The Long Trip Home

I’m home. Google says if I drove it it would have taken 43 hours covering 2,885 miles. I’ll keep that in mind as I look back on the 12 hour door-to-door trip.

My secretive friend called “Super Shuttle” to take me to LAX. He told them the flight, scheduled for 12:25 PM, and they offered a 9:15-9:25 AM pickup. That sounded awful early for a drive that normally clocks in under a half hour. I was at LAX two and a half hours before my flight.

I checked my bag at the curb. The skycap wrote Gate 14 on my boarding pass and pointed me in the right direction. The departure area was busy, but I found a seat.

LAX isn’t particularly WiFi friendly. There are few electric outlets. The WiFi service is “pay-per-byte.” I pulled out my BlackBerry and played around. I was in my own world as flights came and left.

Around 12:10 a young man came and asked me if I was on the Chicago flight? He was wondering why it wasn’t on the board at the gate and why it hadn’t been called. Good question. We went to another gate where we were told it wasn’t at Gate 14 it was at 4A.

I’m normally a huge Southwest fan, but they failed on this. No announcement was made when they moved the gate. It’s probable the move was made shortly after I headed there… maybe while I was heading there. There were a handful of us waiting in the wrong place! Without this lucky questioner I surely would have missed the flight–something I’ve never done in 40+ years of flying.

Southwest compounded their failure by not having information monitors. We had to wait in line and see a person to get the gate info.

Though I had an “A” boarding pass by the time I got to the gate the waiting area was empty. Nearly everyone else was on. I walked back to the only non-middle seat left. It was 20F in the non-reclining last row. On the aisle was a man who looked to be around 30. In his lap, Randy.

I’m a dad. I understand you can’t control small children–you wouldn’t want to. What follows is observation more than kvetching.

At 10,000 feet the first ding rang over the PA and Randy, nearly two years old, was moved to the middle seat. He was mostly quiet but squirmy. Me too. I pulled out my horse collar and tried to fall asleep.

I’m not sure how long I was unconscious when the pounding began. Randy was getting me with his feet and his hands. He meant no harm. In fact, he probably didn’t understand what he was doing. This continued intermittently for the next four hours or so. He did a little yelping as well.

Delayed Southwest flightWe landed at Chicago’s Midway Airport, waited a few minutes for a free gate and pulled in. I had about an hour between flights… well it was scheduled as an hour. The sign at the gate said otherwise.

Though I criticized Southwest for the earlier gate debacle they get a pass on this. Our flight to Hartford, last of the day, was being held for incoming passengers. I have been on the receiving end of this act of airline kindness in the past.

It was a bumpy ride as we passed over the disturbed weather that’s raining on Connecticut today. At one point the pilot asked the flight attendants to be seated and phone the cockpit when they were! Nice touch, but probably overly cautious. Let them err on the side of safety.

We landed in Hartford behind a Southwest plane from Las Vegas. Their bags came off first. That gave me the opportunity to run into and talk with my friend Harold and his wife Karen who were coming home from their daughter’s graduation (PhD, thank you) in Santa Cruz.

My drive home was uneventful though I was beginning to drag. I walked into my darkened house around midnight.

“Feels like you’ve been gone three weeks, doesn’t it?” Helaine asked this morning. Yup. Why is sitting in a seat so exhausting?

3 Responses to “The Long Trip Home”

  1. Jim says:

    You could have at least brought back some better weather. This is awful!

  2. DAF says:

    Super Shuttle is awesome and sounds like the easiest part of your journey.

    The google function would be more interesting if it linked to a travel site (or google’s own) that suggested reasonable stopping points with lodging options.

    The old AAA on your laptop.

  3. Geoff — Sorry you had such an Odyssey getting back home. Your trip out to California was much appreciated! Everyone loves the photos (even in their unretouched state). Thanks!

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