Southwest Airlines Charges 25,000 Points to Fly Standby

Southwest Airlines Into Paying BIG MONEY to Fly Home On an Earlier Flight Brent and I are members of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program. Brent is a lifetime fan of the airline, which makes sense, given that he’s … you know, from the Southwest. I didn’t fly it much before dating him, but that’s only because the airline has a teeny tiny presence at my airport, and the pricing structure weeds out those of us who don’t usually buy tickets months in advance. It was never cheaper for me. But it is now. Earlier this year, we did a bit of credit card hacking (if by hacking you mean spending a bunch of money on wedding-related things and paying for them in advance instead of paying a deposit plus the balance later) and earned a free companion pass through the end of 2015, making all our flights exceptionally reasonable, at least through the end of next year. We somehow managed to get tickets to Oakland for our honeymoon (because we know how to party!) for somewhere under $100 for both of us. Brent booked the tickets well in advance (because he’s Brent and that’s what Brents do), for us to leave the day after our wedding and return the following Saturday. Our flight Monday was no problem. We were pretty much on vacation 24 hours after saying “I do/me too,” which was exactly what I wanted. However, the flight on Saturday was just too late. We were set to fly home on the 6:40 flight or something, which would have gotten us in at 8pm, but after an amazing lunch in San Francisco, we were tired and ready to take an earlier flight. So, knowing what we know (which, spoiler alert, wasn’t enough!) about Southwest, we decided to try our luck at flying standby on an earlier flight. There was a flight that left at 3pm that would get us home at 5, which would have meant we’d have plenty of time to rest, relax, and recharge for our real lives instead of eating airport food and hanging out in the Oakland airport (which is always the risk you run when deciding to fly standby).

Heading to the Airport

We checked our bags, and asked the person at the counter if we could be put on standby for the earlier flight. No problem, she said, and the flight isn’t really full, so your chances are good. Great! We went through security, and when we heard our names called, we ran to the counter. She asked us for our credit cards because she needed to charge us something like $3, which we were told was the difference between the airport tax when we purchased the tickets and today. Awesome! I called my sister and told her about the change of plan. “No problem,” she responded. “See you soon!” We had a safe and uneventful flight, and got home early. That’s when we noticed something weird.

Southwest Airlines Charged us 25,000 Points to Fly Standby

Southwest Airlines Charges 25,000 Points to Fly Standby

“Weird,” Brent said, when he turned on his phone. “I have an email from Southwest’s Rapid Rewards.” He opened it. We’d been charged 25,000 points to fly standby. Now, if you don’t know about Rapid Rewards, 25,000 points is a round-trip ticket anywhere Southwest flies. We were really upset. I mean, seriously! They can’t just charge us that without telling us! And, I probably don’t have to tell you, but if at any point during our trip, they’d mentioned, even casually, hey, that’s definitely something we can do, but we have to charge you, you better believe we would have finished our books in the Oakland airport! But nobody told us. So we flew. And we lost the chance to fly anywhere we wanted. Essentially, we exchanged two hours of our lives for a trip anywhere in the country (or a few select places out of the country).

Customer Service Wasn’t Helpful

Brent called customer service first thing Monday morning, and didn’t get any help. The person he talked to wasn’t empowered to help calm down this cranky customer. So, he took it a step further, and sent an email to the VP of Customer Service. As of October 11, 2014, he hasn’t gotten any response. The entire copy of Brent’s email is below the fold, highlighting just how upset he got with the service he received. I’m still a little salty about all of this. It certainly leaves a bad taste in my mouth for this airline, and were it not for the free companion fare I get for the next 14 months, I might not be so inclined to fly their friendly skies. The moral of this story is that it is your responsibility to ask if there are any charges associated with flying standby. Even with the airline who doesn’t charge you to change your airfare. Read more

How to Get the Most from Daily Deal Sites

How to Get the Most from Daily Deal Sites

The following is from a Savings.com blogger. Do you use daily deal sites? I had to stop when I was getting out of debt because I found I bought more than I actually used. But she offers some great tips below on how to actually maximize your usage of these sites!

I live for a good bargain, but after spending a small fortune on daily deal sites such as Groupon, Living Social and Amazon Local, I’ve learned that not all deals are created equal. Like mama said, sometimes the devil is in the details.

From spa treatments to food and entertainment deals, I’ve figured out how to get the most from daily deal sites and also how to sniff out the bad deals. So please, take a moment to learn from my mistakes, and you’ll end up saving your hard-earned dollars for something more worthwhile.

