Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Planes, pains and automobiles

I swear, as the great Dave Barry once said, I am not making any of this up:
Thursday, Aug 31 – 4:30 a.m. (Eastern time) My alarm goes off. Thursday, Aug. 31 – 5:45 a.m. (Eastern) I arrive at Charlotte’s airport to catch a 7:30 a.m. flight to Atlanta. I won’t name the airline. But it rhymes with “Melta.”
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 6:05 a.m. (Eastern) After making it through security and walking to the gate, I notice that the airline is now posting an 8 a.m. departure for my flight. The crew got in late the night before and needed additional time for required rest. I consider the new posted departure time an opening point in negotiations.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 8 a.m. (Eastern) We board the flight for Atlanta. About 15 to 20 other people on the plane to Atlanta are scheduled to go on to Ontario, Calif., on the same 9:49 a.m. connecting flight I am booked on.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 8:30 a.m. (Eastern) After sitting on the runway for a few minutes because of rain south of the airport and a ground stop in Atlanta due to heavy air traffic, we take off.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 9:40 a.m. (Eastern) After several minutes of being “vectored” to fit us into incoming traffic, we are allowed to land in Atlanta.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 9:55 a.m. (Eastern) After taxiing almost a complete lap around the Atlanta runways, our flight arrives at Gate A6. Upon deplaning, the monitor shows our connection to Ontario had been delayed until 10 a.m. But beside that time the word “CLOSED” appears. There is no agent from the airline there to answer any questions. We scurry to what I am now calling the “customer abuse” desk in the middle of the concourse. We’re told our flight, leaving from Gate B36, is already closed and we can’t get there in time to make it. Despite the fact that this will severely inconvenience about 20 passengers (another word you might consider using would be “customers”), nothing can be done.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 10 a.m. (Eastern) I am told that I have been rebooked on the next non-stop from Atlanta to Ontario, with a scheduled departure of 5:07 p.m. – seven hours from now. There are other options, like flying to Los Angeles or connecting through other cities, but most of them require changing rental car arrangements and still getting to Ontario in the late afternoon.
I’ve been given a first-class seat on the rebooked flight, so I decide to stay on it.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 10:15 a.m. (Eastern) I go to the airline’s lounge – rhymes with Clown Room – to wait out my unexpected layover. I set up my computer, pay $10 for internet access and spend the day doing work that I needed to do anyway.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 4:15 p.m. (Eastern) I pack up my stuff in the lounge and walk to the gate for my 5:07 departure. Upon arrival, I notice there is no plane at the gate and that the “adjusted” departure time is now 5:35 p.m. Again, I consider this the start of negotiations.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 6:p.m. (Eastern) The departure time is now listed for 6:10 p.m. But since we’re standing inside the terminal still, I am not optimistic.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 6:30 p.m. (Eastern) I board the flight and take my seat. It’s 1D, a window.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 6:33 p.m. (Eastern) The person in seat 2D takes his seat. His name, apparently, is Justin. He’s about 5, I would guess. His mother and baby sister are sharing 2C, with Dad across the aisle in 2B.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 6:34 p.m. (Eastern) Justin starts kicking the back of my seat.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 6:39 p.m. (Eastern) Justin begins to multitask. While continuing to kick the seat, he discovers that his baby sister is amused if he says “Num, num, num, num, num” to her. In fact, she repeats it to him and then cackles. It’s very cute.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 6:43 p.m. (Eastern) The “num, num” game officially stops being cute. Nonetheless, it continues. As does the seat kicking.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 7 p.m. (Eastern) The flight takes off.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 7:15 p.m. (Eastern) Justin breaks out the video game he’ll use to keep himself occupied. Apparently, the button that controls the volume is broken.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 7:15 p.m. (Pacific) Justin’s sister begins screaming, apparently testing her lungs and vocal chords. They appear to be in perfect working order.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 8:15 p.m. (Pacific) The baby sister nods off, but Justin’s feet are still kicking that seat.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 8:30 p.m. (Pacific) The flight lands in Ontario.
Thursday, Aug. 31 – 8:40 p.m. (Pacific) Upon arrival at baggage claim, I discover my bags are already there. While I was unable to make the 10 a.m. connection in Atlanta, my luggage did.
We now fast forward to Sunday, Sept. 3.
Sunday, Sept. 3 – 11:50 p.m. (Pacific) I leave California Speedway.
Monday, Sept. 4 – 12:03 a.m. (Pacific) I top off the gas tank in the rental car.
Monday, Sept. 4 – 12:15 a.m. (Pacific) I arrive at the Hampton Inn at Ontario Mills Mall, go to my room and finish the work that must be done for the Tuesday paper before my morning flight home.
Monday, Sept. 4 – 2:23 a.m. (Pacific) I retire for the “evening.”
Monday. Sept. 4 – 4:15 a.m. (Pacific) My alarm sounds. Monday,
Sept. 4 – 5:05 a.m. (Pacific) I return the rental car and catch the shuttle bus to the airport.
Monday, Sept. 4 – 7 a.m. (Pacific) My flight from Ontario to Atlanta, remarkably, leaves on time.
Monday, Sept. 4 – 1:45 p.m. (Eastern) The flight arrives 15 minutes early in Atlanta. While that is great, it only extends the five-hour layover for which I was already scheduled.
Monday, Sept. 4 – 7:15 p.m. (Eastern) My flight from Atlanta to Charlotte departs on time.
Monday, Sept. 4 – 8:30 p.m. (Eastern) The flight lands at Charlotte, on time.
Monday, Sept. 4 – 8:40 p.m. (Eastern) At baggage claim, I once again discover that my luggage made an earlier flight that I was told I couldn’t get on. This is the sixth straight trip on this airline in which myself and my luggage have not arrived on the same airplane.
Monday, Sept. 4 – 8:44 p.m. (Eastern) My wife, Katy, calls to say she is on the way to the airport to pick me up. She expects to arrive in 15 minutes.
Monday, Sept. 4 – 8:51 p.m. (Eastern) Katy calls the cell phone again. Slight delay. It seems someone turning left across the road she was on and didn’t see Katy – who’s driving my old beat-up 1993 Ford Thunderbird because her car is in the shop getting an ailing transmission repaired. There’s been a collision. Katy is OK, but she clipped the other car, then jumped a median and then a curb. The car, in which the odometer quit working at 125,487 miles about a year ago, is toast.
Monday, Sept. 4 – 8:56 p.m. (Eastern) I quickly arrange for a rental car and catch the bus go get it.
Monday, Sept. 4 – 9:05 p.m. (Eastern) I get to the scene of the accident. Not pretty, but thank goodness everyone is OK.
onday, Sept. 4 – 9:06 p.m. (Eastern) It starts to rain.
Monday, Sept. 4 – 9:07 p.m. (Eastern) It starts to pour.
Monday, Sept. 4 – 9:10 p.m. (Eastern) It’s still pouring, but it no longer matters. You can only get so wet.
Monday, Sept. 4 – 9:30 p.m. (Eastern) The flatbed arrives to haul my car away. I retrieve a few items from it. It’s still pouring.
Monday, Sept. 4 – 10 p.m. (Eastern) We’re about a half-mile from our house, and we notice that it hasn’t rained a drop.


