Flights? What?

I was wondering today, where’s my flying car? We now have all these tiny Star Trek style cell phones, we beam information through those internet tubes all the time, and yet I still can’t get a flying car! All I want is to be able to pack up my things, stick in it my flying car, and head off wherever I need to go. Oh, and since it runs on food scraps a la Back to the Future, it solves all gas issues as well. Now when will someone go ahead and build it? Anyway, it wasn’t just benign musings that got me going on this train of thought, I was trying to arrange our flights.

Taking a short break from my writing today, I called up to Continental’s round the world travel desk to ask them a few questions and maybe talk about possible itineraries. To bring everyone up to speed, we’re doing the absolutely insane thing of trying to use frequent flier miles to accomplish the major legs of our trip. Now what I learned from my friend at the desk was educational but not particularly helpful, if you get my drift. First, I learned there’s no North America to South America to Southeast Asia allowed, as that constitutes a change of direction. You have to start and end in the same city. You’re allowed six flights with only one open jaw. And you can only fly certain airlines, and this does not necessarily match up to who Continental is “partnered” with. The lady at the travel desk was not ready to help me sort through all the options at the time, but instead told me to look up the legs we want to fly on their websites, figure out what days we wanted to go, and then call back and be prepared to be *very* flexible. Oh, and we still have to cover taxes. You getting an idea of why going this route is insane yet? Yeah, it’s supposed to save us money, but (A) I’m not sure it will any more and (B) even if it does I’m not sure its worth it. As it stands now, we’ll be starting from South America (either Buenos Aires, Rio, or Sao Paolo). So we have to get down there on our own … and then we have to get back to the U.S. when we get back. So overall, this is adding a whole lot of hassle to things.

So that’s what I started doing this afternoon, trying to find flights on supported airlines between the cities/continents we wanted (anybody realize I’m a master procrastinator yet?). My good friend Kayak helped me collate everything, and I found some legs that may work. So I’m planning to call them back soon and see if any of these flights and times will actually work or if the whole thing is just a pipe dream. I get more and more skeptical every day.

[Afterword: In the end, we were indeed able to book our trip using Continental miles. Our legs were: Seattle to Managua, Nicaragua (via Houston); Managua, Nicaragua to Santiago, Chile (via Panama City, Panama); Santiago, Chile to Johannesburg, South Africa (via Paris, France); overland to Nairobi, Kenya (our open jaw leg); Nairobi, Kenya to Bangkok, Thailand (via Dubai, UAE); Bangkok, Thailand to Seattle (via Seoul, S. Korea).]