Tag Archives: travel

airport catastrophes, please @dulles_airport, call me back!!!

21 Apr

My work with a client had an earlier exit point than expected this week, so I was within 24 hours of my scheduled flight. I check on united.com and it says I can make a same day change as long as its within 24 hours of my scheduled flight for $75. I think cool. that is much cheaper than another night in the hotel and meals for tomorrow on the way home. Call united, she verifies that this is the right policy and tells me that there is plenty of space on the flight I am thinking about taking.

I arrive at the airpoint about two hours prior to the flight thinking I have plenty of time (can you tell that this sounds like foreshadowing?) I get in line and have to wait quite a while because they tell me I have to talk to a real person. I finally get my turn and she spends forever trying to figure this all out. She finally comes back and tells me that will be $150 plus some fair difference ,making it like $239. I tell her, you policy is within 24 hours. She says, “no, the policy is same day if you want the same day change fare, you have to come back tomorrow AM. I nicely explain that their website says differently as well as the person I spoke to on the phone. She says, well they are incorrect. I show her the site, she gets pissed off and tells me to go around the corner to the special services counter. So I do that. And have to stand in another line. A shorter line, but of course this is the line for the people who have problems, so each person takes a loooooog time.

By this time, I get to her, I have 55 minutes, She easily helps me, and in fact, shows me that they were wrong on the other side, I could have even done this myself at a self checking <banging head against wall. She tells me there are two choices, the one I planned on and another one leaving at 4:30 (half hour later) I look at the time, and say, maybe I better take that 4:30 one, I’m not sure I’m going to have time to get through security and to the gate. She says, “oh you’ll have plenty of time, no worries.” I say “are you sure.” She again beams at me and says, “our security here goes fast…no worries.” (hmm….more foreshadowing?)

I get down to security, and indeed, it looks like it is not too terribly terrible, but busy and long lines of course. Dulles is a weird airport for security. I get up to the guy who checks the ticket and I pull out my temporary drivers license (my new renewal is in the mail to me back home) but it says right on the paper that goes with it “valid for airport travel” or something like that. The guy at the checkpoint doesn’t believe it, so he has to call some other guy on a walkie talkie to come down and verify this. Of course, this takes forever. The guy checks it all carefully and lets me go.

At this point, the plane is now boarding. But its a big plane, so boarding takes a while. I get in one of the lines to actually go through security, a second wait, and at dulles this part always takes the longest. I am finally within range of the table to sling the stuff on and I have a guy in front of me who doesn’t start taking care of his stuff until the conveyor and table is already clear from the person in front of him and then he starts mozying to do his thing. I start gradually getting my computer, liquids and cpap into bins. Shoes. Bags, finally get stuff going through. Get through the Humiliator (the full body scan) and begin grabbing my stuff. I am golden, grabbing faster than the speed of light, throwing on my tennis shoes and putting everything in and running off.

Hmm, my backpack feels ligher than it should. Shoot! left computer! Run back as I havent gone far, and get computer, and also fitbit from same bin. Off I go again! Run past crazy amounts of people (which I NEVER could have done a year ago) get on tram to my gates. Get to my terminal and am thankful to see my gate is only a couple of down. I make it to the gate, and they were just about to pack it up. I get on, triumphant. I made it!

Get seated and begin to pull out my devices to turn them off. Where is my phone ? OMG, where is my stupid phone? Check the bag neurotically 3 or 4 times. Not there, not there! Realize I must have either left it at the checkpoint (I was using it right up to security) or on the tram. The flight attendant had JUST asked people to put away their devices. I sheepishly ask the two ladies next to me whether they could possibly Text my phone or my husband for me to start tracking down my phone. They (even the young one) start huffing about how it’s illegal, while sitting amidst a sea of people who haven’t yet powered down. Bless their integrity.

