On the first day of my trip to San Diego three weeks ago, I had problems. I arrived at the airport and found that my reservation had not been booked. I couldn't reach the travel agency on the phone, so desperate to make it to my evening meetings in time, I bought a $1500 ticket to replace the $450 one that hadn't gotten purchased.
I still don't know what happened to that ticket. The procedure for travel in our office is complex, involving at least three separate agencies: our staff, the university travel office, and the travel agency.
When I wrote my blog entry at the end of that stressful, frustrating day, I relied on the reconstruction of a staff member in my office that I e-mailed in the heat of the moment to report the missing ticket and my personal outlay of funds. Her opinion was that the university travel office had been the crack that the ticket slipped through. I have no way of knowing that, and some digging by our staff hasn't been able to locate the misstep.
While I didn't definitively accuse the university travel office of being the source of the error, I wrote at the time that it "looks like" the university credit card hadn't gotten relayed to the travel agency (which was the initial explanation I got from our staff). That language was obviously still too strong, given that I had nothing but our staff's speculation to go on. The travel office oversees a complicated process, and has implemented several new procedures in the last year, including changing the travel agency that the university deals with between the time that this ticket was originally negotiated and the time I traveled. They didn't deserve to be blamed for the error, in public, on the basis of nothing but conjecture.
I don't know what happened, although I'm still mad that it happened. A trip that should have cost my department $500 -- my hotel room was being paid for by the AAR -- ended up costing us more than $2000. As a person who administers that money, I'm angry that it was wasted. But I'm not directing my anger at anyone in the process, because I don't know where it belongs. I apologize to the good folks in the travel office for implying at all that their department was responsible.
Instead, I'll direct my anger back at myself -- for posting when I was still steaming about the screw-up, and for not triple-checking personally that everything was in place before I started packing my bags. Lessons learned.