Well, At Least I'm Not In Newark
July 18, 2008
Or, How I Almost Missed Blogher Completely
As we pulled up to the airport early this morning I sighed and whined (for the zillionth millionth squillionth time) about how much I hate airports. Flying, I can deal with. I was actually looking forward to this flight, since I'd managed to score a fairly awesome deal on a nonstop trip via Virgin America (of the leather recliners and touchscreen entertainment consoles and wheeee, self-serve bottled water minibars), but first, I had to get through the fucking airport.
"I'm just always convinced something is going to go terribly wrong, you know?" I continued, chewing nervously on my index finger. "Like I'll get bumped to standby or find out that my reservation never went through or...or..."
I paused, trying to think of a few more worst-case scenarios, but lo, we were at the gate and it was time to say goodbye. I begged Noah not to grow up any and squeezed in as many kisses for everybody as I could before finally making my way to check-in.
The self-service kiosk was out of ink and served me up a blank boarding pass. Glitch for the trip, I figured. Pretty okay as glitches go, especially since the Virgin counter was absolutely devoid of anyone else checking in and I was able to walk right up to my choice of Actual Human Ticket Dispenser Types.
The woman behind the counter frowned a bit, and asked if I was going to LA.
"No, San Francisco."
She stared at me. "Then...why are you here NOW?"
"8:40 am? Boards at 8:10?" I helpfully suggested.
"We don't...have an 8:40 am flight to San Francisco. Our morning San Fran flight has already left."
I pulled out my Travelocity confirmation email, the tiniest bit of panic starting to creep into my brain. See, when I'd originally booked the flight, I could have SWORN the departure and arrival times were slightly earlier than the ones listed on the confirmation, but I'd just assumed I'd gotten them mixed up or that the flight had just been pushed back 20 minutes or so. It had never occurred to me that I was booking a flight that apparently, just didn't flipping EXIST.
Oh, but it turned out it DID exist. And I was very, very, very, very early for it.
A good 12 hours early.
"PM!" I screamed in horror. How...what...no. No way did I do that. Just...no. Fucking shit ass no.
I started hyperventilating. "Oh my God oh my God oh my God."
I now had two Virgin America employees frantically tapping away at their computers, telling me not to panic...the morning flight to San Francisco was delayed and was still at the airport, although boarding had already started. I had a crystal clear vision of myself waddling frantically up to some remote gate just in time to watch the plane taxi away. I put my hands over my face and wailed.
But the employees were all, NOT ON OUR WATCH, LITTLE PREGNANT LADY, and in lightening speed, printed out a new boarding pass, scribbled PREMIUM all over it, and then one of them jumped over the baggage scale and said they were going to take me through the employee-only security line. The other picked up the phone and called the gate, begging them to hold the plane. By some BLESSED MIRACLE of UNPARALLELED COMMON SENSE on my part, I'd kept my suitcase small and within the carry-on limits, right down to my little Ziploc bag of Sephora sample cosmetics.
"GO GO GO!" hissed the guy on the phone. Then he looked me up and down with a bit of concern. "But don't, like, run."
(Translation: Please don't give birth here.)
The female ticket agent calmly yet briskly led me past the INSANE security lines and down some escalators to the employee security check, which was 1) short, 2) downright effing jovial, with everyone discussing their hangovers and such. I struggled to extricate my laptop, completely befuddled by the zippers on my stupid bag, like I was in one of those nightmares where you're trying to run away from something but your legs are made of cement. The security guard looked at my name and was all, "Storch? Like Larry Storch? Like from F-Troop?"
AMY'S BRAIN: OH MY FUCKING GOD ARE YOU KIDDING ME.
AMY'S MOUTH, WHICH IS BETTER IN A CRISIS THAN SHE OFTEN GIVES IT CREDIT FOR: Yes! Exactly! Ha ha! Props for the recall!
I got through the line without a frisking, at least. I only sort-of shoved my stuff back into my bags (which felt like they were multiplying by the minute, and my shoulders suddenly seemed to be coated in Crisco), and booked off towards my gate, taking a couple seconds to watch the ticket agent disappear into the crowds and wishing I'd gotten her name. Or given her a hug, or managed to squeeze in a few more dozen breathless thank-yous.
My gate was...up an elevator.
Get on, hit button, pound CLOSE DOOR CLOSE DOOR, doors start to close, guy dashes through and -- thinking I'd held the door for him -- says "thank you!"
