We interrupt the original blog post I had planned for today to bring you a little special something. I’ve been on blog and real life hiatus the past couple weeks celebrating the holidays with my family in South Padre Island, TX! Yesterday I flew back and encountered many hilarious obstacles. In 2015, I want to write more about real things, instead of just goals, so here goes. If you like slightly hilarious and pathetic travel disaster stories, keep reading….and then say nice things to me. Please know the point of this post is not to be constantly complaining, its just my real life thoughts during a difficult day of travel. I know many people have had WAY worse travel obstacles (like my friend, Anna, who is way funnier than me) and I know y’all can relate and laugh about it with me because we’ve all been there!
Two things you should know prior to this story:
1. I consider myself an experienced traveler. I’ve done long roadtrips, traveled abroad, and I fly at least 2-3 times per year. I’ve dealt with delays, cancelled flights, and being stranded in cities, so I feel like most things don’t phase me when traveling, I almost expect them. My mom, on the other hand, would probably disagree with that statement though because while I remain calm on the outside in the wake of travel disasters, I am painfully impatient and she is secretly getting all of my ranting and sarcastic texts when I travel. Love ya mom.
2. I never EVER check my bags. I always carry-on…
…Except for this trip of course, because I wanted to bring board games to play with my family and those plus clothes for a 2 week vacation do not fit in a carry-on.
A Day in the Life of Travel Disaster and My Accompanying Thoughts
4 am- I wake up, groan, and remember that I have to take my parents to the airport because they are flying American home to Iowa and their flight leaves at 6:15 am. This part goes well. I go home, sleep for an hour, eat a fabulous breakfast with some good family friends, and then finishing cleaning our condo until I head to the airport for my flight later in the morning.
9:30 am- I arrive at the South Padre (Brownsville) airport. My flight is supposed to leave at 10:51 am and then I have a 45 min. layover in Houston (IAH) before heading on another flight to Minneapolis (MSP). Driving there I’m a little leary BECAUSE on my way TO south padre 2 weeks prior, I had a 45 minute layover in Houston which I missed because my flight from MSP–> IAH was delayed….for no apparent reason. No reason given at all by any United employee. I ended up missing my flight from IAH–> South Padre/Brownsville and ended up staying in a hotel in Houston for the night til I could catch the earliest flight the next day. A hotel room for which I paid for because United would not reimburse me, and I’m pretty sure I overheard multiple drug deals going on in the room next to me and my door didn’t lock. No biggie, it happens, I get it. But this was all definitely fresh in my mind.
ANYWAY. I get to the airport and return the rental car to see that my flight is delayed til 11:07. So now I have a 30 min layover in IAH if all goes well. I have flashbacks to two weeks ago and am glad I wore my TOMS, because I can sprint faster in those than sandals.
I go up to the counter to check my bag and check-in….to find that its 51 lbs. The limit is 50 lb. The man tells me I must take out 1 lb of stuff from my suitcase, which is stuffed full of things like bathroom rugs that I bought because we had coupons and I am one of those people who loves coupons and buys things on sale, without thinking of how to get them back in a suitcase. I plead with the worker that it is just one pound overweight, but he is adamant. I get that rules are rules and they need to apply to everyone. But I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little miffed just because I’m not sure how I’ll get my suitcase to shut again. I pull out ONE chaco sandal while praying none of my underwear falls out, put my bag on the scale, and say 50 is 50! nicely to the worker. Don’t worry mom, I smiled when I said it.
When I go to sit down, I get a text from United that says my flight supposedly leaving at 11:07 am is now leaving at 12 pm. I do the math and realize that there is no way I’ll make my 1 pm flight in Houston if we leave at noon. I start laughing and am thankful I brought two good books to read, because this is going to be a long-ass day.
I go back up to the ticket counter and another man helps me. His name is Robert and I will be writing to United about him because he is the most wonderful ticket agent I have ever encountered. No sarcasm, all truth. He is the one bright shining star of the day, other than the spotted cow mentioned later in the story. I explain my situation and he tells me that things are backed up in Houston so I may still be able to make my 1 pm flight there, he will put me on the standby list for a 3:45 pm flight from IAH–MSP which is full and he will monitor it and if a seat pops up, he’ll snatch it for me. I say thanks, you’re so helpful! He says, don’t worry Emily, I got you. I almost buy him a plane ticket to come back to MSP with me because I don’t think I’ve ever had a man say that to me and could use some more of that in my life. Don’t worry mom, I decided against it.
At this point, it’s 10 am-ish. Over the next 30 minutes, I get four, yes FOUR, texts from United with different flight changes for my first flight to IAH from South Padre that I’m waiting on…one minute we’re leaving at 11:18 (which means I could make the first flight easy), the next it’s back to noon. There are only 2 gates at the small Brownsville airport, so I see that our plane hasn’t arrived, which makes this very unbelievable. But seriously United, make up your damn mind or don’t text me a million times to make me thing I’m going to make my flight. That’s teasing and no one likes that.
