You know how sometimes you watch some sort of movie (or read a book) and things just keep going wrong, and you think “This would never happen in real life.”
Normally I don’t like to deviate from reading/writing/landsquids, but this is fairly epic and I feel the need to share.
So yesterday was supposed to be somewhat awesome. I was to take an early flight to California, sit in on a meeting, and then have dinner/writing with my dear friend Ian (of Alpaca fame). Afterwards I would sleep and fly back this morning, arriving, in, oh, 15 minutes or so.
Seeing how I am sitting here blogging instead of being on said return flight, we can guess how this is going to go. My trip never made it off the ground, quite literally.
I got out of the house a little late yesterday morning, but made it through parking my car and security without issue. When I arrived at the gate, I was one of the last people on the plane, and they asked that I gate check one of my carry-ons. I agreed, since I had given myself a four hour buffer and would be able to wait at the onerously slow baggage claim at SFO without worrying about missing my meeting. So I got onboard, sat down, opened the book I brought along, and all seemed fine.
We pushed off from the gate about twenty minutes late, taxied to what I swear was the furthest runway from the terminal, went to accelerate into take-off, and…the plane broke. Something with the left engine. So we turned around and taxied all the way back to the terminal.
People are starting to get antsy about connecting flights (our plane was going to continue on to Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh City), but hey, I had buffer! Although I am about 80 pages into my book at this point and am wondering if I should have brought more.
They identified a broken part, replaced it, and around an hour and a half after the plane was supposed to leave, we push back from the gate, taxi allllll the way to Furthest Runway Ever, go to take off, and…the plane breaks again.
At this point I don’t really want to take this particular aircraft anywhere.
So we taxi back to the gate, except we no longer have a gate, since we were supposed to leave two hours previously, so we have to sit and look at the terminal for half an hour until we get a gate, and, then, we sit there for another 15 minutes until they essentially tell us they don’t know what’s wrong with the plane, so we can get off and try to get other flights, they’ll offload the luggage, and, uh, good luck getting another flight to San Francisco today, because they’re booked full.
So it’s ~11:30 about now, and I realize that there is no physical way for me to fly to California at this point (even if there were seats) and make my meeting on time. Plus this was a completely full 767 and the line to talk to Customer Service stretches all the way down the concourse and Hell, I’m not standing in that.
At this point, things are sad but not terribly bad. Mechanical problems happen, and I would rather they happen on the ground than over Utah airspace. So. I am extremely disappointed about not being able to see Ian (and eat sushi), but I go about fixing things. I call my boss and leave her a message explaining the situation and telling her I would be coming in and supporting the meeting remotely. I text Ian to let him know I am not coming. I call my company’s travel service and ask them to cancel the trip. I call the person running said meeting to let him know I will be supporting remotely.
Here’s where things start to get a bit hairy. I abandon my fellow passengers to their giant line of doom and retreat to baggage claim, where I inquire after the bags they claimed would be offloaded from my flight. They have not been. They were apparently not planning on it despite telling us they would. Apparently, they were just going to load the luggage on the next flight to San Francisco and let it go, despite the fact that the likelihood of more than a handful of people from that flight getting to San Francisco that day was crap. The woman at the baggage counter explains that she will put in a call for someone to bring up my luggage, but it will be at least an hour.
I look at my watch. I’ve got less than two hours to this meeting now. I inform her that sooner will be better and go off to grab lunch from the limited selection since I am outside security at this point. I have Taco Bell. It is unsatisfying.
I’ve been waiting for my baggage ~45 minutes when the travel company calls me to inform me that they’ve been on hold with the airline this whole time, and the only way they will refund my money is if I talk to someone at the airport and get them to “uncheck” me in. “Luckily, I am still at the airport,” I tell her. She is surprised. “So am I,” I say. “So am I.”
I go upstairs and manage to find a nice man who does whatever is necessary and gets me my refund while apologizing profusely for my inconvenience.
Then I go back in search of my bag, cursing that I let them gatecheck it.
My boss calls, worried because it’s been an hour and half since I called her and I hadn’t shown up yet. I explain the situation. She wishes me luck and leaves me to waste away next to the baggage carousel.
The baggage carousel turns on, but it is someone else’s bag. I track down another baggage person and inquire if there’s a way to check on the status of my bag.
It goes downhill from here. He looks it up, and tells me that, despite the fact that I have been waiting for an hour and a half and will definitely be late for my meeting now, that no one has gone to get my bag, and that no one will. It’s inside a canister on the plane and they won’t open the canisters until the flight is cancelled or has arrived at its destination despite the fact that my bag should be RIGHT ON TOP because I gate checked it and was one of the last people on the plane. I explain that it has medication and electronics in it because it was supposed to be a carry-on, but no go. I put in a claim for lost luggage and leave the airport, seven hours after I stepped foot in it and having accomplished nothing except feeding my bag to the underbelly of a 767, perhaps never to be seen again.
I call the person running the meeting on the shuttlebus to the parking lot to get the call-in number for the meeting. The act of doing so somehow causes me to lose my claim ticket for parking, which I discover after I have been dropped off.
I manage to retrieve my car. I call into the meeting from my cell phone as I rush down the highway and can hear nothing because of road noise, but I did carve 15 minutes off the normal time the trip takes.
I finally get to work and support the meeting until 6:45 PM.
At this point I just want to go home and hide under the covers for the rest of the day. But oh no, we are not done. The highway is at a stand still, so I have to find a backway home. I call my husband to find that he hasn’t had time to make dinner like he promised and, beyond that, has gone out for the evening, since he made plans when he thought I would be out of town. I call my mom and sister, hoping for someone to spill my woes to, but they are unavailable. I finally call my dad, who tells me he is in India, but consents to talk. After fifteen minutes he tells me “this call will cost you about $30″ and is gone. Thanks, Dad.
I go and get dinner at Tokyo Joe’s. They mess up my order.
When I get home, I discover my side of the garage covered in boxes, and so I have to park on the driveway.
Luckily, that is where the madness ends. I ate my dinner, cuddled with my cat, and watched Unsolved Mysteries and How I Met Your Mother until emotional balance was reattained.
My husband later informed me that my plane eventually left – six and a half hours after it was supposed to.
Also, my bag is still lost to time and space. I got a call last night that it was en route and would get back to Denver about ~1:40 AM and they’d call me today about it, but I have yet to hear anything from that department. Also, they called about 9, so I have to wonder where my bag went, because SFO is not that far away.
Well, I’m off to call my doctor for emergency meds. Here’s hoping your day’s better than my yesterday was.