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airing of grievances

Hoffman: United's low fares come with a high price, plus Sneezegate update

Hoffman: United's low fares come with a high price

United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner, September 2017
United's exclusive and elusive Basic Economy fares don't offer a lot of wiggle room. Courtesy photo
Hoffman _ stop sign
Hey CVS: How about a sign like this? No? Okay, thanks. Photo by Ken Hoffman
Hoffman McDonald's clown delivery
When a clown comes to your door offering a Sausage McMuffin with Egg, you open the door. Photo by Ken Hoffman
Hoffman Melissa Etheridge
 Melissa Etheridge is coming to Houston with David Crosby, to rock the support for Dayna Steele's congressional run.  Courtesy photo
United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner, September 2017
Hoffman _ stop sign
Hoffman McDonald's clown delivery
Hoffman Melissa Etheridge

Finally caught one of United's exclusive and elusive "Basic Economy" fares designed for its "price sensitive customer." That's me. I search and wait for airfare bargains. When I find one, I jump.

Next week, I'm flying United, nonstop to Fort Lauderdale for $118 round trip. I could've gotten it for $108, but I pondered a few minutes too long. I should have dilly'd when I dally'd.

Flying Basic, with basically no options
These Basic Economy fares do come with a price. There are lots of restrictions. Among them: flight changes are not allowed, and no refunds. You will board the plane with the last group.

Full-sized carry-on bags are not allowed. You can't use the overhead compartments. You can bring one personal item aboard, but it must fit under the seat in front of you. If you are traveling with friends or family, you will not be able to sit together. Seat selection and upgrades are not available.

For $118 roundtrip to Lauderdale, I'll ride in the cargo bay or let them strap me to a wing.

Sneezegate update: a little privacy, please?
Went to my local CVS on Bellaire Boulevard to get a prescription filled and...same old problem. There's no sign asking people stand back a few feet to give customers some privacy at the counter. I thought we went through this a couple of months ago?

I asked the pharmacist, "How come you don't have a sign or tape on the floor, so shoppers picking up sunglasses and toothpaste can't eavesdrop on customers picking up medicine, or asking personal questions about their health needs? Other pharmacies have these signs."

Two different pharmacists said, "We've tried! Our customers complain about this all the time. We hate it, too. But our district manager said no. He won't even let us put up dividers between the two cash registers on the counter."

Note to the CVS district manager: Stop being reckless and insensitive toward your customers. I will pay for a piece of tape you can put on the floor that reads, "Please wait behind this line." Sheesh, who is running the show at CVS?

I used to admire CVS for one big reason. A few years ago, CVS stopped selling cigarettes, forfeiting millions of dollars in this gesture of good health. Now, just put up a sign ensuring customers' privacy at the pharmacy counter and we'll be good again.

¡Viva Colorado!
Earlier this week, there was a knock on my door. It was a clown. Not the usual clowns I get at my door, selling a product I don't need or a candidate I don't like.

This clown was bringing me a Sausage McMuffin with Egg, and promoting a new game at McDonald's. He can come knocking on my door any time.

Here's the deal: McDonald's is celebrating its new $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu with beloved Mexican sitcom character El Chapulín Colorado. Visit a participating location in the Greater Houston area, starting at 11 am Saturday, January 27, and order from the Dollar Menu to get a free El Chapulín Colorado-themed lotería game, or deck of playing cards. (While supplies last.) This promotion is exclusive to Houston, by the way.

Not familiar with El Chapulín Colorado? Here's a classic video:

Rockers for a rockin' candidate 
Rock & Roll Hall of Famer David Crosby and Melissa Etheridge are coming to Houston for a benefit concert supporting Dayna Steele's run for Congress. Steele, a former KLOL-FM personality, is hoping to become the first woman to represent Texas District 36 in the House of Representatives. (Some rock trivia: David Crosby has been inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame twice — for being a member of what legendary groups? Answer: The Byrds, and Crosby, Stills & Nash.)

Crosby and Etheridge will perform at 8 pm on February 5, at the Scout Bar (18307 Egret Bay Boulevard). That's in the Clear Lake area. VIP tickets are $1,000, and include a private meet and greet, light food and drinks, and premium seats for the concert. The rest of you can get into the show for $101. For tickets and information, visit Steele's campaign site.