Bad holiday travel advice – and the bad pundits who give it By Christopher Elliott | November 27, 2012 I’m done with offering the same dry travel advice every year at about this time. Finished! You’ve seen the tips: book your tickets early, travel on the holiday, spread your legs for the TSA and you’re guaranteed to have a good trip. But the travel advice you’re likely to read around the holidays is growing mold, and not once in all of my years of offering it to my good readers has anyone written to say “thank you for recycling.” You deserve better. Oh, you want the truth? The whole, ridiculous, preposterous truth? Well, OK. There’s no “best” time to buy a plane ticket for the holidays, no “best” time to fly. It’s the holidays, silly! Airlines are trying to get the most money from you because everyone knows you want to fly home. And that whole bit about flying on the actual holiday? Stupid! They’re still gonna getcha, and as a bonus, you get to miss Christmas. You can get to the airport early and still miss your flight. It can happen for any number of perfectly valid reasons, mostly, though, because employees want a little time off around the holidays, and it’s not that unusual for the good folks working the ticket counter to be shortstaffed, overwhelmed, and for long, long, loooong lines to form. So go on, get there at 3 a.m. No guarantees. Be nice to the TSA agents, ticket agents and attendants, and they won’t necessarily be nice back to you. After all, it’s the happiest time of the year? Oh, nonsense. That might work during the summer, when everyone’s happy, but this is the darkest time of the year. Everyone’s crabby, and if they aren’t, they’re probably drunk. What’s more, they’re likelier to hate you if you put on that saccharine smile, because they’ll envy you for being so upbeat. Keep your head down, be cordial, but for cryin’ out loud, don’t wear your Santa hat to the airport. (Let me add that I am not saying any friendly TSA agent you encounter is inebriated. We should all be so lucky. I am saying that your friendliness will not necessarily be reciprocated at this time of year. That should not stop you from being polite, of course.) Don’t obey the TSA; everything will not be OK. Critics say the agency charged with “protecting” America’s transportation systems is on a power trip. The critics are more or less correct. Those of us who say, “Cooperate with the TSA, and there won’t be another 9/11” now find themselves with the uncomfortable choice between an untested, full-body scan or an invasive pat-down. The TSA needs someone to draw the line and say, “Enough!” Congress won’t do it, the courts won’t do it and the president won’t do it. So it’s up to us, the people. That time is now, during the holidays. It’s simple. Opt out of the scanner, show them that together we have the power to disrupt an unjust, possibly unconstitutional practice and restore some dignity to airport security. In coming days and weeks, you’ll hear the travel industry’s soothsayers telling you the exact opposite of this. They’ll tell you to schedule your flight on Christmas and New Year’s, forcing you to miss precious family time. They’ll insist that there’s a best time of the day or week to buy a ticket, but they really ought to know better. They know that the sophisticated algorithms used by computer reservations systems can’t be foiled so easily, they can’t say for sure if there’s a cheaper ticket out there, because they don’t know — can’t know. They’ll tell you to be nice, to comply. But they’re wrong. Are travel "advice" stories improving holiday travel? Yes, many are. No, I don't pay any attention to them. View Results Loading ... Christopher ElliottChristopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at email@example.com. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google PlusFacebookTwitterLinkedInGooglePinterestReddit NoJets If airline people are nice to you they’re drunk? Seriously? Very offensive to those of us that don’t drink and try to be accommodating every day we work. http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott I watched the video, but only once. Does that count? m11_9 Maybe try some Chris Elliott videos from Letterman? TonyA_says No, you need to dance the horsey, too, and then you will laugh at yourself :-) http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott Done. john4868 Chris … I think someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I have to disagree with most of what you wrote. I know personally being nice to a gate agent when they were in a bad mood and everyone else was yelling got me an upgrade. It was at Newark after one of the snow storms that shutdown the NY area and no one was in a good mood. Being truly nice to someone during those times (not faking it but being nice), works better than anything else and if it doesn’t work, you’ll feel better anyway. http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott You make a valid point. I’ve clarified in the post. LadySiren I liked this column – I read it in Dennis Leary’s voice. I think you’re seeing people do a double-take because it’s not the sunny-side-up Chris Elliott