middle of our travels did kind of suck, however, and then on our way home, Parris had her luggage robbed. Someone opened a locked suitcase and stole her ipod and a whole bunch of new peripherals that she'd just bought at the Apple Store in NYC. They also stole the two locks. (Both brand new "TSA approved" locks, I might add. So far as I can see, locking your luggage with a TSA approved lock is completely useless, since everyone and his brother has the keys. And of course you're no longer allowed to use locks that might actually keep thieves out of your luggage. It's all to make us more "secure," hoo hah).

She's getting the usual run-around as regards to filing a claim for the stolen items. TSA blames the airline, the airline blames TSA, and no one takes any responsibility. Continental Airlines has been especially useless. TSA and the police have actually been treating Parris with courtesy and doing what they can to help her, but from Continental she's gotten nothing but phone trees, disconnects, brush-offs from disinterested "customer service" people, and repeated refrains of "it's not our responsibility" -- though indications are that it is the Continental baggage handlers who are the culprits here.

We also had trouble with Continental on the way east, but that was in connection with our carry-on luggage. We were seated in row 19 out of Houston to Boston, yet by the time we were allowed to board ALL the overhead space on the plane had been filled by the passengers seated in rows 20 and back, so an especially obnoxious flight attendant insisted that I check my carry on (not even a wheelie, but a nylon shoulder bag), and threatened to call "security" and have me removed from the plane when I refused to give it to her (the bag contains valuables and personal items that cannot be checked). I told her the bag would fit under the seat, but she refused to believe me, choosing to go by her own three-second "eyeball" inspection of the bag rather than listen to my assurances. That damn bag is TWENTY YEARS OLD and has fit under many airline seats over the decades. I have crossed oceans with the bag under the seat in front of me, I was trying to tell her... but she didn't want to listen, she just wanted to threaten me with the FAA. Fortunately an older and wiser flight attendant intervened before this young obnoxious one could throw me off the plane, and actually helped, opening an overhead bin, turning one of those monstrous carry-on "rollers" sideways, and making room for my shoulder bag. If not for her, I might have been dragged off my flight.

Anyway, Continental Airlines has moved right to the bottom of our list as "airline we are least likely ever to fly again." They won't let you carry on your valuables, and if you check your stuff, they steal it.

But enough venting. We DID have fun on the trip as well, when we weren't throwing up or being robbed. Boskone is still a great con, although the new hotel is a definite step down, and we had a good time at the New York City Comicon, where I did signings for Tor, Bantam, and DBPro/Marvel, got to meet the entire amazing Dabel clan, and did all sorts of business.

Even so... it IS good to be home.

Comments

( 106 comments — Leave a comment )
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zakalwe7
Mar. 5th, 2007 07:09 pm (UTC)
And that's why LotR ends with the Sam line :)

Glad to hear that you survived the BWB in Boston.
racebannon42
Mar. 5th, 2007 07:11 pm (UTC)
Too bad about all the sickness and theft, but At least there was some good to offset that.

I'm looking forward to World Fantasy!
kram006
Mar. 5th, 2007 07:12 pm (UTC)
Sorry to hear about the airlines acting like that with Parris' luggage and your carry-on :(

Picturing you arguing with the flight attendant, all I could think about was the scene in Meet the Parents where the flight attendant tries taking his carry-on.

Attendant: Sir, you're going to have to check that.
Greg: No! Your stupid airlines already lost my bag and it really screwed things up.
Attendant: Sir, I can guarantee that it will be safely put below with all of the other luggage.
Greg: Oh, can you guarantee that? Are you personally going to take my bag with the guys with the earmuffs and put it down below?
idemandjustice
Mar. 5th, 2007 07:12 pm (UTC)
As someone who works in customer service (setting up dependent care), I never cease to be shocked at the amount way so many people get away with treating their customers like dirt. Especially with the state of our economy today, how is it that these people have jobs?
sudyn
Mar. 5th, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC)
wow. another point to safety, another reason for me not to fly. =P
I hope the airline pays for the damage... but it will likely take forever till they (or any other party involved) make amends for what has happened.

ipods are so expensive!
darthparadox
Mar. 5th, 2007 07:18 pm (UTC)
Anyway, Continental Airlines has moved right to the bottom of our list as "airline we are least likely ever to fly again."

Informing them of this, and requesting supervisor escalation as needed, may well be the best way to get them to provide some manner of recompense.

