Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Jet Lag

I'll post about Canton soon....but right now I need to vent. This has been a day from hell!

First of all, I have been on 5 planes, 3 airlines, and in 5 cities in the last 36 hours. I am tired. I am irritable. I was hungry but some nice room service has helped with that.

Yesterday was actually without incident to Dallas and back. A slight delay in the evening because of weather, but all together not a bad experience. Southwest Airlines rocks, and I've said that for a long time. No...the cattle call seating is not fun. But when you're traveling by yourself on business, it's not a big deal where you sit. And I like having the option of picking my seat mates.

Today has been a completely different story. Grab a snack, a refreshing beverage, and settle in....this is a long one.

Started this morning after another long night of little sleep due to rain, thunder, lightning, and fear the electricity would go out and I'd sleep late and miss the flight. Then, it was pouring down rain so I begged John to take me to the airport because I just KNEW garage parking would be full and I'd have to park and shuttle in. Good thing because the garage was, in fact, full.

I forgot to mention that yesterday at the airport, it took me almost one hour to get through security. I've never seen it like that at OKC. So I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to check my bag and get through security. I arrived around 7:40 a.m. My flight was delayed until 10:40. That's 3 hours I spent waiting in the OKC airport. Not a good way to start the day.

I had a connecting flight in Chicago. Everything was going smoothly, and the first thing I saw when I got off the plane at O'Hare was Starbucks! I figured everything was good to go...I was wrong. I forgot I was on American Airlines.

I stood in line waiting to board the plane when I heard my name being called. Turns out they were bumping me from my flight. Why? Because most of the plane was military and their luggage was too heavy. They bumped the last five people who had booked the flight. Isn't that crazy? I wasn't mad at the military people....but I was not happy that American didn't do something like bump the luggage!

To top it off, they bumped 5 of us and then proceeded to hand out 2 standby tickets! That was it....I was tired. I got nasty. "You're bumping me, but you can hand out standby tickets? My flight has been booked for weeks!" The ticket girl gave me a horrible look, and said "they're military, and we make special exceptions for military. They have to get to Norfolk on time, you do not".

I guess my irritability was not appreciated because they allowed one of the five of us back on the plane. And the guy at the counter said "Jessica Anderson is the next on the list". The lady flipped out and said "No, no" and proceeded to give an explanation in Spanish. They called the next guy and he got to fly on that flight.

They booked me on a new route to Norfolk....through Philadelphia. And they gave me 15 minutes to make it to the other side of the airport (reminder: this is O'Hare we're talking about). I'm running, I'm running, my bag getting heavier by the minute.

I make it to Philly with a few minutes to spare. But I had to switch airlines to US Airways...which meant another new terminal...another race across the airport. Philadelphia seemed like the largest airport I've ever seen.

I FINALLY arrive in Norfolk, tired and ready to collapse. I was assured by the un-friendly folks in Chicago that my luggage would be locked up in the American Airlines baggage claim at Norfolk. So, I headed that way.

At this point I am about to lose it. I walk from the farthest terminal in Norfolk to baggage claim (waaaaay on the other side). The baggage center is locked, no one there. The sign on the door said "if no one is here, please go to the ticketing counter". So....I walk all the way back to the ticket counter. No short trek, I assure you. Guess what? No one is there! My tears are brimming and I see a security guard. I breathlessly explain my plight.

"Oh, no, ma'am. Finding someone in ticketing at this hour is next to impossible. Your best bet is to wait until the next American flight gets in at 9:20 and find an employee then".

It was 7:10.

So the tears begin to flow. And he offers another suggestion to have someone paged. I trek back to the baggage claim area and have someone with American Airlines baggage paged. I start running back to their claim area because it was on the opposite side from the information center where paging is done. I get there, no one is there. I knock on the door and some woman says "are you the one looking for a baggage representative? He was just here, asked around and left". In the FIVE minutes between the information center and the baggage claim office he'd been there and left.

What was I to do, but go BACK to the information center and have him paged again. I told the guy to wait 2 minutes then call him...give me time to get back there.

FINALLY....he's there! Yeah! Here's my claim ticket, you guys have my bag!!

"No ma'am, these three bags here are all I have."

Me: "No, no, no. See, YOUR airline bumped me and assured me that their mistake would not affect my luggage....you'd have it"

Mean, Ugly Man: "How did you even get to Norfolk?"

Me: "As I said, your airline bumped me. In order to get here tonight I had to transfer to US Airways in Philadelphia."

Mean, Ugly Man: "In that case, it's not our responsibility. It's US Airways."

Me: "No, I assure you...I was bumped five minutes before takeoff. My luggage arrived on an American flight."

Mean, Ugly Man: "I'm sure it did, however you did not. Therefore, it's not our responsibility."

Then he proceeded to throw my claim check at me and walked out the door. I'm bawling now, can't help it. Big, gulping sobs. I begin searching for the US Airways baggage claim, which oddly enough was down by the information center I've been running back and forth to.

My bag was there. Not locked up, as I'd been assured....it was sitting out in the hallway. But at this point I just want to go to the hotel. Well, turns out the people that were supposed to pick me up were at dinner with the client, would I mind taking a cab?

I arrive at the hotel, and guess what? I'm one of the last to check in on a night when there is no vacancy. Luckily I had a reservation but the only room left on reservation lists? It's a smoking room. So tomorrow, I will smell like smoke all day, I'm sure. At least I won't smell like airport.

It's not any better yet, especially since I still have two American Airlines flights tomorrow, my connecting being in DFW and you know how that can be. We'll see if I make it home at my scheduled 11 pm arrival time.

So...don't fly American if you can avoid it.


Cary said...

Good. Lord.

At least you have the option of using tears to your advantage.

Kelly said...

Poor Jess!
I was lamenting that it'd be nice to get out of the house and have a job. You have totally squashed that need/want with this post.
I hope you get home safely and quickly hon.