they’re used to but I personally don’t mind a little bite. You’ve got a job that can be pretty thankless sometimes, and a snarkier column now and again reminds me to be more appreciative of your regular pieces. Keep up the good fight and don’t let the bastards get you down. :) http://www.facebook.com/mccools Charles McCool Telling it like it is! Love it. Lynn Rosen Thanks for the angry. Jeanne_in_NE Christopher Elliott , I adored the newest piece you posted on LinkedIn and really liked how you called out people for posting really unprofessional comments on a so-called professional website. You really have guts to say what you did and to stand tall when the garbage came your way. The “Elliott’s E-mail” I received this morning had a disclaimer about this article: “(Warning: I was not in a happy place when I wrote this.)” I really am very sorry that you’re not in a happy place. We’ve all experienced those kinds of journeys. If “Gangnam Style” doesn’t bring you back from the dark side, I’m worried. toniv Let me provide — a little late — my own advice about Thanksgiving travel. This year’s weather was merciful. It isn’t, usually. Think about the first Thanksgiving. Did the Pilgrims get back on the Mayflower, go back across the Atlantic and meet up with their families (families they left, in a land they left, for better opportunities)? NO. They stayed where they were, and gave thanks for what they had with the people THERE, the ones who helped them through the year. My husband and I have often given a large dinner for his graduate students, many of whom are very far from home, busy and too broke for plane tickets. THAT is the spirit of the holiday. For me, the essence of the holiday is spending it where you ARE, with the people you share that PLACE with, the people who help you get through the year. I would tell folks to forget flying home for what amounts to a four-day weekend. Save your money; travel when the weather is pleasant or when fares are lower. Celebrate Thanksgiving where YOU are ARE. PB Tell it like it is my man. Customer service for the most part is something we can only remember not enjoy! Travel today sucks and there is no other way to put it. Maybe it is not so bad for the young because it is all they know. But if you ever got to fly Pan Am…. The Travel Ekspert I’ll leave the TSA alone, but let’s look at some numbers, all based on the last 2 weeks of ticket bookings through priceline.com’s published-price air ticketing service. The national average price of a domestic round-trip ticket departing on 12/24 is $400.12. On Christmas Day, it climbs slightly to $403.37. The next closest fare is 12/19, when the average jumps to $431.48. And, on 12/22, the average fare is a whopping $533.59. Strikes me that a: Christmas Eve is, in fact, the best day to fly if you want the best chance at the lowest fare, and b: flying on the holiday is also when you’re going to get the cheapest fare. So, take my advice and you could save yourself some serious $$. naoma Chris, thanks for the article which was ON THE MARK. Do not understand the comment below which said you were in a “bad mood.” No, I don’t think so — you were “telling it as it is.” And I agree 100%. Pplaresilly ^5 dude! pplaresilly ^5 dude! naoma Well, I tried to youtube this video but only found still photos. What the heck is Gangnam Style — seems like a misspell — Gangman? No, well, I still couldn’t access a moving video. Any other suggestions? naoma I tried to watch this video but only got “still slides.” What about the moving version is funny?/??? Jayne Bailey Holland Ok, I always loved traveling on the holiday, less time with my crazy family.I fly on holidays often, and quite a few people working holidays confess they have dysfunctional, over the top families like mine.I don’t mind the lines, or the delays. It is what it is- part of the experience, another story, and always different. But Chris, you HAVE been traveling with children, that is stressful! Don Cheedle Traveling is always a crapshoot and you’ll never know what you’re going to get. Just relax, take a deep breath, and know that everything is out of your control. You’ll get where you’re going at some point, it might just take a while. Jeanne_in_NE My 82 year old mother watched the artist, Psy, perform this on the Today Show and asked me about it. Enjoy. Bill___A Christopher, your advice is valid and your work is much appreciated. I know sometimes people don’t say it, but it is. If you get picked on, it is because sometimes the headlines are misleading or meant to be sensational. We read the columns anyway, we don’t want a sensationalist misleading headline like you would find in a tabloid. The other thing is to be fair and reasonable. If someone saw Expedia’s wholesale rate on a hotel bill and seems determined they should get it, they should be told the hotel printed the wholesale rate by mistake, that’s it. She should not get money back. The hotel room was fine and it was given to her at the price quoted which she accepted. There are all kinds of things that the TSA does that annoy us. I think in the last ten years, I have had two experiences which I would call negative