Oh, joy: Meetings end and I prepare to fly out to the West Coast to teach a workshop for EBSTC (East Bay STC). DC to Oakland, via LAX. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? Hmmm.
The first clue that things weren’t going to be all roses and giggles occurs right off the bat as I try to check in at DCA (Reagan National, the smaller of the two DC-area airports). My ticket, theoretically on Delta, is actually a flight operated by Alaska. Delta sends me to the Alaska counter. Alaska, however, can’t find any record of my connecting flight to Oakland, which (still supposedly Delta), is operated by Express Jet. “Get that boarding pass back at Delta,” they say, “and your bag should go through.” Should. Such confidence. So back I trot over to Delta. “No, you have to get that boarding pass in LA.”
But eventually I have at least the first boarding pass, my bag is checked, and I am through security. The flight to LAX is bland and uneventful. But once in LAX, things start getting crazy again.
First, no one knows where I have to go for Express Jet. “I thinkDelta,” opines one helpful fellow manning an airport info desk. That means shlepping outside and waiting endlessly for a shuttle to cart me around to terminal 5. Once there, I am faced with huge crowds of people and no actual humans who can answer questions. There are three different Delta check-in zones, each of which has many other code-share partner airlines listed. Express Jet is not on any of them. I watch the time ticking away before my connection flight, and finally elbow my way to the front (tres Israeli) and ask. Miraculously, once in the designated line, I get to an automated kiosk and manage to get my boarding pass.
Then it gets really fun.
We stand in a line that stretches back to next county. Are we waiting for the security check? No. It is the pre-security check. (I kid you not.) I am through and now in the security line. As I finally get up to front and step through the metal detector, the security person cheerfully says, “You’ve been selected for additional screening!” Her intonation seems to imply that I have won some fabulous prize. I am ordered to stand there and wait. I wait. At this point, I have been standing in various lines for almost 90 minutes, and it is now a race between my bladder and those extra cups of coffee. Finally, someone comes and picks through all my carry-on gear, asks more questions, and finally lets me go. I sprint for the bathroom.
Are we having fun yet, I think as I creep down the aisle of what must be the dirtiest, smelliest aircraft this side of a crop duster. My seat is at the very back, mere centimeters from the bathroom door. The plane is a propjet that shakes and whines all the way to Oakland. When we land, we bounce three times and sidle towards the edge of the runway. I stagger off and find the luggage carousel.
My suitcase doesn’t.
Somehow, 2.5 hours in LAX is not enough time to get a bag from one plane to another. My bag takes a more scenic route and arrives some five hours later.
And they say that traveling isn’t fun!