Vail Daily column: Airline terror
September 8, 2013
As soon as the page on the website comes up that says "purchase ticket now," I hesitate.
There should be some additional questions before you hit the "I agree" button. Such as, "Are you prepared to be miserable from the time you enter the airport until you arrive at your destination? This includes both departure and returning flights." Or, "Are you willing to risk the loss of at least 48 hours of your life while traveling? Be aware that you can never get these hours back and no one will ever care about your sad story and the fact the airline did nothing to make it better."
I purchase the ticket anyway because the time capsule hasn't been invented yet. My credit card is debited and I make plans for the first leg of misery.
Parking always seems to be an issue on these trips so I'll start there. I decided to try the RTD lots and take the big bus in. Of course as I'm pulling into the lot, the bus I need is pulling out. No big deal. The heavy rains have not even started.
I bought my parking permit for six days' worth and waited for the next bus in a drizzle. It shows, he opens the door and I say "How much?" He says "Four dollas'" and I put four dollas in the money grabber machine (correct change only). So far so good— $12 to park and a $4 bus ride.
Except for the two and half hour layover in Minneapolis (where the people are extremely friendly while they talk a little funny), it was a non-event trip back to my roots. (My roots, the place where racism thrives, unions prevail and economies are non-existent. Ahh, Cleveland, home of the Tribe and a football team named after a color. It was good to be back.)
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While there, my mom is thrilled to see me (I always make her a pot of sauce with the spicy meataball and freeze at least three meals for her), my brother and I have a few beers, my high school buds come around and I play a little golf with my cugino. (Triple digit temperatures and 90 percent moisture in the air does not a perfect day make on the ol' links.) We all sit on the beach at night; the bugs smell me like a fresh piece of meat and feast accordingly. I scratch the boils off the next four days, and then it's time for the second leg of the trip.
While driving to the airport I get a message on my phone: "Your flight has been canceled and we apologize for this inconvenience." (Here we go. I knew it went too smoothly out of Denver.)
I wait before I call my friends at Delta Airlines, and I'm not sure why. (Perhaps I wanted to make them sweat.)
I tried to sound pompous when I said, "What are my options?" and Andre replied from his cheat sheet, "We can get you on flight such and such at … "
I interrupted and think I said, "You obviously don't know who I am, Andre," and went further on and explained, "I will lose $10,000 in wages if I don't get back today" (at this juncture the story may not be perfectly accurate).
After that rather inflamed exchange on my part, Andre made everything all right. I was nonstop the next day on a United flight and he extended a $100 voucher because of the problem. I'll never forget when he said, "I know this won't make up for the $10,000 you lost in wages but we are prepared to give you $100." I pretended to call my attorney and then said "OK, I accept your offer … now go in peace." (Little did he know, it was no big deal for me to stay an extra day.)
Other than the United flight was delayed for three hours, and the TSA searched my golf bag and forgot to put two shoes back (different pairs of course), a different bus driver wanted $9 for the ride back to the lot and I had already put four singles in and a $10 bill was all I had left (exact change only) and someone put a $50 parking ticket on my car, because I was seven days parking, not six, it went smooth as smooth can be.
Way to go, Andre. It really wasn't that bad. A little less terror this time.
Greg Ziccardi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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