Scarlett’s Letter June 27, 2013

Not flying so high anymore!

I posted an article earlier today about my dreamy flight experience this morning, and was fairly confident my good flight karma would continue. In truth, it has, but with a few twists.

After deplaning from my dream flight in Los Angeles I spoke with the gate agent about my connecting flight, with another airline. Basically, in his words, he “thought” I could get there from where I was. Maybe. And he gave me a route to follow. I started on my way, and because my life is totally charmed, one of those nice people in the electric cars offered me a ride. I was in no particular hurry, but I’m not one to be rude and turn down an offer like that. He asked where I was going, I told him Terminal 4. When he squinted, I should have known I was in for an interesting experience. An inquisition, “where did you come from?” I felt like saying Mars, but I told him I just got of a United flight and needed to connect to an American Airlines flight. That seemed to satisfy him, except he couldn’t take me all the way to Terminal 4. He could take me to Delta in Terminal 5, but then I’d have to exit the airport and walk to Terminal 4. This is Los Angeles and I’m walking? No one walks anywhere in Los Angeles. Unless you need to go to Terminal 4. Apparently.

I followed directions and wound through a maze of deserted hallways and corridors, and encountered no other passengers, just airport employees. I eventually found my way outdoors. I turned left, as directed, and walked through the typical L.A. summer heat, much dryer than New York and New Jersey, but still hot. I made my way to Terminal 4 and went inside, I could not detect that any air conditioning was running. It was warm, I was warm, toting my big ol’ backpack and my sizable purse. I followed the signs to security, the “normal people” security line. No status with this airline. But apparently, “normal” people who fly American haven’t flown since before 9/11. They had NO IDEA what they were doing. Call me intolerant, but it drives us “road warriors” nuts. It’s not that they don’t know what to do, it’s that people just don’t pay attention. For the fifteen minutes we’re in line the TSA agents are repeating over and over and over, have your boarding pass and your ID out and available. They get up to the agent and exclaim, “I have to have my ID? You want me to take it out of the wallet?” Um. Yah. And clean your ears.

I made my way through security and began to follow the signs to my gate. The signs led this way, then that way, all the way to what appeared to be the end of the gates. There was an escalator down with a sign directing me to proceed. I did. Again, the gates ended and there was another hallway to a waiting room. A waiting room for a bus to the last few gates. The door was open and the heat was pouring in. I could feel my carefully straightened hair beginning to curl. I could feel my carefully applied makeup begin to shine. There was a small but ferocious woman guarding the door leading out to the tarmac. She suspiciously inspected everyone’s boarding pass and, when satisfied, directed passengers to sit and wait. I sat. I waited. A bus came and we were ordered to board. The bus was not air conditioned and had large windows. The sun reflecting off of the black tarmac radiated into the bus, making it even hotter. We drove, and drove, and drove. We drove past Terminal 4, Terminal 5, Terminal 6 and Terminal 7. We drove right past the plane I exited from not so very long ago, then turned. We waited for a large jet to pass, so as not to be squashed, and proceeded a little further, to the edge of the airport property, to a collection of temporary, portable, trailer/buildings, crudely constructed plywood corridors with plastic sheeting “windows” and cyclone fencing. Therein, more gates. I looked and looked and looked and finally found a sign for the last few gates, including mine, behind locked doors. On the door, a sign, stating the door would be opened forty-five minutes before departure and to wait nearby. There was exactly on purveyor of refreshments, a coffee shop serving Peet’s coffee. And beer. I had a beer.

I was finally allowed to proceed through the last door, to another temporary trailer/building where I could actually see my gate. And, a plane at my gate. For all the trouble of finding the gate, I was a little surprised the plane was on time, mechanically sound, appropriately staffed and allowed to depart on time. So, my good karma continued.

