I am stewing at the LAX Admiral's club at the moment.
I would prefer to be on AA180, LAX-JFK.
However that would have required a series of events to unfold which did not unfold.
This story starts on Friday the 23rd of March 2007 when I, a naïve young traveler, set off to fly to LAS from LGA via ORD.
Due to my own incompetence in telling time (a skill which I am told I have never been good at), I mistook the 4:50 time on my itinerary as the boarding time, not the arrival time in ORD, which is indeed what it was.
I appropriately then booked a car at 2:00 (which I managed to actually get into at 2:20), arriving at 3:05 p.m. EDT at LGA.
On arriving I learned that my flight was actually at 4:10 p.m. EST, which is 3:10 p.m. EDT.
I.e. five minutes later
So I approached check-in with trepidation and figured that I would just end up on the next flight.
Unbeknownst to me, ORD was suffering its traditional mid-afternoon Friday delays, and my flight had just started boarding.
I flew to Chicago.
On arriving in Chicago I figured I would have time to relax.
Instead, as I wrote last week, I found that I had to sprint from the outermost K gates to the outermost H gates.
I believe the total distance is approximately 75 miles.
I may exaggerate.
I'm fairly certain that I ran over one of those beep-beep-beep carts.
But I made that flight, from ORD to LAS.
My luggage did not make the flight though.
Instead it took a wandering path, I believe to PVG or CDG or some other exotic destination.
I hate to think that it spent all night alone at the ORD baggage room with all of those other forlorn bags.
My bag, in fact, was supposed to arrive on the next flight from ORD to LAS and would be delivered to my room no later than 2:00 a.m Saturday.
Again, as you eleven faithful readers know, it did not arrive on the next flight.
In fact it took its sweet time arriving in LAS.
And once it arrived, it took close to five hours to make the treacherous passage between the airport and our hotel.
Why, I am told many, many dollars are lost in that passage, a total distance of 3.5 miles (I may exaggerate).
It was luck, pure and simple, that my bag arrived at all.
As a result of that little mishap, I made a donation to the Las Vegas economy at the Polo store in Caesar's so that I could attend Alex Wright's excellent presentation on the web that almost was at the I/A summit.
Let us skip past the disastrous encounter with the blinking lights machines and tables with fine green felt tablecloths and strange designs to my departure on Monday from LAS to SAN via LAX.
Actually, this series of flights was almost uneventful, though again the very, very short connection time in LAX (approximately 30 seconds to connect via the American Eagle "shuttle". I have a different understanding of the term "shuttle" than used here in LAX).
Arriving in SAN, I stayed at the Hyatt Manchester which had a room for me …eventually.
To be fair, no one could have dreamed that everyone who booked a room would actually expect to check into their room.
It is totally unreasonable, otherwise why would the computers allow hotels and flights to be overbooked or oversold?
I got a room, and attended ETech 2007.
I have written up my conference notes at 202 Accepted.
I so enjoyed my time at ETech that I realized I must rush home to tell all of the many wondrous stories and magical mysteries I learned of at ETech and thus prepared to return to NYC via SAN,LAX, JFK, EWR, LGA, ORD, and whatever other paths I could be routed upon.
First, I tried calling the Aadvantage Gold Number.
The VRU hung up on me after mangling my strange Aamerican Aaccent and converting my Aadvantage number into something profane.
I tried the 800 number again, got to something claiming to be a human, who told me in no uncertain terms that there was no possible way to leave SAN any earlier than the flight I was booked on later tonight.
As we all know, I am naïve about the majicks of travel.
So instead I consulted the wizards at Expert Flyer who told me, in no uncertain terms, that the Aairline was reporting in its reservation systems several seats available in the class of service I had paid for.
Full of vim and vigor, or at least of myself, I set off for SAN.
On arrival at SAN's Terminal 4 I learned that I could not get help at the American desk because, silly me, I was flying on American Eagle, which is a completely separate entity (though with strangely similar lettering, branding, and conveniently coordinated schedules).
So I took the Red Bus.
An aside here: in San Diego, the Red Bus is the bus that loops around the terminals.
This is not the actual color of the bus, in fact the Red Bus I took was actually white.
I concede that I am color blind, but I believe that I can reasonably tell the difference between Red and White.
The Red Bus looped me and another lost soul around the airport to the commuter terminal.
On arrival at the commuter terminal I was faced with my greatest challenge: getting someone to give a damn.
The staff would really appreciate it if you used the automated kiosks.
But I needed manual intervention with the gods of SABRE.
All of this fancy schmancy Internet computer stuff is write-only when it comes to ticketing.
Once you have bought a ticket, you cannot SHOULD NOT please dear g-d why on earth do you want to change your ticket?
So, time passed (including a flight to LAX) while I waited in line.
I wanted to try changing my flight and actually rebook onto an earlier flight.
The agent convinced me that it wasn't worth the USD$100 change fee to rebook and that I could just fly standby.
The agent, succeeding in convincing me of this plan, neglected to tell me that a flight to DFW had been canceled earlier in the day, rerouting those passengers onto the commuter flights to LAX.
And also, Aamerican Eagle load management had decided to swap out the RJs they were using earlier in the week for Saab turboprops, which incidentally seat half of the people that fit on an RJ.
So I missed the first couple of flights to LAX.
I held out hope, and eventually the 3:15 flight had one extra seat available and I got on that flight (by the way, to anyone else stranded in San Diego, there were actually at least four extra seats on that flight, and possibly eight if the last row was available for sale).
The 3:15 flight took off at 3:30.
The last flight (AA 180) to JFK would be taking off from LAX at 4:30.
The total flight time, conservatively, from SAN-LAX is 30-40 minutes.
The connection would be tight, but that is de rigeur for American on this trip.
We approached and landed at LAX with no problems.
We tAaxiied to to the commuter terminal and got off the plane, again with no problems.
We waited for a shuttle back to the main terminal.
I looked at the time and it was 4:15.
The shuttle arrived and took us to Terminal 4, stopping briefly to contemplate a collection of baggage containers which had parked themselves on one of the roadways, tying up traffic.
I got off the shuttle, took an escalator up (this probably was a mistake), started to walk then sprinted to the relevant gate.
I arrived just in time to hear the warning bells that are used when the jetway is backed away from the plane.
I had missed the flight.
There was no room for negotiation, no room neither for whining nor whinging.
The next flight is at 9:30, a red-eye, which I'd been trying to avoid but will now try to fly standby on (I'm booked on the 10:30 p.m. which will be fine if I miss the 9:30 p.m.).
Which returns us back here, to the LAX Admiral's Club.
I'm not alone, there are many pissed off people here, for one reason or another (DFW seems to be a disaster today for reasons I can't discern).
And I'm just going to sit here quietly and stew.
See, had I rebooked I would have been on the passenger manifest for the flight that I just barely missed.
And American would know I was on the American Eagle flight.
And thus there was a chance, a far better chance than I had without rebooking, of getting on the flight.
It really would have been worth the change fee to rebook, even accepting standby on the commuter flight (conceding that the reservation system may well not have allowed a booking on the 4:30 flight since there were no seats for sale on any of the SAN-LAX flights before then).
And recruiters and headhunters wonder why I do not want to return to the wonderful life of the traveling consultant.
e.p.c. posted this at 01:07 GMT on 30-Mar-2007 from Brooklyn, NY.