Good morning from seat 7F, cruising at 35,000 feet. I’m typing this aboard our non-stop Southwest flight to Las Vegas. Outside the plane, the Sun is shining. Puffy white clouds sit thousands of feet below. The ride is smooth.
As is customary on getaway day, we were up early. Very early. Outside, it was pouring. The Accuweather meteorologist on WCBS (they hide the fact that it’s Accuweather providing their forecasts since co-owned WINS has promoted Accuweather exclusivity for years) said there were thunderstorms and flooding in the area.
With a plethora of unused cell phone minutes, I transferred our home phone to my cell number. We’ll see how that works.
Instead of pulling the car out front, I loaded the bags in the garage. Farther to carry, but worth it to stay dry. If I needed to, I could have rearranging for more room, but with casual throws, the bags filled the rear of the Explorer.
It’s a holiday, so the traffic was light. Parking the car and the ride to the terminal were uneventful. Checking the bags was not.
We have locks on our bags. The locks are approved by the TSA and their employees are supposed to have master keys. The screener said he could get a key, but it would be easier if we’d unlock them and he’d see they were locked before hitting the log flume ride they take on their way to the plane.
As Helaine watched, they went through the X-Ray machine and then onto the belt without being relocked. By the time she told me, they were on their way downstairs – unlocked.
It’s not as if someone wants to steal my underwear, but there are some valuable items in there. It was out of the TSA’s control. If Southwest wanted to help, they could… and they did.
My hero is Jeanette, a counter agent at Southwest. She went downstairs and found my bags. And, when the lock wouldn’t work, she called the desk and asked me to help her on the phone.
There’s another reason to like Jeanette. This morning at 12:01 AM, I went on Southwest’s website to print boarding passes. Helaine and Steffie got into Group “A”. Because my ticket used a paper frequent flyer voucher, I couldn’t get a pass. When Jeanette saw our plight, she hand wrote a note on my boarding pass to let us go together.
Neither task was a big deal, but she did both with a smile, even though she was working at an ungodly hour on, what to most folks was, a holiday morning. She is part of the reason we have switched our allegiance to Southwest. There will be a note sent to Southwest commending her when we return.
The flight got off on time.
I like to sleep while flying, and did sleep a little, but this was a “Gus Souflas” flight. Gus is… or probably was a pilot for a major airline. One day, as my friend Howard flew coast-to-coast, Gus decided to note the crossing of every state boundary.
Today’s pilot was on the PA four or five times, always ending with the exact distance to Las Vegas.
From the air it’s astounding to see how much of the country looks empty. No disrespect to folks who live in the ‘great flyover’ but there does seem to be loads of unused space.
We flew south of Denver, over Colorado Springs. As we crossed the Rockies, there were still lots of snow covered peaks. No mountain was ‘capped’ with snow, like an idyllic picture of Mt. Fuji, but there were many veins of white.
We got to Las Vegas right on time. There’s construction in the baggage claim area and things were really jammed up. Thankfully, all our bags came – though the locks never were locked on one of the bags.
We went to Dollar to get our car. We had reserved a Dodge Intrepid, or similar. They were out of that class of car, so they said take a Pacifica – a car I’d never heard of, but turns out to be a six passenger, roomy cross between a van and SUV.
When we went to check out, the amount on our contract was different than what we were quoted. Unreal! It always happens. Is this a scam or what?
I had to go back to the office and work it out, which removes the advantage of being a Dollar Fast Lane member. But, things are now correct – and the car is nice.
My parents are seeing Mama Mia tonight at Mandalay Bay. The tickets were on Helaine’s name. So, we stopped there (and I double parked in what looked like a bus area) and she went to the box office. Then we stopped at Walgreen’s for a few cases of water.
I have never seen Las Vegas more crowded. It’s unreal. The sidewalks are jammed with people and Las Vegas Boulevard moved at a crawl. We turned in to the Mirage valet area and ended up in a long line of cars. Helaine got out while I made my way to the front of the line.
Helaine says nothing she asked for was here! Not a room near the elevator. Not two rooms nearby – one for us, one for Steffie and her friend Ali. Not a Strip view.
Still, the room is very nice. After all, it’s the Mirage – one of the most beautiful hotels in Las Vegas.
On the way to the room we ran into my folks and then my sister and brother-in-law. Only Cousin Michael, Melissa and Max are AWOL. I’m sure we’ll see them soon.
Meanwhile, a call to the Bell Desk says it will be at least 30 minutes until we get our bags! Helaine can’t wait. She’s showering. I’m writing.
More later from Fabulous Las Vegas.