Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Time to Spare: Go by air

Actually that's my father's motto as it relates to commercial air travel. Today was a great illustration of that on my trip out to California. (Where it's a balmy 59 degrees in Aptos, California - just south of Santa Cruz).

Left Flint on time at 6:10 a.m. (well away from the gate on time, but then it was time for de-icing. Which I heartily approve of as I would rather be late than be in a ball of flaming wreckage off Bristol Road).

At Chicago, a sprint (more like a fast waddle) from the American Eagle Gate at O'Hare in Chicago to the adjacent terminal to catch my next flight to Phoenix (Don't you love the multiple connections all in the name of saving money). More de-icing and we took off 30 minutes late, which didn't bode well with a 38-minute connection time in Phoenix.

Got in just in time for my luggage - but not me - to be loaded aboard the 10:55 a.m. flight to San Jose, California. No problem, we'll get you on the 2:30 p.m. flight to San Jose. (Something not so comforting about having my luggage arriving four hours before I did.)

I was not alone, a group of about 20 of us arrived at the gate just as the plane was pulling away from the jetway right on time. If they could have held the plane just five minutes, they would have had 20 very appreciative passengers, instead there was a whole lotta angry going on. It's always nice when someone else blows a gasket so you don't have to. I actually ended up feeling very badly for the young woman behind the counter and told her I knew it wasn't her fault.

Off to lunch at the Fox Sports restaurant and then still had a couple hours to kill. Found a free wireless signal at the airport and did a little work and then noticed that although the digital sign said "On Time" the jetway for the gate was missing one important ingredient - a plane.

The airline employee sweetly told us the plane was about "5 minutes late" and after 20 minutes, she came back on the microphone to tell us "the plane is on the ground and will taxi for about 10 minutes and then it will be at the gate." Obviously her watch is on a warp time that I'm not familiar with. But the plane actually arrived at the gate about five minutes after our flight was supposed to be taking off.

Then, of course, it took more than a half hour to deplane the passengers and load the $2 cokes and $4 snack packs aboard for our flight. Then it was time for about 130 passengers to shoe horn into the airplane including the group of 20 already very frustrated travelers.

We heard more talk of head winds slowing us enroute to San Jose and the long and short (mostly long) of it was that I arrived exactly 5 hours and 13 minutes after I was supposed to, on a bright, clear day with not a cloud in the sky. Not the worst airline experience that I have had, but considering this is the same airline that has proven its ability to land safely on the Hudson River, you would think they could work out a procedure that would hold a plane for five minutes so 20 passengers could accompany their luggage to the next stop.

Their was a silver lining. When your luggage catches an earlier flight, at least you don't have to wait for the endless carousel to find it. There was my little suitcase all curled up in the corner waiting for me.

And although I'm apparently too stupid to embed a hyperlink (actually I know how, I just am too lazy to do it, it's very similar to the Html embed of a Youtube, which I obviously know how to do) I am an ace at pirating wireless signals.

So here I sit overlooking the Pacific Ocean (well, it's two blocks away anyway) and I'll have contact with the outside world and the blog.


Anonymous said...

I am happy you got here Pop. No where near the Hudson river but it could be worse, alot worse.

Anonymous said...

"Left Flint on time at 6:10 a.m. (well away from the gate on time, but then it was time for de-icing. Which I heartily approve of as I would rather be late than be in a ball of flaming wreckage off Bristol Road)."

But just think of the newspaper $ales that day Jim. GRIN..

Jim of L-Town said...

Yes, having covered the crash of Flight 255 in Detroit way back in the 1980s, you're right. Newspaper sales were off the charts....