Oh the trip that I had: An American Horror Story

So, there was a rant that I had mentioned being forthcoming.
Many know that I was traveling for a class dealing with my job.
The class was in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
While the training was by firehose (technical boot camp) it was quite enlightening.
To get there, obviously I flew.
Now I had scheduled my flights to let me arrive with a few hours to get a bite to eat, and unwind, and perhaps get some walking in before bed to help prepare my mind for the mental onslaught that I had expected the next morning.
My alarm clock went off at 0245 so that I could wake and get my CPAP, meds and toiletries ready for the flight. I had a 0545 flight on American.
I got to the airport, found a fair parking spot in the long term parking area. Lugged my stuff to the shuttle stop and on in to check in. Everything was going well, too well…
After boarding my flight and putting up with the always too slow shuffle down the aisle as if nobody has EVER flown before or knew how to put their stuff up (and some had too much stuff) so that it was stowed safely.
I get to my seat and settle in for the early flight, perhaps I might get to sleep (I do not often sleep on a commercial airline, private plane, sure).
We get an announcement that the pilot needs to run the engines for a five minute test. meh, okay whatever. The turbines start to whine up and the cabin fills with the distinct and oh so glorious aroma of… jet fuel. the engines spin back down and we are asked to disembark as there was a leaky fuel line and the plane needed maintenance. (No kidding? Au de petrol isn’t the latest fashion scent?!?)
I get the alert on my phone, the flight has been delayed until 10am. well crap! There goes my post flight rest time. Since it is such a pain in the ass for me to get through security, I am not heading outside of the security zone. I settle in by another boarding desk to wait it out.

After about 30 minutes, an announcement goes over the speaker (there were many announcements, flights being delayed/cancelled all over the eastern seaboard as air traffic control centers were having staffing issues and there was quite a few storms along the way), the flight to Dallas/Fort Worth has been cancelled. Well, better to be safe… than dead. Now I am in a prime position, the desk I was sitting next to became a re-booking desk. I tend to spot opportunities to keep my ass out of a sling. I step up and am the third customer in line.

They book me on a flight with Alaskan Airlines. That’s okay, I have never flow with them before. Nice craft, kind staff and while I would have liked more space, this is a modern airline so, no more room than needed. My flight takes me to DC National (I will not call it by it’s proper name as that bastard fired all of the air traffic controllers). Cool! I may get to see some sights that I have not seen in 30 years.

Due to my being on the wrong side of the plane and jammed in the middle seat, I could only get a view of the Washington Monument and the top of the Jefferson Memorial. That’s okay, it brings back memories and those are more vivid than the view of the moment.

A full plane takes just as long to get the hell off as it does to get on. In my case, I was supposed to have 34/38 minutes of layover, so I needed to hustle to get to the next hop. Oh due to the rough ride, the seat belt sign was on for most of the flight, and my bladder was really wanting my attention. Quick stop along the way, then back to my trek all the way around the airport to my flight. Now, here is the path that I covered in short order (follow the red line):

When I get to the desk, they have my boarding pass on their desk. It seems that I almost missed my flight. Shit!!! That was close. I am glad that I am not in a wheel chair or on a cane or I would not have made it. Since the flight was booked in a big rush, I guess I am just lucky to have gotten out of Portland.

Now I am on an American Airlines narrow bodied jet, BUT since I am sitting on the wing, I had more leg room than I knew what to do with. Hey, my seat won’t recline. darn, two flights in a row with that issue. That’s okay, I am 55 minutes from Norfolk and I can get out and breath.

Norfolk is a small airport, it is an international airport, but small. I easily make my way to the baggage claim area and take my position at the carrousel. The bell rings and bad start flowing. It is that anxious moment when you wait to see if it is your laundry that comes spitting out after having had your bag destroyed in the process. There was a child’s doll making laps around the belt in a lonely container, but not my bag. All bags had come out but mine. welllllll shit. It seems that the transfer was too fast for my bag to catch up. I got to meat a very kind lady who took my lost luggage claim. I wandered outside and found a cab to take me to my hotel. Ah, safely checked in! All of this time, I was in communication with a co-worker who had hist flight cancelled as he was driving to the airport. He was struggling with his American flights also. He got in at 0230-0430 something very early.

