Sunday, September 18, 2011

Air Travel Experiences

I would bet that 600 times a day this very same story plays out with various unsuspecting fliers. Flying used to be an event, now it is just a punishment for leaving your home to work.
There is no direct route from LA to Rochester, NY. You have to connect somewhere. This time I connected through Charlotte, NC on US Air. Charlotte is their East Coast hub. I knew that I didn't have a lot of time to spare under the best of conditions and the day did not start out with great expectations.
I couldn't get a seat assignment on line when I tried, and when I checked in at the counter the boarding pass still diid not have a seat. I questioned the token human behind the counter. He was dismissive of the problem saying,
"Oh they just haven't released the seats yet you will have to get an assignment at the gate." My experience tells me that he longer you have to wait for a seat the less desirable the seat. I am sure that is some sort of Murphy Law. I hustled to the gate to get ahead of the curve. It was not encouraging. The lady told me they were over booked and she would try to get me on. I repeated the word "Try?" She quickly said, "I'll find you a seat don't worry." I smarted back, "Make it my favorite, the middle bulkhead between two very fat guys with no sense of personal space." Yeah, I really said it. It came out of my mouth before I had a chance to even think about it. Fortunately she smiled... and seemed to get it. Eventually I got to board with first class and she had given me an aisle seat on an exit row. It was just fine for my economy flight.
Then the stress began as we sat at the gate past take off time. A couple of mechanics came on board, and checked the very exit door that I was now responsible for several times. We sat for about 45 minutes which is exactly the time I had in-between connections. I was hoping they could make up some time in the air, but during the flight the captain said that we would have to change course to avoid a storm.... more stress.
We land ten minutes before my next plane is to take off. I doubt that I will make it and have even less faith that my checked luggage will make it. This gloomy scenario seems to deepen as it takes us 10 minutes of taxiing to get to the gate. Although the flight attendants have asked everyone who doesn't have a close connection to remain seated, I only notice two people who respect that request.
It is now departure time for my connection and I am two terminals away. I arrive at D and have to go to B. I head that way and soon notice a curtesy counter with actual humans working it. I decide I will just go ahead and book the next flight to Rochester, but the guy calls the gate and they are on a ten minute hold... they haven't left yet. He hands me back the ticket and says "go" like a racing official.
I walk briskly to the gate and indeed the plane is waiting on me.... I am the very last one to board. It is a middle bulkhead seat but my row mates are of average size with a fine sense of personal space and hygiene. As I board I asked what time the next flight is to Rochester saying I doubted that my bags made it. The guy told me this was the last flight of the day but was sure with the extra ten minutes my bags would make it. I have always heard from the airline people who know that a transfer needs at least 30 minutes to make it. I figure if they started unloading before I was able to get off the plane there was still only 15 minutes with the extra gate hold time.
No one was more surprised that me when my bags were the last ones down the Shute in Rochester. I cant figure out how that happened but they got them on....and they arrived with me.
All's well that ends with your luggage arriving with you. The frat house is just like we left it... My shampoo is still in the shower and envelopes I bought to send checks home have not been touched. I assume Sammy the ghost is here as well, although things have been very quiet since I arrived.
A couple of days to see if the lights at the theatre are still working and unpack the set and away we go again.
I am never happier than when I get to do "The Two and Only".
As you were,

1 comment:

P. Grecian said...

I feel your pain. I usually wind up flying quite a bit toward the end of the year to be in attendance for two or three key Equity theatres doing one of my plays. They don't need me there, but it's good PR and I've met and established friendships with some great people.
I'm thinking about skipping that bit this year. The angst before flights and between flights just may not be worth it.
Having said that, Jay, I hope you keep doing your show for years and years to come, because, at some point, it's just gotta turn up in my town.