My cousin Rebecca moved to Ireland last fall to attend a master's program at Trinity College. The big plan was to attend school and work part-time, possibly finding a job that would enable her to stay in Dublin for the longer term. As the Irish economy is as bad as that in the US (if not worse), things didn't turn out that way and as of this summer, she still did not have a job. It looked like she would come home after graduation in November. A year ago, when Rebecca was accepted, I could not wait to visit her in Dublin. However, with my own school and work commitments, I was unable to hop over the pond to the Emerald Isles. Since it seemed that her triumphant return to the States was imminent, in July I looked at the calendar and picked a date to go. My office was closed Thursday, Sept. 23 and Friday, Sept. 24 for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. It seemed like a good way to get a long weekend in Dublin. Brilliant!*

Next step was to secure a flight. I always, always, always use American Airlines. I have tons of frequent flyer miles with them and "Gold" status, which lets me go through the priority line of security and board planes early. (Undemocratic and classist, I know. I am also ashamed of myself.)

The marketing mastermind of these programs is that it makes me not want to fly other airlines in which I don't have privileges or lots of miles that I can trade in for fabulous free travel. So when I went to book a flight to Dublin, I was irate to discover that I'd have to first Chicago, then connect to Dublin, which would mean taking off an extra day of work. On the way home, I'd have to leave Dublin in the morning, arrive at Chicago in the afternoon, and then take a flight back to NYC the next morning, which made no sense and would mean arriving late to work. All for $250 more than a direct flight. What a bargain! I booked on Aer Lingus.

Which brings me back to the evil mastermindedness of these frequent flyer programs. Although it makes no sense in any way, shape, or form for me to use American, I still partly regret not taking this insane arrangement and paying more for having less time with my cousin because I will lose out on the miles. It's insidious how brainwashed I am. Gah!

Still, I am super lucky to be going at all. I can't wait to see Rebecca and explore Dublin. It's going to be amazing.

*OK, I know that's British.

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