At some point, it occurred to me that my vape juice was all checked into my bag as I thought the container was too large that I could not carry it on. Now it is too late to get more and my tank is running out. In the morning, I found a shop .7 miles up the road that had juice. I just need a small bottle to get me through until my bag arrives. (skipping the tale of the d-bag at the vape shop)

Back to class and do my first day of boot camp. my bag arrives and I take it to my room. all is right with the world again.

I have a 5.5 day boot camp, learning TONS of information and even breaking a near lifelong hatred for Apple products.

Time to head to the airport. I grab a cab and we make our way. Getting checked in for my flight was a breeze, hardly anyone was there. I decided to grab a bite to eat (I normally don’t before a flight) and kill time outside until I have to face TSA and the manual processing I need to do.

I got a decent seat on the aisle near the tail. Oh that will be great to get to the rest room if needed. Yay! It was a short but very bumpy flight to Charlotte, North Carolina. I get off, again after a lengthy wait for people to get their stuff. Just like DC, I make a quick bladder stop and hoof it to the next flight. Nope! The airplane had just backed away form the gate without me. Those bastards!!! They new I was connecting right? wasn’t it in the system that passengers were headed their way? They USED to know that kind of thing. I start stressing hard. I go to the counter with the other eight or so people that were in the same boat. most of the others are military so they get priority treatment which I am all for, I remember being one of those guys trying to travel. Me… I am getting screwed, and without the courtesy of a reach around. The best that they can do is strand me in Seattle with no connecting flights or idea of how I was going to get home. I was starting to lose my cool, and remember all of my years in a customer facing role. I bit my tongue and reassured the agent that my frustration was not with him personally, but I was struggling to be civil. He seemed to understand but was going to turf me to his manager if I resisted accepting this situation any better.

I accepted the ticket, and started to really stress. I headed for the convenience shop across the way for some comfort food. A bottle of chocolate milk, pretzels and hummus, and a king size Resee’s cups. I could hear my phone ringing, and I knew it was my boss, one of the very few whose calls would ring on my phone. He and his partner helped keep me grounded and moving in a positive motion. I had to start moving to the gate to catch my replacement flight. All the while trying to book an additional flight on my own on another carrier to get me home.

My loving wife had offered to drive to Seattle to pick me up in the middle of the night. She is night blind and hates driving in heavy traffic. If you have been to Seattle is is ALL heavy traffic and discourteous drivers. Nope, I love you too much to put you through all of that. I clicked the book flight button… and it just sat there, spinning…. c’mon c’mon C”MON!!! there! I have a booking! get my ass on the plane.

The flight from Charlotte to Seattle was not too bad. I was able to keep in touch with my wife, and co-worker. His flight went through Denver but he was still having struggles of his own.

I land in SeaTac, knowing that I have to move quickly to catch this plane and I had never been inside SeaTac before. Frantically following signs this direction and that. I discovered that SeaTac has trams… cool and unexpected. whew made it before the tram left. A bit of luck in my favor.

I get to the Delta counter and the attendant is busy on a call and another customer was struggling with some detail with her flight. I was not able to figure out their system to get my boarding pass on my phone. stress group two boarding…. stress group three boarding. where the hell is this pass and the attendant is still busy… group 4 boarding. screw it, I bring up my receipt on my phone and approach the gate. she looks it over and hands me my pass. WHEW! I settle in for the 50 minute flight into Portland.

Since I was in the 5th or 6th row of a MUCH smaller craft, getting out was pretty quick after a sight impaired getting got himself and his guide dog off the plane.

Off to the carousel to wait for my bag… nope it did not make the flight either. So this begs the question, if the bags cannot get to the plane directly across the tarmac, how in the hell is a passenger supposed to make it. So the seemingly incompetent bastards lost my luggage both times that they touched it.

Imagine how this story would have come out if I did not take four days to cool off to tell it. Yes, I toned down the language because I know that some that normally do not come to my website may for this tale. (subtle hint, if you have sensitive eyes, do not read my other articles or pages.)

If I can help it, I will never board another American Airlines craft. It is a shame that they are a preferred carrier for my employer.