Read the Fine Print

If you’ve ever read the complaints against some of these deal sites, you’ll see a lot of angry people who didn’t read the fine print. For instance, if you get a deal involving services such as carpet cleaning or re-roofing your entire roof, make sure they actually service your zip code. It makes no sense to get a deal that doesn’t apply to you, unless of course you decide to move to the serviced zip codes. Within the fine print, you may also see an expiration date. Make sure that you note the expiration date somewhere on your calendar, because once the deal expires, it’s worth nothing to you.

Don’t Settle for Less Than Half Off

If your deal is not at least 50 percent off the retail value, it’s probably not worth your time. Of course, there are exceptions — if your favorite restaurant is offering a less-than-amazing deal, but you know you’ll be going there soon, it might be worth the tiny savings. If you look through Valpak and other local coupon mailers, you may be able to get a better deal than what the daily deal sites offer, so don’t always jump on the next deal that you find. Do a little research!

Look Out for Coupons

While discounts on the daily deal sites are great, you can generally save even more by using coupons on the sites. Living Social often has coupons for 15-20 percent off your purchase. If you sign up for their emails, you’ll always get notified of these coupons. Groupon occasionally offers $10 or 15 percent off your purchases. With an extra discount, I’ve gotten up to 80 percent off the retail price of my deals.

Use Your Negotiation Skills

Can you get a better deal than what you see on a daily deal site? Yes, you can! Most of the merchants on the daily deal sites make almost nothing on those deals; they consider it more of an advertising method. If you reach out to the merchants directly, they may offer a deal that’s even better than the one you’re seeing online. A few years ago, a local company was selling memory foam mattresses through Groupon. I reached out to the merchant, and they were able to match the deal and offer free shipping on top of it — which was not included in the Groupon deal.

Mind the Restrictions

Should a deal be so complex that you really don’t understand what you can or cannot do or get? It really shouldn’t. A deal should be plain and simple. If you want to eat sushi, you should be able to eat sushi, right? Unfortunately at some restaurants, there are so many restrictions that it may not be worth it. Case in point: I recently saw a voucher for a beer garden that doesn’t include alcohol. Seriously? If there’s a long list of restrictions, you’re usually better off passing up the deal.

Make Customer Service Your Friend

What if you received bad service, or for some reason you couldn’t use the voucher? Wasted money, right? Wrong. From my experience with daily deal sites, they want you to be happy. Early this year, I tried an aerial yoga class, and midway through the class I was nauseous and felt like I had vertigo. A few of my other classmates actually took turns barfing. After being off-balance for a few weeks, I knew I couldn’t finish out my voucher for five classes. I immediately let Groupon know, and they credited my account with the cost of the deal. Never waste your money on a deal that you couldn’t take advantage of.

Are you addicted to daily deal sites? Tell us how you use them to save money!

Susan Yoo-Lee is a mother of two and the editor at The Scratch, a Savings.com blog where professional funny people take a crack at saving you a buck. She founded Mommas in the House in 2009 when she was pregnant with her 2nd child. Currently, you can see some of her published work on LHJ.com, More.com, WomansDay.com, AJC.com, ClarkHoward.com, US News & World Report, Military.com, LearnVest.com and more.

The Bouqs Review: Fresh Flowers in the Mail

I got an email from The Bouqs a week or so ago, asking if I wanted to check out their website, and get a bouquet of flowers to review. Just another day in the life of a blogger. Disclaimer: I did not pay for these flowers, and I am an affiliate of this company, but they didn’t buy my opinion.

I thought, sure, I’ll send Brent flowers. I’ll be home to sign for them, this will be great! So I picked some flowers out, and promptly forgot about them until the doorbell rang on Wednesday. Thinking it was someone I knew, I stepped out of the house in my bathrobe. Note: showering is not high on the morning priority list for those who work from home.

Sorry/You’re Welcome, FedEx Guy.

The Bouqs Review

the-bouqs

First Impressions

Their website is really nice. Just gorgeous. In fact, you can pick out your theme! What version of their website do you want to look at? Corporate? Rustic Thunder? Light and Bright? That’s a very silly feature, but given the number of times I’ve changed the theme here on Frugal Portland, it appealed to me. Finding a bouquet (or a ‘bouq, because we’re cool now) was easy — narrowing it down to just one was the hard part! Read more

The Weekender, Episode One

The weekender, by Kathleen Celmins. Episode One.

It’s 7:30 on Saturday morning, and I’ve been awake for over two hours. Ergo, the birth (or rebirth, if you’ve been reading long enough) of the weekender, where, sometimes, on the weekends, I’ll post inspirations and thoughts from around the internet. Grab a cup of coffee, and sit a spell.

