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A Few Notes about My Recent Travels…

I’m still catching up on my life after being away for a few days (seems it takes longer to recover from travel the older the kids get, no?) I thought I’d pass along a few random notes from my trip today to Orlando and last week to Sao Paulo:

– On the flight last week we pulled away from the gate at Newark and headed toward the runway. We stopped for a bit and were then told that a brakelight was malfunctioning. We returned to the gate, a SWAT-team of mechanics came on board and quickly determined that they weren’t going to fix the issue in 10 minutes. Luckily an extra (?) 767-400 was parked at the airport and 2 hours later we boarded that plane. I mention that background for this reason: We began boarding that plane at 12:30am with gate agents saying, “If we aren’t off the ground at 1:20am, the crew times out. So hurry.” They (we?) boarded a full 767-400 and had us IN THE AIR in 35 minutes. I don’t mean we boarded in 35 minutes, I mean we were off the ground. Moral: Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

– Most of the business class cabin still elected to eat dinner at 1:30am and the crew was kind enough to keep the lights on in the cabin until 2:30am so those folks could get a thorough view of the food they were eating. Moral: bring eyeshades.

– That was quite possibly the first time I had ever faced a significant flight delay and 100% did not care. I had basically no plans on the other end that day. Moral: if you just chill out during a delay, it goes much faster.

– I had originally planned to spend the first night in Asuncion, Paraguay, and had gone as far as too book the tickets and hotel. I would have missed that connection anyway, so this point is moot. But I mention this because a week or so before that flight I thought I should check the weather in Asuncion: it was 109 degrees. And not a dry 109. Moral: I have no idea.

– My flight this morning was at 8:55am and for reasons that aren’t so obvious right now I thought I could get picked up at my apartment at 7:30am while it was snowing and make it to Newark Airport on time. When I was saying goodbye to my wife at 7:30am she asked what time my flight was. I told her it was at 8:55am, she laughed at me. Well, Sooz, who’s laughing now? I arrived at the airport at 8:41am, went through TSA Pre lane, cut in front of the people waiting to put their crap on the x-ray lane (MY FLIGHT IS IN 5 MINUTES!), and ran to gate 92 like my ass was on fire (?). I arrived at 8:46 and, because I had apparently the world’s most wonderful gate agent, they let me on the plane. Bravo. Moral: Just because your wife is right doesn’t mean you can’t get on the plane.

– I accept that part of my fate as a United Silver is that I will never again see the front cabin of the plane. Except, apparently, for flights from Newark to Orlando, where I was upgraded. Moral: I’m so unappreciative, apparently, that I jeopardized that by showing up at the gate at 8:46.

– I basically spend all 365 days of last year agonizing over the fact that given my presumed travel schedule, I would not make United Gold this year (I care mostly about being able to choose Economy Plus seats when I book, which I cannot do as a Silver). I was constantly re-calculating my chances, booking connections on US Airways to get extra miles in here and there, and I was still wildly short. I considered mileage runs and in the end just accepted my fate. Contrast: My wife got an envelope from United last week that contained her Silver Elite card. Susan, to me: “Huh, look at that. I didn’t know I made Silver.” Moral: Opposites attract.

– I actually had the Seinfeld situation with my rental car at Avis. When I got there, they did not have any cars, despite my having a reservation (“anyone can TAKE a reservation….it’s the HOLDING the reservation…”). This conversation (more or less) ensued:

AVIS: We only have a minivan.
Me: I don’t want a minivan
AVIS: We also have a pickup truck. You want a pickup truck?
Me: No
AVIS: We have a sled.
Me: No.
AVIS: It’s being pulled by a pack of dogs.
Me: No
AVIS: We have a plank of wood with 4 midgets rolled up into balls underneath it.
Me: No
AVIS: Oh wait, we do have a midsize car.
Me: I’ll take that.

Moral: Anyone can take a reservation.

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  1. Did you not see if it was the Cadillac of minivans?

  2. Maybe the car rental moral is that while it may be difficult to handle, you have to ask the same question repeatedly to get the truth?

  3. lol; just because your wife is right doesnt mean you cant get on the plane; fantastic.

    I experienced shenanigans with AVIS this past summer. At BOS, they had no cars on Tuesday morning and about 20 people waiting in the AVIS first booth. Pretty unusual situation; it was like a thirty minute wait. stupid economy and downsizing.

    That Sao Paulo boarding story sounds like a Mayday episode in the making. We were late, and then something broke, and then we were even more late. So everyone was really, really tired, but we hurried up, cut corners, and got the hell out of there… and now we have a Mayday episode. First thing I thought of, but you were lucky to get out.

    Finally, Asuncion is a unique and fantastic place, if you appreciate a “you just fell of the side of the earth” type of place. I spent a fantastic weekend chillin there. Surreal.

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