I stew for the first 30 min of the flight but take my mind off it by watching the stupid inflight movie. I still sporadically imagine a villain getting access to my email and Evernote where I store corporate and sensitive info. 😦

Land in Denver and immediately connect to wireless to ping my phone. Yep. It pings back. Smugly showing its location at Dulles Airport. Call hubby, and he tells me someone had texted and called to say they were turning it into TSA lost and found! Yay! They even provided the phone number. Hubby had talked to TSA and an iPhone with a case matching my description was enroute to central TSA lost and found. They sent him email instruction and a claim number.

Went home on last leg more relieved.

But sadly, it couldn’t be that easy. Of course not. TSA calls next day and says the phone matching my description had been claimed by a flight attendant and was not mine, that somehow they had confirmed it was hers.

So I call Dulles airport lost and found, hoping that I lost it on the tram, because then it would mean the person turned it into central lost and found rather than TSA. But alas, apparently Dulles airport lost and found is either swamped with calls to return or they just don’t feel urgency about retuning calls,because no contact back from them yet.

I hold out hope that since no one has tried to turn it on since it lost battery that it may indeed be in a lost and found bin rather than in someone’s hot little hands, but..I wonder what myriad of ways people can thwart find my iPhone….

Went and got a replacement last night using my hubby’s upgrade eligibility. Praying we still get it back ,that way it was worth it as he will have a new iPhone too.

On a separate note, backup from iCloud is a godsend. And the only bright spot? No way in HELL, that I could have ran from security to c gates in Dulles with a bag and heavy backpack a year ago!

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Why I hate flying…or, a lesson in humiliation

5 Oct

I need to write this out instead of eat in response to it.  There, finally, I think I wonder.  I say I eat more when I travel because i’m bored, but I sorta wonder.  Do I eat because the act of plane travel is so humiliating that I seek some sort of reward for going through it?  I don’t know, its some of both, trying to keep myself busy, trying not to be lonely in a new city, what have you.

So the backstory….

I moved to a new employer (I work in high tech, I’m a geek) in May.  With the job change came an expectation of fairly regular travel.  My husband and I talked through the impact of this on our family, what we would need to do to make 25% travel ok for him.  With 4 kids, this was a serious consideration.  Ultimately, while I don’t often ask for permission in much of anything in my life, I knew that this was a choice that we had to be together on, lest it cause big problems.  Anyway, we are.  So fastforward to all of this traveling.  Through the course of the first 3 months on the job, I put on 15 lbs.  I attribute this to two things — onsite cafeteria and travel eating.   This gain of 15 lbs finally put me at a point this summer where I had my first experience of a plane seat belt not fitting.  And that began my journey toward weight loss surgery.

Fastforward to today.

Travel, travel, what do I hate about thee? Absolutely fucking everything.  It begins just mobilizing to get ready.  As a representative of my company, I need to look put together going into client’s offices.  Do you know how hard it is to look put together on a budget when you are plus size between size 24/26? Things look fucking shitty on you.  You either look like an old lady, or you look like a plus sized slut. Just going through the possible combinations of clothing that might be suitable actually, physically makes me sweat.  I am not joking.  So I finally get the bag packed and set my alarm for the crack of dawn this morning.

Then comes the airport.  The first offronts come at security.  First is needing to pull out that stupid  CPAP machine, one more stupid thing to do at security and one more reminder of the impact that my weight has on my life.  then I go through that stupid total body scanner, just trying to pretend not to imagine what my body image must look like to someone looking at that screen.  Then try to hustle myself through repacking everything all up, and rush to the gate.  By the time I get to the gate, I’m sweating, because, that is how it is for me, anyway.  I can’t bear to travel in work appropriate attire because of comfort, so I dress like a slob and feel like that fat slob that everyone is just hoping they don’t have to sit next to.

I actually pay extra to buy “Choice seats” to have more room to maneuver on the plane, because i’ve learned that if I don’t buy those seats, the stupid tray doesn’t even come down all the over my gut, or else I have to shove it under my belly so it is cutting into me.  Everything about the airport and standing in lines and getting on planes makes me feel my size.  Spaces are small, people in close proximity. I worry that I smell bad, despite having taken a shower this AM.

