October 28, 2006

So, Back Home

Friday was the travel day from hell. I might as well have opted for a red-eye on Thursday night for all the benefits of traveling back during daylight. Although my travails were partially self-inflicted, well.....

I had a 6:05 am flight out of LAX. I left the hotel at 4:15, got up to the rental car place at 4:45 am. Cutting it close, but not horrible. Sadly, I just missed the one shuttle bus, and was told 10-15 minutes. It was gonna be close, but I was not panicking yet. Well, the 10-15 minutes stretched to 25 minutes. Then when we got on the bus, the driver was incredibly slow and thoughtful about it all. Contrasted to the Tuesday night driver who pretty much got the bus airborne in evening rush hour traffic. So I got to the terminal about 35 minutes pre-flight. For future reference, you might want to avoid Advantage Rent-a-Car in Los Angeles - I was being cheap. Although I've had pretty crappy experiences at almost every rental provider at LAX. I think its an airport / city thing.

So, my woes were self inflicted for (a) being cheap on the rental car and (b) not leaving early enough to accommodate complications. I own it, lesson learned.

I got to the ticket counter and I bet if I had just moved to the self check-in I might have gotten on to the flight. (I had a bag to check, LAX had a 45 minute baggage window) - but I asked the woman at the head of the line and she said "you missed your flight" and pointed me to the longer and slower change ticket line. Even with all that (a long wait, and a long time at the counter while they tried to get me onto a flight) and then taking luggage to TSA and going through security myself, I still made it down to the gate as my 6:05 flight was boarding. I should have tried to sneak on stand-by.

Anyway, flights were full and oversold to ORD, due to bad weather in Chicago on Thursday, and they got progressively more delayed on Friday. I did not make it on (via Standby) a 7:30 and a 9:00 flight to ORD, just made it on to a 10:30 flight that did not leave until close to Noon. Center seat, natch, although my seatmates were a nice woman who was a tech writer heading to France for work, so we chatted about engineering stuff, and a wispy young woman who did not overflow into my side of the arm rest. Got into ORD at 6:00 pm. Thankfully, the last flight to BDL, scheduled for 5:50 pm, was late and did not leave until close to 7:00 pm - not oversold but weight limited - so I was on standby again. But made it.

I got home around 11:00 pm. My bag had apparently made it onto earlier flights, so it was waiting for me at BDL. I was in a long term lot (cause I was paying, and it was a longer trip) - I often park in the garage or lot - so that added some time.

But - home safe. Lesson learned:

a) The bigger rental car companies spend that money on shuttle buses and people to drive 'em.
b) Do not cut it close at LAX, and not when you are using an unknown entity (lower tier rental car)
c) Traveling sucks and I would prefer to avoid it as much as possible.

Zippy and I are headed to Chicago again (for the RSNA meeting, end of November) but:

a) Direct flights to/from ORD
b) Taxi to/from the airport which my clients will be picking up
c) More reasonable flights (time of day, day of week)

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