Pound CLOSE DOOR CLOSE DOOR, and oh my GOD, it happens AGAIN, right down to the "thank you!"
I gurgled out a semi-stifled scream in response.
And then...oh, OF COURSE, I had to take a shuttle. I got on and made my way to the opposite end, snagging a primo seat by the door. I called Jason and told him to pray for me, and for the first time I tried to replay everything and figure out what, exactly-the-fuck, had gone wrong with my reservation. How I had only asked for Travelocity to display morning flights. How the original time I thought I'd booked wasn't even the one on my reservation, be it AM or PM. How this was the only nonstop flight remotely in my price range -- booked mostly because of the nice early arrival time, which ALSO changed by the time the confirmation email showed up. And how I could have POSSIBLY read that email so many damn times and NEVER NOTICED the flight was clearly marked as PM, or at least listened to the alarm bells raised by those weird non-jibeing, not-what-I-booked times.
The shuttle crawwwwwwled across the airport and approached the gate and...oh for the love of crackers, it decided to turn around and pull in so I was on the OPPOSITE end from the exit. I shoved my index finger back into my mouth and bit down. Hard.
I dashed out, spotted my gate and took off. The plane was...was it still there? oh, please still be there...STILL THERE! IT'S STILL THERE!
Of course, the doors were closed and the monitors said closed and the attendant was making announcements for the next gate over and put her hand up to shush me when I lumbered up to offer my boarding pass (which was now marked "PRESHSDKJDFHU" since the ink had smeared all over my desperate, sweaty hands).
My eyes were probably the size of dinner plates by this point, I was half-gasping and half-just-trying-not-to-cry and I could NOT believe this: ME, the girl who arrives at the airport hours early for everything, including the fucking commuter shuttles, and who always checks and double-checks her reservations to the point of compulsion, standing at a closed gate for a closed flight that was supposed to have taken off an hour earlier, and oh, crap, here come the waterworks.
It turned out they HAD been expecting me -- "This is Amy," the attendant said to some guy with a walkie talkie, who ran down the hallway ahead of me to tell the plane that there was indeed one more person, hold up.
I got onboard, blubbering out thank-yous and apologies to just about every person on board, in between likely whalloping a lot of heads with my bags, which were in complete disarray and hanging from my elbows. An attendant got me to my seat and kept asking if I was okay (what, is a sweaty, crying and hyperventilating pregnant lady a WEIRD THING, or something?) and I tried to get out something coherent about changed flights and Mistakes Being Made and how It Wasn't My Fault, At Least I Don't Think So, I Don't Knooooowwww Anything Anymooooooore Sobbbbb. She patted my back and told me everything was okay now.
So I made the flight, barely. I was dehydrated and starving (the two big no-nos my doctor had warned me about when clearing me for travel on Wednesday, but of course I'd assumed I had TONS of time to get water and breakfast before my flight, since I was all early and conscientious and HA HA FAIL) and was having occasional Braxton-Hicks contractions. My index finger, chapped from all that nervous chewing, was split open and bleeding. There was no time to call Jason and tell him I'd made the flight.
(Hi, baby. I made the flight! Hooray!)
I still have no idea what happened with the reservation. I am pretty sure Travelocity shoulders some of the blame, since there did seem to be something pretty glitchy with the confirmation containing flight times I'd never even seen online, and I ended up arriving right at the time I THOUGHT I'd originally booked. But I am certainly not going to pretend that there isn't a decent chance that I just fucked it all up, start to finish, in addition to NEVER NOTICING that the flight was marked PM on the confirmation. Which: Jesus Christ, girl. Remind me to slap you once you're no longer in such a delicate condition.
Huge huge props to everyone at Virgin America, though -- I've never ever had any sort of preference for one airline over another, in fact, I'm generally an equal-opportunity hater, but...goddamn, they did not have to help me get on an already-delayed flight that may have cost a lot more than my cheapo Travelocity deal, especially since I was the moron standing there with piece of paper that was clearly marked PM and acting like I had no idea how that possibly could have happened.
Every time I went to the bathroom (which was a lot, as you can imagine), someone from the crew double-checked that I'd calmed down and was okay and did I need more water? And oh yeah, they've TOTALLY heard of PM flights getting marked as AM online before, or reservations just going completely haywire, happens all the time, sweetheart. Which: probably a lie, but sometimes lying is just an essential part of good customer service, you know?