Monday, December 15, 2008

Yet Another Miserable Travel Day

Holy crap, we have bad travel luck. Last time it was Miles, you may recall.

I write from a trashed room at a Quality Inn in Salt Lake City where Delta has put me up for the night, prolonging my 9-day trip for yet another night. I really just want to be home. But no. That's would be too easy.

The day actually started out pretty well. I've been, for the past three nights, in suburban Philadelphia visiting another sister and her four kids, ages 3 to 15. They are observant Jews, so Friday night and Saturday were quiet, calm times of card games, eating and napping. On Saturday night, I took 8-year-old Daniel and 13-year-old Arielle to see Bolt, which was probably the funniest thing I've seen since, um, Wall-E. So now you know my mental age. But, seriously, the scene where Bolt and Mittens nearly give up their adventures for a life living fat off leftover food from buffets in Vegas was priceless.

Daniel was particularly thrilled by my visit, so I gave him permission to wake me at 8 a.m. so we could squeeze out as much of our Sunday as possible. He actually gave me until 9:30 a.m., and then he pounded on this thing...

Yes, I slept in the bed right there that looks like Barney shed on it. It was cozier, actually, than the Strawberry Shortcake bed I was in at my other sister's place. Once the lights are out, does it really matter?

So, anyhow, I spent the morning teaching Daniel how to play Texas Hold 'Em. We both began with stacks of 40 pennies; he wiped me out twice. Either the kid is a prodigy or I suck. I will say one thing, though: If you buy those decks of cards that are preused in casinos, beware. I gave each of the kids such a deck as part of their Hannukah gifts at our family's holiday party last week; the Green Valley Ranch deck I gave Daniel had two eights of hearts and no king of spades. Oops. Fortunately, the other decks were fine.

Anyhow, we had a terrific time, as you can see:

Daniel dominated me, but Arielle occasionally commandeered my camera and took a zillion odd photos including several of herself with her mouth wide open, like the first one where she appears to be eating algebra equations...

When you give a child a camera, though, prepare for some rather unusual results...

Yeah. So here's the whole clan as we played Apples To Apples: Jewish Edition just before my departure. The girl covering her face is Tziona, the eldest:

Not to leave anyone out, here's the youngest of the brood, 3-year-old Chaim:

That was all nice. The rest, not so nice.

Miles called from Vegas around noon because he saw online that my direct 3:45 pm Philadelphia-Vegas flight on Southworst was canceled. I called SWA. Some sort of plane mechanical problem. But why didn't SWA call or email me, then? "We have a lot of people we'd have to call," the lady huffed. If I went to the airport, she said, I *might* catch the 4:30ish, one-stop to Vegas or I could definitely get on the 5:30ish one-stop.

Here's where it starts getting good. This being Southworst, I had checked in on Saturday to be in the A Group for boarding. Now I was facing the dreaded C Group for not one but two flights. Could I please have the new Business Select status to board with the A groups? I'm 6-1 and "kinda big," I claimed.

Nope! Southworst would do nothing to accommodate my inconvenience. Not even guarantee me for the next flight.

I asked for a supervisor and, while on hold forever, I found a one-way seat on a 4:30 pm Delta flight to Vegas for $50 LESS than my SWA ticket. You read that right: For a day-of, one-way to Vegas from PHL, they were charging $110, tax included. That's bananas. And proof that the Strip economy is in big trouble.

Mr. Supervisor was just as worthless, so I demanded and received a full ticket refund, then booked on Delta. Off I went to the airport, leaving a heartbroken Daniel begging me to stay. I got on my plane ready for an easy ride to Salt Lake City, then home.

Or not. Just as we're about to head to the runway, the ENTIRE PHILADELPHIA AIRPORT is shut down. We'd find out later that a US Scare Commuter plane had to make a crash landing. The FAA had to investigate. Nobody hurt, but we ended up stuck in the plane for another three hours before we departed. If you thought it sucked for me, how about the guy across the aisle with the black and brown chihuahua in the carrier case under the seat in front of him? He didn't plan on being on that plane for eight hours!

Delta handled it beautifully, I must say. Those of us missing connections were greeted upon our arrivals with vouchers for hotel rooms and a cute little travel kit with a T-shirt and some toiletries. The problems weren't their fault, but they took responsibility.

And then the best part. I was near the front of the line at the Quality Inn tonight, got my key, went to my room. And when I entered, this is what it looked like:

The place was trashed. I thought maybe someone was still in here. It hadn't been cleaned and the animals who had stayed the night before had opened every packet of sugar, creamer, coffee, whatever. Everything was astrew and, best of all, the disgusting people who had left this room like this has also filled out their comment card. "Blow dryer is broken!!!" they moaned. Yeesh.

I called the front desk. The poor guy sounded so overwhelmed by my flightmates I decided to clean up the room myself. Then I walked to the Pilot gas station for dinner: Cheetos and Milkduds.

Oh well. It's been a long day. I hope I get back to Vegas on Monday as planned. But rather than end it with a downer, I'd rather think of this cute little face:

I had kept my sister apprised of my troubled travels, and when I landed in SLC and turned on the phone, there was a text message from her. It read: "Uncle Steven, this is Daniel. I told you you shouldn't have left today! I miss you so much! I love you! Come back really soon!"

Sigh. What I wouldn't give for that purple bed right now.


arielle said...

hahaha this whole thingy is really fuunny but i dont like the open mouth pics of me....
love, arielle
and my bed does not look like barney threrw up on it....


i said it looked like barney shed, not vomited. and, also, you TOOK all of the pictures of you with your mouth open!!!

Sheryl said...

Boy, my kids are really cute!
Arielle must have really enjoyed your visit since she had to sleep on the couch.