No good deed goes unpunished
Tuesday afternoon, we’re packing for the trip, and Gail gets a call from her friend SR in Orlando. Among the usual things, SR mentions that they are having a birthday party for everyone’s friend Frances on Saturday the 19th. We love Frances, and Gail says she wishes we could be there to celebrate. I’m not allowed to tell you how old Frances is, so let’s just say she’ll be 39 again.
Driving to the airport, I called Beth, the Travel Goddess™, and asked if we could come home from Europe via Orlando. A few calls and texts back and forth, and we were flying from London to Miami to Orlando, partying, then Chicago and home. There was a price for this, in both cash and frequent flyer miles, but it only hurts for a little while. We’re happy.
Then we got to the airport, at 7:05 for an 8:20 flight, and all hell broke loose.
Turns out that when you change a flight, it takes a while to work its way through the system. British Airways said we didn’t have a ticket. Or at least Gail didn’t have a ticket. And we were supposedly very, very late. (still an hour and ten minutes to flight time)
The situation was insane. I made our reservations 6 weeks previously, and a change on the return should have no effect on the outbound leg in any event.
We whined. We yelled. We argued, pleaded and reasoned. We called Beth, who called American (the airline we booked everything through). We were dealing with two intransigent clerks who spent most of their time staring at their computer screens, waiting for the ticket to be issued and show up.
Finally, we asked if we could buy a ticket, expecting that eventually this would all be straightened out. Yes, that could be arranged. So I pulled out the card, promptly charged a full tank of jet fuel for a 747, and we were raced through security and onto a half empty 747 for the long flight to London. The plane left about 10 minutes late, to add to the silliness about how “late” we were.
Landed in London, we faced the dismal prospect of a 7 hour layover, greatly softened by the availability of the British Airways lounge. Free food and drink, good wifi and plenty of electrical connections made the time creep by slightly less slowly, then we were called for the electric cart to take us to our gate.
This was an adventure. The cart leaves the main floor of the terminal and drives into a hidden elevator that requires a key to open. Dropping down 3 floors. we pulled out into a vast system of subterranean tunnels lit and painted in 1960’s purple, devoid of people, to careen 2 miles in a science fiction wonderland until we took another elevator and arrived right in front of the gate. My mind reeled at the cost of designing, constructing, lighting, climate controlling, maintaining, cleaning and securing these hundreds of thousands of square feet of concrete tunnel that so few people even know exist.
Then there was a second overnight flight, arriving in Tel Aviv at 5:15 am. Immigration was easy, but our bags never came off the carousel. Yep, even for a kings ransom and a zillion frequent flyer miles, British Air couldn’t be bothered to load our bags on the plane and they were still in SFO.
The baggage agent, a delightful young woman with a prodigious underbite, promised that we would have the bags in our hotel by 11am the next day. Sure, I’ve heard that before.
The limousine I had booked failed to arrive.
The cab I hired took us to the wrong hotel, but I noticed that before we got out and made him find the right one. In a world with a GPS in every phone, how do you get lost?
Of course, he overcharged me about $10, but that’s the least bad thing that happened on this trip of horrors.
More to come.