Sometime during the 10 o clock hour I hear over the loud speaker that they have oversold our flight and are looking for one volunteer to take a later flight in the day and receive a $350 voucher. I quick do the math– the later flight leaves at 1 and our flight is now leaving at noon, and if I take that later flight I would still be able to catch the 3:45 flight out of MSP. WIN. I race up to the counter and and yell “I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE”. Ha, I wish I was that bold. I do race up there, but inquire with my elementary school 6 inch voice. My BFF Robert then tells me he got me a seat on the 3:45 outta Houston just in case i miss the 1 pm flight…so I could take the 1 pm outta South Padre to free up the oversold flight and make that no matter what…. but the computer system won’t let him enter it and now the flight is full again. He then tells me that if I take the 1 pm and a seat doesn’t open up on the 3:45 flight, he has to reroute me from Houston to Denver and then Denver to Minneapolis. I tell him if he sends me to Denver, I’m spending the night there because I could use a Saturday night in one of my favorite cities. He laughs. While we are figuring this out, another girl goes to the other ticket guy and he gives her the voucher. Robert then vouches for me (HA, GET IT) that I was first and we were figuring it out but then Mr. “you need to take 1 lb out of your suitcase” says it’s already a done deal. Robert and I are heartbroken, but we live. Normally I console my broken heart’s with salads from Chipotle, but in an airport the size of my house, there is no Chipotle. I settle for a hershey kiss I find in my purse.
Our plane finally arrives. As I’m getting ready to board, I see the girl who snatched the voucher from me. She then tells me that they actually never oversold the flight and she now has to take the original flight. I don’t know how they can misnumber that, because this is a tiny ass plane that holds maybe 30 people and a tiny ass airport with two gates. I chalk it up to karma.
As I’m getting on the plane around noon, my mom texts me to tell me they are already back in Iowa. Funny things happen when you don’t fly united airlines. You fly through the same bad weather that’s all over Texas and STILL make it home on time!
We touch down in Houston at 12:55, I’m in row 2 so I have a good shot of making the 1:04 flight if it’s in the same terminal. As I’m bolting off the plane, I multitask and look at my phone to see that the flight is delayed til 1:30 due to crew availability. HOLLA!
The IAH “B” terminal for “united express” AKA small planes going to small towns is structured differently than others. You would think a plane going to MSP would be big, but no, it’s a regional jet. I don’t discriminate against plane size (unless were coming back from Europe, still eating my words on that one), so I don’t mind taking a small plane back to MSP but it’s just wierd. Anyway, instead of sitting at the gates in this terminal, you sit in this big waiting area and wait to be called to pass through this space-age looking sliding doors where there are multiple gates yonder for you to board your plane. The problem with this is that they call you over a loud speaker…that is not that loud. They repeatedly tell us to not look at the board of flights because it isn’t correct and that we need to just wait in the area and listen to them. I am starving and am afraid to get food for fear of missing the damn flight, I begin to get a little hangry.
Another text from united, flight delayed til 2 pm. They still can’t find us a crew. I decide to call my college roommate, Joy, to catch up. The conversation is half us catching up and half me saying “wait, wait, sorry they’re announcing another flight”. I see a family with Minnesota gear on, so I decide I’ll just watch for them to head to the magic gates and that will be fool-proof. I start to get a headache and it’s one of those that you know is the start of a migraine. I realize my excedrin migraine (AKA elixir of life) is in my checked bag. Shiiiiit. I settle on some almonds I remember I have in my bag.
Another text, delayed til 2:30. I’m starting to now curse this delay. I have to pee, but I’m scared because based on my luck they will call the damn flight. I chance it because God gave me a tiny bladder and I have a history of peeing my pants on moving vehicles (story for another day…or never). I come back and the Minnesota family is gone. Crap! I take my boarding pass to the magic gate lady, and she tells me they haven’t called my flight yet. Phew.
They finally call our flight! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. I get on the tiny plane.
We get to MSP at about 4:50 pm. An hour late than normal, which isn’t that bad, however it seems like an eternity with all of the flight changes. I wait at baggage claim for my bag while watching the Carolina football game. Shoutout to MSP airport for that channel choice. I wait 20 minutes and realize that everyone from my flight is gone and the people waiting for bags are…not my people. I go to the United help counter and the woman tells me my bag was put on a later flight and will not be in until 7 pm.
Me: But I was on this flight, ma’am.
United Lady (calmly, like this was routine): Well, your bag was put on another flight.
