I want to start by saying that it was my fault. I was late. As late as 35 minutes early is anyway.
This post has nothing to do with baseball or baseball cards, or even Walter, the Dude or H. I. McDonough. But I was thinking about it and I want to write something.
I spent the weekend in Colorado at a wedding. It was very nice. Maybe I'll put some pictures up later. My wife and I were flying home sunday morning out of Denver. The first thing that is my fault (and there are several) is I made a wrong turn on the way to the airport. This probably cost 10 minutes. What can I say. Then it took longer than expected to return the rental car. The DNC was arriving and things were busy. Maybe I should have accounted for that.
I got to the airport to check in about 50 minutes before departure. Plenty of time. There is a huge line. I think maybe I should say something, but I don't want to be one of those people that gets to cut to the front unless I'm really cutting it close. I don't begrudge those people. I just didn't think it was necessary. I decided just to wait my turn. Mistake #2.
I get to the front with 35 minutes to spare. No problem. I go to check in on the computer. It says I've missed my flight. I call some dude over who politely says that I must check in 45 minutes before departure. "But, I've been in line for about 20 minute." He politely ignores this observation and points me to another counter for the scum who arrive late.
I go over to the next counter to tell my tale to another polite gentleman. This man will surely help me. The plane STILL doesn't take off for another half hour. I could do cartwheels to the gate and still have time to spare. This man is the slowest man on the face of the earth. As he steps away for a moment my wife informs me that she has named him "Flash". This is ridiculously appropriate. I take this as a good sign. Surely he would move faster if time was short. Flash politely charges me $15 to check my bag. It's $350 a person round trip, $380 if you don't want to be naked. No problem. Flash then hands me our standby tickets to the next available flight to Chicago, our connection. We have now officially missed our flight that STILL won't take off for 20 minutes. However, Flash doesn't seem concerned. "You'll still make the connecting to Cleveland" he tells us very politely. Fantastic.
So we get up to the gate in time to see the plane that we SHOULD be on, push away a few gates over. No worries. We'll be in the air in less than an hour. The gentleman at the gate politely tells us he'll call us when it's our turn. Then things go horribly wrong. The plane is full. Now we will miss our connecting to Cleveland.
At customer service the lady politely berates us with her eyes for the scum that we are. We have missed our flight. We are all that is wrong with the world. We were only 35 minutes early (50 actually, but 35 when it counted) which is 10 minutes late. I think the airline must be run by Tom Coughlin.
"What do we do now?"
"I can get you on a direct flight to Cleveland", she politely informs us.
"Great, when does it leave?"
For a terrible moment I'm sure she isn't done. I'm sure she is going to say "thursday". But our luck is changing. It's leaving tonight. We only have about 7 more hours in the airport. What fun. My pregnant wife is thrilled.
It serves us right for being only 35 minutes early. I have no doubt that there is a piece of paper somewhere informing us that we must be checked in 45 minutes early. So this really is technically my fault. I was late. I made the wrong turn. At about 7.30 we took off and arrived in Cleveland at about 12.30 AM. Home at about 1.30AM. Up for work in a few hours. Good times.
I also am well aware that this absolutely pales in comparison to other travel nightmares, and most of you probably have stories that make this seem like a walk in the park. But like I said, I was just thinking about it.
I guess what I just don't understand is why nobody from the airline who could have helped decided we were worth helping. Nobody was interested or seemed to care very much. I understand that in the big scheme of things it is a very small inconvenience and it IS much my fault for missing their deadline. It would have been nice for someone to help out, though.
I wonder if the trouble that the airlines are in has as much to do with this sort of thing as the high gas prices. To them we were just another couple that had to wait around for a little while for a fight. Big deal. To us, it wasn't the end of the world, it was just a really shitty, uncomfortable, completely exhausting day.
If nothing else it did give us time to spend $29 on candy and 1.5 lb of fudge. So that wasn't too bad.
I don't really want to name the airline because they probably are no worse than any of the others. I'll just say that it rhymes with Nunited Nairlines.
And, like I said, they were slow, unhelpful, and didn't seem to give much of a crap...but they were polite.
Fred C. Harris and Brendan C. Boyd
5 weeks ago