Saturday, January 9, 2010

Long Strange Trip (Part 1)

I'm exhausted and it ain't over yet.

I got to the Cleveland airport (Our motto: It could be worse - you could be in Detroit!) and sure enough, now I'm in Detroit and it's worse!

But I'm skipping ahead.

I got to the airport with plenty of time and with a one hour snow delay, that was three hours to kill. Fortunately, I had pulled my right hamstring over the holidays, which slowed me down considerably. The Cleveland Airport Authority, in an apparent effort to promote physical fitness and therapy, has a dandy set of kiosks with an electronic map of concourses A through D, giving the crippled traveler the capability of quickly deciding on the closest restaurant matching his/her taste. Since I was departing from the B concourse I chose a pub a few gates past mine and hobbled down there to discover that not only was there no restaurant, but no one could remember a restaurant ever being there. No problem. Walk on. Down to the end of the A concourse to two other nonexistant establishments and ultimately the end of C concourse, where I finally found something to eat. Back to my gate where I waited the hour delay and finally boarded my plane to Champaign, Illinois, with a stop in Detroit (no plane change - Yay!). Only 15 people on a 48 seat aircraft. Score! Six rows to myself!
The flight attendant asked for a show of hands of passengers continuing on this plane to Champaign. I raised the sole hand and she said "I guess it's you and me". Silly me, I envisioned an empty plane to myself for the second leg of my journey. When we arrived in Detroit I stayed on the plane after all others had left, until the flight attendant said, "We aren't going to Champaign after all, so you'll have to go talk to the gate agent to see where you are supposed to go". The agent told me this plane was now going to London, Ontario and that my flight was departing from Gate B03, not A38 where we now were. And it was scheduled for 7:45, which gave me a good 15 minutes to limp the half mile to the gate, which was.........completely dark and abandoned. Hmmmm. Guess I should look at the departure screens. Interesting. The flight now leaves at 06:30 tomorrow! So now I need to speak with a ticket agent. Of course they're back on the A concourse at A41, another long hobble. I explain my situation to the agent there, who is totally amazed and has never seen anything like this before. All she can do is give me a $100 travel voucher, a $13 dinner voucher, call the Fairfield Inn to check availability and hand me a voucher for a night's stay. Then she tells me to go to baggage to have them retrieve my bag, where I am told that Mesaba Airlines is refusing to pull any of the 15 bags that people from various flights are waiting for. So the 15 of us all get a free overnight bag with a few essentials and a T-shirt that says “SkyTeam” on it (I now have three of these dartboards from Delta). SO now 14 of us trundle out to the curb and cram ourselves onto a shuttle to the Fairfield Inn, where we are told that the Fairfield Inn does not accept vouchers. Perfect! The reservation clerk tells us we need to go to the full service Marriot a half mile down the road and she will arrange a shuttle to take us there. After 45 more minutes it somehow comes to light that the Marriot has no available rooms and a shuttle finally arrives to bring us back to the airport where we start all over again. Of course the Delta agents, once again never having seen anything like this before, gives us all new vouchers to the Courtyard Inn, which after a half hour wait for another shuttle, turns out to be in the same parking lot as the Fairfield, only it’s now an hour and a half later. So by 11:30 I finally got some food in the bar, was asleep by one AM and back up at 04:30 to go back to the airport.

Now that it’s on paper it doesn’t seem all that bad, but trust me, a long strange trip it’s been!

Oh and the trip gets better…………stay tuned.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

For you Procrastinators...

There's something to be said for just barely making your plane sometimes. Running like you're training for the Senior Olympics. Running like OJ's late for his plane and he's behind you waving a knife. I, on the other hand, got to the Trudeau Airport in Montreal with three hours to spare, since I've previously dealt with Canadian Customs (our motto: "If we can't make your day worse, then we're just not doing our job").

Today though, I breezed through Customs and Security behind maybe two other people and had time to have lunch and a leisurely walk to my gate, where.............Nothing happened! No announcement when the departure time of 4:10 arrived and departed. I looked outside; no plane. No problem. I've got a two and a half hour layover in New York on my way to Burlington, Vermont.

At 4:40 the gate display read 4:45. Still no announcement. Still no plane. At 4:50 a plane rolled in. I moved out of the way to avoid the crush of de-planing passengers. For about 10 minutes, when I realized there were no passengers on the plane. Or pilot. Or crew. Then we get an announcement: "There will be a short delay while a mechanic checks out a tire that has too much air in it." Ok, when was the last time you had to remove air from a tire on your car that you just backed out of the garage? And why didn't they know this when they were still in the hanger or wherever this bird came from?

So now it's 5:50 and the reader board says we will be boarding at 5:35. Evidently the airport clock has been broken by the excess air in the starboard tire of our aircraft. It also seems to have taken out the paging system. Still no announcement. 6:00 - "We'll be boarding the airplane in 5 minutes". Oh yay!

So I'm off on another "Adventure"...


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Indy to Jersey - The Hard Way!

