RiA6q9poTWell at least it is at a certain airline about to be absorbed by American Airlines (thank God).

I just spent more than three hours trying to book airfare for our summer vacation. It was a relatively easy booking – not a straight round-trip but a multi city with only two flights. When you look on Kayak, it looks like it should be a breeze to book.

When I saw that the most desirable flights – time-wise – were with USAirways I have to admit I cringed more than just a little bit. I went to every airline’s individual site to make sure I couldn’t do better. Again, a bit of a cringe when I realized I couldn’t.

So at 10 p.m. on a Friday night I started the process. I went to the USAirways site and called up the flights. Actually found that the pricing was a wee bit lower than what Kayak had quoted. Good news, right?

Well at 1 a.m., I have just finished the process. That’s because I would get through all the screens, plugging in names, addresses, credit card information, answering all the questions about hazardous materials and then hitting “buy” only to get an error message – not once…not twice…but five times.

So I called “online booking support” which is a misnomer like no other. My “support rep” argued with me, told me I was wrong and insisted the flight number I was booking was completely different than the one showing up on the website. She had a few other great quotes.

“Maybe you should call your credit card company.” Uh my credit card has 30 K of credit available and that is more than enough to cover this purchase almost 10 times over.

“I think the problem is that the flight you are booking is no longer available.”   Huh? It’s showing up online. In fact, I just restarted the process and there it is.

But my favorite: “Maybe that fare isn’t available anymore. Just because you see it on our website doesn’t mean it’s real.” To this I had no words, except to point out that this was the worst “support” call in which I’ve every participated.

I had to call the credit card company too because I got a fraud alert for trying to book this flight. Frustrating, sure, but I do appreciate their vigilance. The good news is that I gave it one last try and it worked. No idea why. No idea how.

Our frequent flyer numbers are still not associated with this reservation but that’s because American literally started the process of moving those accounts over tonight at midnight. A call to a lovely American Airlines support person confirmed that.

So to USAirways, a company that fooled the politicians of Allegheny County into thinking they’d be here forever in order to get a new airport, good riddance. They have laid off thousands of good committed airline professionals. They have abandoned the hub they built on the backs of the local taxpayers so that our airport is now half shuttered and we can’t get very many places nonstop anymore. They turned from one of the region’s top employers to a non-player in the blink of an eye.

I wish I had more faith in the Allegheny County government to think they could restore some level of business at Pittsburgh International. Unfortunately I don’t believe they are up to the task and that we are probably going to see more gates shuttered. I hope they prove me wrong so I can actually fly to New York for less than $650 someday.