After an uneventful flight from Tampa, we are sitting in Newark Airport with five hours to kill. So we start with lunch and then wander around the terminal. It turns out all the restaurants and bars in this terminal are owned by the same company and all use table-mounted iPads to place orders. If you’re nine years old you can navigate the system. Otherwise it’s impossible to place an order. With the help of the hostess, we managed to place our lunch order and pay for it with the credit card slide reader mounted on the table.

Later, Sara learned that you can buy food and drinks from these iPads and you can pay for them with United Air miles. And you can get miles for your purchases. So she found this really nice cocktail lounge where she ordered a Cosmo and I ordered a glass of wine. We could pay this with only 4,100 miles. (We have just 4,300 miles left in our account, which is enough to get a magazine subscription.) All we had to do was enter our United user and password to pay with miles, and if we scanned in our boarding pass, we would get miles for buying the drinks. Isn’t technology amazing?

Even with the help of the hostess, we couldn’t scan the boarding pass, the iPad wouldn’t accept our login, and the damn credit card reader wouldn’t take our card. Finally after 20 minutes of effort and a different iPad and reader, we paid $33 for the two drinks, did not get the 33 miles for the purchase and did not get to use our 4,100 miles to buy the lousy drinks. Isn’t technology amazing?

But the story doesn’t end there. This nice couple sitting across from us had lunch and drinks, and paid with their credit card, albeit with the usual problems, and then left lounge. Ten minutes later they were back, visibly upset. Their credit card company notified them that the card was still being used at the lounge. The manager demanded that they prove that the subsequent charges were not theirs. Apparently, after you charge your purchase, you have to close out your check, otherwise it remains open until you do. So th next guest to use that station was unknowingly charging their lunch on the couple’s card. The manager relinquished just before the fight broke out. We also learned that NJ governor Murphy was imposing a 10% convenience tax on all these charges. Isn’t technology amazing?