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Chasing The American Dream

July 02, 2007

TRAVEL TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS

I’ve been convinced for some time now that I am travel cursed. I’ve written about some of my travel woes, and people who work with me love to hear my travel stories. I feel sorry for people who travel with me because ultimately they are trapped in my travel-cursed world. There was a group of us at work sharing and laughing at my travel tales of woe. A colleague of mine had the unenviable task of traveling with me for a business trip. He joked that nothing could go wrong this time because there would be no language barrier and no trains to catch. A simple trip to Chicago and Dallas. I told the group that I WOULD have stories for them when I got back.

I left the house last Sunday on a sunny day and met my colleague at the airport. He’s the same guy who said nothing could go wrong. I told him that he’s in my world and to expect the unexpected. Strangely, things were going according to plan. I actually got to the gate without incident. We were about 15 minutes from boarding when, seemingly out of the blue, a huge storm blew in. It rained hard for an hour, and we heard the airport had been temporarily closed. I looked at my colleague and told him, “It’s starting!” An hour delay is fairly minor in my travel world; I wouldn’t even consider it abnormal.

Abnormal began upon landing. I was sitting in a bulkhead row directly across from the flight attendant who was sitting in her jump seat. The pilot did his best to contribute to the curse by bouncing the landing really hard and abruptly. The flight attendant jumped and let out a little screech. I felt something invade my space, and I looked up to see the ceiling hanging by a thread by a bunch of wires about six inches from my head. I could only laugh. I’ve never seen anything like that except maybe in the movies. I looked back to my colleague who was supposed to be sitting next to me, but was one row behind me. He was laughing and telling me how happy he was that he wasn’t sitting next to me.

We went to get our bags and in the span of one hour watched our flight switch from carousel to carousel to finally disappearing all-together. I told my colleague that this was just all part of the curse. Our bags finally did show up and we’d made it through our first leg of the journey.

Once again, my travel stories became the topic of conversation with our group in Chicago. I told the group that this trip’s occurrences were only minor, and that I fully expected to have more stories for them by the time I got to Dallas. I sorta had a head start because according to American Airlines, I didn’t have a seat on the flight. I called our Admin. in Miami to have her check into it. She assured me I had a seat. Perhaps, but according to the American Airlines website, I didn’t. The next day, I decided to try to check in online. It said I couldn’t check in because I didn’t have a seat. I had that feeling that I was headed for another one of those weird situations.

We got to O’Hare, and there were seemingly a million people in the terminal. I didn’t think much of it since O’Hare’s one of the busiest airports in the country. But things began to get strange. The lines for check-in were huge. I saw a news camera, then another. After a long wait at the self-service check-in kiosk, I swiped my card and waited in anticipation to see if I had a seat or not on the 6 p.m. flight. Good news/bad news. I was surprised to see that I indeed had a seat. Unfortunately, my seat was for a 3 p.m. flight the next day. I told my colleague I’d see him in Dallas tomorrow. He laughed but when he checked in he discovered he was on the very same plane that I was on. Time to investigate.

According to the American Airlines rep, our flight was canceled. She then told me that hundreds of flights were canceled due to weather problems and that the whole airport was a mess. Aah, that explains the news cameras. And now that I looked around, I saw more and more news stations covering this “event.” Our options? Stand in a two-hour line or call American to re-book a flight. I didn’t like either option, so I went into scramble mode. I called our inept travel agent, and told her the story. She started looking for flights. American flights were sold out until that 3 p.m. flight the next day. I told her to search other airlines and she came up with an 8 a.m. United flight so I told her to book it. That meant we were staying in Chicago for the night so I told her to start looking for hotels for us. She said everything was sold out. So I called our Chicago folks who gave me five or six hotel options closely. After five sold outs, I got us two rooms at a nice Embassy Suites which even had a shuttle service. We were all set. My colleague gave me kudos for handling everything so smoothly and quickly. I told him I was used to it. I guess what disturbed me most was that when I went to the online check-in earlier in the day, it made no mention of the flight being canceled. It just told me I had no seat. My confidence in American was waning.

The next day started out normally enough, but it didn’t take long for that to change. I got pulled out of the security line for pre-screening. I looked back at my colleague who was, once again, laughing. Well, that was a mistake because since our itinerary was booked together, it meant he was coming with me to be pre-screened. There were no further incidents like the shoe incident, but when I got my bag back, there was a problem. They broke the handle on my bag. “File a claim,” was the cheery response I got. It was a pain trying to drag that bag around the airport with a short handle. The curse continued to haunt.

We made it to Dallas without further incident, and I had a wealth of travel stories to tell my new Dallas colleagues. Once again, I told them that I’d likely have another story for them when I got home to Miami. But could it be? No further strange happenings? I checked my bag because I didn’t want to lug it around the airport with the broken handle. I got through security with no issues and was on board the plane on-time and I had a seat. We only waited an extra 30 minutes before we taxied. Something about shifting the weight of the plane. We took off and landed fine. Yay. I said goodbye to my colleague who conceded that I was definitely travel cursed. I went to go get my bag. As usual, I was one of the last passengers waiting for their bag. Just once I’d like for my bag to come off early. And then the carousel stopped. No more bags were coming out. Could American really have lost my bag? A direct flight, no delays. How could this be? I waited two-hours in the baggage lost line. They told me my bag was removed from the plane when they did that weight shift thing. No worries though. It was on the next flight and I’d be getting a call from American at night and should have my bag the next day. Well, I got no call and got no bag. That was Friday. It’s now Monday and I still don’t have my bag. Oh yeah, I’m convinced. I’m most definitely travel cursed. And now it’s gonna get complicated. I leave for Phoenix on Wednesday. I have a feeling my bag won’t be here by then, and I may never see it. But perhaps my biggest fear is the airline I’m flying on Wednesday. Yeah, you guessed it. American.

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5 Comments:

  • Yeah, I know that travel curse thing. We don't fly that much, but have been stranded a few times now. Even a couple of road trips have been during major news events. Wish us luck next week!

    By Blogger Isophorone, at 11:44 AM, July 02, 2007  

  • Note to self: Do not travel with Todd...Just. Don't. Do it.

    By Blogger Jevan, at 11:25 AM, July 03, 2007  

  • I used to enjoy flying, and I used to do it quite often. I would prefer fly from Orlando to Miami than drive - thats how much I loved to fly. But these days, what a pain!
    You, on the other hand, you are in a class all your own my friend :)

    Safe travels! Enjoy those friendly skies ;)

    By Blogger catsteevens, at 4:22 PM, July 03, 2007  

  • oh dear. i hope the curse doesn't travel via blog, cause i'm headed back to the states from oz tomorrow morning and i don't need any bad travel karma! :)

    By Anonymous melissa j, at 2:29 AM, July 04, 2007  

  • LOL remind me never to travel with you! I had some bad luck when I first started flying, then a colleague told me about Global Bag Tags. I hate to sound like an infomercial but 'I wouldn't leave home without them.' Have you thought about trying something like that?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:54 PM, July 04, 2007  

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