By: Revanche

Zen Travel …. this was not.

March 8, 2007

I’m back! I’m still on hiatus from work, officially, but I’m back in the Bay Area enjoying a couple days recuperation time thanks to my booking fiasco. The trip was amazing. Amazing in itself, but also that it happened at all, considering the transportation gauntlet I ran just to get into my seat on the 767 headed for Hong Kong!

I planned to leave work midday on Tuesday, 3pm at the latest, in order to give myself time to be home an hour before I left for my first flight. The train ride should have taken from 320-420, point to point. Two stops before mine, the train slowed and the conductor announced an open door policy for the duration of the mysterious pause. I desperately turned to the man next to me to find out what the heck was going on and was told that there was “something wrong with the tracks” and that track inspectors would have to check them for safety.

I called my mom and asked her to come get me from this station, who knew how long the delay would last? After I repeated the directions for the third time and hung up, the conductor announced that the doors were closing: the train was going through! I dashed for the train and called my mom back to get me from the home station.

At home, my second (and last choice) suitcase which had already been repaired once, had come loose at another seam. MaDucky was sewing THAT up as I dashed through the house checking my cash and my carry-on situation, and calling my best friend’s cell phone. She’d left me a message saying she’d come to the airport with us, but I couldn’t get a hold of her.

Six o’clock, time to leave for the airport, came and went. Finally I called her house to discover she’d never heard her cell phone. Dangit, Verizon!! We raced to the airport, now late but not too late to check in for a domestic flight, to find that my flight had been cancelled and I’d been rebooked on the 8pm flight with an hour layover, getting me to SFO at 1140 pm. Far too late to collect my luggage from baggage claim and make it to check luggage and MYSELF in for the international flight at midnight.

Oh, and I had to pick up our tickets at the counter at SFO when I got in, because Cathay Pacific wouldn’t give me an E-ticket. That is, after I picked up my luggage from the domestic flight. So not only did I not have time to wait for United to unload my luggage before I could make the next flight, I didn’t even have my tickets in hand for that next flight.

The nice man at the United counter told me to drive to the airport 50 miles away, catch the 9pm from there, and get into SFO at 10pm with enough time to go from domestic to international.

Of course it rained all the way to LAX, but I made it there in time to get my new boarding pass and check my luggage. Unfortunately, this counter person refused to check my luggage through to the Cathay Pacific flight because the two trips were booked separately, not as part of one trip. And then my 9pm flight was postponed to 930 pm. And postponed again to 10 pm. At 935 pm, the counter lady sent me pelting down the hall a half mile to the other gate where the 940pm LAX-SFO flight was about to board. There was no hope for my luggage, they couldn’t pull it from the one flight or load it on this flight in time.

It was 20 minutes after we’d pulled away from the gate before we actually took off. I learned, reading a book about air travel on the way back, that “on time” departure only means departure from the gates, not actually taking off. *Lovely.* In my head, the rational part was thinking I’d still get in before 11pm and might be able to retrieve my luggage in time. The irrational but more often correct part was screaming incoherently for a while, and then said, yeah, that luggage is toast with a side of kippers. And NOT making onto the flight with you.

When we landed a stomach-clenching hour and fifteen later, I had two voicemails and a text message from BoyDucky saying that the boarding time was not at 1115, it was at 1045 and they would stop boarding at 1115 so I’d better move along as he held both our tickets and would wait as long as he could in line, but he didn’t know how much longer they would allow him to wait.

I had 7 minutes to get off the plane, orient myself and RUN to the international terminal. And I had no clue which terminal I was coming into or how to find the international terminal. 5 minutes later, I was running down the deserted street, running out of sidewalk, and nary a clue where to head next. 50 yards, an echoing chamber with escalators and a few cryptic signs later, I gasped into BoyDucky’s sight. Good job he spotted me too, because I was two seconds from staggering down the wrong hall. Thank the Lord for cell phones!

My 6th counter person just clucked and shook his head dolefully when I explained that though I had made it, my luggage was actually on a flight arriving in 20 minutes and could he do something about getting it rerouted when it came in? I had to go fill out paperwork in Saigon upon arrival, and they would make arrangements at that time. *sigh* At that moment, I realized that, imprudent traveler I was, I’d not packed a change of clothes, toothbrush or anything in case of luggage emergency. But, honestly, all I truly cared about was getting there, and if we hurried, we could get through security and board.

So, we did.

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