enough to complain about it, and that’s it. In fact, they make such an effort to be cheerful that one guy said “have a nice trip” forgetting we had just mentioned we were going to a funeral. As far as Canadian security scanning is concerned, it has gotten better since 9/11, not worse. The British one is generally fine too and has improved over the past few years. As far as customer service is concerned, it is generally pretty good. If you could see how I was treated at a Marriott a couple of weeks ago, you would be quite amazed. You live in a country where customer service has been abysmal for a long time. The first time I flew United was in about 1981. They were so bad that I avoided the airline for 26 years! They are actually better (although their United Express partner SkyWest should be avoided in Denver at all costs). If I were to give some advice to people, it would be to ensure that you are fair and reasonable with everyone you deal with. Usually that works. Don’t expect the hotel and airlines to be babysitting services. If you are asking for something, try to think of the effect on that company if they did what you are asking for everyone, and not just you. That might give some perspective as to why they don’t make an exception or give you something. When you take a rental car, you are responsible to take care of it unless you buy their CDW or equivalent. If you happen to park in a hailstorm with your rental car, it is your problem, not theirs. Make sure you have the coverage. You are entirely correct about the seat backs. They are not far enough apart to accommodate someone reclining them. I do not put mine down and show every consideration for the person behind me. The airlines need to clean up their act in this regard. They used to at least ask people to put their seat backs up during mealtimes, now they don’t even do that. I hope you and your family have a happy and safe Christmas. http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott If you must know, I wrote this right after learning that Frommers.com, which was recently acquired by Google, is ending all of its columns, including mine. It’s no one’s fault – it’s just how things go online. But it sucks. I’m talking with several outlets about bringing my flagship crabby traveler/that’s ridiculous/Chris vs. the travel industry column to another place. But just so you know, that’s the unhappy place I was when I wrote the column. [/rant] http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott Your name looks so familiar … http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott I did. Pan Am was the best! naoma Thanks!!! Catchy tune and GREAT MOVES. Gotta go practice it now!!!!! emanon256 I tend to ignore most of the holiday advice, but I do agree that traveling on the holidays tends to be cheaper. The airlines do want to squeeze every penny out of you. But they also want to maximize their profit. Its all about supply and demand. No one wants to fly on X-Mas, so the airlines have to entice people with lower prices. Great! I just booked my trip home less than 1 month in advance for $234.80 a person R/T flying on X-mas day and returning on new years. In fact, on X-Mas and New years they even had saver awards, but for that price, I opted to save my miles. Every other day the tickets were over $650 a person R/T and no saver awards existed. Jeanne_in_NE I don’t recommend practicing with tennis shoes on carpet when doing the side moves. Just a heads up. ;-D Jeanne_in_NE Agree that it sucks and understand completely why you’d be in an unhappy place. If it’s any comfort, you’ve got many supportive readers here wishing you all the best. Sue I’ve been a travel agent for over 44 years and I totally agree with you. People are always looking for a deal and at holiday times it’s just not gonna happen. Book early (most airlines take reservations 330 days in advance) and that’s when it should be done. Keep up the good work, Chris. I loved seeing this side of you!! NoJets Thank you. It’s appreciated. I try to be professional and courteous every day and it’s frustrating when that isn’t returned as well. Two way street. But I try to not take it out on the offending person or the next person. BTW…I can usually tell who’s drunk…and you aren’t flying on us until you sober up a bit…but I will try to be nice about it when I break the news to you! naoma I laughed when I read that. I rarely get favorable mail on my comments and I thank you for giving me a good laugh and a word of warning about practicing the moves!!!! TonyA_says Jeanne, I have a stupid question. Can I read the Linkedln articles if I am not a member of that site (or do not care to log on)? TonyA_says I luv your name but not your advice :-) LeeAnneClark Hey as long as it put you back on the right side of the world, once is enough. :) bodega3 You are quoting an online company that isn’t explaining to you what the average price they are quoting actually means. That is the danger of online companies and people who quote them! bodega3 Exactly! LeeAnneClark Ah, now here’s a man who’s watched the video, and gets it! I honestly can’t watch that thing without cracking up. And