“I am dog tired. Enough is enough. I walk back over to the carousel and wait for the luggage that may never come. I’m quite sure that this is due to our late arrival. There’s probably all of one person working back there. At long last, the carousel cranks up and there’s a collective sigh. But, not from me; I’ve never been one for group-think, group reaction or group anything, for that matter, let alone sighs of relief.”—By F. Theresa Gillard
Status: Quo Minus
By F. Theresa Gillard
Note: Believe it or not, My Trusty Readers, I am about to crank this S@%* column of mine back up! Whilst you await more substantive pieces, here’s a throwback tidbit that amazingly mirrors my recent trip to Charlotte, delays and all. Please note: Charlotte Douglas International is undergoing major construction. And, the best news ever is that all you have to do (now) is stroll over to the new rental car facility which houses all of the agencies. Hallelujah! And, we all know everyone charges to check your bags these days. Enough said. Read on.
BOSTON Massachusetts—(Weekly Hubris)—8/17/2015—I have this little story to tell. Honestly, I’m full of ‘em. Of course, it’s mostly about me.
So, I traveled to South Carolina for the holidays. Yes, I did say “traveled,” meaning I boarded another aircraft. Really, there’s no other way anymore.
Well, there are other ways to travel. I could go by train, bus or car and it’ll take at least 16-plus hours. The flight is two hours to Charlotte-Douglas International (CLT) or Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL). I prefer the Charlotte-Douglas connection—Hartsfield/Atlanta is a country unto itself.
And, if you can afford it (or rationalize the expense), your final destination would be Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP), which is a 30 or so minute flight from either CLT or ATL. From GSP, you’ll have a short half hour drive to Anderson.
Otherwise, it’s a two-hour drive from CLT or ATL’s airports. Generally, I take the otherwise option out of Charlotte: I rent a car and drive the two hours to Anderson.
But, let’s back up to Boston’s Logan International. I learned quite a few lessons during this year’s home-for-the-holidays trip.
Lesson No. 1: I shall not fly JetBlue Airways again. Ever. OK, I’ll probably have to break down and ignore this lesson. I always fly US Airways; however, the rates were through the roof this year. And I’d heard about JetBlue’s extra leg room (you’re not allowed to have legs on US Airways). I’m all for the extra when it comes to cabin space.
And, I suppose it’s not really JetBlue’s fault. I was booked on Flight 1247 departing at 7:30 p.m. Seeing as I work in Boston’s Chinatown area, which is, without traffic, a mere seven minutes to Logan. I chose a later departure, went to work, and then headed over to Logan.
Lesson No. 2: Thou shall not work on departure day. Working on departure day leaves time for a few possibilities of mayhem, inklings of much that might go wrong. Like, wondering for eight hours if you forgot something and knowing that you still have time to run home and get it. Everyone stopping by your office saying, “Oh, you’re still here? You’re flying out when?!” Everything was going quite smoothly.
Since JetBlue allows one checked bag at no cost, I check my bag inside Terminal C. The bag check line is long, but moving fast. And, there are only a few people in line at the security checkpoint.
Hallelujah! No humiliating, bulge-revealing X-ray machine. It’s about two hours pre-departure. Whew, that was a breeze! I just have to sit here and wait to board.
I cannot believe there’s been no F. Theresa-ist drama. I settle in at the gate, take out my computer and look at a blank page (my initial attempt at writing this column).
By now, you’d think I’d have learned that my lack of luck or anything resembling the normal progression of simple processes is a given.
Whilst still staring at my blank page, watching the cursor patiently flashing, I hear my flight number. It just so happens that my flight status has changed to “Delayed,” resulting in a gate change.
Even after this sinks in, I remain a travel optimist. As long as I arrive safely, I’ll be thrilled. As opposed to arriving un-safely—like DOA. Not my preferred travel outcome.
Gate change. Flight delay. No problem. I make my way over to the new gate. Stop the merry madness! To get to the new gate, you have to exit Security. Oh, hell no! This cannot be. Like, for real? Seriously? (I could go on forever like this, such a shock it is.)
All I can think is that depending on the length of the delay, it is entirely conceivable that the gate will change again and, eventually, the flight will be canceled.
