I can remember the excitement of my very first trip by airplane. Bob and I were flying to Hawaii for a work conference that he had qualified for. We were young, and neither one of us had flown before, much less been to Hawaii. Wow, the thrill of packing and arrivng at the airport!
Back then, security wasn't so tight. No one could even imagine something like 9/11 happening on our soil. Family and friends were allowed to go to the boarding gate with you. They could walk through and have a bite to eat with you while waiting for the boarding announcement. It was so relaxed and easy.
But, that was another time!
My recent experience is a sign of new times, I think. What can we do, except turn the little glitches in travel these days into laughable experiences. That's what I've done regarding my flight to and from the wonderful FRW Conference Cruise. Of course, when you're going through it, the laughing doesn't come so easy. I'll just say, that I was not a happy camper! (Camping would have been a much more enjoyable time! But that's for another blog!)
My flight to Ft. Lauderdale was actually good. From California to Houston, Texas we were served cereal for breakfast. As you know most airlines don't serve food any longer--not included in your fare, anyway. On the 2nd leg of the trip, from Houston to Ft. Lauderdale, we were served a turkey sandwich and chips. It was all good!
Until I arrived at the hotel and noticed that my suitcase was unzipped at the top. Upon further investigation, I found that my camera was gone. What was I thinking? I always put my camera in my carry on. But, no, this time I had tossed it into my checked bag. So, darn, I wasn't able to take pictures while on the beautiful Navigator of the Seas.
When I left the ship, tired, but happy, I got a shuttle to the airport. There, I had to get new flight arrangements for 6:05 am the following morning, because my 3:05 pm flight had been canceled. I received hotel and meal vouchers for the Holiday Inn. Then I was referred to the baggage claim office to report my camera theft. Why did I have to go that extra step to be told that camera's aren't covered under their warrantee? At this point, I'm too tired to argue, so whatever! I'll deal with it when I get home.
I call for the shuttle and go out to the curb to wait. Finally arriving at the Holiday Inn--a very nice hotel, BTW--I'm told their won't be any rooms available until noon. It's around 9:00 - 9:30 am. Okay, I sit down in the lobby, watch TV, read, talk to a couple who are waiting for a shuttle to take them to the docks for the cruise, nod off, walk around, etc. until noon.
"I'm back," I cheerfully announce to the desk clerk. "Do you have a room for me now?"
"Oh, no," she answers, not quite so cheerfully. "There won't be any rooms available until 2:00.
My smile slipped somewhat. "You have got to be kidding me!" I exclaim. "I am very tired," I say, trying to look pitiful.
She sighs. "Give me your voucher, and I'll see what I can do."
This woman performed a miracle! It couldn't have been 10 minutes before she had found a perfect non-smoking room for me. How did she do it? And with that room sitting there vacant, was she really going to make me wait until 2:00? I crawled under the covers and slept for two hours. When I awaken, I realize that the airlines did right by me as far as a room goes. Very nice!
Shower, wash my hair--I'm feeling like a new woman! A glass of wine, though, will make me feel even better. Out on the patio, I sip a glass of white zinfadel while talking to my husband on the phone. Ah, peaceful! But, what's this? Two men walk right up behind me to have a very loud conversation. It's a huge patio for goodness sake! So, I get up and move.
Dinner time, and I have vouchers! The cobb salad sounded good, though, so the airline got off light on that one. Another glass of wine went very well with the salad, however.
I go to the desk to make arrangements for a morning shuttle to the airport. "At 4:00 am, please," I tell the same woman.
"Oh, no," she says. "Our first shuttle is at 5:00."
"What? My flight is at 6:00, and the airline promised me you had shuttle service."
"Not before five, but that should give you plenty of time."
Am I completely stupid? Must be, because I believed her. Needless to say, the airport security line was loooong. I am getting panicky. Finally, they call all passengers with a 6:00 flight out of line and put us in a "supposedly" express line. I have to ask. Is it really that difficult to have your boarding pass and a photo ID in your hand? As I watched people in line ahead of me reach the security officer and fumble for these documents, I had to conclude that, yes, for some people that is a hard request.
I finally reach the boarding gate, and find it empty. Then, I hear last call for my flight. Whew! I just made it. And, what a surprise, there's still room in the overhead for my carry on. But, all the seats are occupied. I look around. Yes, this is where I'm supposed to be. I look at the woman in the center seat. She's staring at me, desperation in her eyes. "14D?" I question.
With a look of defeat, she picks up the child that's sitting in my aisle seat. Okay, she was a beautiful, curly-haired little girl, but 22 months old! This woman in the middle seat, holds this child kicking and squirming for the entire trip to Houston.
In Houston, as I'm waiting in line to board my flight to Orange County Airport in California I witness another pet peeve. Why won't the airlines enforce the carry on rules. I see a family of four hauling 7 bags into this plane. In addition, they are all carrying coats. I board right behind them, and everyone has to wait while this man is shoving all 7 bags and the coats into the overhead bins. I lift my one little bag to place next to his in the overhead, and he looks at me like I'm using too much space!
But, when I get off the plane at home, Bob is waiting for me. I'm so happy to see him, and we hold hands and chatter away on our walk to baggage claim. But, where's my bag? Sure, there is one on the carousel that is the same color as mine, but my bag was new and this one is disreputable looking.
"That's not mine," I keep insisting.
On the third time around, though, Bob grabs it off the carousel to check the id tag. Oh yes, its my bag! The fabric is torn, one of the feet has been ripped off, and when I open it up its full of wood chips because the entire frame is broken.
"Can it be fixed," I ask Bob.
He gives me an incredulous look, and laughs.