Today in My History
2000: Be Prepared
Kate: The Unexamined Life of
Books Read in 2014
Recent on My
Mirror Site for RSS Feed:
The Philosophy of Juice & Crackers
THE HELL THAT IS TRAVEL
4 December 2014
I have returned from Iowa.
It was not without headaches.
I hate United Airlines tonight.
As a reminder, when I flew to Cedar Rapids, Iowa 3+ weeks ago, things started out fine. I made it to Denver just fine, Walt had arranged for a wheelchair to meet me to get me through the humongous labyrinth that is the Denver Airport (which a group of us decided many years ago looks like a lactating possum) and that was just fine.
When I got to my gate, I found out that the flight had been delayed. Over the next 3 hours, we kept getting more updates about when the next guess was that our plane would arrive. I thought I would never get home. United Airlines offered no apology -- and no food and our gate was too far from the vendors for dragging my suitcase, computers, and cane down to get something. All day in transit with no meals served on either flight, not even a frigging bag of pretzels. Fortunately Peach had a hot dog waiting for me when I arrived.
But that was three weeks ago. Surely history would not repeat itself. Oh how innocent I was!
Matthew and Miranda drove me to the airport at Cedar Rapids and Matthew helped me get my heavy luggage to the check in area, which made me giggle. Cedar Rapids is so small that this is the area where you check in for all airlines. Each sign is for a different airline. And you can see how many were in line.
I didn't need wheel chair assistance in Cedar Rapids since the airport is so small (but it has an x-ray machine, which even Sacramento does not have), but I groaned when I got to the gate for my 4:50 flight and saw this.
Then, over the course of the next four hours, I kept getting updates on my delayed flight. Somewhere in the middle of the NINE updates I got, someone had added "subject to change," which I told the gate clerk that I thought was very funny.
I was already worried about making the 28 minute plane change in the huge Denver airport, but I need not have worried since our plane didn't arrive in Cedar Rapids until 2 hours after that plane had left Denver. It was the last plane out of Denver for Sacramento for the night.
Not only did we not leave until 8:30, but when I sat down to kill time I discovered I had forgotten to charge my batteries before I left Peach's and I was running very low. My kindle was dead, so no book reading on that. My iPad was a little over half charged, but that would go quickly if I started using it to read. And my cell phone was a little less than half charged, so I couldn't really even send snarky texts. Things were so desperate that I actually bought a real book at the concession stand.
I left Davis three weeks ago with $41 in cash. I came home with $9. $1 of that I spent for a snack at the cancer center in Waterloo and the rest was spent in the airports, for water, snacks, the book, and tips for the people who transported me from place to place. Not only that but the very first postcard I saw anywhere was at the Sacramento airport on my return.
I almost didn't take the wheel chair in Denver once I knew I didn't have to make the fast plane change. How lucky I decided against refusing it! From the plane, we had to go to Customer Service, where I was told by a very bored, unapologetic clerk that I would spend the night at the Red Lion Inn and I could catch the shuttle outside of door #5. Then the chair pusher must have pushed me close to a mile (no exaggeration) to where she had a chat with a guy in a language I didn't understand, then she pushed me to an elevator, down to the bottom level, then catch the high speed tram for 3 stops, then back into the elevator and up to the 5th floor, where she left me standing at the hotel shuttle stop. I don't know how I would have found the place--or walked that far (without my cane, which I left behind at Peach's) without that assistance.
Every bloody hotel in Denver came to pick up passengers except the Red Lion. Finally after standing there in the 30 degree cold for half an hour, I called the Red Lion 800 number and had a fight with the person there. I knew that person was somewhere in the U.S. not Denver, but when he asked me which side of the airport I was on and I told him I was not from there, had not planned to be there and didn't have a clue what side of the airport I was on I just about lost it. He told me the hotel would not pick us up until we called them, but we (myself and a woman on my plane who was trying to get to Burbank) just assumed United would let them know.
We finally dragged ourselves into the hotel at about 10:30. We had two vouchers for $7 for food, but there was no food, only vending machines and the Burbank woman was furious that she has to have a special diet and she guessed she would just "start a fast." I had some peanuts left from the snack I bought in Cedar Rapids, so I just took a shower, ate my peanuts, drank some water, and didn't even take the covers off the bed, but slept on the couch, leaving a wake up call for 4:45 so I could get the 5:30 shuttle back to the airport.
The hotel offered a buffet at 5 and I had some weird cubed scrambled eggs, which left my stomach decidedly unsettled.
When I got to the airport, I still had $14 worth of food vouchers, but no stomach for anything, so I brought them home with me.
I was sure to accept wheel chair assist this time and it took three people to get me to the gate, a wheel chair woman who took me miles to a guy in a motorized vehicle who drove me as far as his vehicle could go and handed me off to another wheelchair person who took me to the gate (after taking me down in another elevator).
I talked with a woman who had slept in the airport because her fight from Baltimore had been delayed and she, too, had missed her connecting flight, but refused to be put up in a hotel. Thank god, our flight this time was not delayed, but when I was getting ready to board, I overheard an announcement at another gate that the plane the passengers were waiting for had not yet boarded from the airport it was coming from and so their flight would be delayed.
There is also a new deal, at least with the four planes I flew on. Their overhead compartments are too small to fit suitcases designed for overhead compartments, so you have to have "valet checking" at the gate, which means you have to hand over your carry on luggage. I took my iPod and computer out of the case first and then had to somehow get my suitcase, two computers, my purse and my cane down the walkway to the plane where you hand the suitcase over. Then when you come off everybody who has been on the plane crowds around the end of the walkway waiting for their carry on luggage to be delivered to them before going to the baggage place where your other luggage is (maybe) waiting. (I was almost glad I had forgotten my cane on the trip home because it was one less thing to have to juggle)
The plane from Denver to Sacramento was so small that I commented to the man who had the misfortune of sharing my seat that I was sure if United worked at it harder they could manage to make things even more uncomfortable. And of course nobody offered us a pretzel, though I did get a glass of orange juice.
I was thrilled when we landed safely and I saw Walt waiting with my luggage, which he had already collected. It was so good to finally stop traveling and though I miss being at Mallard Point, being able to settle into my very own recliner under Polly was wonderful. Walt even went out and got Chinese food for dinner so I don't have to cook until tomorrow.
And California welcomed me home with open arms, rain, and a beautiful rainbow.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Welcome home, Mom ... Did you notice it's raining?
I'd love it if you'd
leave a comment!
HTML Guestbookis loading comments...