Friday, January 21, 2011

Facts about Expedia

Back in December I was trying to work out my post-Christmas travel plans, which involved flying from Florida to Baltimore to Denver and then back to Florida. There were a lot of moving parts, and I had already booked a roundtrip flight from Florida to Baltimore and back, so I decided to actually call Expedia to see about flight cancellations and the like.

Well, I made the mistake of putting this call off until I simply couldn't postpone it anymore, so I ended up being forced to call just after the blizzard that cancelled so many flights and disrupted so many travel plans. As a result, I was on hold with Expedia for an hour and twenty-seven minutes. And I faithfully waited because I needed to talk to those people.

When the waiting began, I paid little attention to the pop songs playing in the background, though I was grateful for their choice not to play generic Muzak. After a while, however, I began to notice a few things about the song selection. Here is what I learned:

First, Expedia is under the false impression that are you only going to wait on hold for about 30 minutes. I came to this conclusion because they only chose eight songs to comprise their Hold music. After those eight songs played, they started over again. I heard each song at least three times.

Second, and more importantly, Expedia thinks it's really clever to play songs that have to do with travel. Check out this sampling of titles: "I'm Coming Home," "Sail Away" (by Enya), "Leaving on a Jet Plane," "Fly Like an Eagle", and "Sail Away" (by David Gray). It took a little while for me to see the pattern, mostly, as I said, because I wasn't really listening to the first few songs.

Now, don't get me wrong, that's not a bad gimmick to amuse annoyed customers on hold. But I will tell you, the second time in forty minutes that you are required to listen to "Sail Away" by Enya, it becomes A LOT less cute. Maybe if they had more than eight songs I could laud their efforts at having a theme, but I had a radio show back in college, and if I had tried to get away with playing the same eight songs for over an hour, I would not have had a show for long. And if you're thinking, "But Kimber, the travel theme is hard!", then I counter with the following:

"Goodnight, Travel Well" - The Killers
"Bruised" - Jack's Mannequin
"Information Travels" - Death Cab for Cutie
"Leaving" - Josh Ritter
"Say Goodbye to Hollywood" - Billy Joel
"I'm Safer On an Airplane" - Copeland
"Ohio (Come Back to Texas)" - Bowling for Soup
"Godspeed" - Jenny Lewis
"If You Leave Me Now" - The Bee Gees
"Leaving for Paris No. 2" - Rufus Wainwright
"She's Leaving Home" - The Beatles
"You're Never Gone" - Sara Routh
"Snakes On a Plane" - Cobra Starship et. al.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Step it up, Expedia.

Oh, and the result of my hour and a half on hold? A very pleasant woman with a foreign accent told me that the only thing I could do was to book new flights from Baltimore to Denver to Florida and just not show up to my return flight from Baltimore to Florida. Thanks. I could have done that without waiting on hold for half the morning. But then this post would have no content.


  1. Hey, can you post what the one electric violin tune is? I was on hold today and really like it.

  2. Ok.... Probably not gonna happen. I just noticed when you wrote this post.

  3. I wish I could remember! Alas, I have not had cause to wait on hold with Expedia since that day.