Anonymous said...

holy cow you sure had good luck travelling. Not once did your plane fall out of the sky, get high jacked and to top it all off you still have your luggage. Sorry about the rain . I guess it pi33ed you off your lawn never got watered. Glad to see your back though.

Anonymous said...

Poole...the Good Lord was simply teaching you patience. Vroom!

Anonymous said...

Been there done that except my Justin was a Brandon 22 years ago. Mother keeps screaming "BRANDON" over and over he finally fell asleep just before landing. Everybody banged his seat as they were getting off the plane,he was still trying to sleep. His mother couldn't figure out why.

Anonymous said...

I was flying back from San Fran to Atlanta on a plane continuing on to Charlotte.I usually fall asleep during take off and stay asleep until the flaps deploy. Don't ask me how, I'm not complaining. Anyway, I made the mistake of telling the couple next to me I grew up in Charlotte. Never got a bit of sleep. What is up wit my homies, you don't like to sleep? Since then, If asked, I say I just got parolled . . .

Anonymous said...


Jesus man I just read that Mark Martin may drive the 88 car next year?

You know what that sound is? It isnt an angry 8 year old crying while kicking your seat, its the collective cry of every Mark Martin fan who hopes to go this isnt true.

How in the world can this man consider going to one of the shittiest teams in Nascar? Its like hes going against everything hes talked about in the last 2 years. Retiring from cup, not wanting to do a partial schedule, crap crap and more crap. If you get a chance to meet him please explain to him that fun isnt running 38th in a robert yates car.

This makes me want to vomit.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave-

I was on the Delta flight to Ontario that you could have made from Atlanta on Thursday(8/31). We didn't pull away from the gate until 10:30am and several people from your Charlotte flight got on including John Andretti.

I'm laughing because I had the same Delta experience after our return flight to Atlanta from Ontario.(It was nice to meet you)

Remember Delta stands for Don't Expect Luggage to Arrive :)

Anonymous said...

I write off any day I'm flying. If business wants me there on Thursday, I fly on Wednesday at their expense, or I don't go.

Unknown said...

Anonymous -- Well that's just great. They told me it had left the gate. That makes it a LOT better. Actually, I've always felt Delta stood for Delayed Every Last Travel Attempt

Anonymous said...

Last time I flew "Melta" from Charlotte to Atlanta, the flight was delayed in Charlotte because the crew couldn't get the door closed. COULD NOT GET THE DOOR CLOSED!!!! What in the world could have happened between the time they OPENED the door upon arrival and when they tried to close the door upon departure???? Missed my connecting flight in Atlanta of course. I did get an $8 lunch chit at the Melta Non-service Desk from a woman with a major attitude problem. I asked if she had a courtesy phone I could use to call the person picking me up in Buffalo from the flight I had missed. She snapped, "No." Had to fly to Cincinnati, a nice little city, but I didn't want to go there. Then I eventually connected to Buffalo, arriving approximately 8 hours late, totally blowing one day of my three day visit. Never again. Never again.

Mike said...

Just one of them flyin' deals I guess.

Michael said...

Ouch! Yeah, been there - done that myself.

Oh, and when I was being held prisoner of war there (3 years stuck in Atlanta before I could work my way back here), I heard that Delta stands for: "Doesn't Ever Leave The Airport."

Better luck next time, Dave.

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Anonymous said...