Beyond grandparenting: 9 things I learned while in the desert

I am a grandma. But as all grandparents know, far more goes into who we are and what we do than just those things related to our grandchildren.

With that in mind, here are tidbits I learned while visiting the desert for Jak's baptism, lessons that have nothing to do with my primary focus of the trip (that being those awesome little critters I call my grandsons).

learned while in the desert 

1. I can still...

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My reward for eating so much

I did something awesome and I just have to tell you about it. Many of you may have done it before ... possibly many times before ... but this is my first time. And I'm feeling pretty awesome about it.

With a post title such as it is, what, pray tell, might it be?

Well, get this: I got a free airline ticket. Round trip. Because I eat so much.

Okay, not really because I eat so much, but because I buy so much to eat.

At the grocery store.

And I use my Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit card to pay for all that food I eat (with the help of Jim, the dogs, the cats, of course). Then I pay off the credit card when I get home from the grocery store.

And I gotta say, when Southwest named its loyalty program "Rapid Rewards" they weren't kidding. My points added up fast, primarily from grocery shopping but I must admit that I've done the same with other purchases, too. Actually, most purchases. At least all purchases I would normally pay for with my debit card. Yeah, it takes a little time having to go online to pay off a card right after making purchases, but how lazy might I seem if I complained about that?

So, in relatively lickety split time, I earned enough points for a free round-trip flight. Woo-hoo! (Well, again in all honesty, it wasn't completely free; I had to pay $5 for one of the fees that isn't covered by the rewards program.)

And where do you think I'll be going with my free flight?

Do you really need to ask? Really?

Okay, since you asked, I'll tell you: I'm using my free flight to visit Bubby and Mac. Again. Just a couple months after being there in June. Yep, I'll be flying Southwest in August to see these sweeties, the lights of my life:

Oh, I can't wait!

Why, you might also ask, am I still using Southwest even though I wrote a Dear John letter to them months ago when Allegiant came to town?

Well, since you asked, I'll tell you: I'm still using Southwest because the flight schedule for Allegiant is ridiculous, with only ridiculously early flights on ridiculously few days per week.

And because Southwest doesn't charge for bags. Grandmas need lots of luggage for lugging gifts to the grandkids, and Southwest doesn't ding grandmas for such things. Allegiant does.

Most importantly of all, though, is that Southwest rewards me. For eating so much. Or buying so much. Or both.

So yeah, I"m tooting my own horn for figuring out how to make the most of an opportunity many wiser and more worldly folks have likely long known existed.

And for having yet another opportunity to visit my grandsons.

This one for free.

In less than a month.

Woo-hoo!

Disclosure: This post may read like an ad for Southwest. It's not. I was not paid (nor even approached) to write this. Although I'm thinking more and more that those Southwest folks really oughta make me a Brand Ambassador, possibly pay me. Oh wait ... they did pay me ... with a free flight ... but that wasn't for gushing over them, it was for eating. Well ... you get the idea. They didn't pay me for this post. Even though I wish they had.

Today's question:

What is your favorite loyalty/rewards program, such as those for grocery stores, clothing stores, Starbucks, airlines, etc?

The one in which I eat my words

Related Posts with ThumbnailsGuess who Grandma gets to see in 22 days!In July I wrote a post called Dear Southwest Airlines, in which I bid the airline farewell. I'd been flying back and forth on Southwest to see Bubby in the desert ever since he'd been born. Then Allegiant arrived in town, batting its eyelashes and cheap fares with service to Bubby, and I thought I no longer needed Southwest.

How wrong I was.

Many times since Allegiant set up shop at the airport 10 minutes from my home, with supposedly inexpensive service to an airport not too far from Bubby's home, I've researched flights for upcoming visits on both Allegiant and Southwest. Much to my surprise -- and chagrin -- Southwest keeps winning out. And winning the dollars from my travel budget. And winning me over once and for all.

Allegiant flies to and from Bubby's home only twice a week, leaving my home each Wednesday and Saturday afternoon. All fine and good. The return flights are the same days -- Wednesday and Saturday. At cussing SIX O' CLOCK IN THE MORNING! That's the ONLY time. Ever. Which means I'd have to leave Bubby's house at about 3 a.m. in order to make that flight. Always.

Okay, yeah, sometimes there's a little inconvenience when getting a cheap flight. We'll make do, I told myself.

So keeping in mind the trade-off of funky times in exchange for cheap fares, I went to book tickets for Jim, Brianna, Andrea and myself to go to Bubby's house for Thanksgiving. But the flights were not cheap on Allegiant. In fact, they were a bit more than those on Southwest. And Southwest had several options of times, none that required leaving Bubby's at 3 a.m.

So I booked four tickets on Southwest. Yes, we'll have to drive 50 or so miles to the airport -- when Allegiant takes off just 10 minutes from my door -- but the list of pros and cons fell clearly in favor of Southwest.