Thanks for letting us know what kind of service you've been getting from them. I'm definitely going to be thinking twice next time they come up in my fare searches.
xraytheenforcer
Mar. 5th, 2007 07:19 pm (UTC)
Newark Airport is Satan's Own Pit of Despair. Ugh. I'm sorry that Parris is getting the grand run around. But it's good to hear that you're home safe and are recovering. :) Good luck with the house reorganization.
xraytheenforcer
Mar. 5th, 2007 07:42 pm (UTC)
also, a pox on Continental Airlines. I cannot believe they treat people with such ridiculous disrespect.
wishwords
Mar. 5th, 2007 07:27 pm (UTC)
Wasn't it Continental employees in Houston that were caught taking truckloads of luggage out of the airport, stealing from it and then dumping the bags across town? Hmm, must see if I can find that article.
phewes
Mar. 5th, 2007 07:46 pm (UTC)
Yes. They were. That being said, not all of us who dwell in this hot as hell mosquito infested nightmare of traffic and humidity are bad people. I apologize for what the citizens of where I live did (well, I actually don't LIVE in Houston, but in Sugar Land which is a suburb).
(no subject) - shitblowsover - Mar. 5th, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
true. - phewes - Mar. 5th, 2007 07:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: true. - shitblowsover - Mar. 5th, 2007 09:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - darthparadox - Mar. 5th, 2007 08:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
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sermelt
Mar. 5th, 2007 07:29 pm (UTC)
Damn , they threatened to pull you off the plane ?
It does go with your hardman/biker image though ...
roninspoon
Mar. 5th, 2007 07:29 pm (UTC)
I don't trust those locks. What I do is use heavy nylon zip ties to lash the zipper closed on my luggage. If the TSA needs to get in there, they can, but if a random baggage thief has to, they have to take the extra effort of trying to cut it open. My rationale is that thieves are by nature lazy, otherwise they wouldn't be resorting to thievery to make money, so when presented with a target that's more troublesome than another, they'll take the easier target.

It's not sure fire protection, but so far it's worked pretty well, both in the US and abroad. On the other hand, I don't typically but my easily resold electronics in the checked luggage either.
constant_reader
Mar. 5th, 2007 11:22 pm (UTC)
YES! We use bright lime green cable ties and will know in an instant if the suitcase has been opened. If TSA opens it, they will replace our cable ties with white ones and leave us their obnoxious flyer. That said, no electronics of any kind ever go in checked luggage. That's why I have an extra large purse for traveling and a large as allowable rolling case. I always travel with an iPod, PSP, hard drive, Palm, cellphone, and flash drive.

KD
morbid_o
Mar. 5th, 2007 07:53 pm (UTC)
This doesn't bode well for those continental tickets that I just bought.
smofbabe
Mar. 5th, 2007 07:56 pm (UTC)
Yikes! I'm so sorry to hear this, and especially that it was her iPod and Apple stuff. I'm surprised Continental hasn't lost a few employees by now... Due to my arm troubles I've been having to pack my laptop in my checked baggage. I have been lucky so far but this story is definitely giving me pause. Please send Parris our best.
daintress
Mar. 5th, 2007 08:00 pm (UTC)
Hi. I haven't commented at your journal before (only just discovered Song of Ice and Fire), but I thought I'd say, I'm sorry you had such an awful time with the airline. That seems to be more and more common these days. :( Hope you and your wife are both feeling better.
mornflame
Mar. 5th, 2007 08:13 pm (UTC)
sorry to hear about such a crappy experience with continental. thanks for the heads-up, though, because i'm flying to buenos aires pretty soon and i'll make sure to use someone else.
shitblowsover
Mar. 5th, 2007 09:05 pm (UTC)
Gorgeous city.

Don't use Varig either. They fucked us over both on the fly down and the flight back.

Make sure to hit up Florida street while you're there. It's well worth it.
(no subject) - mornflame - Mar. 5th, 2007 09:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shitblowsover - Mar. 5th, 2007 09:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
worldelf
Mar. 5th, 2007 08:13 pm (UTC)
I'm going to complain to them, myself. Maybe if enough people do then they'll be like "Oh, crap! Who is this guy? He's really famous and we just really messed up! Damn, we'd better make amends!" Or is that a terrible idea? Come on, if I'm really very courteous about it...?
worldelf
Mar. 5th, 2007 10:42 pm (UTC)
There, done.
(no subject) - cabbageboylsmsa - Mar. 9th, 2007 07:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
svengoolie007
Mar. 5th, 2007 08:20 pm (UTC)
This is karma
I think all these bad things happening to you are a result of karma getting you back for saying Comicon! I told you already, that's off limits!

We all know Comicon is not a word, right? It's a combination of Comic and Con. Convention. That was the NYC Comic Con. The only place allowed to combine it into one word (because they made it up) is San Diego's Comicon International. Will you ever get that?
grrm
Mar. 5th, 2007 09:34 pm (UTC)
Re: This is karma
Uh... excuse me?

"Comicon" has been in use ever since there were comic book conventions, long before San Diego.