I wanted to ask her if they always put bags on flights their passengers weren’t on, but then I remembered that in 2015 I’m trying to have more compassion (spoiler alert to another blog post). It’s working out SO WELL (spoiler alert, I’m working on my sarcasm too). She then tells me she can have it delivered to me. I live an hour from the cities. She can’t tell me what time it will be delivered the next day, so I decide that I’ll come back and pick it up later that night. I have flashbacks to when one of my good friends got married a couple years ago and one of the fellow bridesmaids flew United with the bridesmaid dress in her checked bag…she arrived two days before the wedding…the bag did not. It took two full days of numerous phone calls and prodding for United to get the dress there AN HOUR BEFORE THE WEDDING. Hilarious to look back on after it all worked out. I digress though.
My friend Mellissa picks me up at 5:30ish. She is a saint and sweetheart, she and her husband let me keep my car at their house in the NE suburbs so I didn’t have to pay for parking AND they did drop off and pick up duty. All afternoon I had been texting her with all of the updates and delays and she was so flexible, I was so thankful! I don’t mind getting in later and being delayed, but I would have felt awful screwing up others schedules due to my flights! We have a hilarious chat about my travels and life back to her house to grab my car. When I get there, we realize my headlight is out. WELCOME HOME!
I head back to the airport, praying that a cop doesn’t pull me over with my pa diddle (is that a midwest only term?!). Despite what my mother or anyone who ever rode in a car with me while I was driving in high school will tell you, I am a great driver and very knowledgeable about getting around in cities/new places. GPS? No need once I’ve been there, I have a memory map like a steel trap. Anyway, the next part of the story is not one of my finer moments. On the way back to the airport, I get on the interstate going the wrong way (east instead of west). I don’t realize this though until I’ve been driving about 15 minutes and see the beautiful sign that says “Welcome to Wisconsin” or “Welcome to Heaven”, as I would call it.. I immediately realize the mistake and consider keeping on the interstate and driving the 4 hours to Madison because I’ve been getting emails ALL DAY in a group email about my friends going to EssenHaus for the night and it has been making me experience severe FOMO (Fear of missing out). I could use a dose of them and approximately two boots of beer all to myself after this day of travel. In a split second, I remember all my clothes are in my checked bag at the airport and decide against it. I turn around in Hudson, the 1st exit after the border. While turning around, I see a gas station and realize that this situation can be redeemed. I walk in and grab a 6-pack of spotted cow. See? God’s always looking out for me. The cashier looks at me and says, rough day? I say, if you knew what my day has been like, you would give me this for free. Unfortunately that does not get you free spotted cow.
I pay the man and then get the heck out of there. I consider chugging one before heading back the correct direction on the interstate, but then remember that I am already probably going to get pulled over for a headlight.
I make it to the airport 45 min after the flight is supposed to get in. I park in “short term parking”, which cost me $5 for the whole 10 minutes I was there. Party foul, MSP.
I get to the baggage claim and my bag is there. I consider hugging it, but that’s almost as overkill as taking a picture of it for a blogpost.
I then tell the same United lady that I’m taking it. She then tells me, “oh sorry for the trouble, this darn weather has just screwed everything up today! I smile at her and calmly say, “Funny thing, weather is. My family flew from the same place I did this morning to the midwest through the same “weather” on an airline that was not United and they made it home with no delays AND their bags were on their flights.”
She has no response. Don’t worry mom, I used my nice voice.
I walk back to short term parking. My car is not where I think it is. I lug my exactly 50 lb suitcase around the entire 1st floor of the ramp looking for it and am thoroughly confused. I walk back into the airport and realize there are actually two short term parking lots, Green and Gold. I was in Gold and apparently my car is in Green. I then walk across to the other lot and low and behold, my one-headlighted beauty is there.
I find it very interesting that MSP, land of Viking purple and gold, would have Packer green and yellow color coded parking lots, but that is beside the point.
I breathe a sigh of relief, turn up some T swift, and head on my journey home. It’s snowing and blowing like crazy, but I need to stop at Trader Joe’s for hummus, carrots, and crackers (my staples). I get in there and they are completely out of every kind of hummus except the cilantro kind. WHO THE HECK EVEN LIKES THAT KIND? Apparently no one, because that is the only one left. Out of all the obstacles, this is the one where I almost start to cry, mainly just because I am exhausted. I walk out hummusless and drive home with no problem, YAY. I chug a spotted cow paired with peanut butter straight from the jar and it is damn delicious. I crawl into my own bed for the first time in 2 weeks and IT IS FABULOUS!
Morals of the story.
Never again on United.
Robert, the United worker in the Brownsville Airport, is da real MVP and should be running the place.
Always carry-on luggage. ALWAYSSSSSSSSSS.
Spotted Cow cures all.
Traveling builds patience and maturity. I clearly still have a lot of traveling to do to be where I want to be with those qualities
Happy Sunday, lovers!