The day begins with The Good Wife taking me to the GRR airport for what I thought would be two quick flights to Philadelphia by way of Cincinnati. This included a two-hour layover in Cinti, enough time to get a paper from the Delta Sky Club, eat lunch, and finish a new “Good News From the Middle East” column for SAT-7 USA. Alas, none of this was to be.
--When I approach the Delta counter at my home airport, which I’ve done about a million times, I notice there’s no sign or line for Sky Club Gold members, so I get in the busier primary line. And wait.
--Agent says, “Any Silver Elite, Gold Sky Club Members? Go around the other side of the luggage security check-in for new lines. No waiting.” So I do. I hadn’t seen this new desk, hidden as it was behind the behemoth luggage scanner.
--I get in the front of this new line, but still, I wait. Then I notice there are new check-in kiosks, so I get out of line to go to the kiosks, thus losing my place to another person, and of course the computer doesn’t allow me to check-in.
--I get back in the line and wait again and finally get to an agent, who I ask, “Is there something odd about my ticket, because this is the third trip in a row for which the Delta kiosks won’t let me sign in.” “No, looks OK to me,” she says, which doesn’t comfort me much, but I get my bag checked.
--TSA check-in is slow as usual, but it and my Delta flight to Cinti are uneventful. On the flight, drink but no snacks, another “cut back” no doubt saving Delta $millions per year. Actually, it’s what economists call a “petty economy.” On my cheap AirTran flight to Baltimore earlier this week I at least got cookies.
--I land in Cincinnati—really, it’s Northern Kentucky—and read an Orbitz alert email announcing my Delta connection to Philly has been cancelled.
--So I go immediately to the Delta Sky Club and discover Delta has rebooked me on a US Air flight, which leaves in 35 minutes in a different terminal from the one I’m in. I think, “No way I can get there” and say so. Agent says, “Oh, just take the tram. You can make it. No problem.” Yeah right, that and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee. But who knows, maybe?
--I find the tram and ride it two terminals over, then have to walk a long, long way, only to discover I must go outside the secured area into a public entrance and back in again, meaning I must go through another checkpoint the agent hadn’t told me about.
--At the TSA checkpoint the new, “faster” scanners require me to empty my pockets of everything: Excedrin—which I popped in my mouth because by now I have a headache—papers, pen, wallet, everything, plus belt and shoes off, laptop out and in a tray, phone in bag, and watch off and in bag.
--Here’s where it gets good: after placing my hands over my head and enduring the scanner for “just 7 seconds” taking an X-ray nudey picture, I wait and wait and wait, all the while listening to an agent call for people to board my jet to Philly—now. Why am I standing here so long? Finally, a male agent says, “Do you have a watch on?” and pushes back my sleeve. No, I don’t; it’s in my bag in the bin setting over there waiting for me. Apparently the scanner agent confused tan lines on my wrist for a watch. Now I feel especially safe.
--So now I think I’m a goner, but I have no choice, so I put on my shoes, don’t bother to put on my belt or re-bag my laptop, grab my assorted stuff, and run/jog to Gate 7, the last gate, of course, at the very end of a concourse a couple hundred yards long.
--When I arrive at Gate 7 panting and perspiring and thinking wonderful things about Delta, I hear what I knew I would hear: “I’m sorry; the plane has pushed back from the gate.”
--I know it’s not this agent’s fault, so I don’t get angry, but I do tell her that Delta put me on this flight, that it’s not my fault I’m late, and that they knew I was coming on a short connection and should have waited. This results only in the agent saying, “I can’t bring the plane back.”
--Now I have to rebook again. To get Delta to do this and to ask them why they booked me on a flight I couldn’t possibly make, I’d have to retread two concourses and tram back to the original terminal. No way. So I rebook with the US Air agent, who puts me on a US Air flight in one hour to Charlotte.
--US Air flight to Charlotte is OK if not where I want to go. No snacks. When I arrive I discover the entire airport is under internal construction, a major mess, no monitors. So I walk the length of a concourse just to find out where I should be going, which thankfully was a gate nearby.
--I grab a coffee and sit down to wait for a half hour, than hear the agent say, “Our flight to Philly has mechanical problems. We’ll give you an update shortly.” A few minutes later: “We’re sorry, this plane has been taken out of service, so you will need to go from D1 to B2 to catch your flight there.” B2 is a long way away.
--At B2 I board and we have an uneventful US Air flight to Philly, though no snacks, arriving 45 minutes later than when I thought I would land at day’s beginning.
--Now more fun: I suspected all along that my bag wouldn’t make it. Two airlines, changed flights, short connections, it’s inevitable. Sure enough, got to Philly and no bag. US Air doesn’t know if my bag’s in Cincinnati or Charlotte and doesn’t know if Delta or US Air has it. But they’re going to deliver it, right?
--After this I go out to await the rental car shuttle bus and I stand beside the appropriate sign and pick-up point at Station 2. The Thrifty bus shows up, guy looks right at me, and drives on by with an empty bus. I look at the nearby Philly policeman and say, “What does that guy think we’re here for?” Policeman only smiles.
--So I wait another 10 minutes and here comes the Thrifty bus. This time, to get him to stop, I have to go out in three lanes of traffic and flag him down. When I get on I ask him why he doesn’t stop at the established pick-up point and he says, “Are you sure it was me?" Yes I am because he was going to do it a second time.
--I get to the Thrifty rental car lot, supposed to find the car in the #30 parking place. Signs up for all ranges of numbers except a range including 30. Why? Have no idea. So I have to go back and ask for directions to #30, which I finally find, only to discover my rental car is a Canary Yellow Chevy Aveo. Works fine, but I look like a teenage girl driving it.
So, will my bag arrive tonight? I doubt it. Tomorrow? I hope so, because I depart the next morning for home, which if it’s another travel day like today may see me getting home who knows when?
This stuff happens everyday, but generally not to the same person. I know, because it usually doesn’t happen to me. Today was my turn.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011
*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.