Written by Christopher Null on February 27th, 2004

Hail.

And so began my strangest single day of travel in recent memory. Check the flight, off to the airport, park, sprint to the security checkpoint and… cancelled? What was the point of putting my phone number into that little phone on the American Airlines site to alert me about gate changes or delays? Perhaps cancellation does not count as a delay?

On the phone to the travel agent. He can get me on another flight in 45 minutes — on a different airline and arriving at a different airport. Close enough, though. Book it, and zip over to United. Through security no problem, and to the gate. Delayed, delayed. Never mind that I’m booked into a middle seat.

We’re boarding and some lady asks me to watch her bag. “I’ll be back in just a second.” Zip, she’s gone. Eventually they call everyone to board… and still she’s not returned. They even call me by name to get on. Finally I abandon her bag and tell the gate agent the story. He doesn’t seem to care too much and ushers me onto the plane.

Finally aboard, finally we take off, and still the rain is pouring buckets. For half an hour the plane is bouncing around so much the flight attendents can’t even get out of the jump seats. When we close in on LAX, they sprint through with a jug of water to splash on us.

The visit in LA is uneventful, except eating a Subway sandwich is causing me to burp throughout every meeting, where I have to talk frequently. Argh.

A towncar picks me up to get me all the way across LA and back to the airport. Still raining, but no traffic except for a bumper that has somehow fallen off a car in the middle of the 405. We’re to the airport by 8:45, and I figure I might be able to hop on a flight back earlier than my 10:30 flight. Sure enough, there are plenty of seats on the flight that was supposed to board at 6:30. I walk right on the plane.

Aboard, the seat won’t stay vertical. Just lean into it and it reclines. I feel bad for the guy behind me but there’s nothing I can do. Only 15 minutes or so in the holding pattern around SFO. The weather has broken, thank god. We finally land at 11:15. I’m home earlier than I was supposed to be on one of the worst travel days possible.

Driving home, a CHP patrol car zooms by me on the freeway. He shouts something over the PA that I don’t understand at all, but his lights aren’t on, and he doesn’t linger to repeat himself. I actually say “Huh?” out loud.

Lady, I hope you got your bag.

 

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