Or, "Wordbiker proves what an imbecile he is"
So...the plan was to get my sorry behind to NAHBS, take lots of pics of the awesome bikes, meet some cool folks and potential business contacts, then get back home with stories to tell. Things...went wrong.
I'm certain that I'm in the minority in almost any crowd when admitting that I have flown a total of two times before this. Heck, I wasn't even planning to fly, but to drive...until my boss convinced me the trip would be so much easier by plane. Considering my truck has some serious mileage, it could've been worse than it turned out.
OK, so I book the trip through a site popularized by a certain starship captain. The times and prices look good, so the trigger is pulled.
Fail #1: The departure time is not noon as it showed, but postponed to the next flight, 3.5 hours later with 3 hours layover instead of less than one. I'm easygoing, I can deal, but that would cut into my Friday night exploration of Austin. All I really want to see is the show, and since my wife called and confirmed that's the earliest flight left available, I roll with it.
Fail #2: When I show up, the flight has been delayed for an hour. My plans to meet a friend in Denver for dinner didn't look like they'd work out anyway, so again, I roll with it. I arrive with apparently some time to kill, so after finding the departure gate, checking the time and selecting the sports bar just 150 feet from the gate, I settle in for a $10.75 burger and a beer.
I'm seated by a guy from very near where I grew up and have a nice chat. He leaves and I check the time, still a good 20 minutes before the flight is scheduled to leave. I wait for the check. While waiting, the thought did occur to me that a waitress in an airport restaurant has to really be on top of the game, you know, since a delay could make someone miss their flight.
Big Fail #3: A check of the watch shows me there's still ten minutes before the flight. I get to the gate...and it's eerily empty. I ask a gent if the plane has boarded. "Austin? Yeah, they're all gone."
I pound on the gate door and eventually someone comes out. I can see that the plane is still sitting right outside and tell her, "That's my plane, I need to board!" She says cooly, "You missed it. Go to Customer Service." "Seriously? You can't let me board?" "No. Customer service is 1/4 mile that-a-way." "But...the plane is right there!" I get to CS and about 30 people are in line.
At this point I started to sweat a little, though the line moves fairly quickly and I've cooled down a bit. "The next flight we can put you on to Austin leaves tomorrow." "What time does it arrive?" "After the show is nearly over (paraphrased)." Not willing to take a trip to Austin for the mere thrill of flying, I ask when the next flight is back home. "In less than an hour, I'll put a hold on it for you. It will also cost an additional $150"
OK, a quick phone pow-wow with the wife brings up the idea that I can somewhat salvage the trip if I can stay in Denver with my buddies, then fly back on my planned return flight on Sunday, at least saving the extra $150. After another trip through the line, now with 40 people in it, "No, it doesn't work that way. You booked the flight from Austin to Durango. " This logic fails me. Why would it matter if I only took half the flight?
Figuring that there's just no way around it, I get on the kiosk and try to book the held flight. Between either a bad connection, the noise of the airport or the sneaking suspicion that English is not the native language of the agent, she starts booking the flight. "It leaves when?" "8:15. " "It's 8:05 now, I'd never make it." (I begin wondering what time it is in whatever country she's in) "What's the next flight?" "9:50." "Book it Danno." "No, you have to go through the line again, I can only confirm it...and it will be an additional $150." Now there's 50 people in line. *facepalm*
Minor Win: When I finally do make it through the line again, sweating that I'll miss yet another flight, I get another agent. She confirms the confirmation, hands me a boarding pass...and doesn't ask for payment. I ask her specifically, "What do I owe?" She gives me a dismissive wave and I sprint off to my gate.
Obviously, I made it home. Now is the struggle to try and recoup the money spent...if at all. My wife has spent 2-1/2 hours on the phone already, and gotten a promise of $50.