I started the day at 10:30 a.m. heading for O’Hare to catch a plane to Houston and, from there to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where I will be for the next 3 days, taking pictures as the official photographer for the National Federation of Press Women Conference. (Wish me lots of luck!)
The getting onto the flight to Houston actually went quite well. In fact, a very nice African American porter insisted on escorting me inside the building (from curbside) and pointing me in the right direction to access my gate. Plus, I got TSA Pre-check prior to boarding the plane, which is always nice.
On the plane, I was seated next to a nice gentleman who spoke no English, so no small talk would occur. (He did know the word “Coke”). In front of me was a family with 3 small girls. The 8 and 10-year-old girls were fine. The baby of the family was horrible. She shrieked in a high-pitched powerful voice the entire way to Houston and the flight lasted from 12:45 until 4:10 p.m. It was not because she was tired or had an ear ache. She just liked to screech and the screaming was truly bad. Neither her father nor her mother nor her sisters attempted to get her to stop. I actually had to put my fingers in my ears to keep from getting a headache after the first 2 hours of this LOUD shrieking.
The plane landed at 4:05 p.m. My second flight from Houston to Baton Rouge (you cannot fly direct and I had to take United, which I had vowed never to fly again after they sold me a direct ticket from Cincinnati to Moline that doesn’t exist) was boarding. I ran for about 2 miles and got to the gate before the plane left the ground, but they would not let me board. I actually made it in pretty good time—considering how far away I was…but it was too late. I then had to go up to the second floor from the basement level because there were no rest rooms (or food places) on the basement level where the “hopper” planes depart from.
My luggage, however, did make the trip without me.
I re-booked for a 5:40 p.m. flight, which didn’t seem too bad, but, after I went up to level 2 (in Houston) from level 1, they would not allow me to go back DOWN to level 1 where Gate 1 was located. The woman guarding the gate said, “We’ll announce when it is boarding.”
I then noticed that my flight, scheduled to depart at 6:05 p.m., was now not going to leave until 7 p.m. I went BACK over to ask if I could NOW go downstairs. “We’ll let you know when it’s boarding.” Then the plane was listed on the big board as not departing until 7:30 p.m. So, I’ve now been waiting around 2 hours and have been flying or in an airport or trying to GET to an airport since roughly 10:30 a.m. The flight, alone, was 3 and 1/2 hours because of bad weather.
I went over 3 times, asking if I could go downstairs to Gate One. Each time, Cerberus (the elderly Hispanic lady guarding the door to floor one) dismissively told me to sit down and listen to her announce when they’d allow me to go back downstairs. The next thing I knew, I heard my name being called (along with 3 others) with the ominous message, “Last call for boarding for Baton Rouge for customers Smith, Jones and Wilson.” In other words, I nearly missed the second plane, thanks to the officious woman guarding the doorway.
I did get on and was seated with a lovely English-speaking girl who was a computer specialist going to Baton Rouge from Houston for work. We bonded over our mutual dislike of pretzels. We were also given pop, and I drank about half of mine before the steward came around to pick up our drinks. He had a white plastic bag and, as he stood there, pop was running out of it and onto my foot, which I pointed out. (I had not given him my only half empty can yet, nor my glass, so it was not MY Diet Coke). He totally soaked my right foot and my brand-new shoes. I hope it didn’t ruin them. He seemed totally unconcerned, making the comment, “Your shoe will dry out.” He did not offer me napkins, or a cloth, or any way of drying off my foot.
Well, yes, my FOOT will dry, but the lining of the brand-new shoes was a chamois-like fabric and now it is stained and wet.
I then had to find my luggage in the Boca Raton airport, which apparently only has about 2 employees after dark. Everything was shut. The woman I asked told me she’d be down “in 20 minutes or so” to open the locked room where my bags were stored. I sat and waited for her next to the ticketing desk for United.
I got my bags and called for a shuttle from the Hilton. I was told it would take 15 minutes. I also was told that I’d have to drag myself and all of my bags outside, where it was at least 84 degrees and very, very muggy. I went outside and I was outside for 45 minutes with no shuttle in sight. Meanwhile, all the cabs left and I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have to sleep on the hard metal bench I was sitting on.
Finally, the van showed up and I got on, along with a woman who said her name was Laurie Steiner. I am now putting my clothes in the closet.
Let the games begin.