cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 11:51pm on 06/11/2006 under ,
I spent this past weekend in Austin, Texas, attending the wedding of my friend, [ profile] teyli. [ profile] esrblog and I managed to look up our friends [ profile] mirell and [ profile] brandyeileen, and made the sacred pilgrimage to the barbeque palace that is Rudy's.

The wedding itself was lovely. It was held outdoors under the trees at a semi-rural hall that must have been a private home, once upon a time. The bride and groom exchanged vows they had written themselves, and encouraged the married couples in the audience to re-affirm their own. Afterward there was good food (mostly cooked by the friends and family of the bride and groom), including two wedding cakes to die for--one a classic, three-tier white cake (pear-flavored!) and the other a dark, dark chocolate cake, made in the shape of the Tardis. (Yes, the Tardis. These were SF fans, after all.) I have seldom seen anything so sensual as the bride and groom feeding each other the traditional wedding cake--they are clearly very much in love, and I'm very happy for them.

Eventually, there was dancing, but we didn't stay for much of that, because we had an 8:00 A.M. plane to catch in order to get home. That was where the trouble started.

We got up before dawn, ate the last of our Rudy's leftovers (our motel room had both a refrigerator and a microwave oven in it, so we economized by taking lots of leftovers back with us from the Friday Rudy's expedition), and drove the 6 or so miles back to the airport to make our plane.

We made the plane with no trouble, but as we were sitting on the tarmac, waiting to lift off, the captain announced that there was a problem with one of the on-board navigation computers. He said they needed to check it out, and he'd let us know about further developments.

Twenty minutes later, he announced that there was a problem with one of the wing flaps on the plane, and said that they needed to see whether it was something that could be quickly fixed or not, and would let us know the result.

At about 8:30, the captain told us that the problem could not be quickly fixed and that the flight would be cancelled. He suggested that we either call Delta's 800 number and rebook, or that we go to the ticketing area in the terminal to do so.

So we trooped off the plane. I tried calling the 800 number, but the clerk I reached hadn't gotten the news that the flight was cancelled. He kept trying to tell me that it was just delayed and was scheduled to take off at 9:00 a.m. I gave up on him, and trooped out to the ticket counter, where I stood in line for about an hour, listening to the rumors being generated by those of my fellow passengers who were still trying to rebook by phone.

Just as I reached the head of the line, there was an announcement; "We've fixed the problem with Flight 942; we recommend that you return to the plane." The agent told me that our connection would be re-booked in Atlanta.

[ profile] esrblog and I trooped back with most of our fellow passengers, went through Security again, and got back on the plane. After one final false alarm (another alleged computer problem) the plane finally took off about ten minutes after 10 A.M.

We reached Atlanta, where we were supposed to change planes for Philadelphia, at about 1:20 P.M. local time. Since our original flight from Atlanta had been scheduled for 11:40 A.M., it was long gone and rebooking was necessary. The flight attendants told us to go to the gate our original connection was supposed to leave from and deal with re-booking there. That gate was only about 13 gates away from where we entered the concourse.

When we reached our "gate," the agent there was boarding people onto a different flight. After she was done, we approached her, and she told us to go to a "Delta Express" desk about 5 gates away to get rebooked.

At the "Delta Express" desk, there were both live agents and telephones where you could reach other agents. There was also a barcode scanner where you could place your ticket to see whether your reservation was good or if you'd been rebooked. When I put my ticket under the scanner, I got a receipt telling me that we *had* been rebooked--onto a Philadelphia flight leaving at approximately 1:52 P.M. from a gate in a different concourse.

I looked at my watch. It was 1:45 P.M.

After catching the tram to the next concourse and running madly for 18 gates to get to the gate in question (with [ profile] esrblog trailing behind, leaving me to make them hold the plane if I managed to get there in time), I dashed up to the agent at the gate for our new flight, who told me that the doors were already closed, and they weren't letting anybody else on the plane. She told us to go back to Delta Express, and re-re-book.

I passed this on to [ profile] esrblog, who remarked that he should have taken all the luggage so I could have run to the gate faster. Maybe, but I doubt that would have changed things, by the time we found out about our rebooking.

Fortunately, there was a Delta Express desk in this terminal too. I was on the phone with a clerk for a good 20 minutes as she tried to find me a flight that would, eventually, get us to Philadelphia. Eventually, she got us on a Delta flight to Cincinnati leaving at 4:04 P.M. and getting to Cincinnati at 5:28 P.M. From there, she booked us on a US Airways Express flight home, leaving at 7:55 P.M.

By then, it was almost 2:30, and we hadn't had any food other than Delta snacks and the Rudy's leftovers since 6 A.M. So we ate lunch at a sports bar across the aisle from our gate, where they took nearly 45 minutes to get us hot sandwiches. The 4:04 flight ultimately did not leave until after 5:00 P.M., largely because it was delayed getting to Atlanta.

Once we touched down in Cincinnati, we had to find the US Airways Express area. Turns out that Cincinnati has three concourses (for large jets) and three "terminals" (for small commuter jets). The US Airways Express planes leave Cincinnati from "Terminal 1". We flew into Concourse A. Yes, you guessed right, we had to cross the entire length of the airport. Although the Cincinnati airport has a tram, the tram only takes you across the concourses to Terminal 3. From that point, you have to walk the full length of Terminals 3 and 2 to get to Terminal 1. No trams, no walkways. I might not have minded if I hadn't been carrying my luggage (which felt heavier with each step), but [ profile] esrblog was hating it, though he bore up stoically.

The US Airways Express gates had their own little security area, where--for the first time on the entire trip--the guard asked me whether I had any liquid or gel toiletries, and if so to haul out the baggie they're supposed to be in. I dutifully hauled out my baggie of toiletry stuff and he frowned. "I hope you have a one-quart baggie in there," he said, referring to my carry-on bag.

"Why?" I asked. "Because you're supposed to use a one-quart ziplock bag," he said. "What you have there is a one-gallon bag." "I don't even know what a one-quart bag looks like!" I responded.

So he showed me one. "Why does it matter?" I asked. "Because that's the rule, and the rules are made to be enforced," he replied.

Oh, yeah. But after the day I'd had, I didn't care. "Look, if there's a problem, just take the stuff and keep it," I started to say, but he interrupted me. "Well, you may be able to keep some of it; just let me explain to you."

Eventually, he let me keep my Mennen Speed Stick (it isn't a gel or a paste or a liquid, he said), my travel toothbrush, and a tube of athlete's foot cream ("It's medicine," he explained). The rest was confiscated--because I had the wrong sized bag. And I still don't know why the size of bag even matters.

Our flight, once we were on it, got to Philadelphia "early"--we were on the ground by about 9:10 P.M. By the time I got my car from the parking garage people and drove back home, it was 10:30 P.M. We had originally been scheduled to touch down in Philly at 1:44 P.M.

Delta's slogan is "Delta is ready when you are." Boy, they sure weren't this time. The only good things about our interaction with Delta was the unfailing politeness and pleasantness of the staff we dealt with and the ginger cinnamon biscotti-like cookies that are part of their (free as in beer!) snack assortment. [ profile] esrblog doesn't want to fly with them again, and I'm tempted to agree.
Music:: amazingly upbeat "Battle of Wesnoth" soundtrack
Mood:: 'annoyed' annoyed
location: home