30 July 2009

TMI Thursday (not really) - My vacation hated me. Or at least the travel parts did.

Okay, so I know it's TMI Thursday, and I should be writing a gross or hilarious story to entertain you. But I'm not gonna. Today, you get to hear the story all about how my life got flipped turned upside down...oh wait, that's the Fresh Prince theme song.

You get to hear about my vacation. Or at least the travel portions of it. It was almost as eventful as my trip to Tennessee. But with less funny stuff and more almost crying. Mostly, it's just that I'm a dumbass. So you already know that:

1. I made my flight arrangements with the AM/PM screw up.
2. I managed to get food poisoning or some kind of bug two days before my trip.
3. The same day I was puking my guts up, all my sleeping arrangements fell through and I had to scramble around to get a hotel in Seattle. By the way, nothing is cheap in Seattle.

What you may or may not know is that on Saturday, after I went to work at my mom's, I was finishing up my packing. I went down to my car to get something and I...fell down the stairs and twisted my ankle. Not a sprain or anything, but still.

So I wrapped it up and kept on truckin'. (That's what she said! At least in my head, somehow.)

My friend Leslie took me to the airport and dropped me off. I decided to check my bag because when I'm traveling for nine days, I really don't want to have to worry about my liquid situation. Plus, I totally hate going through security anyway. The whole thing is getting a little out of hand.

When I checked in at the gate, the woman said, "Well, you got the last seat on the plane!"

Um, hi, excuse me. I bought my ticket on this plane weeks ago and you're telling me that I JUST NOW got a seat?!? Buying a ticket now means the same thing as thinking about buying a ticket, apparently. Let this be a lesson to all you smug bitches who think you've got a seat on the plane. YOU DON'T.

After all that, I figured I deserved a beer. I walked over to the bar and ordered a tall one. The bartender asked the usual questions, so I told him my story. And he totally gave me free beer! The woman next to me said I had "great style" (ahem, in my $15 Target dress, thank you). Things were looking up.

The plane to Denver took off and landed without a hitch, and my friend Bones was there to greet me at the airport. We decided to just stay and hang out in Denver with Joanna and Tony. Everyone had a good time, and on Monday afternoon, Bones dropped me off at the American terminal at the Denver airport for my flight.

Only my flight wasn't on American. Instead, this leg of my trip was on Alaska Air, something I totally didn't realize. So, off I went, across the entire terminal to find Alaska Air. Not that I don't enjoy a good scenic tour of the airport, of course. And this fit perfectly in with most of the other things that had happened on my vacation.

I got to Seattle and my friend Brian picked me up from the airport. We hadn't seen each other in five years, so there was much hugging and excitement. Seattle was wonderful and I promise to tell you more about it at a later date. This story, however, is all about travel hell. For this purpose, I'm going to skip to the end of my vacation.

My flight was at 11:30 pm on Sunday night, which put me back in Dallas Monday morning at 5:00 am. My friend Patrick (Don't blame me if you click that link and don't understand anything on his blog. I don't either.) actually agreed to pick me up. When I got to the airport in Seattle, however (after a day of drinking and hanging out by the pool), I found that my flight had been delayed for an hour. I called Patrick to let him know, and Brian hung out with me for a little while.

My flight was set to board at 11:50 pm, and take off at 12:30 am. They loaded us on the plane around midnight. But the plane went nowhere. At 1:30 am, the pilot's voice sounded in the cabin, "We're sorry folks, but we've decided to screw you all over. This plane is broken and it's not going anywhere. Please file off the plane and line up at the gate to change your travel arrangements."

Okay, so that's not exactly what he said, but it's the general gist of it.

Lucky for me, I was sitting in row 12. Which meant there were only about 40 people in front of me in line. At no point did they bother to call in extra American Airlines employees to help sort out their mess. I suspect that there are some people who are still standing in that line.

I thought maybe I would be sneaky and call to change my flight arrangements while I was in line. My phone had very little battery, but I whipped it out and dialed American Airlines.