Stock Images Are Fun

We have a giant stock image package through work, where we’re allowed 750 downloads a month, and we use about 150. So, I get to use one or five for my own blogs! It’s through iStock, and I can honestly say that finding just the right stock image for company blog posts is one of my very favorite parts of my job. The best one this week was an image for a post about shore excursions, and how they’re dangerous. I’m not sure they’ll use it, but I loved it:

Stock images are awesome

Why am I bringing up stock images? I mean, aside from the obvious point to demonstrate how cool I am. Read more

Embracing the Change: Fall Goals

2014 Fall Goals -- Frugal PortlandSummer was the season of weddings, specifically mine. Now, the honeymoon is (quite literally) over, the present delivery has slowed, and our house is more or less put back together.

The wedding was fun. One of the best days of my life, up to this point. The sun shined, the ceremony was great, the day went by in less than 20 minutes (how is that even possible?), and I even got to eat the food!

Now I’m “just regular married,” and honestly? I prefer it. It’s like being engaged, but now we’re not planning anything. Just this weekend, we got to do things we wanted to do, not things we had to do for the wedding.

Now it’s fall, and it’s time for new projects. The air is slightly crisper, we’ve had a few days of rain, and the trees are starting to turn from green to red. I have a lot of things on my to-do list for the fall, and in the spirit of “posting things publicly might be the kick in the pants I need to get things done,” I’ll list them here. Anyone want to be in charge of kicking me in the pants? ;)

2014 Fall Goals

Minimalism

We are so lucky to have friends and family that helped us feather our nest. Now it’s time to keep only the truly lovely and useful items in our home. I love our home, but we live in a small space, and in order to keep things clean, we have to keep things orderly. Aside from the dog hair all over everything, we’ll have to pare down.

Specifically, I want to eliminate things and create more space in:

  • The linen closet
  • The office/second bedroom in general, and the closet in particular
  • The regular closet
  • Both chests of drawers
  • The bookcase
  • The kitchen cabinets, including the island

This goes beyond the 1:1 rule, where for each thing we bring in, we have to send one out. This is about streamlining our space. I’ll keep track of how we’re doing this, including before and after pictures, and how we’re creating more space.

Health: Skinny Dogs Live Longer

“Skinny dogs live longer,” said my vet, when I took Stanley in to check on an ear infection. I asked if he thought Stanley was too skinny, and that was his response. “By about two years,” he added.

Well, I’ll keep him skinny, then. And while we’re at it, I’m going to work toward getting skinnier too. How will I do this?

  • Start running again with Brent
  • Work out at the least frugal gym I know (but I love it, and I’m going consistently, and insert justifications here) four times a week. Join me on Saturday! It’s free! If I’m in town, I’ll be there.
  • 10,000 steps a day (many with Stanley)
  • Eat fewer treats, and more crunchy veggies

Also, it’s time to make a doctor’s appointment. I need an annual exam, and I sure would like a professional to tell me what on earth is the matter with my stomach. Am I a celiac?

Time to find out.

Writing

Write more! I’m publishing once a week here, and three times a week on For Profit Blogging. (By the way, it’s the first of the month, have you updated your stats in the blog stats tracker yet?) and I’d like to keep that up. For the last two weeks, I’ve spent “football Sundays” writing my blog content for the week. That helps with the 80/20 rule of blogging, which states you should only spend 20% of your time blogging, and 80% of your time connecting with others.

Speaking of connecting, I’m working on two collaborative writing projects. I’ll definitely keep you posted when these are more complete, but I think the answer to “how can you be as productive working for yourself as you are working at a company?” is collaboration. I don’t want to let my partners down, so in essence, I’m thinking of them as my boss. I’ll have much, much more to say, soon.

Love

This year, I’ll host Thanksgiving for the first time ever. Dad will come down, Caitlin will come over, and we’ll have a feast in our home. It’s the first holiday we’ll host as a married couple, and I’m excited. I’ll be even more excited if I can convince Caitlin we should eat something other than turkey, but I don’t have my hopes up.

I also want to create a wedding book that includes our whole ceremony, so I can look at it whenever I want.

The first year of marriage is the hardest, says conventional wisdom, so especially now, when we’re establishing “the new normal,” I’ll work to make our marriage a loving one, even if it means I have to spend the afternoon at the DMV. That’s love, Brent. :)

There’s something about the beginning of a school season that allows for a refresh, and a reset. I’m ready. I have all the tools I need: my virtual Trapper Keeper with Lisa Frank separators, virtual protractor, which I still don’t understand, and all the virtual gel pens I could possibly need.

I’m ready, fall. Let’s do this.

What are your goals for this season?

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