Hoffman's Houston
have a seat

Ken Hoffman's tip on booking airline seats, plus Comicpalooza capers

Ken Hoffman's tip on booking airline seats, plus Comicpalooza capers

Spirit Airlines cabin seats
Is that seat you booked guaranteed? Maybe.  Courtesy photo

Here’s an air travel tip that may keep your blood pressure under a million over a billion: don’t trust those online booking sites to guarantee your seat selection.

Last week, I went on Expedia to book flights for a vacation in Europe.

We all have our travel quirks. One of mine is, I have to sit in an aisle seat on a plane. I get the heebie-jeebies and cold sweats if I’m crammed into a window or middle seat. I don’t mean I’m just uncomfortable. I’m talking full-on anxiety attack.

Have a seat
I use Expedia and other travel sites because their prices sometimes are much lower than the airlines’ own sites. Plus, you get some terrific bargains when you bundle the flight and hotel. Last week, I found a great deal on Expedia. My Wi-Fi was down (big surprise) so I called Expedia and booked my flight and hotel over the phone. I spoke with an agent in a boiler room far, far away. That’s always a Top 10 fun experience.

I told the agent that I wanted an aisle seat on all of my flights. She said, no problem, and came back a few minutes later with assigned seats. I asked again, are these aisle seats? She checked each leg of my trip — yes, all aisle seats.

Great, thank you. I’m all set. Start packing.

The next day, I called the airlines to double-check my seat assignments. Aisle seats are that big a deal for me. The airlines had my reservations, but no seat assignments. But no problem, the airlines would let me select a seat … for an added fee.

It’s a good thing I checked, because if I got on that plane to Europe, and found myself in a middle seat for 10 hours, we’re all winding up on Youtube. (I love those videos of airline freakouts.) I wound up purchasing an aisle seat on each leg of my trip.

Of course, now I’m very displeased with Expedia for assigning seats they had no authority to assign. I called back, got another agent from the boiler room. The agent looked up my reservation and said, yes, I see that your reservation lists assigned seats, we are sorry for that. The agent said, how’s this? I’ll give you a $50 credit for the next time you book a flight on Expedia.

By the way, $50 did not cover the cost of reserving seats on my flights. Expedia giving me a $50 credit is like those football gambling sites that say, if you lose money with us this week, we’ll give you next week’s picks for free.

My pick: booking flights on those online travel sites can save you money. Just double-check with the airlines that everything is on the up and up and away.

TV timeout
Not since Hollywood Squares and Funny You Should Ask has there been a greater disparity in two TV shows about the same thing. The NBA pre-game and post-game shows on TNT are brilliant. Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal are perfect together. You’ve got an amiable host, a terrific analyst, and two Hall of Famers who have the right touch between credibility and hilarity.

Then, you have the NBA shows on ESPN, with Michelle Beadle, Jalen Rose, Chauncy Billups, and Paul Pierce. Dreadful and unwatchable. Beadle and Rose are cool, but the other two, wow, how about some personality therapy?

I’m not happy about Channel 57 splitting up my nightly Seinfeld doubleheader. We used to get back-to-back episodes at 11 and 11:30 pm. Now we get one at 10:30 pm. and another at 11:30 pm, with the King of Queens stuck in-between. This breaks up my TV rhythm, it’s messing with my rods and cones.

A decent low-cal ice cream?
I’ve finally found one of those super low-cal, low-fat “ice creams” that’s tolerable: Enlightened Triple Chocolate pints. A whole pint has only 360 calories. Serves one. Also, Enlightened Chocolate bars.

Ken at Comicpalooza
My talent agent Bernie Shelley is at it again. This time he has me hosting “Team Bestie” with WWE superstars Trish Stratus and Amy “Lita” Dumas, 4:30 pm Saturday at Comicpalooza at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Comicpalooza is Texas’ “largest Entertainment & Pop Culture Event. For tickets, celebrity appearances, etc., visit the official site.

Here’s a quick story from the last time I attended Comicpalooza: I hosted a gameshow called “Win a Date with a Nerd.” It was just like the Dating Game. We had three nerdy guys vying for a date with a nerdy woman, then three women competed for a date with a guy.

Basically, we had eight people dressed like Star Wars characters who, let’s say, weren’t all that experienced in the dating world. It went fine.

Then things took an ugly turn. Because parking was such a zoo, the Comicpalooza people arranged for a limo to pick me up and take me home. After “Win a Date with a Nerd,” I was told to wait outside for my limo. That’s where I ran into the Nature Boy Ric Flair, his wife, and Tara Reid. Great, the Nature Boy is one of my heroes. I stood there and asked him every question I could think of. Then, a limo pulled up and the driver yelled out, “Ken Hoffman.”

Ric Flair said, “That’s me,” and the three of them piled into my limo and drove away.

No wonder they called Flair “the dirtiest player in the game.”