Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Finally Sorted

I've finally got my flight sorted after eons of hassle with some faceless prick at a JTB office in Tokyo (alias Muda-san). I'll quickly run through the catalogue of events that have made my body temperature even higher than it already is with all this god-forsaken humidity that we've been getting lately.

First I went into the office in Hirosaki to book a flight way back in April. The woman at the office said that there was a flight available and she would sort it all out for me. She told me to wait for her to ring me. So I waited - for another three weeks actually. And when she did give me a ring back she said that there was actually no availability. So she asked me to go into the office for a chat about what was available. I went into the office for a chat and she stared at the paperwork for a while and at the computer screen for a while and at me for a while, and then she said that she would give me another call when she had found a suitable flight.

In the meantime I decided to take the initiative and look elsewhere. Namely the other JTB office in Hirosaki. At this office I wasted a lot of time talking to a woman who never looked like she intended to help me with anything anyway, and she just kept staring at the computer and at the other people in the office while I was trying to work out what she was saying to me.( My Japanese has been a big problem in this series of nightmares.) So I let this woman trick me into thinking that she was going to look for a flight after I'd left the office. Maybe she did, I wouldn't know.

Then, as if by magic, Aki says to me "My uncle is a travel agent in Sendai", so I decided to let Aki take the reigns of my search and she called her uncle. Her uncle said he'd look at the same flight that the other women promised they would look at. He actually brought to my knowledge what the other women hadn't: that the flight was already booked and they were simply waiting for cancellations. So I was a bit miffed and I asked Aki to ask her uncle whether I should hang around waiting for a cancellation, or whether I should just go ahead with another flight. She said that her uncle seemed confident so I should invest my trust in him. I did, and three weeks later it turns out that there weren't any cancellations. As a matter of fact, it also turned out at that Aki's uncle was working for JTB in Sendai city. (WTF!!).

So I was really pissed off at this point. Then he said "Oh, oh, oh, look on the internet at such and such a page! There's this really naughty flight to London via China that I recommend your boyfriend take. It will allow him to stay in Beijing for a night and explore the city. Yeah, yeah", so that was great news, and I got all excited about seeing Beijing. Aki phoned up the company and Muda san was more than happy to book it, take my money and send me the receipt. Then he ('Muda' literally means 'waste' in Japanese) phoned up just a couple of days ago to inform me that he'd made a mistake with the visa requirements and that I would need a visa for China that would take at least two weeks to process. At this point I was ready to drive down to Tokyo with a cricket bat and seriously abuse the guy. He said that I would have to take a flight with either Aeroflot or another more expensive company. Of course, I couldn't express to him in Japanese what I really wanted to say, but eventually, today, he found a cancellation that will allow me to fly via Beijing without the stopover for a day.

Of course I did try other places, but nowhere really had anything under ten man, which is all I'm prepared to pay for a ticket to London. I will not be ripped off by the travel industry. I repeat, I will not be ripped off by the travel industry. Also, I just noticed that people in my office have been looking at this blog. If you're reading this and you're a member of staff at Hirosaki high school then come clean dammit!!