Some “old” high school girlfriends of mine and me try to get together once a year for a girls' trip. I like to remind them that they are all older than me since I started Kindergarten when I was four, and they were all five. The last few trips we went on were to Orlando, and for some reason, I got volunteered to plan this last trip, but I'm guessing after our excursion that they may not ask me again!?!
Everyone wanted to go somewhere warm by water but yet not go out of the country. So I went to Bookit.com and found what I thought was too-good-to-be-true deals. We could go to South Padre Island for $350, and that included round-trip airfare and a hotel suite big enough for all five of us with beach access. The flight was an American Airlines flight, so I went directly to the AA.com website to compare prices, and the flight alone was over $350. And so I booked our girls' vacation.
The next day, I got a call from my credit card company saying my card was flagged for fraudulent charges. I hadn't used that particular credit card anywhere else in months! So I had to verify that the only valid charge was from Bookit.com, dispute the other charges and wait for a new card to be issued (mind you, I was traveling for work while this happened, so it wasn't great timing).
Then I received the following email from Bookit.com verbatim:
Thank you for choosing BookIt.com. We have attempted to contact you by phone regarding your recent package booking but were unsuccessful. Your booking was flagged by our quality control system because your current flight will arrive into Brownsville, TX while your current hotel is located in Harlingen, TX. If you are aware of the distance between your arrival airport and the hotel no further action is required. If you require assistance booking transportation please do not hesitate to call us at 888-782-9722.
Your hotel is in 33 minutes away from the airport.
Alternatively, there may be an airport closer to your current hotel. If you would like us to research options flying into an alternate airport please contact me at 800.213.6297, Extension: EXT . I can be reached MY HOURS . If I am unavailable you may also contact our Customer Service Department, toll free, at 888-782-9722.
Please note, if processed before 8:00 PM (Central) on VOID DATE , your flights can be cancelled for a full refund, allowing you to rebook alternate flights if you so choose. (Current prevailing rates would apply.) However, once this period has elapsed any changes will be subject to the airline Terms and Conditions including certain limitations and the application of change fees. Thank you again for choosing BookIt.com and we look forward to hearing from you soon.
First of all, no one had tried to contact me by phone. I replied directly to this email which appeared to belong to one of their guest service agents asking if there was a closer airport, and if so, why didn't Bookit show that airport to me? The guest service agent never replied, so a few days later (when I was back home from my business trip), I replied again and this time cc'ed email@example.com
A different “Operation Support Analyst” responded this time, saying that the airport that was booked is the closest one to the hotel. Hmmm.
So, we flew into the Brownsville (Texas) airport, a small, kind of sketchy airport. Good thing there is safety in numbers. We had read about there being a free shuttle, but it was too late, so we had to get a cab, which was also a tad sketchy. It turns out the free shuttle did not follow any of the times posted at the bus stops.
The weather ended up not cooperating while we were there either, so we were unable to swim in the ocean. Our highlights of the trip included seeing endangered sea turtles, shopping at Bealls and playing Cards Against Humanity in our “suite” which was basically a room with a two double beds and a pull-out couch. We came to the conclusion that we should leave South Padre Island for the college kids on Spring break, as it's definitely geared for that genre and not 40-year-old women! Luckily we were among good company to entertain ourselves.
The last night there I ended up sicker than a dog (what does that expression mean anyway?) and never did figure out if it was food poisoning or a parasite. Remember the scene from Bridesmaids where the girls are all in the bathroom sick? That was me! And I continued to puke in the cab, in the airport, on the plane… you'd think I would've lost 5 pounds from the ordeal (but I didn't, damn it anyway).
We had a 6-hour layover in Dallas on the way home. Since we all carried on and didn't check luggage, we asked if we could be on “stand by” for an earlier flight back to Omaha. We were told “no” because we booked our flights through Bookit.com! We could each pay a fee to move our flight, but we were hoping to stand by for free. Needless to say, I spent most of the layover in the bathroom.
Do I care to visit South Padre Island again? No. Will I use Bookit.com again? Probably not. I'll definitely let one of the other “girls” plan next year's trip.