sometimes I can’t help myself from getting up and doing that wacky horsey dance. That one, or the sideways skip thing that looks like Axl Rose on acid. When I’m feeling cantankerous, I just have to watch a few minutes of that video and I’m laughing all over again. It’s just so ridiculous, it makes you feel silly for being pissed off that someone on your office stole your sandwich out of the fridge, y’know? Anyway, hope it worked for Christopher! $16635417 Try to look outside the travel bubble. Customer service is dead in many ways, and also the way people treat other people. Just the other day I was at the supermarket. The woman ahead of me had several bags worth of items, and was concerned when a bag of frozen shrimp rang up “wrong”. She insisted that the price that rang up was incorrect, showed the circular to the cashier and insisted on someone check it for her. The cashier indicated that the brand and size differed. While we waited for someone to come to the register, and then leave to do a price check and clear the matter up, she decided she had the time to leave the line and get the bag of potatoes she forgot. The manager came up to the register to explain (surprise!) that the brand she picked up was not the one on sale and the size shrimp was also not the size on sale! Yes, the customer was wrong, even though the circular was very specific about brand and size. He even brought the sale item up for her to purchase… which she refused! (But she DID get her potatoes) In the meantime, all my items were on the belt and another cashier opened up a line to deal with the backup, but took the people behind me and explained it would be “too much trouble” to take my items off the belt. “For who?” I asked with no response. Anyway, after the customer refused to take the bag of shrimp on sale…and they voided the “wrong shrimp”, and after the manager left to return the shrimp, she decided it was a good time to ask more questions of the cashier about the shrimp and hold the line up some more. Finally the cashier said “Ma’am, I don’t get paid to think or shop for you. Do you want the shrimp that’s on sale, the other ones…or none at all.” In my frustration I loved it, but it was probably not the right thing for an employee to say, but also not right to keep me waiting either. If I pick up the wrong item or something rings up incorrectly I will ask to void it or deal with the issue at the service desk. I’m not intimidated to deal with the store on a pricing issue, even though I’ll probably be wrong, but I guess I’m too courteous of not wanting to inconvenience the person behind me in line. Perhaps my New Year’s resolution will be to work on that and try to get in the mindset of other people that seems to be “screw them, they’re meaningless….it’s all about me, me, me!” TonyA_says Excellent Advise !!! That’s exactly how I (or we) did it, stay put in our home and cooked a bird, stuffing, gravy and pecan pie. Of course, our kids came home by (local) train because we brainwashed (or bribed) them to stay close to home. Nothing like getting so stuffed with the rest of the family :-) LeeAnneClark I wish it worked that way for TSA screeners. My Mom couldn’t NOT be nice to someone if they paid her. She smiles, she says nice things, asks people how they’re doing – and she is 100% sincere, that’s just her nature. What did that get her with the TSA? Molested, assaulted, humiliated and abused. Now she just keeps her head down and cowers in fear every time she approaches the checkpoint…the only place in the world where she feels that way. As for gate agents, I’ve encountered what Christopher is talking about myself…crabby agents who, no matter how nice you are, look (and act) like they want to bite your head off. I’m sure it’s not a fun job, and the stress of the holidays makes it even less fun. But I would agree that you generally will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, so I try to be pleasant at all times. Except to TSA agents, who don’t deserve pleasantry because they knowingly work for an agency that molests, assaults and abuses innocent Americans on a daily basis. If they want respect, they should find a job that deserves it. flutiefan as one of those agents, i fully agree with you :) and even if the kindness isn’t returned in some bubbly “thanks sooooo much for flying with us today!!! Happy holidays, hon!!!!”, rest assured that being a pleasant person is ALWAYS better than being the ass everyone talks about later. LeeAnneClark Well it would appear that I just helped add quite a few hits to the Gangnam Style video! It is now officially the most watched video in YouTube history, surpassing Beiber. Wonder if my referring to it here put it over the top? ;-) Anyway, glad I could get a few more to watch it and give themselves a laugh for the day! TonyA_says Actually my kids now want to go to South Korea and check out the Gangnam area. I hear that in Seoul and Tokyo there are places where people go to dressed up in cartoonish attire. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harajuku We are going to Japan over the Xmas holidays and hope to get lots of laughs. Life’s short, start laughing. TonyA_says Now that is one good advise especially for holiday travel. People should listen to you (after all these years)! Edward Overlooked common sense. If you have a choice on connections– try to make them in the warmer South. There is less possibility of snow with cancelled and delayed flights. Jeanne_in_NE I tried not logging on and couldn’t get the articles. I logged on and voila! it worked. What’s weird is that I can’t easily find the articles once I’m in the site; I have to click on the links in the Elliott’s E-mail after I’ve already logged on. Or hope I catch one of the articles on the day it gets posted under “News”, as there are so many articles posted that Chris’ articles get buried. I’d copy and paste but a) I don’t know if LinkedIn content is somehow protected or copyrighted and b) it’s long. The title is “Are Business Travelers Stupid?”. Here’s an excerpt (I think excerpts are okay to share): “Also, did you sleep through your high school Latin class? If so, how hard can it be to look up “ad hominem” online? Are you aware that you’re commenting under your own name and that your current and future employers will read your angry, irrational rejoinder?” Whoa! You’ve got to read the rest of piece. And some of the comments, but only if you enjoy seeing just how puerile some so-called professionals can be. Jeanne_in_NE It went over “Baby” a couple of days ago, but anything to keep the Biebs in the #2 or lower place is A-okay by me! viajera I totally agree, enough of the sugar coating. For years I have confirmed first hand that there are no bargains out there around the holidays no matter how early you plan! I have to disagree about the santa hat, my husband sometimes wears one on our holiday trips, and people can’t help but smile, TSA and airline employees, etc. I guess it’s just something about a grown man with a silly hat! TonyA_says Oh Mike, I’m with you. I always pick the wrong checkout line. Try reading the tabloids while you wait, then you will understand why :-) TonyA_says Is that the essence of Buddhism? bodega3 The one thing you can write in stone about holiday travel is that nothing is set in stone about holiday travel. One year you might find fabulous last minute holiday fares. Those usually show up if sales are not where the carriers want them to be. Another year you might never see a deal. Thanksgiving is a shorter travel period but for Xmas and New Years you have more days so if you are flexible, you might find a good deal if you go early or stay later than right around the actual holiday dates. For a couple of years, WN never offered a lower fare from SAN to SFO than the one they first came out with when they released space. Of course, prior to needing those fares, when one of my kids was attending college in SAN, WN did offer sale fares. Just my luck! http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott That’s true. The kids definitely make it interesting. http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott TravelEkspert is my good friend Brian Ek from Priceline. TonyA_says Oops, apologies to Brian then :-) bodega3 Why apologize when what is posted is not good, clear information? The biggest issue I have with online airline sites, such as Priceline, is that they provide limited information. TonyA_says Hey thanks. I figured out a way to read his stuff over there without logging in. Here is the link: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/articles/332179 Those comments are wild! Who are these people? [or are they people?] :-) http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott They are the entitled elites … the people who recklessly lean back their seats, waste their employers’ money on fraudulent frequent flier programs and tell us to just “cooperate” with the TSA. I’m there to hold a mirror to their faces and say, “Look at you!” And I will, until LinkedIn kicks me off its site. TonyA_says To be perfectly clear, my apologies are to Brian [the person] – who very well could be a “neighbor” here in Connecticut. The old office of Priceline was in Stamford since the (original) founder lives in the area. http://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/22/nyregion/asking-what-s-next-for-hole-on-the-hill.html?pagewanted=all The HQ moved to nearby Norwalk. So it is possible that I bump into many Priceliners locally. As for the company itself (or any OTA for that matter), I really have no good words … Jeanne_in_NE In the seat in front of you, reclining. TonyA_says I can’t stop laughing, thanks TonyA_says Yes EXCELLENT ARTICLE. This should be cross-posted here. http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20121126124854-332179-are-business-travelers-stupid?trk=mp-reader-card Brian (aka The Travel Ekspert) Uh, what’s unclear about what I said? I said those were the national average fares for round-trip domestic flights based on the last 2 weeks of bookings on priceline.com. That’s pretty specific. TonyA_says Re: Strikes me that a: Christmas Eve is, in fact, the best day to fly if you want the best chance at the lowest fare, and b: flying on the holiday is also when you’re going to get the cheapest