What started out as a promising trip has gone a bit awry. I finished up my job at Indiana University with plenty of time to make it 50 miles back to Indianapolis to my plane to New Jersey, connecting in Philadelphia. After setting my trusty GPS to Indy International and setting the cruise to "no cops" I had a relaxing ride until Darlene announced we had arrived and the airport was on my left, which seemed strange since I was the only car in the area. I went past the road to the terminal and turned around to give Darlene another shot at it, when I saw the sign by the barricade: "Airport Closed". Are you KIDDING? I just flew into Indy yesterday! Then I saw the second sign: "Airport has moved", with an arrow pointing to an onramp that split into three roads immediately after I got on it. I flipped my three-sided coin, somehow chose the correct road and was at the new airport in seven or eight miles. Crisis averted! Still had an hour and a half, time to get a BLD (breakfast lunch dinner), leaving me a half hour to get through Security with 20 other folks. Of course Security, since I fit the profile of an old fat bald guy, had me go through the body scanner, I'm sure just to amuse themselves, which takes an extra ten minutes while you take everything left in your pockets after already removing all metal objects and hold the stuff over your head. Then the guy gets a call from the scanner monitor dude "Pat down his right rear" which I'm sure had the monitor guys rolling on the floor as he rubs my butt. "Nothing there - OK you're good to go." So I got dressed and got to my dreaded USAir flight - Our Motto: "We may not be able to do anything else right, but we can land 'em in the river!" So off we go towards Philly on an hour and 15 minute cruise. Two hours later our captain announces that the airport has had a huge storm blow in that had closed Philly and we had been circling and were now going to land in Harrisburg to gas up (since apparently the airlines (did I mention USAir) had no clue we might run into this situation. So we landed, whereupon I learned why sitting next to the door to the only restroom is a BAD thing. While we're on the ground one of the passengers called his father in law who works for FAA or somebody in the know and found out the Philly airport was not closed, but outgoing flights were delayed 45 minutes and incoming ones (that's me) were delayed 15 MINUTES! You mean the plane didn't have enough fuel to allow for a 15 minute delay?! (That was USAir, people.) At any rate we somehow made it back in the air with a "full" tank and made it to Philadelphia just in time for everyone to miss their connections.So after the usual "we can't give you your bags 'cause they're checked through to someplace you are no longer going" I found a baggage professional who located my bag and went and got it! And I got a Hilton room for a $99 "distress" rate.Now I just have to lower customer expectations in NYC since I won't be there until afternoon.Whew! That was a long rant. Sorry.Smee

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pillow Talk

Hi Y'all,
I am perplexed! I am confused! But y'all already knew that.
I'm at The Inn at Penn. Ooooh! Sounds impressive, but it's just another hotel with overpriced rooms and parking because it's on the edge of a college campus and everybody knows if you can afford to send your kid to college you must have more money lying around somewhere that they can get their hands on.
At any rate, my question is: What the heck do I need with thirteen pillows on my bed? I am not exaggerating here. Three brown print pillows. Three flannel plain brown pillows. Five plain white "sleeping" pillows. One narrow brown pillow to make the other pillows look cool on the bed. At least I think there is a bed under there. Who does this?
Wait a minute. 3+3+5+1 =12.
OK, I was exaggerating.
Never mind.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I need a brain and a gun.

Hi All,

All excited to get done in Bethesda MD early and head to the airport - Ron Reagan National. Dropped off my car and made it to the Northwest ticket counter in record time, hoping to get on any earlier flight. Yeah sure. My flight wouldn't come up on the computer and so with the help of a ticket agent I determined I was really early for a flight out of..........wait for it............


Who flies you into one airport and out of another? OK, it was my fault. What a dope! Maybe I should have read the itinerary a little closer. Of course there is nothing so bad that it can't be made worse (with a little help). The ticket agents were clueless how to get from one airport to the other, because no one has ever done this before . A baggage guy sent me to the Super Shuttle, which would get me to BWI for $45.

I checked with the driver to make sure I could pay with a credit card since I have no cash. He said he needed cash to get gas before driving that far. He gets out of the car and proceeds to have a loud argument with the coordinator behind the shuttle. While he's doing this I notice he has over half a tank of gas. He finally gets back in and says he'll take me to the next terminal where something indeterminant will take place.

We go into the terminal to the scheduling desk where another argument ensues, which the driver apparently loses and he storms out and gets in his van to drive me, I guess. I follow him since my bag is still in his van, open the back door and pull out my suitcase, telling him (yelling, actually) that I'd find my own way to the airport. I pulled my bags back inside and tell the scheduler that I wasn't riding with that idiot. She tells me she's sending him home. She's having a great day too. Seems another driver tried to make customer pay cash 'cause he needed to pay his rent! She sent him home also. So now I'm in a van with a driver that was threatened with being sent home because he was supposed to pick up a fare and just disappeared. There's no telling where I might end up, so check your milk cartons.

At least I was early!

Monday, June 29, 2009

MSP Car Chase

Hi All,
I'm Minneapolis, waiting for a tire to be changed on my connecting flight to Philadelphia. They entertained us in the boarding area with a highspeed police chase on TV from Dallas, with over 11 cars chasing some idiot in a Camry-sized vehicle doing a hundred plus. Unfortunately it was decided to board us before both the tire change and car chase were over. Check it out on the internet.
Looks like we're ready to go. Just felt the thunk of the jack going down.
Everybody have a great week

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My aching back!

Here I am in Atlanta, to work at Morehouse College, Emory University and Georgia State. Staying at the downtown Hilton Garden Inn. Just recovering from last night's attempt to sleep. Went to bed at 11ish and slept soundly until 12:23 when I discovered that while sleeping on the left side, I would occassionally get too warm/uncomforfable and attempt to roll to the other side of the bed. That's when I discovered there was kind of a wall and hill in the center of the bed. This may sound like a small inconvenience, but if Wilbur and Orville used a similar slope to launch their first airplane the aircraft industry would be years ahead of its present point and we could conceivably be living on Mars. I watched the digital clock until 3AM when I finally couldn't take it any longer and turned on the light and found a card with the title "In Room Comfort Guide". Lo and Behold I was on a Garden Sleep System bed that was providing me with a "Restorative Night's Sleep"! Yay! So I pumped up the right side and softened the left side. WooHoo! The results were similar to the bunny hill at [insert your favorite ski resort here]. I could get to the other side, but a rope tow would have helped.

Tonight I sleep on the other bed. I'll let you know................