First of all, technically, my flight had left the day before. So the system thought I was trying to make flight arrangements for the following year. Yeah, that's not annoying. Once I finally got a person on the phone, she said, "Well, ma'am, I can't really help you. They're not showing that flight as canceled in this system, so I can't change your reservations."

I said, "Okay, let's say I missed my flight."

She said, "Ma'am. As far as I know, you're on that plane. I can't do anything to help you."


So I gave up and hung up the phone. What else could I do?

A few minutes later, the women from the gate (who's supposed to be helping people change their flight arrangements) comes by to hand out the number for American Airlines, so we could all call and settle things. I let her know that they wouldn't help anyone until she pushed the little button for "Cancel This Flight."

She didn't seem to think this was terribly helpful.

I waited in line for almost two and a half hours before I got to the counter. And I was in ROW 12. At one point, someone got on the speaker and said, "We've rescheduled this flight for noon tomorrow (when really they meant the same day, as it was 3:00 am), but there will be limited seating for those of you in line." Really? Who the fuck else have you put on this flight? Shouldn't the people you just screwed over at least get the first chance at the seats on the new flight? No?

The soonest I could get to Dallas was 2:45 pm. My new flight was scheduled to leave at 6:00 am, with a layover in LA. I was so happy to have a flight, I didn't really ask any questions. And she never mentioned my luggage, which I had checked to be on this flight. She didn't even tell me what airline I was flying (Alaska Air...again). The thing about American is, even if you're flying a different airline, they don't really tell you. Nor do they give you the real flight number. You get the American Airlines version of the flight number, which has little to do with the actual flight number on the actual airline. And then you want to jam a pen in your eyeball.

I finally figured out the airline situation and decided that my best course of action was probably to go find my luggage and make sure it got on my new flight. So I went down to baggage claim, found my bag, went back up to the ticket counters. Alaska Air is, of course, on the opposite side of the airport. I had to pay to check my bag (AGAIN. I had just paid to check it on the American flight), which pissed me right off. Then I had to go through security again because they don't really care if you've been inside the airport all night and just had to come out of the secure area to get your bag because your airline is so jacked up that they canceled your red-eye flight and you just want to get back in there so you can possibly take a nap with the homeless dudes sleeping all over the airport. And then you want to jam a pen in your eyeball.

I made it to the gate, tried to fall asleep, didn't fall asleep, got on the plane and took off for Seattle. I had a middle seat, making it nearly impossible to sleep on the plane. I'm going to just make a new rule here. If it's a two hour flight, YOU CAN HOLD IT. Stop climbing over me to pee. Go before you get on the plane, and then sit there quietly for the duration of the flight. You're a grown-up. You do NOT have to pee every hour.

What? Everyone else is allowed to make rules, but I'm not?

Anyway, I get into LAX to discover...LAX is like the shithole airport of the planet. I don't know where anything is and there's no one to really tell me. I can only seem to find four other gates, but none of the televisions have things on them that are useful to me. I have no idea where I need to be, I only have an hour to get there, and my phone is almost dead.

I decided that getting to my next flight was totally worth killing the rest of the battery in my phone, so I looked my flight up online. It said I needed to be in Terminal 4. Great. Now where the hell is Terminal 4?

I found a little place for a "shuttle." I think bus would probably have been a more appropriate word, but whatever. I had to take two, TWO buses on the tarmac, WHERE THE PLANES FLY to get to my terminal.

This is when I discovered that it's not possible to get anywhere in LAX in under an hour. The good news (depending on your perspective) was that my flight to Dallas had been delayed for two hours. Not exactly comforting, since my last delayed flight was canceled.

After I made it to the proper terminal and even the proper gate, I realized I still needed to check in to get my boarding pass. BUT WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE A SEAT? There are 25 people in line in front of me and at this point, I was almost in tears. I had been awake for over 24 hours and hadn't had any food since the previous day around 4:00 pm.

It turned out that I did have a seat. And the plane did take off. So a mere 16 hours after I arrived at the airport in Seattle, my flight landed in Dallas. By the way, this was also only about 15 minutes sooner than I would have landed had I just stayed in Seattle and taken the rescheduled flight. Awesome.