And the very FIRST comicon was held in New York City in 1963. I should know. I was the first fan to sign up for it. It was a one-day event, drew maybe thrity-forty people (high school kids like myself, mainly) to a decaying Greenwich Village hotel. Two kids named Len Wein and Bernie Bubnis ran it, and the only pros to show up were Steve Ditko and Fabulous Flo Steinberg... but it was a comicon, and all comicons since have come from that humble beginning.
Re: This is karma - hippoiathanatoi - Mar. 5th, 2007 10:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This is karma - svengoolie007 - Mar. 6th, 2007 01:53 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: This is karma - danalog - Mar. 6th, 2007 02:00 am (UTC) - Expand
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Re: This is karma - svengoolie007 - Mar. 6th, 2007 03:51 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: This is karma - stegoking - Mar. 6th, 2007 05:08 am (UTC) - Expand
fella - parrismcb - Mar. 6th, 2007 05:27 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: fella - eefster - Mar. 6th, 2007 12:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: fella - xraytheenforcer - Mar. 6th, 2007 12:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This is karma - nimbrethil - Mar. 10th, 2007 05:29 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: This is karma - kalbear - Mar. 6th, 2007 05:31 am (UTC) - Expand
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Re: This is karma - hippoiathanatoi - Mar. 6th, 2007 11:55 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: This is karma - svengoolie007 - Mar. 6th, 2007 05:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This is karma - the_corbie - Mar. 6th, 2007 06:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This is karma - kram006 - Mar. 6th, 2007 06:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This is karma - rockstarwookie - Mar. 6th, 2007 06:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
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spinal
Mar. 5th, 2007 09:24 pm (UTC)
This is why, as a geek, i pack every single important electronic device and/or valuable item in my carry-on. My laptop, my Ipod, my Gameboy, my cell phone, my digital SLR, reservation papers, etc etc.

Its a lot harder for the percentage of undesirable workers those airlines hire to do their dirty work to steal from you then. Clothes I can always replace easily, my electronics, especially in the case of my camera, I cannot.

I may look like a crazy mofo bristling with electronics, but ya do waht ya gotta do.
danjite
Mar. 5th, 2007 09:32 pm (UTC)
Feh, says I, to airport security theater and institutionalized rudeness. Both are offensive and both- but especiallly the latter- shock me anew each time I return to USistan.

For future reference and current irony, the only way to legally secure your luggage against theft is to carry a gun in each suitcase.
rdore
Mar. 5th, 2007 09:57 pm (UTC)
That doesn't actually work.
(no subject) - danjite - Mar. 5th, 2007 10:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
rdore
Mar. 5th, 2007 09:42 pm (UTC)
Sorry to hear about your bad experiences. Although Continental sounds particularly bad, the rest of the airline industry isn't much of any better.

It is really sad how paranoia has made it possible to threaten people on planes with serious reprocussion for no good reason.

In any case, you should definitely be persistent in demanding they reimburse you. Ask for a supervisor if you don't get someone helpful. Complain to the BBB if necessary. Etc.
stormswift
Mar. 5th, 2007 09:48 pm (UTC)
I fly a lot (comparatively - three times a year, give or take, for recreation instead of business) and Continental is usually the airline the screws me over the least. Delta, now...after a nasty run-in with their comp claims department, my family and I have pronounced anathema on Delta.

Of course, I'm also a native Houstonian; my personal theory is that Continental can smell those who aren't. Good luck on getting all the electronics back.
sarcastrotwin
Mar. 5th, 2007 09:59 pm (UTC)
George, I'm really hoping you see this post. I would suggest submitting your story to consumerist.com, a consumer advocate blog. Often times the editors will take a hand in helping out their readers with "customer service" (what a misnomer) issues. Even if they're not able to help, they will at least give you another forum in which to vent. Plus, they're suckers for "unreasonable airlines taking away your rights" type stories.

All airlines stink, but I've actually had better luck with Continental than Northworst or American. Maybe that's cause I've only flown with them once, on the way back from a stressful business trip, and I actually got a sandwich mid-flight in this era of downsizing pretzels and blankets.

One more thing - airports often outsource baggage handling to third-party companies. I wonder what kind of background checks they run?

Sarcastro
mojave_wolf
Mar. 6th, 2007 03:07 am (UTC)
We haven't flown since the 90's (lotsa dogs; can't leave 'em), but wanted to both commiserate and second the "avoid Northwest at all costs!" nomination. Only flew them once, and had we been able to afford switching to another airline for the round trip return, we would've. They gave us a "future upgrade to first class on a coach fair" deal, and we never used it cause we hated them/didn't trust them *that much*. They may have fixed things since then, but worst, most untrustworthy employees of any airline ever.
(no subject) - sarcastrotwin - Mar. 6th, 2007 04:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
dragonet2
Mar. 5th, 2007 10:24 pm (UTC)
Make sure Parris
tells Investor relations about her displeasure. Sometimes they can get stuff done with more clout. Unless they're so far bankrupt that no one gives a damn.
slonie
Mar. 5th, 2007 10:35 pm (UTC)
I think Continental Airlines has now lost more than just two customers for life...
folklaur
Mar. 5th, 2007 10:39 pm (UTC)
Oy. I don't think I'll ever fly with Continental now!
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George R.R. Martin
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