Monday, October 08, 2007

A Comedy of Travel Errors

Friday was travel day. Do you know that Orbitz calls you 3 hours before your flight's due to take off?!?!? Great service... except if you're on the 6:30 AM flight. Not only does the caller stutter but it's a computer so there's no one to hear you yelling! Marbleman got that call and never did get back to sleep. I was up at 4 AM - that should give us plenty of time to park and shuttle to our terminal an hour early. It was 5:30 in the morning when only insomniacs are up, and the lines aren't more than a few minutes long, so let's all take our time, right? Wrong! We got lost finding the parking lot in the dark and finally got to the terminal 30 minutes before the flight.

Why are we in this mess? Marbleman and I flew to Boston this weekend for his brother's wedding. We've heard about the woes that fliers encounter & so followed travel advisors who said we should buy tickets for the first flight of the day to avoid delays. Soooo.... four weeks ago we fired up the trusty iMac and noodled around Orbitz to snag tickets for the 6:30 AM flight.

Boarding passes in hand (Waddaya mean I need to request a seat? We requested seats a month ago!), we're off to the security check point. Oh... my...GOD: The line was at least 30 minutes long. Now what? An airport official told us about another line at the other end of the terminal, just a two minute walk. We jogged to the end of the terminal, and nuts! That line was even longer than the first one. Finally, we followed the other sheep through the line with a minimum of trouble, even had the time to engage the TSA people in some easy banter (don't want to look too nervous right?).

OK, sneakers on, laces retied, luggage in tow, we RAN to the gate and got there 5 minutes before take-off time. The airline person appeared to expect us and had my seat assignment in a couple of key clicks. Whew. We staggered onto the plane, flopped in our seats, only to hear the flight attendant say they were holding the flight for some people still stuck in the security line. We didn't need to run after all! The rest of the the trip was easy, even though it took 25 minutes to shuttle our way to the car rental place. Add another 20 minutes waiting in line, and 20 minutes to actually rent the car, and the fun begins. We did make mental notes to get to Logan 2 hours early for the return trip - surely their security is much tighter.

(We had a marvelous time in Boston, I'll post about that later.) Back to that return trip. OK, the flight out of Logan is at noon. We were in Natick, about 30 minutes outside Boston, so if we left there at 9 AM, returned the rental car, and took the 25 minute shuttle ride to the terminal, we should be there 2 hours early. Plenty of time for that long security line.

So, we got to Hertz in perfect time, and hopped onto the shuttle. Two minutes later (!) we were at at the terminal. Apparently we got the shuttle at the beginning of it's loop around Logan when we arrived. That's OK, we're in good shape. Let's hit the security line. Wait, what line? There was no one ahead of us. *sigh* Now we have to sit at the gate for the rest of the 2 hours until take-off. The flight took off without incident, maybe 25 minutes delayed. Again, easy peasy flight. This is good, since I hate to fly.

We took the shuttle back to the long-term parking lot, got in the car, turned the key in the ignition, and *click*. Nothing. Dead battery. Shoot. A really nice shuttle driver gave us a jump, and off we went. "Hey! Who turned on the passenger overhead light in the daytime?" Oh. OK, rephrase, "Who's the dumbass who left the overhead passenger light on over the weekend and drained the battery?" Oops, that would be me. Sorry!

Lessons learned: If you hear you should take the earliest flight to avoid delays? Assume other travelers had the same advice. Also, assume that things will go wrong. If they do, don't sweat it, they'll also turn out alright.