I get on the plane, thankful for my 360 rolling bag, because that, at least, has made getting on the plane a little easier.  Its bad enough when you are wider than the walkway, but when you are wider and your bag is constantly getting caught on things, it only adds to the spectacle you feel like you are creating.

Get to my seat, and think, well this isn’t right, on the plane seat map choice it didn’t show this as a bulk head seat.  But indeed it is.  I had to settle for a window seat, which i typically hate because I feel so big in them.  I usually try to go for aisle.  The exit door actually juts out about 8 inches, so I have a difficult time getting into my seat.  I have a few instances of having to get up and get things that I will need on the flight because I don’t have storage under the seat in front of me.  Grr.  I grab out my brand new seat belt extender, happy I have it and don’t have to ask for one, but just spend the whole flight vastly uncomfortable. I twist myself around funny to try to be smaller and not overlap into the guy next to me.  Everytime I move my arms, I worry I’m annoying him.  When I get up (and in this case its actually better I guess because of bulkhead, they don’t all have to get up, but (and this is TMI) I worry about whether my butt is in their face and whether I stink.  All the sweating to get to the planes, the tension caused by getting seated got me overheated and sweaty again, I feel gross and imagine I must smell. Not sure that is true, but that is how I feel.

Get off the planes finally, relieved to have some breathing room.  Get down to book a shuttle, and realize that I have left my fucking brand new extender on the fucking plane.  Fuckity fuck fuck.

Shuttle is another exercise in embarrassment.  All the front seats are filled have to try to squeeze my way into the far back.  I am of course, the one who has to get out first, too, and shove past everyone again.  And then the step down from the shuttle, I have to do some weird maneuvering because I am big and also because my knees are unstable and its hard for me to bend them…hard to explain, but getting out higher up vehicles with multiple running boards = awkward.

Get to the hotel, relieved to be able to relax.  Realize that I have left one of my standard toiletry bags at home. Fuckity fuck fuck again.  Have to figure out where the nearest drug store is,  walk .3 miles down there, buy $50 worth of stuff I already have, and then find a place to have dinner.  End up going to subway because the places I had scoped out to go into look all intimate and I feel like everyone in the whole place would look up when I walk in all alone.  So instead I go to subway, and have a shitty 6″ sub and sun chips.   Definitely not the worst thing I could have done, but also has bread (a nono for me at this point) and the chips.  I seriously debate with myself to go back to the drug store a few stores down and get some chocolate and snacks to take back to the hotel room with me, which is my normal modus operandi.  I seriously waver at the door, wanting desperately to turn toward the store, but instead point myself in the direction of the hotel, feeling pissy the whole way.

Get back to the hotel and try to clean up, because the rest of my team has arrived and we are meeting at the bar.  I feel obligated to have some wine and “fit in” so I have two glasses.  I come back up to the hotel room at 10:30, and want desperately to go get some snacks again.  And so I started writing this instead.  I still want snacks. I still am not sure I won’t go get my clothes back on and go get something.  😦

 

ETA:  So lets try to turn this around….so MAYBE next year this time, I won’t feel this way?  Maybe I will be more fit and won’t work up a sweat just getting myself on an airplane.  maybe I’ll be able to sit comfortably in a plane seat, and not need an extender.  Maybe I will be able to make better food choices when I travel.  I DID actually make some better choices today than I normally would.  A normal day would start out with a full breakfast at McDs at the home airport (sausage mcgriddle, hashbrown, diet coke.)  I did still have mcd’s, but i had the egg mcmuffin and no hashbrown and a diet coke.  Normally, then, at the layover, I would get a snack.  I didn’t.  On the plane, I would take the box with all the chips and cookies.  I didn’t, I chose the fruit/cheese plate and water.  Normally, when I get to the hotel, I would pick out a restaurant and “treat” myself to something decadent.  I didn’t.  I had subways.  Normally, I would find snacks to eat for late night.  I didn’t.  I am sitting here pissy instead.  😀

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