I spent most of last week out of town on a business trip. It’s too early to tell whether it was a successful trip in the conventional sense, but I did learn a few things of value, and gained a fantastic story to add to my “travel horror” collection. It already includes the impressively terrifying tale of my trip from Tokyo to Indiana flying a combination of military “space available” (which is the aviation equivalent of hitchhiking) and commercial air–with a toddler strapped to my back, and lugging a suitcase and a car seat.
Hey, I was in my twenties. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
But I digress. Last week’s trip taught me that I travel well, and that I can present capably to even a really large potential client. And to always bring one carry-on and no checked bags, even if you have to gate-check your carry-on for the teeny, tiny plane.
Once the airline has your luggage (or, just for the sake of argument, your three traveling companions’ bags), they effectively have you held hostage, forcing you to sit in a dark, depressing airport late at night while the ONE guy the airline still has working after 10 pm pulls every piece of luggage off the plane personally.
Of course, you’ll need that hour and a half of downtime so that you or and your traveling companions can sit on hold with the airline to make other arrangements, because since you actually taxied out to the runway before they decided to cancel the flight, your tickets are showing up as already used and unable to be transferred.
How do their computers know that you boarded a flight, without knowing that they canceled that flight? I have no idea. Ask Continental Airlines.
It’s probably for the same reason that a Continental Airline representative insisted for ten minutes that one of my companions bags was in Cleveland, despite the fact that he repeatedly pointed out that he was actually HOLDING the aforementioned bag at the time. In Newark.
On the positive side, Amtrak completely rocks. It made me nostalgic for my days in Japan, riding the Ueno line. Frankly, Amtrak is more comfy than the Ueno line. It also lacks the need for those guys with the white gloves who push you into the train when it’s already full. They’re like human shoehorns. But that’s another tale.