Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Burden of Travel

"That's it!" I said. "I'm not flying American Airlines ever again. Well, unless there's no other option."

I hate traveling. I love the destination. I know that sounds like an obvious statement, but I do know people that find this sort of inner peace when traveling.

Our flight leaving St. Louis was at 6 am, which meant we had to leave our house at 4 AM.. So the night before, I took a pill to help me sleep, and passed out at 11. Sallie had to work and didn't get home until after midnight. So, I got the most sleep at around 4 hours. Sallie the least at 2.

Surprisingly we were all feeling pretty good. We parked in lot D, well before the sun was coming up, packed onto a trolly, and were dropped off at the airport.

Things went smoothly. We went through security in about 10 minutes, made it to the plane right as it was boarding and we were off to Dallas.

Thus far, American Airlines had only irritated me with how they handled Brett's cancellation. They wouldn't give a full credit for a ticket, only about half of one. It would be one thing if the plane was empty and Brett's ticket mattered, but it was filled to the brim.

My second irritation came shortly after because we hadn't really had anything to eat. Our stomachs started waking up shortly after take off. I've flown Frontier, United, and Southwest... all offered pretzels or peanuts or something. American did not. We did get a drink, but I needed some real calories.

Dallas... ahhh Dallas. I always complain about the humidity in St. Louis, but Dallas is truly the armpit of America. The 100 feet we had to walk through to get into the airport caused my body to almost shut down from sweating so hard.

The airport is set up like a figure 8 almost, with an indie 8 and outside 8. You can't get to any other terminal without jumping on a little tram they have that rides along the entire outside of the airport. Things weren't labeled the greatest, but we found our way. The hour we had for a layover meant nothing, by the time we made it to the terminal for our connecting flight, it was boarding and getting ready to take off.

This was a larger airplane, so I hoped against hope that maybe they would have some food. They did not. In fact, I realized that I am too tall for American Airlines because I couldn't pull the tray table down thanks to my long legs. And when the large man reclined in front of me, I could barely breath.

The trip to Sedona was pretty easy. It was the trip back that was rough. It had become significantly warmer, Sallie wasn't feeling well, and we had a good 32,000 round-abouts to take before we left Sedona. After spending a little over two hours in the car, we sat at my dad's waiting to go to the airport. We arrived, got through pretty quickly and started the wait.

It was apparent something was wrong. Our boarding time came and went. We saw American Airline folks getting nervous. Our airplane started getting pulled away from the gate. Before they made the announcement, Sallie jumped in line, knowing that something was going down.

They announced that the flight was going to be delayed an hour and a half, which meant we were going to miss our connecting flight to St. Louis. They handed us a 1-800 number and told us to call them to get taken care of. We called the 800 number and they had no idea what was going on. Apparently, the people at the front counter only listed the plane as delayed and the 800 number can't do anything with that. So we went back to the counter and eventually got our flights changed. They put us on a flight the next day. We would have to spend the night in Dallas.

They couldn't tell us anything that was going to happen until we flew into Dallas. We showed up and found out we had been booked into a Marriot down the street and gave us a meal voucher for breakfast.

The Marriot was nice enough, but the room we were in was a $500 a night room and there was nothing special about it. There was one king sized bed and a chair. There was one television and they didn't even have HBO, just HBO family. Why would anyone stay in a hotel like that?

So the only restaurant open was the hotels and we spend $50 for "ok" at best food. We then pass out for 5 hours, get on another plane, and come back to St. Louis.

We thought the travel misery was finally over, but then realized we had to play for another day of parking and on the way back from the airport, got stuck in construction on 170.

So now, after eating several days of fast food and not showering as well as I would want, I'm at home, popping vitamins, looking for fruit, swearing to not get into a plane again for a few months.

Next up... the fun parts of the trip...