Friday, March 02, 2007

Road Warrior Rant...

I normally travel several days per week, so I guess that qualifies me as a road warrior.

I wrote this post in my journal while sitting in an airport on Tuesday afternoon...just getting around to officially posting it today. WARNING...this is a long rant.

I'm on my way to New Haven, CT today. No direct flights there from any of the airports in my area, so I have to go via a connecting flight---something I try to avoid at all costs, particularly during the winter months. Three hours before my scheduled departure I get a voice message from the airline informing me that my departing flight is delayed and I will miss my connection...and, they're working on a new connection (but haven't established one yet.)

I'm a little worried (road warriors always prepare themselves with backups and alternatives), so I hop onto their website and see there's a 6pm connection to my destination...the last flight there. Even with the delay of my departing flight, I should be able to make the last connection, no sweat. What bothers me is why the airline didn't automatically book it for me. So, I try to re-book myself and the site won't let me unless I pay an additional $ know what I say about that...fuggedaboudit...I gotta' speak to a real person.

I call reservations, and wait for 20 minutes to speak to an actual person who informs me that they'll have to transfer me to someone who can help. Fine with me. I get switched to another call queue where I wait an additional 15 minutes before I get to talk with someone. Badaboom badabing...takes just three minutes and I'm booked on the 6pm connector. I ask the agent for the new departure time of my originating flight and am informed that it is 3:45.

I arrive at the airport just before 2:45, go to the carry-on check-in kiosk (road warriors never check their baggage), but it wouldn't let me check in...I must seek the assistance of a ticket agent. Now, I know from experience that this often happens when you show up less than 30 minutes prior to departure time, your flight has already left without you (Oh shit, ya' think?), or you showed up on the wrong day (I am only a senior citizen in-waiting, not a real I ignore this possibility.)

I tell the agent standing behind the kiosk my problem. Without even looking at me, she points to a line of about 25 people who are all waiting to check bags..."unless you're first class, in which case I can help you." Normally, I'd respond to an opening like that with something to the tune of "Then I guess I'm in the right place. People always tell me I'm a first class guy."...but I sensed that it wouldn't get me any chuckles let alone smiles, so I held my tongue (no, not literally). I look at the first class line, but there's no one on it. I inform her, but I guess she didn't appreciate the update because she barked a "That line...over there!!" and at the same time gave a very angry left-handed Third Reich salute to point the way. It reminded me of the time my teacher sent me off to the principal's office (ok, ok, it happened more than once). I've got an hour, security lines aren't an issue this time of day, it's a small plane so they'll probably board 15 minutes before departure, yada yada I get on the line (though I am very tempted to return her salute with a "Sig, heil."

It takes me about 10 minutes to get to the head of the line, at which point an agent points me to a kiosk. I explain that it won't let me check in, and she tells me to wait (yeah, while she figures out what to do). Takes her about five minutes, then she sends me over to the first class ticket agent (not the nazi fraulein...she had disappeared thru one of those little doors behind the luggage conveyor...probably her break time, even though there were now at least 20 people on line). The agent hits about 75 different keys on his console, spins around once, slaps his knee and rubs his belly...only kidding...he didn't slap his knee...then tells me it may be too late.

By now, it's 3:05...still plenty of I mention that departure time is not until 3:45. He says (rubbing his chin), "Hmm, you're right. Let me call down there (to the gate) and see what's going on." He calls, plays a little more Fussball with his keyboard,prints my boarding pass, and tells me to get my ass down to gate D-45 ASAP. I know enough about the airport to know that's the furthest gate from where I am standing, but I've still got plenty of time to get there.

I enter security, the guard checks my boarding pass and ID and says, "Wait a minute, sir, I think you've missed your flight. Says here it leaves at 2:25"

"Yeah, it was supposed to, but it's been delayed," I smiled.

She nods knowingly, I breeze through security, do a semi-senior-citizen jog down to the gate, and arrive at precisely 3:17.

There's me and two gate agents. "Philadelphia," I say.

The male gate agent replies, "Already closed."

The female agent is not making eye contact.

"But, it's not supposed to leave until 3:45."

Now, I look out the window and the plane is less than 100 feet from me.

"That my plane? The one with the door still open, baggage still being loaded?"

"It was running late. But it's closed now," the guys says.

"I know it was running late," I reply. "It was supposed to leave at 2:25."

He does a (very feminine, IMHO) sigh, purses his lips just so, and turns bee-yotch.

"So, why weren't you here at 2:25?"

He says this with just enough condescension to make my blood pressure thump up 30 points. So now I'm thinking, "Why that bitchy little fanuch!!!" (see my N'Italian Lessons 101 for a translation).

The female agent sneaks me a glance and slips away. Wonder if it was the expression on my face or the look in my eyes? Pick any two. And, during all this time the little fanuch never even made eye contact with me.

Now, all road warriors know that gate agents can make your day...or make your day I hold my temper in check. Aren't you proud of me? Good thing he wasn't looking at me while all this is going on.

"I'm pretty sure the 6:00 to New Haven is the last flight out. There's another flight to Philly sometime this afternoon, but I'm not sure if it'll let me make that connection." I figure sharing this with him might save time (as well as give him a hint that he's dealing with a genuine road warrior...we always know when the last flight is).

He nods and starts doing his thing with the keyboard, and I've just gotta' tell him I'm a little pissed...but not at him. Well, okay, I'm a little pissed at him for that earlier remark, but being the nice guy that I am I'll give him a pass...this time. So, I tell him I know it's not his fault, but I'm ticked off that they closed the flight so early. I figured arriving 25 minutes before flight time would be more than enough.

He looks up. "Who told you it was going at 3:45?"

"The agent who re-booked me."

"They shouldn't have told you that."

He pointed over his shoulder to flight information board. It still had 2:25 posted as the departure time.

All of a sudden I was beginning to see little pieces fall into place. Apparently, they never really officially rescheduled the flight, so when it did come in the pilot was anxious to make up for lost time and took off with whoever was there. Some of the computers were not accurately updated, which is apparently why my boarding pass and the flight information board showed 2:25 as the departure time. The reservation agent who gave me bad info wasn't around for me to yell at, so I took a few deep breaths and let my blood pressure drift back to near-normal.

Anyway, Lady Luck was with me from that point on. There was a flight that would get me in about 5:30, if everything went on schedule. The arriving gate was F18 and the connecting gate was F9, so he thought I could make it "if you hustle."

My wiseass side almost made me say "And, if they don't leave early," but instead I settled for "I don't know how fast I can hustle. Ya' think a semi-senior-citizen jog will be good enough?"

That got a smile out of him. Even better, he apologized for the inconvenience...and was very sincere.

Maybe he's not always such a bitchy fanuch, ya' know?

So, this rant has a happy ending...even though I did manage to get lost for 45 minutes once I left the New Haven airport. I forgot how awful the signs are in New England.

Damn, I think this is my longest post ever.

Anyway, I ended up having a nice evening in Connecticut, which will be the subject of another post.

Badaboom Badabing...


Duke_of_Earle said...

Can't wait! (For the next post).

You have much more patience than I do. I'd have responded to his "He shouldn't have told you that" comment with, "Well, I can't help that, can I?" Things would hve gone downhill from there in a big hurry.

Great post!


kenju said...

You were nicer than Mr. kenju would have been....LOL. He used to travel every week, and he had some real horror stories.

I look forward to the post about your evening.

Badabing said...

I've learned over the years that your fate is in the hands of the gate agent, so I do my very best not to piss them off. Hmm...I just thought of another 'gate agent' post that I'll try to do this weekend.