To remind everyone. Getting an airline ticket, American style. Go on website for Southwest Airlines, select flight (10 minutes if you are shopping around for time and cost), pay with credit card (one minute), go back on website before flight to check in (2 minutes.)
It’s different here.
1) Go to Aeroflot office 10 minutes from the house. They explain that they only handle domestic flights and know nothing about international travel.
2) Go to Aeroflot web site and see prices that start at $1900 for a one way ticket.
3) Go to Travelocity and find Aeroflot flight for $785 with a connecting stop in Paris.
4) Telephone Aeroflot in Moscow. They explain that the cheap fair is a connecting flight with Air France, and they only handle pure Aeroflot flights. In any case, if we take the Aeroflot-Air France trip, they will charge us $300 for the trip to Moscow to get the flight.
5) Telephone an Aeroflot office in the “nearby” city of Minerale Vode (Mineral Waters) and be told that they can get us a cheaper ticket, if we come into the office.
6) Go to Minerale Vode. They require Larisa’s passport in order to sell a ticket, and the passport is at her mother’s home in Prochlodney, about a third of the way to Minerale Vode. So, take the 6:50 am Marshutka for the 1 hour and 15 minute trip to Prochlodney, meet mother at bus depot, take taxi to train station, get there just in time to catch the morning train for the 2 and a half hour ride to Minerale Vode, get a cab (who’s cabbie charges three times the going rate because he knows we have no idea where the Aeroflot office is), and in only about four hours, you are in the Aeroflot office.
7) Watch the nice lady spend one hour trying to issue wife’s ticket. The computer keeps rejecting the inputs and nice lady is confused. Then spend about 45 minutes watching nice lady charge the change fee for my ticket. She does not know the charge code that the computer requires, but she has enough stamina to keep trying to guess for 45 minutes before she calls the home office for the code. One final 15 minute wait while nice lady makes three separate charges to my credit card (Larisa’s ticket, my change fee, the service fee for my change fee) and meticulously writes out three triplicate manual receipts printed so neatly that a computer could not have done better.
8) Get Lunch. After two hours of mind-numbing waiting at Aeroflot, beer is required, but the train back has NO toilets so a sip of Coke will have to do.
9) Get cab back to train station, board train for 3 and a half hour ride on wooden seats back to Nalchick, refuse wife’s idea to walk several blocks to get another Marshutka, and get a taxi home from the train station.
10) Done! In less than 12 hours!