fare. Most travel agents would agree with you. I thought this was pretty obvious (a “factoid”) since usually folks do not want to fly during the actual holidays since they want to be in their destinations already BY THE HOLIDAY. In fact many fares change seasonality to LOW from PEAK (or HIGH) sometime between 24DEC and 01JAN (departure). That said 24DEC, 25DEC, 31DEC and 11SEP are usually cheaper days to fly. And this year, 21DEC was also cheaper (more lower class seats available) because it was the end of the Mayan calendar :-) LJBROCK I like advice such as this….straight up, no ice, no chaser. Brian (aka The Travel Ekspert) Thanks for reinforcing my point. In his article, Chris appeared to be disputing whether the holiday was a cheaper day to fly, which is one of the points I was responding to. That’s all. TonyA_says Of course, there is a short window, so all the cheap seats for 24/25DEC and 31DEC will also EVENTUALLY SELL OUT. Brian (aka The Travel Ekspert) Amen, TonyA. Love the caps. TonyA_says And btw, Chris said “There’s no “best” time to buy a plane ticket for the holidays, no “best” time to fly”. So the BEST is not necessarily the CHEAPEST or lowest price possible. You two might be talking about different things. bodega3 Brian, it does’t tell a shopper anything of importance, which is pretty much what is missing from online websites. An average means nothing as you are comparing apples to oranges. You can’t average fares from SFO to LAX with SFO to JFK. This kind of reporting reminds me of the children’s fable, Chicken LIttle. With the wrong information, people will believe something that could be false. Why due these average fare that you quote vary? Shoppers don’t get the information that is important. For some flights, there could be limited availablity and on other flights, there could be plenty of low fares. With areas being served by mulitple airports, are these prices reflecting open jaws? All online shoppers see is price and without knowing the reason why for that pricing just keeps them in the dark of how pricing actually works. There are still some good low fares available. Some are the lowest published and some are not the lowest but just one step above that is offered in a market on some days and some routings. pops Yes, being “nice” actually makes ME feel good… TonyA_says Pundits make very general or broad statements probably without having the numbers Brian has (since he is the VP of Priceline and has access to a lot of data). Maybe pundits have to call Brian (or someone at Expedia or ARC) and ask for data first (hopefully) before they open their lips. That said, he made a VERY GENERAL observation. But for the INDIVIDUAL traveler, there is no guarantee his/her situation will match or fit what the pundits say. So YES YOU ARE ALSO CORRECT, the only information that matters is the one the INDIVIDUAL SHOPPER NEEDS. Extramail Thank you for the good laugh. I had a similar experience during the thanksgiving free for all at the grocery store. I finally had to laugh and give myself a good talking to about having forgotten something on my list which had driven me to the store in the first place. If we would all just take ourselves a little less seriously we might just get along better with each other. Extramail Great article and thanks for the link. I have to tell you, my husband is one of the nicest business travelers I know; sometimes I get irked with him because I think he’s too nice. And, occasionally being nice to the TSA agents has some benefit. I won’t tell you what airport, but my husband is a frequent, frequent business traveler and he is now recognized by a couple of the agents and they tend to give him a pass on the pat downs he has to endure because of a titanium knee. And, good luck getting rid of the TSA. I can’t think of a single agency that the government started that has ever disappeared. One can only hope, I suppose. TonyA_says Specially during the holidays :-) Cybrsk8r I should think the TSA agents would be in a really good mood this time of year. I mean, think of all those Christmas gifts they’re stealing out of your luggage. $16635417 Funny thing was, it was about 5pm on Sunday. The store was practically empty! Jeanne_in_NE I refer to people such as the one you described as “amateur shoppers”. You know, the people that only visit a certain store when a certain sale occurs, so they don’t know the layout, merchandise or policies of the store. Given the odd time (Sunday, 5 p.m.), I’m *sure* that was an amateur shopper. Ann Lamoy I find that when I deal with crabby people in general I try to be nice. It affects them one of two ways. It either puts them in a better mood-if even only temporarily. Or it pisses them off more. And if it is the latter then there was no hope anyway since they are likely the type of person that just hates their job and looks for any reason to be in a bad mood. If it is the former then hopefully it will make a crummy day a bit better and make it nicer for the person behind me. As for actually traveling on or around the holiday periods? The only reason I would do this is because of a serious illness or death in the family. I loathe