I made it to Sacramento a few minutes early and met my son. I had a very elaborate plan involving him in order to swap out the contents of my suitcases in preparation for my vacation in Alaska. He also had “the gift”, a very large, very crazily taped together box with my Sweetie’s birthday gift inside. Not something I wanted to, or even could haul all over the country, so he was employed, in exchange for food and gas, to deliver and carry said large box to the terminal for me. I checked in to my third airline for the day. With hours to spare, we decided to grab lunch and a beer in the airport, then head out for gas. The problem, though, was the heat. It was in the upper 90’s and my son’s car does not currently have functioning air conditioning. Just taking the shuttle to my car to swap out suitcase contents worked up a sweat, standing on the blacktop unpacking, repacking, repacking again. And I was still six pounds over the limit. The cost penalty was well worth it, I was not about to repack again. Whatever.

But, with the hot car and the hot day, I pretty much melted as we drove to the gas station and back. All I can think about is a nice cool shower. I pity the person sitting next to me on the plane. I feel like I smell like sweaty cattle.

My son dropped me at the curb and I made my way into the terminal and through security, for the third time today. I unloaded my stuff into the bins and was just unzipping my “scan safe” computer bag when I noticed my water bottle. My full water bottle. I’d decanted water into it earlier in the day and hadn’t finished it yet. Have you noticed, there is rarely a convenient place to dump water out of a reusable water bottle? I guess most folks just buy water in plastic bottles and can just toss them into the trash. I excused myself from line, shoeless, and stepped aside and chugged about sixteen ounces of water. Sort of reminded me of college except no one was chanting “chug chug chug!”

I got back in line and proceeded through security. I confirmed my gate on the display, even though my plane wasn’t due to board for a few hours. I figured I’d pass time at Vino Volo, cooling off with a flight of sparkling wine. As I headed in that direction I heard my name over the loudspeaker. I was to see an Alaska Airlines agent. I guarantee, when you hear your name over the loud speaker at an airport, it is not a good thing, it isn’t because you won the lottery.

I proceeded to the only Alaska gate where an agent was, and as I approached, the man was on the phone with someone, his voice distinctively the same one that paged me moments earlier. When he concluded his call, I identified myself and he informed me that my flight to Portland was going to be delayed nearly two hours. Of all my flights today, it was this flight I fretted over the most. I had a short connection timeframe and, truthfully, I’ve never, ever made it through Portland without some kind of delay or drama. With a two-hour delay departing from Sacramento, I would miss my connecting flight to Anchorage. Thank you, Alaska Airlines, for the awesome customer service, no, seriously, the gate agent had already booked me on an alternate flight though Seattle that would connect me to Anchorage a full half hour earlier than my original arrangement. So, again, not as planned, but still, good travel karma continues. My only concern, as I headed off for Vino Volo, the gate agent was on the phone with the luggage handlers and they only had one suitcase in the bay. Not mine. Not my two purple suitcases, not my big elaborately taped up birthday box, which I’d checked a full two and a half hours earlier. The gate agent said he’d confirm with me that they’d been found and rerouted, but when I returned to the gate after my bubbly, he was gone. Fingers crossed. I really need my eighty-six pounds of clothes and my Sweetie’s carefully wrapped birthday gift to arrive in Anchorage the same time I do.

So, as I sit on my flight to Seattle, destined to arrive early, and to the gate immediately next door to my Anchorage flight (definitely good air travel jou jou), it seems I have the travel gods on my side today, and whatever I’ve done to pay them homage, I must figure out and continue to do. Okay, so I spilled my red wine on the Seattle flight, and the flight attendant totally forgot about me and I had to hail her down to pour my wine, which I’d already paid for. That isn’t bad jou jou, right? It’s all good. It’s all good. One more flight. I will arrive in Anchorage at 12:45 AM Alaska time. I left Newark, New Jersey at 7:00 AM Eastern time. It has been a very long travel day. But it’s all good.


The gift. Do you think he'll be able to tell it's from me?!
The gift. Do you think he’ll be able to tell it’s from me?!
I have a theory that lots of sparkling wine creates good travel jou jou.
I have a theory that lots of sparkling wine creates good travel jou jou.

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