Saturday, March 15, 2008

Torquay or Bust

It was a simple enough request - I wanted to get to Torquay for tomorrow evening, then come back again on Monday afternoon.

I didn't feel like driving, as the AA website told me it was five and half hours drive each way, and since I have meetings in Tunbridge Wells on Monday evening, I thought I'd check out flights. I previously flew with South West Airlines to Newquay on a Sunday and was very impressed, so I got online to book my flight. I put in my departure and destination locations, the dates on which I wanted to leave and return, then Standard, Business or First Class options. Finally, I was asked to whether I wanted to buy a ticket, to which I responded "yes".

"Sorry" responded the system, "the return flight is full." How annoying is that? How hard is it for the online system to tell me the flight is full when I first ask for details?

So the train is is, then. I've just logged in to The Train Line website, where I've put in all the same details, including the half a dozen different ticket options; whether I want to sit facing the front or back of the train, how I need the Bakerloo Line from London Bridge to get to Paddington, and the fact that a buffet is available on one leg of the route. I even elected to have journey details texted to my phone, at 25p per journey.

My anticipation rose steadily as moved through the seven screens. I was told that my seat was available, then asked which email address I wanted my booking confirmation number sent to, and asked at which station I would be using the automated ticket collection machine to print my ticket at.

Finally, I was told that Tunbridge Wells didn't have an automated ticket machine, and I'd just wasted fifteen minutes and seven screens of input.

But the good news? If I ever get to Torquay - their station has an automated ticket machine...

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