Soon after, in return for my, ahem, loyalty, Southwest sent me a voucher for a free flight to anywhere I want, good for one year. What did I do with that freebie? Well, what do you think I did? I booked a flight to see Bubby, of course! For the end of this month!

The freebie from Southwest went a long way toward mending my broken heart after a failed attempt to schedule a visit from Megan and Bubby in October. I'd been thinking I truly would not make it without major chinks in my heart if I had to go without seeing Bubby until Thanksgiving. Then Southwest came to my rescue.

Thank you, Southwest!

But wait! That's not all!

One day last week I went to the mailbox and found a letter from Southwest. My first thought was that they'd finally read my Dear John letter to them and were rescinding my travel rights on their airline for being such a cuss. They'd show me who was boss, I feared, and I would indeed be using only 6 a.m. flights on Allegiant for my visits with Bubby.

I quickly tore open the letter to find ... FOUR DRINK TICKETS! "Have a drink on us!" good ol' Southwest told me, in appreciation of my loyalty to the company.

Sheesh, nothing like free drinks to make a grandma feel like a heel.

Although I have no plans to imbibe while in the air as I travel to see Bubby -- either on my visit in a few weeks or on the Thanksgiving trip -- it gives me a warm fuzzy just to know I could if I wanted. For free. Courtesy of Southwest Airlines.

Then again, maybe I will take them up on the offer. A stiff 7-and-7 will be great for washing down the sharp and snarky words about Southwest that I'm now eating, just three months after having written them.

Cheers!

Today's question:

What do you usually drink -- alcoholic or otherwise -- when flying?

Grumbles from Grandma

Related Posts with ThumbnailsBubby, ready for take-off.Not long ago I wrote a Dear John letter to Southwest Airlines. At the time, I had no idea I'd have one final fling with them, as Bubby and I ended up having our impromptu adventure before Allegiant Air starts its service between the mountains and the desert.

Unfortunately, I have three complaints about our final trip on Southwest. The first complaint, though, has absolutely nothing to do with Southwest.

Because Bubby is now two-years-old, he gets (not for free, by any means!) his own seat on an airplane. But airplane seats are not made for 30-pound passengers, so I had to lug Bubby's carseat along with, throughout the airport, so he'd have a safe spot to sit on the plane. Megan and Preston have two carseats that certainly would have worked, but they seemed bulky and heavy and because plans were already in the works to get a third seat so Gigi -- his paternal great-grandma who gets to babysit Bubby each Friday -- would have a designated seat for her, Megan decided to just buy it for me to use a lighter version for the adventure.

So Megan and I searched and scanned and compared stats of several boxes at the store, deciding upon an Evenflo seat. We get back to the house and remove it from the box, happy as clams that this would be easier for me and a special "plane seat" for Bubby.

Our happiness vanished the very instant we saw on the manual inside the box that this particular seat was "Not Approved For Aircraft Use."

WHAT? They couldn't put that on the box? One simple line amidst the kajillion other lines of text on the three-feet-tall by two-feet-wide box? I was livid. Megan was livid. Preston said "Take it back."

But time was of the essence so we didn't take it back. The seat would work for Gigi, so I just prepared to lug the heavier -- aircraft approved! -- version from Preston's car on the flight. Then I immediately e-mailed a scathing complaint to Evenflo, cussing about the inconvenience that could have been avoided with one simple line of text on the box, the line of text they underhandedly included only in the manual inside the box. How many people actually read those cuss instruction manuals anyway?

That's complaint No. 1.

Complaint No. 2 is directed at Southwest Airlines ... although I bet it applies to each and every airline out there.

As mentioned above, a carseat is necessary for little ones who must have their own purchased seat on a plane but aren't provided proper safety in that seat by the airline. (Can you imagine if we all -- each and every adult passenger -- had to provide our own seatbelts for flights? It's pretty much the same thing!)

Anyway ... So I lugged the seat through the airport and onto the plane. With little to no assistance from the flight attendants, I got the seat positioned in a window seat. (Being told "You do know that must go in a window seat?" is, in fact, the only help I did get from the flight attendant on the first leg of the trip.) Yes, I had it in place near the window; it needed only to be buckled in, tight as can be. But the cussing belt to be used to secure the seat latches On. The. Window. Side! And the seat makes it Nearly. Impossible. To. See. Much. Less. SECURE. The. Belt!

GAH!

I struggled with the cuss belt and the cussing seat for as many minutes as I had before a charming passenger needed to sit in the third seat of the row with me and Bubby. I got it fastened -- but surely not as tightly as I would have liked. There was a little give, and I just crossed my fingers turbulence would be minimal.

