Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sophocles flies US Airways.

In June 2007 a return ticket was bought to fly with US Airways from Amsterdam, the Netherlands to Los Angeles, USA.
To go on June 12, 2007 and to return on March 4, 2008.

This airplane ticket was bought on the Internet at
The money for the ticket was taken from the credit card and the confirmation code sent.

However, a problem arose at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam when checking in.
A European receives a visa when entering the USA valid for 3 months.
But the plane ticket had a return date 9 months later.
This is not permitted by Homeland Security.
A visitor can only come to the USA with a plane ticket having a return date within 3 months.

It was explained that within 3 months the USA would be left to go to Mexico.
US Airways wanted proof of that.
Another airplane ticket showing departure out of the USA within 3 months.

However, the Fuso Szulc being in Riverside at the time, departure would be by car crossing the border in Tijuana.

The lady of US Airways at the Amsterdam airport called the US representative of Homeland Security present in an office there to come over to settle this matter.
That request was refused.
The rule was that a passenger could only get on a plane to the USA with an airplane ticket having a return date within 3 months or having also an airplane ticket to somewhere else within 3 months.
No exceptions.
Too bad for those who leave the USA within 3 months by boat or car.

The US Airways representative offered a choice.
To change the return date or not to get on the plane.

Not really a choice and having no options the return date was changed to September 10, 2007.
Well within the 3 months.

It was agreed with US Airways that once in the USA the return date could be set back to March 4, 2008 through their website.
And it was agreed that the 100 $ it costs to change a ticket in this case would not be charged.

Last week the website of US Airways was visited to change the date from September 10, 2007 back to March 4, 2008.
However, the personal account with US Airways was blocked.
No changes could be made.
The message was to call US Airways 800 number.

From outside the USA no 800 numbers can be called.
Therefore an e-mail was send to the helpdesk of US Airways.

Response was within two days.
The account was blocked, it was explained, because there was this 100 $ for changing the ticket to be paid.
In spite of what was promised at the Amsterdam airport, the fee for changing the return date was charged anyway.

Several e-mails were sent between US Airways and its customer.
Insisting that the return date needed to be changed to March 4, 2008.

Eventually the message became clear and US Airways now is prepared to change the return date.
But only if they get proof that the USA has been left and the customer is somewhere else.
This proof must be a copy of the passport where one can see a stamp of leaving the USA and a copy of the Immigration document of the country where currently staying.
These copies cannot be e-mailed but need to be faxed to US Airways.

Last Friday these requested copies were faxed.
But their fax machine was disconnected.
This was reported in an e-mail to US Airways to which the copies were attached.

Now it is a matter of waiting what will happen next in this saga.
If they are accepting the copies sent by e-mail or if they insist on receiving them by fax.
For the second option they obviously need to get their fax-service in order.

It is also a matter of waiting to see what happens with the fee of changing the ticket.
In fact, the ticket will be changed twice and maybe US Airways will charge an extra 200 $.

One observation in this case is that US Airways has become one of the executive powers of the Homeland Security.

Second observation is that if a life is lived not similar like most people do, one is bound to face complications.

But it is easy to handle this matter.
While this adventure with US Airways develops the fascinating book “Kafka on the shore” by Japanese author Haruki Murakami is read.
And in sync with the US Airways-saga the explanatory text in the book reads:

“What you are experiencing now is the motif of many Greek tragedies.
Man doesn’t choose fate.
Fate chooses man.

And the sense of tragedy –according to Aristotle- comes, ironically enough, not from the protagonist’s weak points but from his good qualities.
People are drawn deeper into tragedy not by their defects but by their virtues.

Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex being a great example.
Oedipus is drawn into tragedy not because of laziness or stupidity, but because of his courage and honesty.
So an inevitable irony results.

But irony deepens a person, helps them to mature.
It’s the entrance to salvation on a higher plane, to a place where you can find a more universal kind of hope.

Everything in life is a metaphor, Goethe said.
We accept irony through a device called metaphor.
And through that we grow and become deeper human beings”.


To learn more about the important book "Kafka on the shore" by Haruki Murakami, ISBN 0-099-49409-4, go to:


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find the US to be like this in a number of ways. It frustrates me each time I hit a self serve gas station and the card swipe systems asks for your zip code, our code happens to be L6W3G6 (obviously not American), the system crashes and you need to go to the cashier (who looks at you with a blank stare when you give them your "zip code".

The problem, as you have found, is that Americans are not very "worldly", they don't know anyone or anything exists outside the continental USA. Try your CC in Europe or Canada, they are much more "international"