August 06, 2007

Oh, Travel

Mostly, I like to travel, even if it's a little tiring. It's perhaps been a bit much recently, but that was all right. Until this trip to Yearly Kos in Chicago.

On the way to the convention, the airline lost my bag. I was assured that I was lucky to be staying in a hotel because surely it had just gotten delayed, and they made several runs to hotels. Then, they had a lead on it, and it was coming to Chicago at 7am Thursday, and it would be at the hotel only a few hours later. But I had to go, so thank heavens the hotel laundry had been able to clean my clothes from the day before by a reasonable time in the morning, so I was at least not ... fragrant. I called around lunch, thinking I could run back and change, but no, the delivery window was between 2pm and 6pm. So much for staying at a hotel and getting it earlier, but it did finally show up.

This is the second time in two months I've had a bag lost. The last one was missing for three weeks and finally surfaced in Hawaii. Lucky suitcase. I don't know why airlines can get away without having to track the personal posessions they're entrusted with, without knowing at any given time what airport or plane has a given piece of luggage. It makes me feel damn warm and fuzzy about the state of our airport security.

Then last night, my flight back to DC was supposed to connect in Philadelphia. They had two delayed flights stacked up in front of mine, but didn't move us to another gate instead, and everyone was being held up because of bad weather. On top of that, we also took another 45 minutes at least taking on more fuel in case we had to divert. I made it to the clerk at the gate at ten after midnight, a full hour and a half after my connecting flight was supposed to have left. I was told that it had also been delayed, but I could take a shuttle from the C terminal to the F terminal and might catch it.

There was no shuttle, it had closed for the night.

I had to run from the C terminal to the F terminal. Outside the security zone, back through security at the other terminal. I had to find someone to escort me through, because security was closing up. I made it over there by about 12:30, only falling once because my shoes weren't going to hold to a smooth floor that also wasn't marked as being wet. The airplane was still there, and I was able to get someone's attention, but the flight was full. The customer service desk booked me on the next open flight to DC, at 6pm today, and on standby for a 6am flight this morning.

I fell asleep under a foil space blanket on an overturned bank of seats at the airport last night, with the flourescent lights blaring overhead and a floor buffer humming away nearby. I took a picture, I'm not even up to finding the connector cable for my camera. Maybe later. I woke up at 5am to the beady eyeballs of passersby as I sat up blinking. I was of course fully dressed, but it felt really creepy.

The 6am flight wasn't full, so I made it to DC, where I've been unconscious most of the day. The multitude of places where I'm bruised includes the outside of my right foot and just below my left elbow. And I think if I don't figure out something to do with the boxes in the living room, my roommates will soon draw straws to see who gets to smother me in my sleep. I'll probably be back online tomorrow, but I had to take a nap in the middle of typing this, so that's probably the earliest likely timeframe that I'll be coherent enough to write something useful. And I have a lot to say, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Posted by natasha at August 6, 2007 04:37 PM | Random Mumblings | Technorati links |

Oy gevalt. I'm glad I helped you have a good time at the convention as some recompense for that...

Your story is why I have firm rules about traveling.

1) I will do ANYTHING in my power to not check luggage (you can fit a surprising amount in a Brenthaven laptop case and a suitcase that will fit in an overhead bin, as just BARELY legal). I'd rather do ironing of rolled-up and wrinkled clothes in my hotel room or laundry than call an airline. And the extra bonus is that no checked luggage = just clear security and you are in and ready to fly (I have shown up at SeaTac 40 minutes before takeoff and made my plane... and wasn't even last to board).

2) Related to that, I won't fly USAir through Philly. I've heard WAY too many horror stories about lost luggage.

3) I fly direct if it's humanly possible, even if it might cost a bit more. (So far on Ykos/Netroots Nation, I'm 2-2, since Las Vegas and Chicago get direct flights from Seattle; both even are on my preferred airline that I have much frequent flyer point mojo for, Alaska- and my R/T tickets were $300 because I bought them aeons in advance). I'm probably screwed if 2008 is on the East Coast as it's rumored to be, though, unless it's one of a teeny small list of cities. In that case, I will likely fly Southwest, since they are mostly on-time and safe, even if it's a cattle car experience.)

4) Fly into the smaller airport close by if you can. Long Beach and Burbank rock (5 minute wait in line for security). LAX sucks. Midway is better than O'Hare (I broke that rule because Alaska flies SEA-ORD.) SJC is better than SFO, especially if you are going to be in the South Bay. Reagan National's probably better than Dulles, and so on.

Posted by: Rob at August 6, 2007 05:54 PM

This story, sorry it is hilarious in its own way, reminds me of when we met in 2003. You and I hooked up on the Seattle to Chicago flight in August of 2003. I don't think I ever told you about my Newark to Chicago flight enroute to Seattle. We sat on the run way for five hours, ran out of food and water, returned to the terminal so we could buy our own food, were re-boarded before we could do so, and then took another hour before taking off. During this time, we re-scheduled our connecting flight from Chicago to Seattle three times. While in the air to Chicago, I wrote a poem (see below) and the flight attendants found out about it from the girl sitting next to me. I performed in on the plane, which gave me something on all my musician friends, who have never gigged on an airplane! From Chicago, we ran to catch our connecting flight. Our luggage did not make it, but arrived on the next flight. We then had a three hour drive to Port Angelos in Washington. We got there at 3 AM.
Anyway, this poem got a standing ovation on the plane and about a dozen or so E Mails from fellow flyers requesting a copy.

Escape From Newark

Four hours and counting on United Six Forty-Five
Stuck on the runway; not a hope we’d derive
Chicago flights passing as we miss each connection
Cramped on the airplane with no moving direction
Pretzels and bread crumbs our in-flight consumption
Our eventual departure is a hopeful assumption
Control tower’s offered little sign we’ll be leaving
And with words such as Kilo there’s a chance they’re deceiving
We’ve sent for more ice and First Class got a cookie
But as to whether we’ll fly soon - make no bet with your bookie
Great, now a baby is crying and my cell phone’s gone dead
What I wouldn’t give for a sandwich on some fresh, made rye bread

We’re off of the plane ... for a moment ... removed from embarking
At Gate 18 stopping, our plane is now parking
Wait! We’ve re-boarded quite sudden and I’m back in my seat
At least we’ve made friends on the flight we did meet
The questions remain if we’ll take soon to the skies
The door was just closed so let’s see what’s implied
Happy Days! Hallelujah! The planes in the air
On our way to Chicago; at last we are near.

Copyright SGW 2003

Posted by: Scott at August 7, 2007 05:46 AM


I never, ever, let anyone touch my bags - they stay with me the way a momma pet protects a new batch of babies. (I've lost two - two! - baby seats because I trusted the given airlines to be able to not lose something that was taken directly to the gate by myself, to within ten feet or less of the airplane itself, then to be placed directly into the plane. I even watched them put one of those seats into the plane, and they STILL somehow lost it.) I also, as much as humanly possible, stick to one bag.

The second thing I always try to do is avoid any flights between 10PM and 6AM. I know the flights in this range are often cheap on the surface, but the suffering I've been through in this time slot with respect to getting around by air has convinced me to avoid it at almost all costs.

Third, if you have a viable alternative to US Air, which is hard sometimes, I realize, given that they are a primary regional provider for the Northeast Corridor, do it. They are the next Venezuelan telenovella with Kafka-ish overtones waiting to be told, this outfit. I've dealt with them in previous job incarnations, and as a result, I will not go near one of their flights. Even United, who I have a deep and abiding hatred for as a passenger, will get a shot before US Air.

My two bits...

Posted by: palamedes at August 8, 2007 06:20 AM