I had already decided that there was no way my luggage had made the trip with me, but it rolled off the carousel. I thought I was home free.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

On the way to my place, having stopped to get some food and feeling much better about life, I stuck my hand in my purse to retrieve my keys. But there were no keys to be found. In a flash, I remembered using my bottle opener earlier in the day and tossing my keys on top of my bag. They must have fallen into the couch or something.

My apartment complex does not consider being locked out an emergency and the tears of frustration and exhaustion were threatening to fall. I won't bore you with the rest of the story, but I will say that there was a locksmith involved (and the stupidest man I've ever met in my life) before I finally found my keys in the bottom of my suitcase. WHERE THEY HAD BEEN THE WHOLE TIME.

Asshole keys.

Please feel free to share your traveling horror stories to make me feel better.


LiLu said...

I can't WAIT for next week's.

Also, here's an e-hug. xo

Jeff said...

if your trip was to visit and explore strange airports, i don't think you could have planned it better

Travis said...

While I don't have any horror stories of traveling, I will give you an awwwwwwww. And a hug. (((shine))) There ya go. Hopefully that makes it a little better. Also, I'm still working on mailing that damn cupcake. But now I owe Jeff a candy bar.

BigSis said...

Um, one time I booked tickets for my whole family to fly from DC to San Fran. I got confused about IAD and DCA and we ended up at the wrong airport.

Another time I was on my way to the airport and realized that I'd lost my drivers license and missed my plane getting a new one.

Feel any better? Or am I just stupid?

Jay Ferris said...

I once had a baby puke on my head within the first hour of a 10 hour flight to Newark. Did I mention the baby was breastfed?

Crystal said...

yeah, at least you didn't get a stranger's boobiejuice on the part of your body with the most access to your mucos membranes.

lol @ jay

Alice said...

omg. dude. i just want to hug you and pat your hair and give you beers.

mysterg said...

I can't speak for myself, but my brother went camping once in another country and decided to pull over his car for a swim.

Whilst swimming, an opportunist thief stole the car - he had stupidly left the keys in the ignition - and all his belongings, passport, money, mobile phone etc. Leaving him alone, in a strange country where he didn't speak the language in just a pair of shorts.

At which point he called me from an outside payphone from which he had reversed the charges. In the middle of a thunderstorm.

I love my brother, but this story still makes me laugh!

Welcome back!

Stephanie said...

Oh, wow...I'm sorry about that! I hate when flights get all screwed up.

Graygrrrl said...

Wow! We both really like to threaten ridiculous violence towards ourselves and others (pens, sporks, whatever). I have to tell you- AMERICAN AIRLINES CAN SUCK IT!! It seems I'm not allowed to travel with out getting screwed over at least twice.

Last year on my annual trip to Boston- I got fired the day before, my plane broke while I was on it, the next plane broke (thankfully on the ground), we got snowed in, there were no more flights til next year. I ended up taking a flight to DC and then a 9 hour train ride to Boston. And no, don't tell me that train should have taken half the time. Did you know anything about express? I didn't, and neither did the person who bought my ticket.

PS- I fell your pain and you definitely deserve a beer now!

Antelope said...

Ok, in list form:

1) Falling down the stairs, as an adult, and NOT drunk. Good for you. I think you just made the Guinness Book of World Records in something.

2) "Ma'am. As far as I know, you're on that plane." Did you ask her whether you'd get arrested when you got off this imaginary plane for using your cell phone on the flight?

3) Good for you for thinking of your luggage! When my flight was canceled at Christmas and they kindly rescheduled me, I didn't find out until I arrived in Baltimore that I had participated in "voluntary separation" from my baggage.

4) Also congrats for NOT crying. I'd have been in tears long before losing my keys.

Zan said...

I'd have been a blubbering, ranting, mess. I'd have been flown back to Dallas wearing a straitjacket (sp?)! I have some effed up travel stories, but none of them top this. Hugs to you.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you shouldn't travel.

shine said...

Thanks to everyone for all the stories and love. I just re-read this and boy did I sound like a whiny biatch!