What gets me is that they make these travel-catastrophic announcements like they’re giving away cake: “Flight No. 1247 is no longer delayed.” Dramatic pause, then: “It’s cancelled. Thank you for flying with us.”
Really, flying? We haven’t even made it to the tarmac.
OK, sorry for that digression. Sometimes, I get carried away with the possibilities, not to mention that they involve actual memories of experiences past, but that’s a story for another time.
Anyways, I’m not the only one a little perturbed that we’re being forced to go through the security checkpoint again. A couple behind me cannot believe that JetBlue’s terminal is set up this way. They are livid. Yet, do we really have a choice? Not really—if our goal is to reach our final destination anytime in the near future.
We commence with the usual (except it seems so déjà vu-ish) TSA personal violations that supposedly deem us clear to continue our pre-trip trip.
Finally, I’m sitting at the new gate staring at another blank page. The cursor is mesmerizing. Man, will I ever get this thing written? Turns out, I have plenty of time. I arrived two hours early and my flight is delayed over two hours.
By the time I reach Charlotte-Douglas International airport, I am a zombie. Literally. As I wait 40 minutes for my luggage to appear, I’m wondering if they rent cars to zombies.
I have to admit that once aboard JetBlue’s Flight 1247 (if you don’t count the very loud snorer) it was quite impressive. Really, it was more like a throwback flight. This little tidbit may predate some of you guys. Back in the day, airlines not only offered snacks, but they also provided breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
JetBlue not only offers a variety of full-sized snack choices (I chose the Doritos snack mix, though tempted by the animal crackers), then water followed by an entire, 12-oz. can of soda (Diet Coke for me).
And, for a mere $2.00, one may purchase headphones to watch the free in-flight movies or other programming. Of course, I opt to punish myself by staring at the cursor. My column is late again and it still comprises a flashing cursor, so the punishment is fitting.
Meanwhile, JetBlue’s in-air service was so spectacular that I almost forget the security fiasco. Yet, as I stand waiting forever for my checked bag, the memory of that unpleasantness is seeping back in.
Lesson No. 3: Even if it’s free, never check your bag, unless it is absolutely required—as in the airline makes you check it due to size.
It’s nigh midnight, and now I’m starting to wonder if my rental car reservation is still valid since, technically, my rental reservation was for 12/16 and it just so happens that it’ll be 12/17 by the time I get over there.
Instead of standing and staring at the baggage carousel or literally running like most of my fellow travelers to any carousel that cranks up, I decide to go over to Budget and check on my rental. In Charlotte-Douglas, as in most airports, the rental car desks are on the same level as Baggage Claim.
After walking what seemed like a mile from our arrival gate, walking the length of arrival terminal is about to be my last hoorah. And, hold-up, wait a minute, where is the Budget rental counter?
You know how when you know absolutely that you’ve done something, yet you start to question yourself, even though your recall is sound. That’s me standing there like, what the heck? I see Avis, Alamo, Hertz, and National. I also see an empty rental counter that is void of signage, evidently Budget’s previous home.
I am dog tired. Enough is enough. I walk back over to the carousel and wait for the luggage that may never come. I’m quite sure that this is due to our late arrival. There’s probably all of one person working back there.
At long last, the carousel cranks up and there’s a collective sigh. But, not from me; I’ve never been one for group-think, group reaction or group anything, for that matter, let alone sighs of relief.
Seeing as I don’t know what else to do, I walk out to the rental car shuttles. I do this because I know for a fact that I booked a rental car through Budget to be picked up at CLT. It’s rainy and cool in Charlotte. I see all of the other shuttles and my resolve starts to flicker.
And, then like the way a lit Krispy Kreme “Hot Now” neon sign makes your mouth water, through the fog and misty rain, I see that familiar blue-and-orange Budget logo. Oh, how sweet it is.
The driver, a nice lady with a thick Southern drawl, helps me onto the shuttle and explains that Avis bought out Budget, so I should have checked in at Avis prior to boarding the shuttle. However, she tells me that she’ll call it in to the rental lot and it’ll be fine.
And, with this, I know I’m home. A good ol’ dose of Southern hospitality proves it.
My final trip lesson is confirmed. No. 4: There’s nothing like coming home, despite the crap you’ve got to wade through to get there.