crowds with the fire of a thousand suns burning a fire on the side of my face. It’s why I shop on-line almost exclusively and do my grocery shopping early in the morning or late at night. (I’m a weird claustrophobe. Totally okay with small spaces if I am alone. Get me in a small space with a few people or in a big crowd? Panic, anxiety, just total get me the hell out) EdB Doesn’t really matter if where you are waiting is warm or not. If where your flight is coming from gets snowed in, your flight will get delayed/canceled. $16635417 Actually, a small town with limited supermarket choices. She knew her way around. She just simply had no respect for anyone or cared about anyone. She also made a point making sure they scanned her frequent shopper card. Keep in mind, the cashier was not much better, making comments about “not my job” and the other cashier thinking it was to much bother to help me. The customer felt my glare while she was screwing around with the potatoes and shrimp. When my groceries finally started down the belt, she was still there fiddling with her purse, her passive aggressive attempt to get back at me for the icy glare. I literally stood right next to her, shoulder to shoulder, without exchanging a word and started bagging my groceries while she continued to fiddle with her purse. She let out an exasperated sigh and stormed off. I’m pretty good and spotting passive aggressiveness. I don’t play that game. Backfired on her and she got even more upset as she stormed out…….with no shrimp. Jeanne_in_NE Ah ha! Not an amateur shopper but a professional pain in the . . . neck. TonyA_says Jeanne, maybe you know the reason why our stores keep on changing their layout. Once you get to know where the dog food, coffee, cookies, and bread aisles are then they change and jumble them around. I don’t unerstand why. Any idea? Jeanne_in_NE Just to p—- me off. Seriously, I asked the manager of the store where I regularly shop and he said it was to match the layout of the newest store in the chain and that all the stores in the chain were to follow suit. You know, for “our convenience”. I said baloney, it was so we’d stumble around and impulse shop on our search for the parmesan cheese or what-have-you. $16635417 Oh…and she suggested to her 90 year old mother that she may want to have a seat on the bench while “they straighten out their prices”…just before she commented that now that she has the time, she’s getting the potatoes. $16635417 The premium eye level shelves tend to go to the manufacturers that are willing to pay a premium, generally in discounts and rebates to the chain. When those contracts are up, they essentially bid the space out to the highest bidder and it creates domino effect when they have to change the store layout. Friend of mine used to analyze this for a supermarket chain. The intent is to place the financial risk of introducing a new product more on the manufacturer rather than the supermarket. In actuality, the supermarket is able to generate more income without sacrificing markup. Usually the newest store in the chain is the most recently analyzed optimum layout and the goal is to consistently match the optimum layout throughout the chain. Years ago, I shopped at a new store that was the smallest new store that the chain had opened in however many years. They had to make do with the existing space where an old store sat. They touted how “every item the chain carries is stocked here, even in the reduced square footage”. After several months, I noticed that certain things were no longer available and variety had been reduced. (Yogurt, for example.) I paid a visit to one of their biggest stores and saw the varieties I was missing at my store. After a letter to corporate, I found out that the store management had decided to reduce variety because the labor costs of keeping every item on the shelf was too high. They had a hard time keeping the main sellers on the shelves, so they reduced the variety and focused on loading up the dairy case with only the big sellers. Promise made….and quickly broken. Jeanne_in_NE Thanks! I kinda sorta knew about the premium space allocation, but I’m still convinced it’s all about me. Wait a minute, wasn’t that how your original post ended? :) Grant Ritchie Gangnam is a ritzy Beverly Hills-like area in South Korea, so living the high life is living “Gangnam style”. naoma Thanks for the info. Someone sent me the video and I watched it. I was not aware (not keeping up enough!) of the Gangnam area~!!!! Alia Naffouj I’m going to have to disagree with you on that one. I started checking prices for a trip home in Feb., AGS to FRA for Christmas. Feb prices $2502, Apr. $2443, May $2496, Aug. $1957, Oct. $ 2165/$2166 and finally Nov $1980/$2040 so the cheapest time was Aug, four months out. crash025 The agents aren’t motivated to be nice to you, help you out, or even let you know your full options. They want to process your issue and get you out of there. Upgrades LMAO … if you’re not an elite on the airline its self you’re not getting an upgrade without paying. US Airways won’t upgrade Star Alliance elites even if FC is completely open.