(And I lied a little when the attendant smashed shut all the upper bins and as she passed asked me, "Is that fastened securely?" I wanted to snarl "Uh, no, cuss! Since none of you would help me out, I'm pretty darn sure my precious grandson will be smacking the ceiling if there's a bump of even middling magnitude!" But I didn't. I just nodded. I figure it's not a lie if I didn't verbalize the response.)

Anyway, this complaint isn't about the lack of assistance, it's about the lack of functional carseat latches in the airplane. I understand -- although don't get why -- the airlines don't supply carseats for kids under a certain weight limit. But why the cuss can't they provide some latches on the wall? Or on the back of the seat? Or somewhere so the securing of self-provided seats is actually secure? And possible. And relatively simple. And not requiring the parent or grandparent to scrunch into contortions even Flat Stanley couldn't manage?

A simple hook similar to those required in automobiles for attaching car seats is all it would take. That's all I ask.

Well, that and a line of text on the Evenflo boxes.

GAH, again!

Complaint No. 3? Well, I've already gone past my self-imposed word limit here, so I won't bore you further with details of the third complaint. Suffice it to say it had to do with the airlines requiring, no, demanding that a certified copy of Bubby's birth certificate accompany his boarding pass as identification in order for him to fly. Yet not a single person -- anywhere, any time, any leg of the flight -- so much as glanced at the birth certificate when we checked in or went through security or boarded the plane. Except one young security guy who said "You should put that away for safe-keeping, ma'am" like I'm an idiot who flashes my grandson's birth certificate as often as I do his latest photo in my brag book.

Sheesh! I could have been kidnapping the kid, for all they knew.

Although ... airline personnel probably know darn well that no kidnapper is actually nuts enough to voluntarily take a toddler on an airplane.

Mostly because the kidnapper surely would never be able to figure out how to cussing secure the toddler's carseat in place in the cuss window seat!

Today's question:

What's your biggest complaint about air travel?

Dear Southwest Airlines

Dear John Southwest,

You've been so good to me all these years that this is really difficult for me to write. To make it a little less painful for us both, I'm just going to say it up front: I believe it's time to cool our jets, for I've met someone new.

I hoped to keep my new dalliance secret, to not have to admit my loyalty no longer lies with you, but Thursday's press conference announcing $29 introductory flights and more made it impossible for me to pretend any longer. I've found a new love, a new best friend, a new way to fly to see my beloved grandson Bubby.

Yes, dear Southwest, you probably guessed it. It's Allegiant Air. They're back in town and I can no longer go on seeing you when it's Allegiant who has my heart, my bags, my flight to an airport near Bubby.

Me love you long time, Southwest, and you were oh-so good to me during that time. You carried my bags for free, offered up peanuts and pretzels at the same time, provided the most interesting airline publication of all, and even introduced Jim to Sky Mall ... and we have the replica of Mount Rushmore at the top of our backyard waterfall to forever prove Jim's appreciation for that serendipitous introduction.

Most importantly, though, you were my first, Southwest. You were the one to carry me relatively turbulence free to visit my brand-new grandbaby for the very first time, just days after his birth. And for that I will always love you.

But sometimes even the strongest of loves can't make a relationship work. Unfortunately, this is one of those times.

Please don't take it hard, as it's not you -- or your treatment of Kevin Smith -- it's me. I just need less. Less time driving to the airport; Allegiant will pick me up 10 minutes from my house whereas you required me to drive a minimum of 90 minutes to reach you. I need less time riding the parking lot shuttle, less time standing in the security line at the international airport where you're located, less time lining up in my designated slot to board. Oh, and less time scrambling to check in exactly 24 hours before flight time in order to make the A group.

(Which reminds me: I've always wondered who it was you were playing favorites with, who made it so that even though I checked in at the exact millisecond I was allowed, you granted me an A36 -- or worse! -- boarding pass. So maybe it is you, just a teensy eensy bit.)

But I won't hold that -- or the comment from the pilot on my last flight about how "gooood looooooking" the flight attendants were -- against you. Because despite a few questionable practices here and there, I hope we can still be friends, hope to still get together occassionally. For as wonderfully appealing as Allegiant is, they can't offer me everything: For one thing, they provide service from my town to Bubby's only twice a week and sometimes a long-distance grandma needs a little more flexibility than that. Those are the times, sweet Southwest, that I'll most treasure our long history and book some time aboard your wings.

Thank you, Southwest. I've been honored to be your passenger, to be part of your Rapid Rewards Club. And I hope you will, in return, honor the idea that the skies are indeed friendly, that you won't turn the other direction and pretend you don't see me when we pass one another as Allegiant carries me back and forth between the mountains and the desert, between my home and Bubby's.

You'll always hold a special place in my heart, Southwest. Don't ever forget that.

Friends forever,

Bubby's grandma, aka Rapid Rewards #248817951

Today's question:

What's your favorite airline and why?