Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Planes, Trains,and Automobiles

Well, I made it. Barely.

Everything started off well enough. I left work on Friday in good time (11 am), drove to the airport in a light drizzle with no traffic, made every traffic light, parked easily in my favorite lot, and caught the first bus to the terminal. All systems go. Things were easy.... a bit TOO easy.

I got in a short line at the US Airways desk and prepared to check myself in. I got up to the keosk in about 10 minutes or so, and began the checkin process.

That's when things started going awry.

My itinerary could not be found. No record of me in the US Air system. I called over a very helpful lass with a heavy accent. She spends a few minutes looking for me, looks at my printed itinerary with US Airways all over it, and then determines that "Oh. You are flying to Chicago. That'll be a United flight- not ours. You need to go to the United desk." Where, pray tell, it the United desk?

The other terminal.

So I go back outside in the now pouring rain and waited for a bus to take me to the other terminal. I'm now down to less than 1.5 hours before my scheduled departure time. I finally get to the other terminal and walk up to the nearly vacant United counter. I check in. My flight to Chicago, I am informed, has been delayed by at LEAST an hour. I ask them to check on my flight from Chicago to Des Moines. "Oh, that flight is still on time sir." they tell me.

Great.

With the layover I should make it still, but I'll have to run (I think). What I don't think about is putting myself on a standby list at this time. IDIOT!

So in Raleigh I sit. And wait. And wait. And the departure time gets pushed back another hour. 2:15 has become 4:15 now. then 4:30. Then 5 pm. This is now ensuring that I will not make my connecting flight as it will leave before I even get off the ground in Raleigh.

We leave around 5 pm. Land in Chicago a bit after 6 pm Central time. When I get off the plane and finally make it to the termminal, the scene is absolute chaos. It makes the Superdome look like a block party. I dash to the next gate that has a Des Moines flightat 6:50 pm. Perhaps I can make that flight?

Yeah. Right.

It is booked full, so they put me on the 'standby' list. I ask about my chances, and the gate agent actually looks me in the eye, shakes her head and says, "Um,it doesn't look good. Its quite a long list." I am now relegated to flying 'standby' after purchasing a hefty ticket home months ago. Nice. This flight is also delayed as it turns out and doesn't end up leaving until 8:15. Naturally I don't make it.

I go many gates over and get in line for the next Des Moines flight. This one leaves around 10:30 pm. After waiting for the final boarding, I discover that I will not make this flight either. I think about renting a car and driving home... but I am informed that all the rental cars have been snatched up already. So I sit back down and wait for the last remaining Des Moines flight that night. Midnight departure time.

I check once again with the gate agents-- no there are no seats on tomorrow's flights either. I would have to fly standby then too. Crap.

I wait for this one final flight with baited breath. They load all the ticketed passengers and I'm thinking it doesn't look good. Its a small commuter jet, and there are a LOT of us on the standby list. And I'm at the bottom. They start calling names. They call like 10 names in a row... and then I hear it.

Mr. CB- please report to the podium.

They may have called 10 names but I get my ass to the podium #2 in line. They print me a ticket. Before I know it, I'm down the jetway and walking toward the plane. I quick dial Mom who's waiting to hear if she needs to drive to Chicago to pick me up. She starts crying on the phone when I inform her I'm on a plane.

One hour later, I'm landing in Des Moines... its now after 1 am. I've been travelling since 11 am. At this point its taken me less time to travel to Eastern Europe than it has to get halfway across America. Mom meets me at the baggage area. And now I get the delight of trying to find my luggage.

It was there, but I only found it after an exhaustive search of the hundreds of suitcases littering the luggage carousel area from all the other travelers who didn't make it.

But I don't care about them. I'm home! Well, nearly--- only a 40 minute car ride home.

6 Comments:

At 12:52 PM, Blogger Lewis said...

And that is exactly why I just love working in the airline industry! SEriously, glad you made it home and that things worked out. Sometimes we dont' know how. Any cute boys anywhere?

 
At 1:04 PM, Blogger Kelly said...

ummm... happy holidays!!

 
At 2:22 PM, Blogger 9W said...

the story neglected to inform you kind readers of the number of very pissy phone calls yours truly received during the numerous waiting periods.... mr mangina does not like to travel... no sir, not one bit.

thank god he's there.

 
At 6:04 PM, Anonymous M@ said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but I've been told that it is Federal Law that if you purchase a ticket, the airline is obligated to put you on a flight with a confirmed seat (not standby) even if it means putting you on another carrier. This is an article that the airlines are understandably more than reticent to cite but nevertheless does indeed exist (as I have been lead to believe by the news)

Perhaps for next time?

Sorry for the shitty transit. That is why I thank god that airports serve liquor

 
At 9:26 AM, Blogger Six Shooter said...

Yeah, yet one more reason I don't travel back "home" -- especially during the holidays.

Glad you made it though. Hope you had a good holiday after all of that.

 
At 7:58 PM, Blogger Kalvin said...

Oh my...glad to hear you were able to make it after all. Hopefully it was just as pleasant as you could have hoped.

 

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